S.D. ranchers fear wilderness act steals control

Ranchers complain about losing control while accepting government handouts.

The Buffalo Gap National Grassland of South Dakota doesn’t have buffalo any more but it certainly has a handful of ranchers with a strong sense of entitlement. They are worrying that wilderness designation will “steal” control that they seem to believe they should have over these publicly owned lands. Amazingly, the new wilderness designation leaves their control in place and allows them to continue grazing.

In the article ranchers bring up the tired old argument that Easterners are telling them what to do with “their” land but it’s not their land and the idea to designate it as wilderness, as the article points out, came from people who live there too.

“These outsiders from New York and New Jersey are telling us what to do, all these special interests,” Hermosa rancher Denise Baker said. “They’ll get the designation, pat themselves on the back and leave. And us? We’re stuck with it.”

Grazing in the National Wilderness Preservation System has been an issue for a long time and grazing, which is a commercial enterprise, is certainly incompatible with the meaning of wilderness. However, established grazing in wilderness is protected in the Wilderness Act but should it be? At minimum, as with other wilderness proposals, there should be language which allows for the voluntary retirement of grazing. The health and biodiversity of the land should be foremost in the management of these rare landscapes, and restoration of bison should also be considered here as well.

Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Farm Subsidy Database and you can find that a few of the named ranchers in the article receive government subsidies on top of those cheap grazing fees. Should they have control if they aren’t paying their own way?

S.D. ranchers fear wilderness act steals control.
THOM GABRUKIEWICZ – Argus Leader

34 Responses to “S.D. ranchers fear wilderness act steals control”

  1. JimT Says:

    BLAH, BLAH, BLAH…Same old cow pies from folks whose hands are green from all the federal handouts. They make me want to hurl.

  2. buckaroo Says:

    looks to me maybe thom put just a bit of spin on this article. it’s not just the ranching community that has had this type of yellow journalism put to it. when locals say “ours” they truly are speaking in a state wide voice. he tries to say that the folks pushing for the “wilderness designation” are from their as well. perhaps, but their numbers are truly insignificant. in fact i dare say, almost non existent. truth be told, their is a lot of resentment that folks that have never stepped on a piece of forest service ground any any of the states are making and purposing legislation that never effects them or their own state. they really have no stake in the legislation but have no qualms about voting on it. the roadless initiative is just one example, yes, their are area that need and deserve it, but many that are historically significant that should have been left untouched by this legislation as well as areas that appear to be now completely devastated by beetle infestation.
    if thom gabrukiewicz was half the reporter he ought to be, he would tell the story as it was truly presented to him, not try to find a way to make a controversy out of it.
    so much for truth in media

    • JEFF E Says:

      Bucky,
      the problem with newspaper articles is just that; it is a newspaper article, to be read with tongue in cheek at a bare minimum.
      having said that,
      the bottom line is that those lands in question are PUBLIC lands, not rancher’s lands, and as such are subject to being designated as the public sees fit.
      before you start on the old tired what about the effect on the families or the culture tell me where it is written that that lifechoice was designated a “sacred cow” never to be questioned always available for the next welfare handout.

    • JB Says:

      “…truth be told, their is a lot of resentment that folks that have never stepped on a piece of forest service ground any any of the states are making and purposing legislation that never effects them or their own state. they really have no stake in the legislation but have no qualms about voting on it.”

      The first part of your statement has been true from the very beginning that Roosevelt began to set aside federal lands for the public good. If local interests were in control, there would be no federal public lands; they want the tax base and they want control. This will never change.

      However, I take issue with your assertion that “they really have no stake” in the issue. The fact that people care enough about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (lands that 99.99% will never visit) to protest, write letters to their Congressperson, and raise funds to protect these lands, stands as a testament to the fact that people do perceive a strong vested interest in how our federal lands are managed. They have a “stake”; it’s just that their stake can’t be measured in dollars and cents.

  3. ProWolf in WY Says:

    If an issue involves public lands it is everyone’s business. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a good example. I don’t think I’m in the minority when I say that I care about places like the Everglades even though I will probably never visit there.

    • pointswest Says:

      Yellowstone, for example, is a World Heritage Site. If a Sarah Palin was elected President and wanted to turn Yellowstone over for geothermal power production, the entire world might protest. Countries like France and Germany might boycott American products unless a President Palin gave up here greedy grizzly-mom dream.

      It was France and Great Brittain threatening cut off trade that may have been the deciding factor in Congress passing the Civil Rights Bill in the earyly 60’s. So it is not just American’s business in how we treat our wildlife.

