Ozarks National Heritage Area Plan Appears Dead

If news published Monday on the front page of the West Plains (Mo.) Quill* newspaper is accurate, one might assume plans to establish the Ozark Highlands National Heritage Area are dead:

Group to no longer seek possible formation of National Heritage Area

“In light of the situation that has developed and in a demonstration of our good faith in this effort, we have decided to redirect our attention toward opportunities to foster cultural conservation and economic opportunity that won’t necessitate the involvement of the National Heritage Area program and will rely as much as possible on private funding,” said Ozark Preservation Inc. (OPI) President Kris Norman of West Plains in a letter to The Quill today.

Members of the Ozarks Property Rights Congress appear to be thinking otherwise.

In an e-mail sent Tuesday morning to members of OPRC, a group formed to stem government interference with private property rights in the 13-county area of southern Missouri, group leader Bob Parker used an optimistic-but-cautionary tone:

We will continue to seek documentation that this is really the case.  We will request what actions they have taken to stop this effort.  While on the face of this it looks good, we must verify this is in fact the truth.

In other words, Parker seems to believe actions speak louder than words and will wait to see if the heritage area plan is, indeed, dead.

If, indeed, the plan is dead, it brings to an end a battle I’ve chronicled since late January:

In a Jan. 27 article, Big Government Puts Ozarks in the Crosshairs, I highlighted the fact that farmers, ranchers and other land owners in 13 Missouri counties had joined forces to fight for their rights as land owners and shared details of a glossy, full-color feasibility study developed by backers of the plan (Note: Cross-posted at BigGovernment.com);

On Feb. 14, I shared a second piece, Private Property Rights Battle Brewing in Ozarks, in which details of a never-before-published draft of that feasibility study were accompanied by Parker’s comments about key provisions it contained; and

On Feb. 28, I provided an update in Missouri Land Owners Continue Fight Against ‘Ozarks National Heritage Area’ Designation, a piece which highlighted the fact that several county commissioners were standing in opposition to the heritage area plan.

Here’s to hoping the good folks in southern Missouri can put the Ozark Highlands National Heritage Area in their rear-view mirror permanently.  Until then, I’ll keep an eye out for any new developments in this and other plans connected with the National Park Service.

*Note:  Unfortunately, The Quill is a subscription only newspaper; therefore, I can offer no links to the article.

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Missouri Land Owners Continue Fight Against ‘Ozarks National Heritage Area’ Designation

Commissioners in Dent County, Mo., made it clear they’re not interested in having the federal government sticking it’s “nose” into the business of area land owners.  In a Feb. 24 letter to Matt Meacham at West Plains (Mo.) Council for the Arts — the local front group for the National Park Service effort to designate private land in the Ozarks of Southern Missouri as the “Ozarks Highlands National Heritage Area” — they offered the following:

Click to view larger.

The Dent County Commission, by unanimous vote strongly opposes the National Heritage Area proposal for the Ozark region, encompassing Dent and twelve additional counties, and therefore respectfully asks that Dent County be removed from any further discussions, studies, etc. involving the establishment of a National Heritage Area.

In a post Jan. 27, I shared news about farmers, ranchers and other land owners in 13 Missouri counties being up in arms, fearful that the federal government will designate their land in the Ozarks of Southern Missouri as the “Ozarks Highlands National Heritage Area.” In addition, I shared a copy of a feasibility study related to the plan.

In a post two weeks later, I shared disturbing details from a never-before-published draft of that same feasibility study.

Dent County Commissioners Darrell Skiles, Dennis Purcell and Gary Larson are not alone in holding their opinion, according to Bob Parker, a cattle rancher and real estate pro from Raymondville, Mo., who’s deeply involved in the fight as a member of the Ozarks Property Rights Congress.  County commissioners in Wright, Texas and Douglas counties have sent similar letters and officials in several other counties are expected to follow suit soon.

OPRC members — primarily farmers and ranchers — continue holding meetings to plot their strategy against OHNH.  The next meeting is set for March 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the Community Center/Chamber of Commerce in downtown Mountain View, Mo.

Stay tuned!

UPDATE 3/01/2011 at 9:05 a.m. Central: Cross-posted at Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com.

UPDATE 3/15/11 at 6:23 p.m. Central: See Ozarks National Heritage Area Plan Appears Dead.

FYI: If you enjoy this blog and want to keep reading stories like the one above, show your support by using the “Support Bob” tool at right. Thanks in advance for your support!

Big Government Puts Ozarks in the Crosshairs (Update)

Farmers, ranchers and other land owners in 13 Missouri counties are up in arms these days, fearful that the federal government will designate their land in the Ozarks of Southern Missouri as the “Ozarks Highlands National Heritage Area.” As members of the Ozarks Property Rights Congress, they’re meeting tonight at the Hayloft Restaurant in Mountain Grove, Mo., to plot their strategy against such a designation.

Bob Parker

I found out about the controversy from Bob Parker, a cattle rancher and real estate pro from Raymondville, Mo., who showed up on my political radar for the first time when he challenged incumbent Republican Jo Ann Emerson in the primary for Missouri’s 8th Congressional District seat.

Excerpts from a glossy, full-color feasibility study provide an inkling of what has OPRC members standing in opposition to the heritage area designation.

In the introduction on page 5, local residents are assured that they individually select participation and what to preserve throughout their lives and the lives of their offspring.

On page 6, the law that allows the federal government to intrude into the lives of citizens is explained:

The enabling legislation for every new National Heritage Area includes this Private Property Protection Clause:

Click to download study (pdf).

In short, this policy means that the National Heritage Area can not require people to participate in its programs and cannot seize private property or abridge property owners’ legal rights in any way.  Concern for the protection of private property owners’ rights from government intrusion has long been a part of the culture of this region and was heightened because of federal authorities’ use of question- able methods in obtaining land for the establishment of scenic riverways and related purposes during the twentieth century. The organizations responsible for this feasibility study share this concern and are committed to seeking the ongoing input of private property rights advocates and doing everything possible to ensure that National Heritage Area status (or any other status or designation that might result from this exploratory process) will never be used as a basis for infringing the rights of property owners.

The NHA program is led and managed by area residents as a voluntary partnership that helps citizens steward regional ecologies, historic resources, and local economies. This type of designation is based on grass roots organization, voluntary participation, and does not involve property regulation or land use regulation.

One page later, an explanation about who funded the feasibility study is offered:

This feasibility study is funded wholly with federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds received by Ozark Action, Inc., from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provided by the Missouri Department of Social Services, Family Support Division. The funds received from the Family Support Division are all federally funded.

What does it mean to be designated as a heritage area?

For people like Parker and his neighbors in 13 Ozarks counties, it raises fears:  of being taken under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service and unseen global planners; of losing control of their farms, ranches and businesses; and of suffering under the guidelines of Agenda 21, a program described on the United Nations web site as “a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts on the environment.”

“Seems as if they understand there will be opposition to their program once the information gets out,” Parker wrote in an e-mail to friends and colleagues this morning.  This is an immediate threat to our property rights and to the freedom to use our land and streams. If we lose our private property rights, they may be lost forever.”

Stay tuned!

FYI: If you enjoy this blog and want to keep reading stories like the one above, show your support by using the “Support Bob” tool at right. Thanks in advance for your support!

UPDATE 2/1/11 at 11:03 a.m. Central: Bob Parker advised me of a three-year-old article by Tom DeWeese which sheds light on this subject.

UPDATE 3/15/11 at 6:20 p.m. Central: See Ozarks National Heritage Area Plan Appears Dead.