November 26, 2009

Heritage Area forum held in Washburn

By Alyssa Schafer

Voices were raised in Washburn’s Memorial Building last week, over an issue that seems to have all of central North Dakota talking. In order to clear up misconceptions about the Northern Plains Heritage Area, those close to the project have recently made an effort to provide information about the area and take in public input. But a number of area landowners, including many members of the North Dakota Farm Bureau, say it’s too little too late. About 100 area landowners and community members attended the Nov. 17 scoping meeting in Washburn, which was intended to collect public input about the Northern Plains Heritage Area. The meeting began with a presentation by Heritage Area Foundation member Tracy Potter. Potter presented a set of questions about the Heritage Area and provided answers, in an effort to assuage some landowners’ fears that the Heritage Area will infringe on public property rights. "The law specifically excludes regulatory authority," Potter said. "The National Heritage Area has zero to do with that." Despite Potter’s efforts to clear up misconceptions about the Heritage Area, the meeting nearly shut down at one point, after the topic of public input was brought up.

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