  4. buckaroo Says:

    perhaps i miss communicated what was meant, i’ll take a page from retired senator allen simpsons talk on our local radio just yesterday.
    as was said to mr. simpson by senator jim webb of virginia
    and i quote:
    ” personally i have no use for cactus or sagebrush, I don’t think virginia will see much gain either way i vote”
    Now if thats the sort of sentiment that ” those in the east feel then i can see where those of us out here that wish to enjoy camping,hunting and fishing and have access to the national forest holdings are sucking the hind teat. as stated before , they are voting on something that in the end has little effect on them or their state, but they are not shy about throwing their two cents in whether they truly understand the situation or not.

    • JB Says:

      Buckaroo:

      Are you suggesting that wilderness designation is a threat to camping, hunting and fishing? To my knowledge, camping, hunting and fishing are all permitted in the wilderness. Now, if you want to camp out of a truck, hunt off your 4-wheeler, or fish out of a bass boat, then you have a legitimate complaint. Of course, it is likely to fall on deaf ears in these parts.

      Since my tax dollars are used to manage and maintain these lands–many of which I will never get a chance to visit–I don’t really have a problem writing my senator to suggest s/he vote a certain way. If anything, locals in the West should be thanking us easterners for flipping the bill for managing the lands they so often get to enjoy.

      My 2 cents.

  5. buckaroo Says:

    Buckaroo:

    Are you suggesting that wilderness designation is a threat to camping, hunting and fishing?

    in some places absolutely, take for example the boy scouts crippled children’s camp west of buffalo wyoming in the big horn mountains. that camp had been used for children of all ages since 1933. that was their entire premise, hunting fishing and camping for children with mobility issues from all over the u.s., now it has been legislated out of exsistance. yep, thank you easterners for really taking an interest in our national forest and learning all about who and what will be effected by your “legislative concerns” and thank you for flipping the bill bill to help deprive crippled kids the chance to enjoy it as well.

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      Buckaroo,

      The only Wilderness west of Buffalo, WY is the Cloud Peak Wilderness. It has been in existence for many years.

      If some access problem to the crippled children’s camp has developed, it couldn’t be because of this Wilderness area.

    • Mike Says:

      The “it hurts disabled people” angle of anti-wilderness attacks has been used many times before and always fails. Remember Helen Chenoweth?

      The truth is there are tens of millions of acres of disabled access national forest and national parks.

      Your argument is faulty, and I would bet many disabled would take offense at you speaking for them on this issue.

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      Most of the people who say they don’t like Wilderness because it discriminates against the handicapped really mean they don’t want to ride a horse or walk because their own big gut has reduced them to waddling.

    • Save bears Says:

      Ralph,

      I am going to take a bit of an exception to your comment, I am disabled, as I have stated in the past, not due to weight or anything of my own fault, I am unable to ride a horse, due to the reconstructive surgery I have had to replace my hip due to being wounded in combat…I also can’t walk very far due to the same thing, so wilderness classification, does limit my ability to visit some areas…I have no problem with wilderness areas, but I would like to see some provisions to accommodate those of us that have not become disabled by our own hand..

    • Mike Says:

      Save Bears –

      Those “provisions” are called the majority of the lower 48, most national parks and half the national forest land. There are at least 300,000 miles of road in the national forests. Access is amazing.

    • Save bears Says:

      Mike,

      I really don’t want to get in it with you, I simply stated my opinion on the situation, I am a decorated vet that took a bullet for this country, and I would like to see a little consideration for those of us that are not disabled by our own hand or choice.

      I know for a fact, that most of the areas, I used to have access to, is now closed off..You can only enter, either by foot, or by horse…You of course living in Chicago, have no idea of what I am talking about…

      I have said my piece and as I said, I have no desire to get in it with you..

    • JB Says:

      “…and thank you for flipping the bill bill to help deprive crippled kids the chance to enjoy it as well”

      Wow, Buckaroo! You could teach a top to spin!

    • Mike Says:

      ++Mike,

      I really don’t want to get in it with you, I simply stated my opinion on the situation, I am a decorated vet that took a bullet for this country, and I would like to see a little consideration for those of us that are not disabled by our own hand or choice.++

      I volunteer part of my time to help a catastrophic stroke victim and I can tlel you there are many, many ways for disabled folks to get into nature. The national forest system has 300,000 miles of roads. If one says they are locked out of a national forest, that’s simply not true. In the lower 48, most of that forest will be roaded and allow mortorized use.

      ++I know for a fact, that most of the areas, I used to have access to, is now closed off..You can only enter, either by foot, or by horse…You of course living in Chicago, have no idea of what I am talking about…++

      What specific areas have you lost access to?

