Franklin County commissioners held off on joining other counties in formally opposing federal designations that allegedly “threaten the property and water rights of landowners of the state of Missouri.”
Ronald Reiter, whose business card says he is a “patriot” and “supporter of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights” met with Commissioners John Griesheimer and Tim Brinker last week in a work session.
Reiter of Festus asked the commissioners to sign a “Resolution of Solidarity” in opposition to the White River becoming the Second National Blueway.
He is circulating the document following a controversy involving the White River and its watershed being named a federal Blueway in Arkansas and Missouri.
The National Blueway System is intended to connect “communities to shared natural heritage, accessible outdoor recreation and sustainable economic development,” the U.S. Department of Interior website states.
The designation of the White River as a Blueway was withdrawn after citizens and members of Congress complained that it could lead to more federal regulations.
Griesheimer said he is concerned about adopting a resolution over an issue that no longer exists.
“I would rather take this under advisement,” Griesheimer said. “If they resurrect that again, then maybe what we need to do is have you come up and make a presentation during the commission meeting.”
Reiter said he is not a member of an organization but just a concerned Missouri citizen.
“The sovereignty of the state and the right to own land, that’s an issue, and we’ve got to protect that in my opinion,” Reiter said.
In a statement issued after the Blueway designation was removed in July, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said, “The Obama Administration’s attempt to establish a new federal designation without the approval of Congress or public input is absolutely unacceptable. The stakeholders and community members deserve more transparency from their government. I’m pleased the Obama Administration has withdrawn this designation.”
While the Blueway issue is over for now it is expected to come back in another form, Reiter said, adding, “There is going to be a next time.”
He said he is certain that 19 of the 21 Missouri counties that were directly affected by the proposed White River Blueway designation have already signed the solidarity resolution.
By signing the resolution, counties are saying they are in “opposition to any and all such designations and secretarial orders which threaten the property and water rights of landowners of the state of Missouri.”
The resolution also calls on Gov. Jay Nixon to “instruct all state agencies to neither participate in, nor support, any designations such as the White River Watershed National Blueway, without complete transparency and consultation of our citizens and elected officials.”
Getting other Missouri counties to sign will send a message to the federal government that it needs to communicate with landowners and local officials, Reiter added.
“That was never done the first time,” he asserted.
Griesheimer and Brinker said they want to review the documents Reiter provided and let him know the commission’s decision.
Reiter said he planned to make a similar visit to St. Louis County after Labor Day and that he had already visited other counties such as Jefferson, St. Francis, Cape Girardeau and Ste. Genevieve.
His goal, he said, is to spread awareness of the issue, saying there could be other areas, including Franklin County, targeted for future Blueways.