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I went to the library and read the “Feasibility Study” for the Ozark Highlands Heritage Area. It really didn’t say much about what they actually intend to do, but there were some hints.
There was a map from the Missouri Department of Conservation’s document, Missouri Forest Resource Assessment and Strategy. The map showed all the public lands within the proposed Heritage Area with ½-1 mile buffer zones, and 1-2 mile buffer zones. Buffer zones mean limited and controlled use of private property next to public lands: for as far as two miles back from public lands, in this case. There was also a map of the different watersheds in the proposed area. Attention to watersheds also means control of private property, because they argue that anything that happens within the watershed affects water quality.
The section about the National Park Service’s role in the proposed area praised Britain’s system of public hiking trails through farm land. It also mentioned “European approaches such as documented in CEMAT European Rural Heritage Observation Guide.” Sounds like they are considering European style zoning and land management.
The press release in last week’s Herald and the Feasibility study both say that the National Park Service will only offer advice and that all programs will be voluntary. The National Park Service hasn’t got the authority to dictate what happens on private land in our county, but they still have ways to get what they want.
They encourage the formation of the heritage area and its governing board. Then they give grants to the board and to the counties and cities. But, the catch is that they don’t get the money unless they follow the National Park Services “advice.” The county and city do have the authority to pass ordinances about land use and zoning.
Later, when you complain to your mayor or county commissioner about these ordinances, they will tell you that they have to do this or they will lose their Federal funding.
We are already having trouble with State agencies, such as the Department of Natural Resources, imposing more and more regulations. When you try to talk to them, they say they have to do this or lose their Federal funding. Half the money that our State government operates on is Federal money. This is why we have so little power now, when dealing with our State agencies. Our city and county governments will soon be just the same if we allow them to keep signing on for more Federal programs. They won’t be worried about losing your funding. If you don’t pay your taxes, they sell your property on the courthouse steps. So, the Federal Government gets whatever they pay for, but the taxpayer will have no voice.
Talk to your county and city officials and tell them that we don’t want to be part of the Ozark Highlands Heritage Area. Ask them to send letters resending their approval.
Call your U.S. Congressman and U.S. Senators and tell them to vote No to approving the Ozark Highlands Heritage Area. You can get info on how to contact them at www.senate.gov and at www. house.gov.
Contact the promoters of the Heritage Area before March 5th, and tell them that you are opposed to being part of the heritage area. Write to them at: West Plains Council of the Arts at P.O. Box 339, West Plains, MO 65775.