LET Government should buy habitat

John Weiss's article about a federal program taking 42,500 acres of marginal land out of production caught my attention. This would result in undisturbed belts of land along rivers and streams to filter and hold silt, chemicals and runoff from the water. It's a good idea, but there has been a lack of continuity in the program over the years.

I take issue with a permanent easement on the land because the government should not pay for set-aside acres indefinitely. There will be years when sufficient funds are not allocated for payments but the easements will continue to exist. Land must produce income to cover existing mortgages and taxes or it will lose value for current and future owners.

Much river-bottom land is fertile, productive, and susceptible to runoff, but owners are reluctant to take it out of production. A lot of marginal land has never been farmed, yet owners receive set-aside payments.

Rather than using perpetual easements for such a critical environmental issue, why doesn't the government just buy the land as proposed by Congressman Gil Gutknecht? He knows that government policy can change, leaving landowners stuck with permanent easements and no funding to offset their loss. Must taxpayers continue to pay for land long after its value has been satisfied? I'd say Gil is looking out for all of us.

Joseph; Connell



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