A Modest Wilderness Proposal
 
(Note: Hogwash and balderdash! "A Modest Wilderness Proposal" http://www.tonydean.com/issues.html?sectionid=5082 -- there's no such thing. There's nothing "modest" about what Tony Dean would have you believe is a human user-friendly "wilderness proposal." He's no naive kid, and for all his suave talk about hunters, gem hunters, etc., ad nauseam, he knows full well about The Wildlands Project, and deserves his comeuppance for daring to ill-define "modest wilderness proposal". As he well knows, much "wide open space" is ranchland and farmland, and not all of it -- or even most of it -- is plowed. This is far from being the first time that Mr. Dean has penned such a Trojan Horse of language deception, all the while lulling his readers into the idea that he thinks they will continue to have access to areas that are daily being gated/locked away from human access. The Official Policy of all National Wildlife Refuges, for example, is Closed Until Open. That's not poppycock; I have it right here in a hard copy of a "Draft Environmental Assessment" for the area of rural Ohio in which I live. Here, the recreating and hunting/fishing members of the public were promised access, even when they could read the documents that said all lands and waters that were "critical habitat" or "possible habitat" for "threatened" or "endangered" species -- one of which, the Scioto Madtom prehistoric fish, is EXTINCT -- were to be closed because of the "human threat" to remaining "population segments" of whatever "endangered" or "threatened" species was the current "Poster Species of the Month" at USFWS. The major muzzled media continued to talk about our Amish and Mennonite farmers, here for 200 years, "plowing" up to the streambanks, when the Truth is that we have the highest percentage of "no-till" acreage in Ohio, AND our farmers don't make money with the "Conservation Reserve Program" or "Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program" because the only way to make money from that is to be using land that's already too close to the stream. Our farmers know that all land is not cropland. They also know when a "false prophet" is in town. What's the difference between that arm of the Department of the Interior, its other agencies and The Wildlands Project? Nothing but scope. The Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, now taking up eleven million acres in both Alaska and Canada, is also -- coincidentally? -- a United Nations Biosphere Reserve. The National Park Service is busily terrorizing those private landowners and homeowners -- known as inholders -- that dare stay within the "wilderness boundaries"! http://www.WildlandsProjectRevealed.org and http://www.cowboysandcattlecountry.0catch.com -- both these websites provide the truth about such buzzwords and language deceptions as "threatened," "endangered," "at risk," "critical habitat," or those famous nebulous button-pusher words like: "could," "may," "might," and that phrase known for its ability to fool people: "Studies show." Tony Dean knows what he is doing. He cares about Tony Dean, but not about those rural folk that provide homes and healthy "habitat" for both domestic and wildlife, human and plant life, and the REAL diversity that "The Wildlands Project" scorns. He is not trying to make readers feel "warm and fuzzy" without having his agenda firmly in place and the ink dry on his "conservation" partners and their arrangements. He is not trying to tell his readers the truth -- that these lands he so blithely seeks "wilderness status" on are already "protected" Federal lands. There is a Plan here that has nothing to do with the suave tones of surface talk, and everything to do with the cessation of cattle and sheep-raising. It has nothing to do with having a place for hunters to go where they need not "fear" encountering an ATV -- and everything to do with gutting America of her responsible resource providers. How often does Tony Dean tell folks how wonderful cattle and sheep are for reducing the very real risk of fire? Right now there is a Plan afoot to remove all sheep -- by not renewing the grazing permits -- on lands of the Absaroka/Beartooth now-known-as "Wilderness Area" Beartooth sheep kills won't be paid: Defenders of Wildlife stops paying ranchers is the title of the article, but it's about removing all domestic grazing -- and thus, all farming and ranching. 
http://www.billingsgazette.com/index.php?display=rednews/2004/05/17/build/local/34-sheep-kills.inc There can only be two sides in this issue: either you're a REAL environmentalist, also known as a responsible resource provider/farmer/fisherman/logger/miner/rancher, or you're a self-proclaimed "environmentalist" or "conservationalist" -- whichever is currently better perceived by the public. The second category would define for the public what it wants the public to think a "modest proposal for wilderness" is. I leave it for the reader to arrive at which of these two categories Mr. Dean falls into.)
 
