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Kansas’ natural heritage is under attack in Legislature

By Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

Bills in the Kansas Legislature are reversing decades of conservation of our natural heritage.

House Bill 2118 proposes to reverse state law protecting our plants and animals, including 60 endangered or threatened birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles.

Senate Bill 276 would make it illegal for the Fish & Wildlife Service to work to conserve non-migratory threatened or en-dangered Kansas species. Sen-ate Bill 323 would stop people from creating perpetual conser-vation easements and conserva-tion organizations from receiv-ing them. This bill will hamper all private groups working to save the state’s species and force land development to fund new tax burdens added by the law.

Some argue anything that hampers immediate economic development is inherently bad; money is all that matters. Less overtly stated is a current hostility toward any protection of nature. The natural wonders and beauty of our state are treasures for all her citizens now and into the future. These laws will open the door for selfish opportunists to profit at the expense of our shared natural legacy.

In 24 years of enjoying and researching Kansas nature, I have encountered many ranchers, farmers and other private land owners who hold land and nature stewardship in high regard, hoping to pass both to future generations. Most sportsmen I have worked with are at heart conservationists and hold the natural world in deep regard.

In a state where 98 percent of the land is private, destroying the ability to work effectively with private landowners to conserve our heritage is a death sentence for many of the unique plants and animals we have shared our state with until now.

Please contact your state senators so they hear from those Kansans who appreciate the value of our natural heritage.

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