I am happy to report that the U.S. Forest Service responded to the legislative resolution I prepared earlier this year and is now allocating $190,000 toward replacement fencing materials along boundary lines in Dawes County. After the fires of 2012, the Forest Service informed ranchers that there was insufficient revenue available to rebuild division fences between its land and neighboring landowners property, and the burden of replacement would be solely borne by the landowners.
I introduced Legislative Resolution 40 in January. Resolutions of the Legislature, like LR 40, do not bind the state of Nebraska to any particular activity, but demonstrate the will of the legislative body.
They are often congratulatory in nature but can also have some policy ramifications. LR 40 called on the Forest Service to reconsider the decision to deny funding for fence replacement and asked it to pay its portion of the costs.
This shared responsibility complies with Nebraska’s fencing law.
A few weeks ago, I was notified that the U.S. Forest Service reversed its original decision and would purchase $190,000 of fencing materials to be distributed to landowners to use in the reconstruction of the boundary fences.
This decision demonstrates the goodwill of the Forest Service and I want to thank local Forest Service employees who helped make this funding possible.
This investment in Dawes County by the Forest Service will go a long way toward maintaining goodwill between the landowners and managers of Forest Service land, so it is a win-win situation for all parties involved.
State park closures
Many of you are aware that the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission closed 29 State Recreation Areas in an attempt to save money and reallocate resources to other locations.
One-sixth of the closures are in the 43rd district.
The closures are temporary, but they do not allay the frustration and irritation of our friends and neighbors who purchased park stickers with the understanding that they would be able to use them throughout 2013 at all the state parks and recreation areas.
While Nebraska Game and Parks does have a significant amount of deferred maintenance, I believe the decision to close a number of recreation areas early will hurt its image over the long haul.
Residents of Merriman contacted me about the closure of Cottonwood Lake, a state recreation area just east of town. I consulted with Game and Parks about the closure there and met with a group of 50 residents who are passionate in their desire to keep the park open through the winter for ice-fishing and bird watching.
The staff at Nebraska Game and Parks have agreed to keep Cottonwood open, if the residents of Merriman are willing to contribute volunteer labor and raise some funds to defray costs associated with keeping the park open.
Game and Parks officials indicated to me that this type of arrangement could be developed at any of the other park sites which are now closed due to their budgetary restrictions, and I would be happy to facilitate that in any community in the 43rd district which would like to take on the duties.
Please contact our office via email or phone if you are interested in working on this proposal, and I will set up a meeting in your community after the tax modernization hearings in Scottsbluff, North Platte and Norfolk are finished.
As always, I value your input, and welcome phone calls, emails and personal visits from you.
-- Senator Al Davis, State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509. (402) 471-2628. firstname.lastname@example.org