  6. buckaroo Says:

    Ralph Maughan Says:
    July 9, 2010 at 12:22 PM
    Most of the people who say they don’t like Wilderness because it discriminates against the handicapped really mean they don’t want to ride a horse or walk because their own big gut has reduced them to waddling.

    sorry for the confusion ralph, i was referring to the national forest road less initiative that ended travel from accessible roads to the camp, they traveled from the camp to the cloudspeak wilderness area via cart. since they cannot access the camp now via road, the trips into the wilderness area for the kids has come to an end

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      Buckaroo,

      The roadless initiative was not supposed to affect current methods of national forest access in any way. I mean tracks, trails, ATV routes, etc. were NOT to be closed (or opened, or changed).

      Now I don’t know about this camp, but I think any closures came through a change in the Bighorn National Forest travel plan update.

      Do you have more information about this camp you could share with us like the physical condition of the route, alternative routes?

  7. buckaroo Says:

    not on hand ralph, i may be able to make some calls thou and get the latest info that was put out from the local museum as the founder of the museum ( or some of his family)was also the ( at least back in the begining) the one that helped establish the forest service lease i believe.
    i can assure you that The roadless initiative DID effect the old trails and two tracks in the national forest in the bighorns. both on the tensleep side as well as the buffalo/sheridan side.
    we virtually lost all easy access to so many historical landmarks tied to Fort McKinney and fort phil kearney that I often wonder what folks were thinking when they dreamed up the idea.
    we are fortunate thou that they have turned the old fort into the the soldiers and sailors home and many times with a wink and a nod they were allowed to ” go around” the blocked roads to access area that were then ” off limits” to visit the military burial sites on the mountain

    i just hope i can shed some light on the subject of legislation being crafted from afar and how it can effect us locally, regardless of whether it’s wilderness area or simply national forest

  8. buckaroo Says:

    fortunatly on this one issue no, the wilderness area itself had nothing to do with the legislation closing the camp, it was what came to pass later that was the crying shame.
    all thou i would be raising my hand and asking a whole lot of questions when i read things like this:

    Simpson’s bill would protect 332,000 acres of the Boulder and White Cloud mountains as wilderness; give congressional assurance that a major trail through the area would stay OPEN AND CLOSE OTHERS; transfer lands and funds to local governments; AND AUTHORIZE a private foundation to buy out grazing permits that face federal closure. Simpson has worked with all of the affected parties for more than a decade to craft the bill.

    i would myself never presume to decide whether this is a good move or not since i am unfamiliar with the area. on the surface it reads well, but i have seen how much harm can come from good intentions when someone who is unfamiliar with an area presumes to make a choice.
    if the locals are all for it, then sure why not, i would just hate to see happen to us here happen to them

    • JEFF E Says:

      that is always a risk/consideration; in this particular case however I think “grazing allotments” and “political contributions” would be the relevant lines of inquiry, no?

    • JEFF E Says:

      …and for the record I agree that closing a camp with this type of mission statement is a crying shame an should be criminal…

  9. buckaroo Says:

    that is always a risk/consideration; in this particular case however I think “grazing allotments” and “political contributions” would be the relevant lines of inquiry, no?

    actually, no, my inquiry would be more along the lines of, why would we let a private foundation anywhere near this legislation ??
    the risk/consideration in this particular case like so many others should be voiced best by those that are most likly to suffer/advance by the legislation, after all they are the ones most effected and should have their considerations placed first. they know not only the history of the area but are also most in tune to what the closing of roads that the forest service ” failed” to list on their mapping will truly do to access. usually the ones overlooked are the first ones to have a blocked off, regardless of whether it is to a historical site or not and regardless whther the road is in good serviceable condition

    • JB Says:

      That type of reasoning would forever forestall any federal action locals didn’t like; you would institutionalize NIMBY on a grand scale.

      Federal lands belong to everyone in the U.S., not just to the people who live nearest them. In fact, upon some reflection it occurs to me that ALL of South Dakota was actually acquired in the Louisianan Purchase–it was paid for by the tax dollars of Easterners. And we continue to pay to protect and conserve natural resources on federal lands of the West today. Resources which disproportionately benefit local people as it is. Resources which locals have disproportionate control over as it is.

    • JB Says:

      And I’ll add, who decides who is “most likely to suffer” (i.e. be affected)? Are people who live closest the “most” affected, or is affectedness determined by some other criteria (e.g. financial stake, frequency of use)? Should those living nearest have more say than people who live in the next county over? What about two counties over? Should we develop a complex algorithm to “weight” the concerns of various affected parties in order to ensure that the people who are potentially “most” affected get the most say?

      This whole notion of power to the people who are most affected doesn’t sound very democratic to me.

