Ricketts hosting national conservative figures at event opposing Biden conservation effort | Regional Government

Gov. Pete Ricketts will welcome national conservative figures to Lincoln this Earth Day for a conference opposing President Joe Biden’s goal of conserving 30% of the nation’s land and water by 2030.

Guests include a former secretary of the interior under President Donald Trump and Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert.

Gov. Pete Ricketts


An envelope from the Texas-based nonprofit American Stewards of Liberty emblazoned with “Invitation from Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts” included information about the Friday conference, along with letters from Ricketts and Margaret Byfield, executive director of the Texas group, who called it “one of the most important events” of the year.

“I would like for you to join me in Lincoln, Nebraska, next month for the first national summit to Stop 30 x 30,” Ricketts’ letter reads. “We are bringing together national, state and local leaders to learn how the administration is attempting to implement the program and what we can do to prevent this.”

The federal initiative was initially referred to as “30×30,” but the Biden administration has since rebranded it “America the Beautiful.” Officials have repeatedly emphasized that the effort will be voluntary and locally led, but critics such as Ricketts and American Stewards of Liberty view it as a threat to landowners and have questioned the federal government’s transparency.

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The group Byfield leads has rallied resistance and pushed for local governments to pass resolutions in opposition to the initiative across Nebraska and in other states. In her letter, she wrote the group would launch its “second phase” at the Lincoln event.

Advocates for Biden’s plan have highlighted links between American Stewards of Liberty and the anti-government Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s and ’80s, during which some ranchers defied rules for grazing on federal lands. Byfield is the daughter of Wayne Hage, who was engaged in a long legal battle over water and grazing rights with the federal government.

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In her letter, Byfield praised Ricketts’ active opposition to the president’s initiative, calling him a “forceful leader.” Ricketts last year traveled the state drumming up opposition in a series of town halls and ordered state agencies to resist it.

“Nebraskans don’t need the Biden-Harris Administration lecturing us on the environment,” Ricketts wrote in his weekly column Tuesday. “Our farmers, ranchers, businesses and homeowners have proven their ability to responsibly use the natural resources we’ve been blessed with here in Nebraska.”

According to a list compiled by Ricketts’ office, 67 of Nebraska’s 93 counties have approved resolutions opposing the initiative.

The daylong event is planned for Friday at the Graduate hotel. Agenda items include a panel discussion on Nebraska’s “Stop 30×30” executive order, featuring Nebraska GOP Executive Director Taylor Gage, Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Steve Wellman, state Property Tax Administrator Ruth Sorensen and Cherry County Board Chair Tanya Storer.

National figures slated to speak include David Bernhardt, Boebert, U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota and U.S. Rep. Ken Ivory of Utah.

Bernhardt was secretary of the interior under Trump and is a former oil and gas lobbyist.

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Boebert, a controversial Republican lawmaker known for her support of gun rights and spreading misinformation on social media, sponsored the “30 x 30 Termination Act” aimed at the effort in the House. Kramer co-sponsored the Senate companion bill.

Jane Kleeb, who chairs the Nebraska Democratic Party and founded the environmental group Bold Nebraska, called the guests “a clown car of conspiracy theorists coming to town that are lying to Nebraskans about Biden’s 30 x 30 program that will literally put money in farmers’ and ranchers’ pockets and help conserve the land and water for future generations.”

As she has before, Kleeb pointed to Ricketts’ support for efforts such as the Keystone XL Pipeline, for which a Canadian company used eminent domain.

On Thursday, the Nebraska Farmers Union, Nebraska Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy of Nebraska and Nebraska Wildlife Federation have planned a virtual news conference to release results of a poll on Nebraskans’ views of the federal 30% goal and federal conservation programs.

A media advisory about the news conference does not link it to the anti-30×30 conference, but to Earth Day.


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