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Niobrara-Ponca Conservation Areas Would Improve Adjoining Land Values

Boyd County (Nebraska)'s resolution of opposition to the Niobrara/Ponca conservation plan and to government land ownership and conservation in general declares this public goal: discourage land use development or use that will lower or impair the value of the land or adjacent land that would deplete the county's tax base [Boyd County Board of Supervisors, Resolution 2013-09-24-01, passed 2013.09.24].

Proposed NIobrara Confluence and Ponca Bluffs Conservation Area
Proposed NIobrara Confluence and Ponca Bluffs Conservation Area (click to enlarge)

I still struggle to find the the real, non-partisan downside to the Niobrara/Ponca plan that would so incense Senator Lederman and other officials to so grievously misinform the public as to the intentions of the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service. One of the only logical conclusions I can reach is that Dan looks around at all that expensive flood-plain housing that he and his country-club neighbors live in and thinks, "Gee, the whole world should look like this!" Maybe he just can't stand the thought that conservation easements or federal purchase would take even 10% of the 1.4 million acres along the South Dakota–Nebraska border (and remember, that's the maximum area in the mapped project area that the NPS and FWS would acquire for conservation).

The short-sighted Lederman is missing two points. One should be obvious from his own flood experience: building in some areas along the Niobrara Confluence and Ponca Bluffs watershed only increases costs to taxpayers. Remind me: how much did the lack of foresight cost residents and taxpayers to sandbag Dan's golf course when the Missouri flooded in 2011? Had Dakota Dunes been left undeveloped, Lederman and his neighbors wouldn't have needed any state or federal flood assistance.

More important and market-oriented is the property values argument. Lederman and Boyd County are ignoring the value that conservation areas add to adjoining property. Why do people build along rivers and lakes in the first place? Because they can look out at a beautiful open stretch of land! At Lake Herman, I've felt a little crowded by new houses going up around our house. I cherish both the view of the lake and the conservation area to the north that GF&P acquired from Gerry Lange four decades ago. That open space makes my Lake Herman property more valuable than it would be if it were completely surrounded by Lake Madison McMansions.

Check the evidence: open spaces make adjoining land more valuable, not less. They cost the county less than developing them for residential purposes, which would require the county to extend public services.

Boyd County, if you mean what you say about wanting to protect land values, you should encourage landowners to be good neighbors and good stewards and sign up for the Niobrara/Ponca conservation easements.


  1. interested party 2013.09.27

    So, Lederman and his earth hater buddies had low-ball offers on some of this ground and would have supported conservation easements after Noem, et al. stalled FWS?

  2. interested party 2013.09.27

    There's a movement in the West to prohibit building in fire or flood prone areas and to increase insurance costs to the idiots that choose to do it anyway.

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