  10. mikarooni Says:

    Buckaroo provides a good example in point of a serious, but little examined, problem. Although this particular wilderness discussion concerns South Dakota and I don’t have a precise breakout on the population data for South Dakota, most of the most acrimonious wilderness debates concern public lands in the states of MT, WY, CO, NM, AZ, UT, NV, and ID. The population in these states accounts for a bit less than 7% of the total population of the US. This means that over 93% of the ownership stake for federal public lands in these states belongs to American citizens from outside the region. Given the higher per capita education levels and the resulting higher earnings and taxes paid by this over 93% share of the ownership of these lands, the over 93% of American citizens who do not live in MT, WY, CO, NM, AZ, UT, NV, and ID actually pay an even higher proportional share of the maintenance and ownership costs of the public lands in those states.

    Again, I don’t have a precise breakout on the population data for South Dakota; but, the population dynamic is generally the same there. There simply are not enough South Dakotans and they simply so not pay a high enough share of total federal taxes to give them more than a tiny token proportional ownership share in those federal lands. They can try to loudly assert that they do; but, they don’t and their assertions are just attempts at a sort of misrepresentation or perhaps even a form of fraud. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that, even in heavy ranching and ag states in this region, like say MT or SD, the actual ranching or ag portion of the population takes the notional 7% down to only a few percent of the population at most and, especially when the government subsidies they receive are subtracted, their actual economic contribution is even lower.

    The point is that, when you have people like Buckaroo or some of the others who are protesting this or that policy of public land use in these kinds of states, you’re really having to sit through the assertions of people who might preach the virtues of free enterprise and property rights; but, under the tenets of their own preachings, have only a very, very, very tiny minority share in those property rights. Imagine a situation in which the owners of less than 7% of the stock of a corporation were to march into a stockholders meeting and demand to overrule the clear and expressed wishes of those who hold the other over 93% of the stock. I’m sure that, if this situation were presented to Buckaroo as a hypothetical, we would never hear the end of his rant about the fiasco went against the American way of life, free market capitalism, and civilized property rights; however, in this case, a case in which he is one of the bolsheviks, he wants the bolsheviks to rule.

    • Elk275 Says:

      ++most of the most acrimonious wilderness debates concern public lands in the states of MT, WY, CO, NM, AZ, UT, NV, and ID. The population in these states accounts for a bit less than 7% of the total population of the US.++

      Regardless, that is 8 states or 16 US senators or 16% of the US Senate. Add the senators from another 5 western states and it becomes 26% of the US senate, enough to kill or pass any bill.

    • mikarooni Says:

      Like I said, you people preach democracy, free enterprise, and property rights based on who has the predominant ownership stake; then, when it suits you, you go bolshevik hypocrite.

  11. buckaroo Says:

    however, in this case, a case in which he is one of the bolsheviks, he wants the bolsheviks to rule.

    ha ha not exactly, i as one of the “Bolsheviks” i want our extremely limited voice to be listened too. too often even the obvious points we present are just waved off like we don’t matter simply because on a grand scale we are a minor concern. elk strives to make the point that with 8 states involved and 16 senators with the addition of five other western states gives us a large enough voice to stop any legislation. this would absolutely be true if A) they would all vote together and B) they would vote only after listening ( and i mean truly listening) to the people they are supposed to represent.unfortunitly this type of legislation simply gets turned into a pawn game to garner votes for something else. the issue has been raised that much of the forest services road inventory was haphazardly rushed and many many needed access roads like the one described earlier were simply ignored or left out of the inventory on purpose since the rush was on to get the legislation passed.
    I guess i am confused by the property rights comment. By it’s very nature it is for everyone. their are no property rights as their is for privately owned ground. nor should their be, no one in our area would think to even suggest it. in fact that is straying pretty far from the intent of the conversation.
    once again ill reintegrate, how can someone from new england, west virginia etc who has never heard of the wagon box fight or soldiors park trailhead or the boy scouts of america crippled childrens camp ever presume to be up to speed on the local history of an area or the access needs to reach these places and points beyond hope to make an educated decision on legislation effecting the areas involved. i am not saying they should not have a vote, just that the folks from the area should be listened too also even if our vote has less pull in washington.

    • buckaroo Says:

      we have seen in the west here all to often that even when the whole state is jumping up and down waving their arms and shouting for their interests on these issues, the only reports you see printed are the ones like the in the article above. they will focus on only a small segment of the populace and attempt to say ” see what these guys are doing” when so many others get ignored. we were fortunate in the bud love reserve incident that the locals community had the inside track and got our legislators to listen. all to often this does not happen.
      it’s unfortunate but all to often we are “lumped” into a category out here, not everyone has an ag based agenda but they do have an interest in preserving and maintaining the limited access we have to so many of the sites on federal forest that we have lost in the last decade

  12. buckaroo Says:

    just and update
    seems i am not the only one that resides in a state that thinks historical trails matter

    here is some federal legislation that may help us here out west
    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s111-217&tab=summary


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: