| Turn It Over To The States|
And Then What? No Thanks
Esperance's gratuitous threat was met with the indifference it deserved. As a long-time lover of hiking in the Black Hills, I've encountered numerous bicycle trails and have yet to find one that has scarred the landscape or diminished the pristine beauty of the forest that it's in. Meantime, logging has disrupted the essential nature of so many sections of the hills that to be annoyed by the virtually invisible, glorified tracks that make up a bike trail seems like a wildly disproportionate reaction to a bit of alteration that is neither catastrophic, lasting nor aesthetically devastating as logging and mining ventures have been over the centuries. Ms. Esperance should lighten up. There's a better way to resolve this thing than to go public with threats of big fines and jail terms.
Meanwhile, as ever, there's a bigger picture to consider. As it happens, the matter of who owns and who operates these federal lands is part of the Republican presidential primary conversation. Considering how much federal land, either National Forest or National Grassland, we have in South Dakota, most of it here on the west end of the state, the U.S. Forest Service is a major partner in its management. Note that I used the word "partner," not "landlord." Having business near the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands on the east end of Pennington County, I was around when the ferret-reintroduction program was begun back in the '90s and remember all too well the emotional issues that surfaced when the USFS closed off prairie dog hunting and poisoning on land that local
|Not So Fast|
What Will The States Do With It?
(photo from fieldandstream.com)
So where does Ted Cruz stand on this? He's been unequivocal: last month he told an Idaho crowd that "we need to transfer that (federally owned) land back to the states or even better, back to the people." I'm kinda sorta with him on this because management of local land by D.C.-initiated fiat can be a pain, as we've seen. On the other hand, who knows what would happen to that land once state politicos get their hands on it? On balance, I don't think that risk is worth taking. Donald Trump has already said he doesn't "like the idea" because "you don't know what the state is going to do." Of course, he's also said "it's not a subject I know anything about," so who knows how his thinking will evolve? Still, contrasting what we know now about the two attitudes, you can see why ideologically-committed conservatives embrace Cruz and shun Trump. Where do I stand? Unless a Cruz-style transfer involves operations and management only, not ownership, I have to go with Trump on this one,