May 17, 2004
 
By Tony Dean
 
Tony Dean Outdoors Conservation Issues
 
1013 North Grand

Pierre, SD 57501

605-224-5104

Fax: 605-224-2977
 
 
 
Aldo Leopold wrote that wilderness is the artifact from which Man has hammered civilization. And there is certainly, within most of us, a need for wide-open places. Thus, I appeal to my fellow sportsmen to work on behalf of some modest proposals for what I would term, a modest proposal for wilderness in South Dakota. 
 
I am a hunter and sense a need for places back away from the road, a place where you can find a mule buck with antlers wide enough to span a yardstick. I want to be able to stalk that magnificent creature without the fear of someone blundering between us on an all terrain vehicle (ATV). 
 
ATVís are not evil, and there are times and places when and where their use is appropriate. I would not hesitate to use one to tote my ice-fishing shack across a frozen lake. But darned if I can find a legitimate use for one in hunting, other than to help haul out a critter when the hunt is doneÖand where such use is both legal and appropriate. Besides, when I hunt, I am seeking more than a dead animal. The death of a creature is a necessary part of hunting but it is but a small part of a hunt. In fact, a complete hunt is made up of much more of everything that leads up to squeezing the trigger. The use of an ATV or 4-wheel drive truck adds not a whit to the quality of said hunt. 
 
Some will say, but what about senior citizens? Well, I qualify. Iím a year shy of drawing full social security benefits, whatís left of my hair is gray, and though Iím in reasonably good shape, each year, such a hunt grows more difficult. But I have had my time. Today belongs to the next generation of hunters and I can only hope they will find as much as I did. No, this is not about you and I as much as it is the kids we once were. 
 
And what of gem hunters? Well, what about them? Assuming they have the proper permit, why canít they walk too? Is it written anywhere that the hunt for gems must be done on four wheels? And it seems to me that itís a lot easier to pack out a pocketful of rocks than a big buck. 
 
Instead of talking about what is not allowed in wilderness areas, let us talk about what is: 
 
HuntingÖhigh quality hunting. 
 
Horseback riding, fishing, hiking and camping. 
 
Livestock grazing where previously established including rancher access. 
 
Mining on pre-existing claims. 
 
Rafting, canoeing, guiding, outfitting. 
 
Scientific studies, educational travel. 
 
Control of wildfires, insects, and disease outbreaks. 
 
Some folks in western South Dakota have concluded thereís no place for wilderness in our state. They are wrong! The States Attorney in Fall River County, and others, for whatever reason, have been traveling around, doing their best to scare the hell out of people about the evils of wilderness. Theyíve even succeeded in convincing some county commissions to pass anti-wilderness resolutions, and in many of those cases, the commissioners have been acting on either poor, faulty or no information. 
 
These wilderness proposals will have no effect on private land. All are proposed on certain tracts of public land, which does not belong to individual ranchers, county commissioners, you, or I. Collectively however, it belongs to all of us, and I am offended that some county commissioners have become arrogant enough to think they can tell any of us how federal, public lands should be used. They should be worrying instead about county business. 
 
These separate tracts of proposed wilderness include names like Red Shirt, Indian Creek, Cheyenne River and Black Canyon. They feature wind-swept table tops, sheer cliffs, stark buttes and a seemingly endless supply of grass.  And what sets them apart from other wilderness areas in America is the fact that these will be the only grassland wilderness areas. 
 
That is important, and I think that if you traveled around South Dakota and neighboring states, you would realize that our prairie is disappearing. Most of it has been plowed and what remains are under threat of plowing. And most important, grassland wilderness areas are an important legacy to leave our children of the prairie.