Larry Kurtz offers some useful points that illustrate why Noem's opposition to the grassland wilderness around the Badlands is really just uninformed teabaggery. On Interested Party, Kurtz notes that "The Forest Service manages about 1.25 million acres in the Hills, most of the other 5.5 million acres of the Black Hills hydrologic region are privately held lands whose owners largely blame forest failures on Federal or State mismanagement."
The majority of hydrologic region is privately held, but Noem and other Grover Norquist apers blame the government for... well, something. The private sector is sacred, so we must blame something else, right?
Mr. Kurtz then cites this passage from a Rapid City Journal commentary from 2002:
From a socio-economic perspective, the existence of so much private land has caused forest managers to fear fire, prompting even greater fire suppression and more commercial logging and thinning for fuels reduction and breaks. While this may make landowners feel more secure, these activities have not and will not maintain the natural processes that regulate the health and the vitality of this ponderosa pine forest. Unquestionably, private development has also contributed to the cultural loss and impoverishment of the Lakota Nation who claim the Black Hills under treaties broken by the U.S. Government [Jake Kreilick, "On the Verge of Ecological Collapse," Rapid City Journal, 2002.02.14].
So if the federal government is having trouble properly managing the Black Hills National Forest, it's because free-market fundamentalists like Noem have pushed roads and private development into all but two percent of the forest. All that expensive private property stands in the way of the good fire the Hills could use to restore the natural ecosystem. Keeping that development in check in places would have helped the federal government manage the land.
And keeping development in check is exactly what Senator Tim Johnson's S. 3310 would do: maintain the status quo, protect current grazing rights, but prevent further privatization and development from breaking up a national treasure, a unique grasslands wilderness.
Do you get that now, Kristi? (And have you gotten it yet, Stephanie? Time to get off the fence and endorse Tim's bill!)