It was inevitable. But AP is reporting that it’s official: The federal Interior Department has rescinded the designation of the White River watershed as a “blueway,” part of a voluntary federal conservation program.
Conspiracy theorists led by the paranoid Secure Arkansas group of Jeannie Burlsworth had stirred local opposition on the theory — unsupported by evidence — that the program brought regulation (it brought none) and land seizure (it didn’t.)
It’s always possible to produce a panic with imagined ills, of course, and that’s what happened.
A couple of things worth noting in the story, I think:
* NEW CRITICISM: Now AP has Burlsworth saying her fear was that the “designation would lead to stricter enforcement of existing laws.” Get that? The government might enforce a law. Damn. Can’t have that. Laws are made to be ignored.
* DR. NO ORATES: Sen. John “Dr. No” Boozman, who’d naturally thrown in with the wackjobs, had a statement ready to praise the action. No transparency, no comment, no “broad support from Aransans,” said the Booz. That’s true if you don’t include countless meetings, press conferences, support from six state agencies, support from two state conservation agencies and even, in the early going, support from none other than U.S. Rep. Tiny Tim Griffin.
So it’s done. No blueway will darken the doors of Arkansas or Missouri. The best criticism of this program is in the fact that we probably haven’t lost much as a result. The head of the Missouri-based Ozark Water Watch, one of the supporters that turned tail and ran in the face of the shrieks from Burlsworth and Co., likened the program to a “gold star” — something that might, MIGHT, get the area higher consideration on federal grants. Can’t have any of that either.
Expect more hysteria to drive future Arkansas legislative decisions. Facts? Old-fashioned.