Published On: Wed, Feb 1st, 2012

County voices concern with federal land plan

HARTINGTON — County Commissioners had a chance to voice their feelings on a Land Protection Plan that could take land in Cedar County off the tax roll down the road.
Steven Mietz, Superintendent with the National Park Service, spoke to the board Jan. 24.
According to Mietz, plans are being put in place to obtain land along the Missouri River in a push to conserve land and improve outdoor recreation opportunities.
Funds to purchase land have already been set aside in a Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is a federal program.
Board members were not supportive of the plan if it means additional land will be removed from the county tax rolls.

Commissioner Marlen Kraemer reminded Mietz that during the last few years there has already been over 2,000 acres of land in Cedar County that has been transferred to the federal government.
“It seems like the government is taking more and more property off the tax roll all the time,” Kraemer said.
Other Commissioners shared Kraemer’s concerns.
“If it goes off the tax roll it affects the community and the school districts – it affects everyone,” said Commissioner Terry Pinkelman.
Mietz told board members the NPS will also be working with willing land owners on buying access to the river through  long-term easements, which would keep the land on the tax roll.
Mietz said the county would see other benefits from the Land Protection Plan.
“Tourism would increase which could bring extra dollars into the county,” Mietz said. “If we can eliminate building along the river it would reduce the damages and expenses if the water level on the river spikes again and there is another flood.”
Bank stabilization along the Missouri River would also be looked at with the Land Protection Plan.
“We did an inventory after the recent flood. We went up and down the river and did a survey – there was a lot of trash in the River,” Mietz said. “We want the area to look nice and  we want it to keep its natural look.”
Certain requirements would have to be met as the Missouri River has been designated a “wild and scenic river.”
Commissioner Pinkelman asked Mietz if the proposed plan would affect the county’s two boat docks –  one at Brooky Bottom and another by St. Helena.
The banks have to be stabilized which is at the county’s expense. Mietz said he would check into grants that may be available to help the county with the expense.