Who We Are
The Kansas Natural Resource Coalition (KNRC) is a collaboration of county governments who engage state and federal agencies during environment and natural resource administrative rule-making processes.
Our members understand the limited role of these agencies, the legal parity enjoyed by local government, and that state and federal procedural mandates require balancing of economic, social, cultural and property interests during the outworking of natural resource policy efforts.
When agencies propose rules for our region, we first investigate the statutory basis for the proposal, a process we call “Show Us The Law.” Because many administrative agencies believe they have the authority to enact law, we do not accept regulations, policies or memoranda as binding until a clear statutory connection has been established. Similarly, because courts Don’t Make Law, KNRC does not accept opinions, decisions or definitions of courts as sufficient by themselves to justify administrative proposals; we believe the legislative branch of governments to be the sole organic source of lawmaking.
How We Work
KNRC is comprised of elected commissioners from individual member counties, an executive director, a research analyst, a communications analyst and retained professional and legal staff on an as-needed basis.
Day-to-day operations are overseen by a steering committee that in turn reports to a policy committee governed by all member counties.
Each KNRC county has adopted a Natural Resource Land Use Plan that by federal statute requires review, coordination and consistency by federal agencies desiring to impose rules in the jurisdictional areas governed by those counties.
This approach maintains local voice, assures mutual access to data and science, provides a platform for genuine transparency, and ensures balanced decision-making for both the human and natural environments.
Why it’s Effective
Navigating the maze of environmental rule-makings is daunting for even the most resolved of local governments — let alone the balance of America’s 3,000-plus counties.
KNRC’s excellent research, clear understanding of administrative procedure, dogged adherence to statutory requirements and tactical application of coordination brings clarity to the process and accountability to federal agencies who have grown accustomed to bypassing — or dismissing entirely — the needs of local government.
Our philosophy, strategic plan, and long-term objectives include training, equipping and exhibiting hard-won examples for local governments across the nation. History teaches that centralized, top-down, and autocratic governments don’t work for the long term, ultimately reverting back to local control.
Only local government — not industry, not associations, and particularly not nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) — are permitted to leverage accountability from federal administrative agencies during natural resource policy rule-makings.
National Heritage Area Proposed for 26 Kansas and 23 Nebraska Counties
Wednesday, April 21, 2021 — In 2016 a group of University of Nebraska-Lincoln students partnered with the Willa Cather Foundation to investigate expanding regional heritage tourism opportunities in South Central Nebraska and North Central Kansas. They produced an extensive inventory and planning document recommending the region be designated a National Heritage Area. What is now the Kansas Nebraska Heritage Area Partnership (KNHAP) expanded on that initial effort starting in 2017 with the goal of establishing a national heritage area within the 49-county region. They issued a white paper about their work in early 2020. The partnership developed a mission to “identify, protect and preserve the natural, cultural, and recreational heritage of the Kansas Nebraska region.”
KNRC began monitoring the project in early 2018, sharing a briefing paper to its members in June 2018.
A recent article published by KNCK Community Connections introduced KNHAP and their mission. KNHAP is in the process of establishing non-profit status in both states so that it can raise the funding needed for conducting the required feasibility study that provides the National Park Service and Congress with the information required to justify Congressional designation of the proposed NHA.
The early public stages of the proposal is drawing opposition from many, at least partly based on NHA proposal and implementation processes in other parts of the nation. Because there is no general federal statute providing for NHA establishment, management, and funding, there is criticism that the process is inconsistent and fragmented. Detailed NHA information and references are included in the March 24. 2021 edition of the Congressional Research Service’s Heritage Areas: Background, Proposals, and Current Issues.
KNRC staff will continue to monitor the KNHAP proposal’s progress and notify members of significant developments.
US Senate releases Scathing Analysis of Conservation Easement Transactions
August 26 2020 — Today, the US Senate Subcommittee on Finance released its long anticipated, Bipartisan Investigative Report on Syndicated Conservation-Easement Transactions. The newly-minted and scathing analysis of conservation easement transactions details dozens of transactions which provide no conservation benefit other than to secure a favorable tax shelter for high-income taxpayers. In some cases, as presented in the report, property appraisals were inflated at several times the actual land value in order to multiple the tax deduction:
“The transactions discussed in this report involve land valuations that appear so inflated above their original purchase prices that they cannot reasonably be characterized as anything other than abusive tax shelters. Despite the formal documentation developed by the promoters and nominal votes by investors, documents obtained in this investigation clearly show that both the promoters and the taxpayer-investors in these deals understood them simply as tax shelters.“
Although the Investigative report well documents conservation easement transactions across the eastern and central United States, the findings do not mention the vast and longstanding abuses in Colorado discovered at a KNRC Public Hearing as far back as 2014. Consequently, the scope, range and breath of fraudulent transactions being conducted under the cloak of conservation is vastly understated.
Kansas Joins Multi-state Litigation Defending ESA Updates
Monday, December 9, 2019 —
Today, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt joined twelve other states in filing litigation defending new Trump administration rules that update the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The litigation, led by Attorney General Steve Marshall of Alabama, defends changes to ESA that allow for economic considerations, and did away with the “blanket 4(d) rule” – an unpopular rule that gave the US Fish and Wildlife Service wide ranging power to extend endangered protections to species that only have threatened status.