Federal officials are looking to preserve a wide section of land along the Missouri River in Nebraska and South Dakota.
The corridor stretches from near Ponca State Park to the west end of Lewis and Clark Lake near Yankton. Wayne Nelson-Statsny, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says it’s a broad target area.
“What we’re looking at is a total of 140,000 acres, 80% of which would be through a permanent easement,” he says. “The landowner would still own the land, we’d be purchasing the rights to ensure conservation practices remain in effect.” That would include keeping the area from development, but he says haying and grazing of livestock would likely still be allowed.
Nelson-Statsny says they want to work with landowners and those interested along the river.
“We really want people to understand that we’re working with willing landowners only, there’s no condemnation with this thing,” he says. “We actually think it could be another good tool for folks who have good conservation practices to help ensure that continues and provide them some benefits.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service are looking at the conservation plan. Nelson-Statsny says public input will help create the final shape of the conservation area.
“We want to know how to make this work for them so we want their comments, things we can adjust, it is a draft,” he says. “We’d like to hear their comments, good, bad or indifferent.” The public comment period for the Ponca-Niobrara Land Protection Plan has been extended to the end of September. More information is available at the Fish and Wildlife Service website: www.fws.gov.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton