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Rep. Smith: The Rivers are too Important to be Entrusted to Government

WEST PLAINS, Mo. -- A failed plan to make the Ozarks part of the National Blueways Designation System has many people seeing red and hundreds of concerned citizens packed the West Plains Civic Center Monday to hear from Congressmen Billy Long and Jason Smith.
WEST PLAINS, Mo. -- A failed plan to make the Ozarks part of the National Blueways Designation System has many people seeing red and hundreds of concerned citizens packed the West Plains Civic Center Monday to hear from Congressmen Billy Long and Jason Smith.

The Department of the Interior rescinded its designation efforts after a lot of local outcry, but citizens here in Missouri and Arkansas fear they aren't in the clear yet.

Congressmen Long and Smith requested a field hearing in West Plains to help the community better understand what's going on with the National Blueways Designation System.

The two believe it's outrageous that the effort was put in place in January without local input.

While supporters of the Blueways designation have said they feel it would help with tourism and job growth, landowners along the White River believe the designation would be an infringement on their water and private property rights.

"The rivers are too important to our area to be entrusted to the schemes of unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.," says U.S. Representative Jason Smith.

"It's a real violation on every American's rights to own personal property which is directly linked to our freedoms and liberties," says Davida Williams, who owns property along the White River.  "Federal government does not have the right to trump any state legislature or states of any stake."

"This is standard for our administration," says Bill Gracy, who is part of the Ozark Property Rights Coalition.  "It's unfortunate that's the case but we have to fight against that and that's exactly what we will do from this point on, too."

The proponents were invited to testify, but they were not in attendance.

"They really are unable to defend this whole thing to the public," says Gracy.  "They say we misunderstand this but we knew exactly what they were doing from the start and that's why they backed down.  They had no choice in the matter."


Those in the audience say they're proud of our lawmakers for standing up to the federal government.
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