Passing up Blueway would be loss to all Arkansans 

The National Blueway designation for the White River would bring the state resources for conservation efforts that would give landowners, hunting and fishing enthusiasts, and anyone who enjoys the outdoors a cleaner and more beautiful place to enjoy.

At a legislative hearing last week, several state agencies and conservation groups who had previously supported the Blueway program requested that the Department of the Interior remove the designation because of a slew of misinformation being circulated by various groups in the state. This is unfortunate and saddening. We cannot afford to miss out on opportunities like this that would bring funding to our state, create jobs, protect our natural resources, and make our state more beautiful.

Last year, 26 stakeholders, including lawmakers, conservation districts and organizations, businesses, recreation groups and others, nominated the White River for inclusion in the National Blueway System. On Jan. 8 of this year the White River was designated by the Secretary of the Interior as this country's second Blueway. This well-deserved designation recognizes the efforts of many partners already working within the watershed for many years to utilize, conserve and restore the White River and its tributaries. 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, "The resources made available through this designation will support and promote needed conservation efforts and bolster valuable economic growth and job creation in years to come."

Recently though, misinformation has spread about the true purpose of the Blueway program. The agencies and conservation groups that withdrew their support have said the decision was based on concerns from landowners. Some fear that federal forces are lining up for, at worse, a takeover of personal property and at best a program of crippling legislation that will severely limit what landowners can do on their own property. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Blueway program has no regulatory authority. It has no power over private property, land use or water rights. It is simply a recognition program. The secretarial order clearly states, "Nothing in this Order is intended to authorize or affect the use of private property. Nothing in this order is intended to be the basis for the exercise of any new regulatory authority, nor shall this initiative or any designation pursuant to this order affect or interfere with ... the laws of any state or tribe relating to the control, appropriation, use or distribution of water or water rights."

The National Blueway System supports voluntary land and water conservation and management practices. The program is locally led and federally supported, and it provides an opportunity for diverse stakeholders to work together. It is intended to support sustainable local economies that are dependent on healthy and functional rivers for tourism, recreation, commerce, agriculture and community pride, and was created to enable all our citizens to more easily benefit from a special place where we live, work, and play together.

The Arkansas Canoe Club is still hopeful that there is a way forward for the Blueway program, but with the loss of support from state agencies and other conservation groups, it may not be possible. Regardless, there must be a way forward to make sure that Arkansas puts a priority on conservation efforts and doesn't miss out on opportunities like this in the future. We must have a decision-making process in this state that is driven by rational discourse and factual information rather than rumors and conspiracy theories.

We know there are many Arkansans who want to see our state's uniquely beautiful and pristine lakes, rivers, and streams protected for our children and grandchildren to enjoy. We urge you to talk with your friends, your family members, and your public officials about the importance of conservation efforts like the Blueway program. We must work hard to build a better understanding of the value that these programs bring both to anyone who enjoy areas like the White River, as well as to the local economies who benefit from increased tourism and jobs created by conservation projects. The future of our precious natural resources depends on it.

Debbie Doss is the conservation chair of the Arkansas Canoe Club.


Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Arkansas condones child abuse?

    If Harrises and Duggars go unpunished, yes.
    • Jun 4, 2015
  • Must address racial inequities

    We mourn for the families of the dead at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. As we grieve it's time to rekindle a conversation about race in America and press for the changes that the Emanuel congregation championed for centuries — changes that also made it a target.
    • Jun 25, 2015
  • Racism is systemic

    In a speech on Sunday at Bethel A.M.E. Church, Gov. Asa Hutchinson played directly into the narrative of respectability politics, where white people tell people of color how they should respond to a situation and condemn responses from others in the community experiencing anger, rage and other expressions of grief.
    • Jun 25, 2015

Most Shared

Latest in Guest Writer

  • Don't blame trigger warnings

    "Trigger warnings" have recently resurfaced in the news because of a letter from a University of Chicago dean of students that warned incoming freshmen to not expect advance notice of potentially upsetting material in the classroom
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Schlafly's influence

    Phyllis Schlafly, mother, attorney and longtime antifeminist, died recently. What Schlafly promoted was not novel or new. Men had been saying that men and women were not equal for years. However, anti-feminism, anti-women language had much more power coming from a woman who professed to be looking out for the good of all women and families.
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • Global health is local health

    First with the 2014 Ebola outbreak and now with the Zika virus, Americans are becoming reacquainted with the fear of infectious disease. But although Ebola and Zika are both serious public health threats, they pale in comparison to three other diseases in terms of inflicting suffering and loss of life around the world — tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria.
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Five Fun Fall Activities

Five Fun Fall Activities

Autumn temps are perfect for outdoor activities

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The big loser

    • We are leaving in 3 hours. An I never said that anybody said I DID…

    • on October 22, 2016
  • Re: The big loser

    • Here's some more information for the investigator from the Enquirer. It's a confession from somebody…

    • on October 21, 2016
  • Re: The big loser

    • Nobody here but you said anything bad about Shelton. Nothing that happened to her was…

    • on October 21, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation