Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Loos Tales column printed in High Plains Journal Feb 25, 2006

The only true lottery winners

As our nation was honoring Presidents Washington and Lincoln on February 20, 2006, a very ironic meeting was taking place in North Platte, NE. Lincoln, who created the Homestead Act of 1862, was surely rolling over in his grave if he heard some of the obscurities presented at the Open Space Conference, which was hosted by the Nebraska Environmental Trust. As a refresher, let’s do a quick history lesson. The Homestead Act of 1862 gave one quarter of a section (160 acres) of undeveloped land in the American West to any head of a family or person that was at least 21 years of age. In order to claim ownership, he must live on the land for five years and build a house of a least 12 by 14 feet. The family head could also opt to buy the land for $1.25 per acre after six months.

Without question, the Homestead Act paved the way for our forefathers to turn a vast wilderness into the most balanced ecosystem in the world. The Lewis and Clark Journals alone give us great insight into some of the troubles of that day. Their journals indicate that within the first 40 days of their journey, every member of the Corp of Discovery faced bouts of disentary because of silt, filth and ooze that was in each cup of water they drank from the Missouri River. Yet today those with an agenda simply choose to ignore the improvements that humans have made to the ecosystem of what once was a Wilderness.

Without a shred of doubt, the United States of America has led the world in innovations and the development of technologies to improve natural resources and humankind. The land of the free and the home of the brave has proven that American intelligence and preservance can create what is the envy of the world. Private ownership of land and personal property and our pride in the toil and tribulations from one generation to the next since the passage of the Homestead Act has created a place that disconnected Americans like to visit. They often comment that “the sandhills of Nebraska are like a dream come true”. That statement was made possible because of the hard working hands of ranchers who used careful stewardship on their land. In support of that was one of the most logical bits of information presented in North Platte which came from Jim Stubbendick of the University of Nebraska. He presented studies that indicate the sandhills are in less need of protection than they have been in the last 100 years because of the land management of private property owners.

You should know that the Nebraska Environmental Trust is state government agency that is funded in large part by the Nebraska Lottery. Boil down all of the fancy lingo about helping “preserve Nebraska beauty” and you will find that Lottery dollars are finacing one of the largest land grabs in the history of the country. One of their board members, Warren Arganbright, an attorney from Valentine, says, "The areas of concern are how to preserve, protect and repair the land". I would like to ask him what he is protecting the land from? Is it private ownership and good stewardship?

Eric Freyfogle, from the University of Illinois College of Law, was a featured speaker and must be the first human to actually accomplish time travel because his words would indicate that he completely missed of the downfalls of communism. I chose to use that word because he himself referred to land ownership as a “regime.” He actually said in public that private ownership of land was “morally problematic and a lousy idea”.

Don’t lull yourself into believing that Nebraska just happens to be where this meeting took place. Nebraska is the epicenter of the largest land mass owned by an individual in this country. Ted Turner now owns 2% of the United States prairie. There is a reason these individuals with United Nations money behind them are converging on places like Arthur Country, NE with a population of 400 and ½ person per square mile. I don’t think it is because there is a rapidly growing urban sprawl problem. It is because there aren’t too many people to fight back.

When you sum up this movement, the only way these individuals will be successful is if they continue to do their dirty work in the dead of night. Once we shed light on the fact that they are trying to gain control of the land through easements and acquisitions and we engage the same farm and ranch families who helped turn this wilderness into the most productive resource in the country, all the money in the world can’t compete with the grit and determination these families will use to send these lottery winners to another ecosystem to execute their land grabbing ways.

Trent Loos is a 6th generation United States farmer, host of daily radio show Loos Tales and founder of Faces of Agriculture, non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com or email Trent at trent@loostales.com.