Kansas counties are pushing back against President Joe Biden’s “Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful” plan — often referred to as the “30 by 30” program or 30×30 — which has as its aim to “protect” 30 percent of the nation’s land by 2030 by creating “National Heritage Areas.” 

At least 11 counties in the Flint Hills Region have passed resolutions in opposition.

Anderson County is among them, in October, passing the most strongly-worded resolution in opposition to the 30×30 plan.

The resolution notes that Executive Order 14008 entitled “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad,” — which was passed within days of Biden taking office, would allow the federal government to take control of private lands — ostensibly for the purposes of “conservation” and to tackle the “climate crisis.”

As the resolution notes: The Executive Order is silent about what “conservation” means. 

“The Executive Order is silent about where the Administration plans to get the 30 percent of American land to lock up.

“The report submitted in obedience to the Executive Order does not answer either of those questions, and Administration officials now say it is too difficult to define ‘conservation, but they plan to do it, whatever it is.”

The other counties that have passed resolutions are Chase, Clay, Coffey, Decatur, Dickinson, Linn, Norton, Russell, Trego, and Washington.

The suggestion that federal bureaucrats have a better idea of how to exercise stewardship over a critical habitat like the Flint Hills than the ranchers who depend upon the last remaining tallgrass prairie in the world remaining healthy rankled many — including Anderson County Commissioner Les McGhee.

McGhee said he has been a rancher his entire life and loves the land.

“As far as we’re concerned the poorest steward (of the land) is the federal government,” he said in a December 15 phone interview. “The individuals that make their living off of it are way better stewards than they are.”

The resolution also points out that Biden’s Executive Order cites no specific constitutional or statutory authority to take any action.

Not only that, but the administration has so far provided no answers about where that authority might reside.

In effect, the president decided he wanted to do something and simply issued a diktat.

This fits a pattern of the Biden administration ignoring the rule of law. The president has issued several such EOs from ending the “remain in Mexico policy,” to multiple vaccine mandates, even including a ban on new oil and gas leases — as part of EO 14008 — all of which federal courts have blocked.

Nearly all of them have been blocked on the grounds that the administration simply lacked the authority to issue the orders in the first place.

So far, there do not appear to be any rulings related to the 30×30 plan, but once designation attempts are made it may be more likely.

Moreover, once NHA designations are made, they’re nearly impossible to reverse.

The Anderson county resolution also notes that Biden’s 30×30 plan is related to a proposal by the E.O Wilson Foundation to set aside 50 percent of the land and water on Earth to “preserve biodiversity.”

According to Hutchinson News, during a call with agricultural journalists earlier this year, Vilsack said, “There is no intent to take land away from farmers. The goal here is to create new opportunities.”

According to the News, Vilsack claimed the administration and the USDA want to incentivize farmers and ranchers to use “tools” that he has at the USDA to compensate and pay farmers for being good stewards of their land.

“(We want them to) embrace new opportunities and new ways,” he said. “None of it involves taking anyone’s land or using eminent domain.”

Of course, federal funds are often the proverbial “camel’s nose under the tent,’ and once accepted, the federal government — not the state or individual accepting the funds — is ultimately in the driver’s seat.

In Nebraska, Republican Governor Pete Ricketts has been aggressive in trying to combat what he — and many others — see as a land grab by the federal government.

In a press release dated June 8, Ricketts pointed out that “protecting” nearly a third of the country by 2030 would require restricting a land area the size of the state of Nebraska every year, or double the state of Texas by 2030.

Back in Anderson County, McGhee and his colleagues are aware that the Biden administration will likely ignore their resolutions but hope that they will at least spark conversation in the state and perhaps lay the groundwork for a lawsuit if needed.

McGhee said he is also worried about the impact restricting the use of so much agricultural land will have on food production, noting that a very small percentage of the population is involved in agriculture, most people don’t really understand where their food comes from — and some sort of wake-up call is needed.

“We’ve had it really good in this country for a long time,” McGhee said. “If we continue on the path that they’re trying to drive us down, people are going to go hungry.

“And maybe they should.”

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