Nebraska the Beautiful: Conserving our land without the federal government’s heavy hand

Nebraska the Beautiful: Conserving our land without the federal government’s heavy hand

By Governor Pete Ricketts

April 19, 2022

Governor’s Official Photo here.

In Nebraska, we know the importance of good stewardship. Our farmers and ranchers cultivate the land responsibly so that future generations of Nebraskas can continue to enjoy the good life for years to come. That’s why, nearly a hundred years before Earth Day even began, J. Sterling Morton founded Arbor Day right here in Nebraska City. Our farmers and ranchers are the original conservationists.

Agricultural producers play a major role in our responsible management of land and water. They use innovative planting and grazing techniques to reduce erosion and improve soil health. And inventions like the center pivot, the development of drought-tolerant hybrid crops, and the use of precision irrigation have optimized our use of water resources. They have allowed Nebraska to keep our portion of the Ogallala Aquifer within a foot of where it was in the 1950s – a stark contrast to other states that have drained the aquifer. In Colorado, it’s down 15 feet.

Our innovative stewardship practices don’t cost us in terms of production either. While managing land and water resources, Nebraska has increased its important role in national beef production. Since the 1960s, our ranchers have contributed to a 66% increase in domestic beef production, while helping the US beef industry reduce its carbon footprint by 40%. America today produces 18% of the world’s beef with only 6% of the world’s cattle.

Nebraska does all of this while being 97% privately owned. We conserve without the heavy hand of government. And our voluntary conservation of private property has had obvious success. American News ranks Nebraska sixth among states in the country for the quality of its natural environment. By contrast, President Biden’s home state of Delaware ranks sixth. worseand it has the fourth worst pollution in the country.

Nebraskans don’t need the Biden-Harris administration lecturing us on the environment. Our farmers, ranchers, businesses and owners have proven their ability to responsibly use the natural resources that we are blessed with here in Nebraska.

Nevertheless, the Biden-Harris administration continues to promote a radical environmental agenda. The president is funneling funds to the EPA to expand federal control over land and water. In his first month in office, President Biden issued an executive order calling for the conservation of 30% of the country’s land and water by 2030. The 30×30 policy calls for the conservation of 440 million acres of ‘by 2030. That’s nine times the size of Nebraska.

Land considered “conserved” less than 30 x 30 includes wetlands, wildlife preserves, state and national parks, and national monuments. The Biden administration expanded the boundaries of existing conserved lands to achieve its goal. This includes growing Bears Ears National Monument by 85% and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by 45%. Together, these monuments now give more than three million acres of land to federal control. But the Biden administration is still missing hundreds of millions of acres at 30%. There is no way the Biden administration will meet its 2030 goal through these expansions alone. And they know it.

That’s why federal agencies — and their environmentalist allies — are trying to convince landowners to voluntarily relinquish their property rights through conservation easements. These agreements pay landowners in return for conserving their land. President Biden’s proposed budget includes more than $300 million for conservation easements.

Here’s how conservation easements work: Federal government agencies or radical environmental groups make tempting offers to farmers and ranchers to sign a conservation land contract. Once signed, there is no going back. Unless the contract specifies a time limit, the servitude is perpetual. Future generations of Nebraskans have no way of going back and wondering if the land should remain in easement. It’s permanent.

I signed an executive order last year to better equip Nebraskans to resist 30 x 30. Among other actions, it prohibits the use of state agency discretionary resources to support projects involving perpetual conservation easements. .

I also led a group of 15 governors to send a letter to President Biden, calling for transparency on the veiled 30×30 program. Since issuing his climate decree more than a year ago, the president has given no indication of how he intends to achieve his goals. And our letter calling for answers remains unanswered.

In the face of soaring inflation, President Biden has proposed massive spending increases to support the goals of environmental extremists. His federal budget recommendation would increase the size of the EPA, increasing its budget by 29%, or about $2.6 billion. It shows how out of touch the Biden-Harris administration is with normal Americans. At a time when families are struggling to make ends meet, the President wants to use their hard-earned tax dollars to fund the projects of radical environmentalists and erode our private property rights.

President Biden should leave conservation to the pros – our farmers and ranchers. Instead, he should focus on reining in the federal spending spree that has led to record inflation and supporting policies that provide relief to American families.

As we celebrate the 150and anniversary of Arbor Day and the 52n/a Earth Day anniversary, remember the decades and decades of conservation Nebraskanians have practiced on our land. We can continue to feed the world and manage our land for future generations without the heavy hand of government.

I will be celebrating this Earth Day by hosting the nation’s first 30 x 30 summit in Lincoln. Here, national, state and local leaders will come together to discuss voluntary conservation practices and how we can combat the excesses of the Biden administration to protect our private property rights for future generations. You can read more about the summit at

If you have any questions about Nebraska’s Strong Conservation Practices or the President’s 30 x 30 Plan, please email or call 402-471-2244.

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