Congressman Jason Smith: Interior Ends Blueways Program
WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman Jason Smith announced the Interior Department has decided to end further designation under the National Blueways System. The announcement comes after months of continuous pressure from Smith and property rights advocates to end the controversial land designation. Smith has strongly opposed the National Blueways designation for the White River Watershed in Missouri and Arkansas because the designation did not have local support. In July, Smith brought a congressional field hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee to West Plains, Missouri to raise his concerns over the Blueways program.
“The National Blueways System is finished. This is an incredible victory for my constituents who were rightly concerned the designation would lead to new regulations and land grabs in the future,” said Smith. “Fighting the National Blueways designation has been a top priority for me and I could not be happier that common sense prevailed and local concerns outweighed mandates from Washington bureaucrats. I will continue efforts to protect the rights of private property owners and be a check on the Obama Interior Department that does not understand or appreciate rural Missouri.”
Although the National Blueways Designation has been rescinded, Smith says he will remain vigilant and will fight any federal efforts to limit property rights for his constituents, including the proposed General Management Plan for the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.
“Our fight to end the National Blueways System was successful. Now we must renew our efforts to oppose a new General Management for the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Congress must hold the Obama Interior Department’s feet to the fire. The Interior Department and the National Park Service seem intent on dismissing local concerns and pushing a radical environmental agenda,” said Smith. “Missouri families should not be forced to live in fear of the government trying to regulate their land or way of life. The rights of private property owners must be protected.”
Secretary Jewell’s action also dissolves the National Blueways Committee, which was composed entirely of federal officials and which claimed the authority to unilaterally designate entire river watersheds as “National Blueways.” These designations held the potential to expand the reach of the federal government over non-navigable waters currently under state jurisdiction.