Letter to the Editor

Blueway designation threatens all

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dear Editor:

As was recently reported in our local paper, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar signed an order in January 2013 declaring the entire White River watershed a National Blueway. This action was done without notification to the governments of the counties affected, without notification of the state representatives, without notification of our federal elected representatives, and without notification of those living in the affected area.

A full definition of a Blueway is lengthy. A short version is that the designation brings various unelected environmental stakeholders and organizations as well as some local, state, federal and international bureaucrats together for environmental issues in the White River watershed. Watershed means every square inch of land from which rainfall runoff eventually draws into the White River.

There is so much to report on this subject that it cannot be included in one letter. However, I will include some sites to look at to fully inform yourselves. Anyone who owns land or lives on it should be outraged at this federal usurpation of authority.

The federal government does not have authority over non-navigable waters, yet this order takes that authority. Any such designation requires a period for public comment, which was not given. Of the listed "stakeholders," the Missouri Department of Conservation is the only Missouri government entity included. Many others are out-of-state organizations.

The area included is 17.8 million acres in Missouri and Arkansas. Since the stated goal is restoration and preservation of the river with a comprehensive land, water management plan, the regulation possibilities are endless. The government and non-government agencies have the ability to regulate all surface water, including ponds. This would include rainwater that runs from your land and eventually ends up in the river or water table. Note that the landowners are not "stakeholders."

Some things listed as unsustainable include cattle grazing, tilling and fencing. Can we see a problem here?

So, here is what is happening in both Missouri and Arkansas. Concerned citizens are presenting this information to the county commissioners in the affected counties and asking them to sign a resolution opposing the Blueway designation. The resolutions will be forwarded to the governor. We must ask the governor to use his authority to prevent this designation. It is also important to contact our Federal representatives.

Fortunately, our Barry County commissioners have listened and looked into this and are willing to sign a resolution in opposition. At this time we know that we have the support of our State Representative Scott Fitzpatrick and our State Senator David Sater. Representative Mike Moon is also working to prevent this designation.

I participated in a conference call with Ike Skelton, who is working closely with Secure Arkansas and this threat to both states and their residents.

The biggest problem we have is that this was done in such secrecy that we only learned of it a couple of weeks ago, and it goes into effect July 6 of this year. At the time of this writing, we have about three weeks to stop it. There is little time to think about it, little time to research it, little time to convince anyone who doubts the significance of the designation. We need an immediate, strong outcry from the public to all of our elected officials.

There is a lot of information on prcnews.org. You can also go to the "Secure Arkansas" website for information.

As I said, there is far too much information to put in a letter. I urge everyone to access the listed websites and contact your local, state and federal elected officials. The time is short and this Blueway designation will affect us all.

Kathy Casey

Cassville, Missouri