WAHOO, Neb. (KMTV) — Gov. Pete Ricketts has been on a mission of late, getting the word out about an executive order from President Joe Biden which aims to conserve 30% of the land in the United States.
Ricketts calls it a land grab by the federal government. Currently, about 12% is considered conserved.
“We’re in the trenches, this is the front line,” said Ricketts.
Ricketts is holding town halls throughout the state in cities like McCook, Clay Center, and Broken Bow. In Wahoo on Monday, Ricketts criticized the Biden administration in a plan he calls vague.
“Part of the problem is, we’re not getting very much information about what the administration is proposing,” said Ricketts.
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Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack has recently said the plan is not a land grab, and in the renamed plan, titled ‘Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful,' they said multiple times the plan is voluntary.
President Biden also has no authority to take away land from any American. Ricketts says he wants Nebraskans to be aware of it, and be ready to push back if there is federal legislation.
“We do need to watch any sort of federal legislation because the President doesn’t have the constitutional authority to do this. He will have to work through the congress,” said Ricketts.
Ricketts also was rallying support for counties to fight this at the local level. Every county board must approve a conservation easement, which is a contract between a landowner and the feds that would put the land into the “conserved” category.
Ricketts said those contracts have strings attached and often are in perpetuity.
“We want people to be aware of what’s probably going to be happening in your own backyards, so read the fine print and get your counties involved,” said Ricketts.
Ricketts did get push back at the town hall. One woman argued that the plan says multiple times that it is voluntary.
Alan Meyer, a Cedar Bluffs farmer, told Ricketts he was using scare tactics and fear-mongering.
“I’m really tired of opposition to proposals or programs primarily because they come from the other party,” said Meyer.
Meyer told Ricketts he should use his power to make the plan better and ensure if the government does acquire land, to make them pay their fair share in property taxes.
“Make it part of the legislation, fight for this, that they have to pay equitable property tax on anything that is put into this program,” said Meyer.
Over 20 counties in Nebraska have passed resolutions opposing the 30x30 plan but so far no metro area counties have done so.
Nebraska republican candidate for governor Jim Pillen was also in attendance at the meeting.
Pillen, who currently sits on the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, announced his run in April.
He said he's running because he has deep convictions about the way of life in Nebraska.