Easements are important tool
Ducks Unlimited opposes Senate Bill 323, which would severely restrict the use of conservation easements, infringe upon property rights, and prevent landowners from benefiting from an important land-conservation instrument and financial tool.
One of our organization’s most important tools when protecting wetlands is to enter into conservation easements with a willing landowner. These easements allow landowners to continue farming and ranching while receiving income from lands that are marginal for cropping or grazing but offer outstanding waterfowl values. For the easements to be of value to Ducks Unlimited, they must be perpetual. Not only can the landowner receive additional income for the sale of the conservation easement, but there are also potential federal income-tax deductions available to these willing landowners. Easements that are less than perpetual, or can be terminated by the grantor, are not eligible for a federal tax deduction.
Also, landowners who wish to enroll their properties into certain programs with the U.S. Department of Agriculture may not be eligible to do so. The Grassland Reserve Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program both offer landowners perpetual conservation easements.
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Perpetual conservation easements are an important private land right with a multitude of benefits, including income for landowners, protection of critical and important wildlife habitat, protecting watersheds (and their benefits of recharging aquifers, flood retention and cleaning water), and protecting grasslands for future generations, all while keeping the land in private ownership and on the tax rolls.
Eagle columnist Suzanne Perez Tobias insulted the people of Grand Rapids, Mich., after their city commission eliminated an ordinance that said, “No person shall willfully annoy another person” (“Scrapping this law is annoying,” March 13 WichiTalk). Tobias argued that such an ordinance was “common sense.” However, as a lawyer, I can assure you that the rule was unconstitutional. There is simply no way to define intentionally annoying behavior in a way that is judicially enforceable.
Tobias was right to apologize for insulting the city (March 20 WichiTalk), but it’s clear that we all like to avoid annoyances. The problem is that people are different and hold differing views on all the issues of life, and the best we can do is tolerate such annoyances. Scripture says, “A wise man overlooks insults.”
Our democratic freedoms assume and calculate the annoying differences in style and substance of human thought and behavior. To use the heavy hand of government to attempt to obliterate the differences is to install a dictatorial totalitarian system that destroys freedom. As an example, Obamacare is viewed as a blessing to some, but to others it’s a destructive attack on our medical care system, even an impeachable offense, much less an annoyance.
The best we can do is a loving and thoughtful tolerance of others.
Cars a problem
We need to do something about those dangerous cars around town.
I was driving down I-135 the other day. I checked the lane next to me as I was approaching a slower car. I turned on the turn signal, but then the car that was in the next lane back at a safe distance sped up so hard that the front of the car had a slight lift to it. The car came up alongside and drove next to me for the next two miles, keeping even with me. It kept me and others from passing the slower car.
Last year in Kansas, more people were killed by cars and large-capacity trucks than by guns. Legislation should be passed to ban large-capacity trucks and greatly restrict the use of cars, to save lives.
People talk so much about how guns scare them when more people are killed and hurt with cars driving wild, not to mention the ones that take unlicensed people home after a night of drinking. These cars will hit someone and not even stop.