Nebraska Talks About Sustaining State Resources

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Four conferences are being held across the state to start a dialog about Nebraska's sustainability.

Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities founder Cecil Steward says the event only happening in Nebraska.

The purpose is to start a conversation on how to save environmental resources.

"If we don't do it now, we're going to lose them," said Steward. "If we sit and assume that the same practice form yesterday is going to respond to new changes, we'll be doomed."

In a state where 97 % of the land is privately owned, one discussion group questioned whether land-owners should have the final say on their property or if government regulations should be put in place to protect resources.

"The questions are easy. The answers are hard," said Charles McGinn.

McGinn says as a rancher, he wants control over his land, but he'll also protect it. He came to Grand Island's conference Thursday to learn and voice his concerns about passing his land on.

"I've heard a lot of good discussion about food, sustainability, the land sustainability, how we can pass it on to the next generation. That's always a tough issue with the tax environment the way it is, with the water quality and regulations coming down," he said.

Organizers say it's a diverse group, with farmers and ranchers, city leaders, and environmentalists participating. They say even though they say some conversations have been heated, a lot of ideas are coming out.

"It's our intent to condense and synthesize the information," said Stewart. "We will try to do our part to communicate that part to policy makers both at the local levels as well as the state."

Steward says Nebraska has an abundance of natural resources, but the state also relies on those resources more than other parts of the nation.

"They're much more critical to us because with water, irrigation we wouldn't have the 150 bushel corn," he said.

That impacts the state's number one industry and ultimately, it's economy.

Conferences have been held in Lincoln, Omaha, and Grand Island. One will be held in Scottsbluff in August.

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