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Federal program protects farm, and Civil War battlefield

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  • Federal program protects farm, and Civil War battlefield

    A thread on this news was posted on the old AC forum. Its made a couple headlines this weekend so I thought I would post it again.

    From CNN

    Federal program protects farm, and Civil War battlefield

    BATTLEFIELD, Missouri (AP) -- Bill Kary was torn between his love of running cattle and the comfortable retirement that could come from selling his southwest Missouri farm to developers.

    Officials working to protect a relatively untouched Civil War battlefield from encroaching subdivisions convinced him a federal farmland protection program offered both.

    Kary agreed to preserve two parcels of farmland totaling 102 acres that adjoin Wilson's Creek National Battlefield under an agreement with U.S. Department of Agriculture and Ozark Greenways, a not-for-profit conservation organization.

    Kary's farm is now recognized as the first conservation easement site in Missouri. It also marks the first time the program was used to protect a historic battlefield.

    "I may have made more building houses out here on this property, but building houses and making more money is not always the answer," Kary said before signing the final paperwork during a ceremony November 25.

    Under the agreement, Kary retains ownership of the land and will continue tending to his more than 100 head of cattle, as well as growing hay and fescue. Ozark Greenways holds the development rights to the two parcels, meaning the organization is charged with ensuring it forever remains agricultural land.

    The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program was established as part of the 1996 Farm Bill to provide money to help buy rights to keep productive farmland in agricultural use. But it allowed the USDA to partner only with state, tribal or local governments.

    Because Missouri did not enact a farmland protection program, it was not eligible for federal funds.

    The voluntary program expanded under the 2002 Farm Bill to allow non-governmental organizations with existing farm and ranch land protection programs to purchase conservation easements.

    As a result, Ozark Greenways was able to work with Kary and the USDA to ensure development won't encroach on the edges of the battlefield, situated in a metropolitan area that is home to about 380,000 people.

    "The benefit is that it protects the cultural landscape for visitors to the battlefield, instead of seeing it all eaten up by roads, houses and shopping centers," said Terry Whaley, executive director of Ozark Greenways. "It also keeps agricultural land within the realm of an urban area, so families can continue to farm."

    Here's how it works: Kary's land has an agricultural value of $1,000 an acre, but a developer was willing to pay $9,000 an acre. The $8,000-per acre difference is considered the "development rights." That amounted to $816,000 for the 102 acres, which was paid to Kary in a lump sum.

    The USDA pitched in half of the money, or $408,000. Ozark Greenways raised $202,000. Kary agreed to donate the remaining $202,000 to Ozark Greenways in exchange for tax credits.

    Ted Hillmer, superintendent of Wilson's Creek, said the easement will help keep the view similar to August 10, 1861. That day, 5,400 Union troops battled 12,000 Confederates. Nathaniel Lyon became the first Union general killed in combat during the bloody battle.

    Wilson's Creek National Battlefield is one of 15 battlefields considered at risk by the Civil War Preservation Trust. Since becoming part of the national parks system in the 1960s, the neighboring towns of Springfield, Rogersville and Battlefield have grown. There has been talk recently of extending a highway near the site.

    Between 1982 and 1997, Missouri lost 435,000 acres of farmland to urban development, said Roger A. Hansen, state conservationist with USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service in Columbia. He estimated that figure has grown to 43,000 acres per year.

    This story was also featured in the Madison Dailer Leader.
    Matthew Rector

  • #2
    Re: Federal program protects farm, and Civil War battlefield

    Good news!
    [SIZE="4"][B][COLOR=RoyalBlue]Eric Michael Burke[/COLOR][/B][/SIZE]
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