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Lincoln County land rights organization joins larger coalition

A Lincoln County-rooted organization is joining a larger campaign calling for greater local control across the state.

Neighbors Opposing Prison Expansion, or NOPE, recently formed to push back against the state’s plan to build a new state penitentiary south of Harrisburg.

They are now teaming up with South Dakotans First. That’s a coalition of organizations that aim to stop what they say is a misuse of state eminent domain laws.

The group points to organizations like NOPE joining the coalition as evidence of a growing concern among local communities of their legal ability to govern.

Farmer and former state legislator Craig Schaunaman said as a spokesperson for South Dakotans First, he is excited the coalition is growing.

"We are thrilled to welcome NOPE to our coalition. Their dedication to defending local control aligns seamlessly with our mission. Together, we will continue to champion the values of transparency, community engagement, and the right of South Dakotans to determine their own future," said Schaunaman.

Current coalition members include South Dakota Famers Union, Dakota Rural Action and Landowners for Eminent Domain Reform.

Evan Walton is an SDPB reporter based in Sioux Falls. Evan holds a Master’s in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University and was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 2015, where he served for five years as an infantryman.