Clay Center residents voice opposition to land transfer

A proposed land acquisition in Clay County has ruffled the feathers of many residents.
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 10:54 PM CDT
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CLAY CENTER, Neb. (KSNB) - A proposed land acquisition in Clay County has ruffled the feathers of many residents. Ducks Unlimited is proposing a transfer of approximately 1,100 acres to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC).

NGPC held a public hearing Wednesday to gather information about how the public is feeling, with many voicing their opposition.

“It’s a gathering of testimony for or against or neutral, obviously today most of it was against and the main concern you know, over the tax roll, which I emphasized in there we will continue to pay our taxes, it’s called in lieu of taxes but by statute, we’re required to pay taxes,” stated Pat Molini, Assistant Division Administrator with the Nebraska Game and Parks.

Many residents say they are worried that the NGPC will eventually transfer the land to the federal government and take away that revenue for the area.

“We’re concerned that, even though they will pay in lieu of taxes at the same rate that’s currently paid on it, how long will that last? We all know government funding changes around all the time and how long will they hang on to it?” said Wayne Johnson, Chairman of the Clay County Board of Supervisors.

Johnson also stated that there is a lot of U.S. Fish and Wildlife land around Clay Center and that it would be a natural progression if NGPC couldn’t afford to maintain the ground, for it to fall into the hands of U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

“We just want to make our thoughts known, it’s got to go through a lot of steps yet, we don’t have the final say certainly. I’m just expressing my concern over it,” said Johnson.

Molini said the land will not end up in the hands of the federal government, but those in Clay County still have a reason to be skeptical.

”Clay County is very sensitive to this,” stated Johnson. “We do have a government facility, which is west of Clay Center known as MARC, that’s about 35-thousand acres, which was taken from our local farmers back in the 40s.

Johnson said if that land was still on the county’s tax roll, it would have amounted to about $3.4 million per year in tax revenue.

“We’re very sensitive to anything that the government wants to come in and take more of our ground for any purposes,” he said.

NGPC officials said they are now taking their notes from Wednesday’s meeting back to their Board of Commissioners for further discussion.

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