BY STATE REPRESENTATIVE NATE BELL –
Elected officials get lots of correspondence and I’m certainly no exception. I get hundreds of letters, emails, messages, texts and phone calls every week and I do my best to respond to them all. Most of the time it’s a simple response that addresses the issue or other concern and, if pertinent, offers an appropriate solution.
A few weeks ago I received a letter that has made me struggle to find an appropriate response. I’m passionate about getting young people involved in our system of government and finding ways to encourage them to be informed and engaged. When I received the letter from a young lady who couldn’t understand why her favorite park was being closed by the US Forest Service, it broke my heart. How could I explain why her government thinks it’s more important to study the sex drive of female rats or to study the formation of black holes versus allowing a locally maintained park to stay open on Forest Service land? How can I inspire her to be involved when so much of what is happening defies rational thought?
Last week, at two different committee meetings, members of the legislature listened as the US Fish & Wildlife Service detailed their latest draconian regulations as they move forward with listing 42% of Arkansas as “critical habitat” for the Neosho and Rabbitsfoot mussels. If you live in, work in or participate in recreational activities in the drainage basins of the Ouachita, Saline, Mt. Fork, Cossatot, Caddo or Little Missouri Rivers then your way of life will be affected by this designation. The Arkansas Association of Counties and Arkansas Farm Bureau estimate the negative economic impact will be in the billions of dollars.
I’ve decided to just be direct with Allie and tell her that our generation has failed her. We’ve put people in positions of authority who choose to put the interests of mollusks and darters ahead of the livelihood and lifestyles of the people they are supposed to serve. I’m going to tell her that both political parties have sat on their hands while unelected bureaucrats take away our rights to use both our public and private lands. You see, her generation is gonna have to deal with the disgusting mess we’ve allowed to happen. Her generation is gonna have to pay for our runaway spending and permissive tolerance of big government.
Allie, I’m sad we’ve allowed this to happen to your country. I solemnly promise you that I’m gonna do everything I can to help you take it back.