Large lakes won’t drown Nebraska; brain drain problem



Alexis Smith

Nebraska legislators pitch the construction of a lake, in a controversial attempt to fix brain drain.

Galahad Kai McDuff Wilken, Staff Reporter

The Nebraska Legislature’s Statewide Tourism and Recreational Water Access and Resource Sustainability, or STAR WARS committee, has one of the coolest acronyms in Nebraska, and on top of that they’re trying to build a lake. That’s part of what LB406 aims to do, along with other improvements to our standing water sources. The lake it proposes would be about 4,000 acres, which is about 16 Lake Zorinskies. The proposed bill would cost the Nebraska government $200 million and our staff believes that there are bigger problems to be solved that we should spend that money on. If Nebraska wants to have anyone to use this lake in the future, they may want to do something about the youth.

A survey entitled Nebraska Youth Survey, put on by UNO and the Nebraska Community Foundation, found that 28.34 percent of Nebraska youth surveyed are somewhat to extremely unlikely to live in their current area. The fact of the matter is that Nebraska suffers from brain drain, or the net loss of college educated people to other parts of the country. Over the past 10 years we’ve been losing about 2,000 college educated people a year, and 72 percent are ages 20-29. Nebraska is ranked as the state with the 10th most brain drain, and it’s massive amounts of money we’re losing out on. 

Speaking as young people ourselves, we believe that the best way to solve the problem of brain drain and loss of youth in general is to invest the money that the legislature wants to invest in a man made lake in housing and recreation that Nebraskan youths actually want. Things like the annual Omaha Summer Arts Festival being held at Aksarben this year, concerts and other entertainment. The only people that this bill will actually help are the wealthy. Nebraska already has lakes larger than this and anyone who just wants to live near water is going to move to the coasts or the Great Lakes anyway. Our staff firmly believes that this bill is a waste of $200 million that could be spent on literally anything else, like a year of college for 7,619 Nebraskans at UNL, just a thought.