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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