WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of his efforts to resolve concerns raised by Kentuckians in McCreary County, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), chairman of the U.S. Senate Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management (FSO) Subcommittee, brought local leaders and business owners, federal officials, and other community representatives together last Thursday for a special FSO field hearing at Stearns Heritage Hall in Stearns, Kentucky.
Currently, the federal government owns over 600 million acres of U.S. land and faces a staggering maintenance backlog in excess of $11 billion. The FSO field hearing, entitled “Direct and Indirect Costs to the Federal Government from Management of Federal Lands,” gave the McCreary community an opportunity to directly share with representatives from the U.S. National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service how federal ownership of roughly 80% of their county has impacted their lives and economic opportunities.
Artificial limitations on their economy have led to many Kentuckians leaving the area to make a living. At the meeting, residents expressed problems with lower quality of air and water, maintenance of certain land and attractions, and easily accessing and enjoying privately owned land and the county’s natural beauty. The dialogue also highlighted how a lack of communication and information from the federal government has worsened the situation.
“Most of our youth have to move away to get jobs,” McCreary County Deputy Judge/Executive Nathan Nevels said at the hearing before introducing a group of students with certifications in fields including construction, carpentry, nursing, and welding, noting that they “are some of our kids that we are probably going to be losing because they’ll be going elsewhere for jobs.”
Building on the hearing, Dr. Paul will continue working with local officials and appropriate agencies to ensure McCreary County and similar communities have the maximum opportunity to grow and succeed.
“At the end of the day, this is about advocating for Kentuckians who want to create more jobs and opportunity in their community and promote tourism and access to the beautiful natural resources we are so lucky to call our own in the Commonwealth. Through this subcommittee hearing in McCreary County, where this issue is so critical to their economic survival, the people were able to make their voices truly heard. I am hopeful as we look ahead that our hearing will result in a positive outcome not only for their community but for others wrestling with such issues with the federal government,” said Dr. Paul.
You can watch Dr. Paul’s FSO subcommittee field hearing HERE.