Monday, July 07, 2008

I'm In South Dakota

I'm sitting at a picnic table in a private campground in South Dakota -- one with free wireless internet, believe it or not. I'm headed for Indian Creek Valley in the Buffalo Gap National Grassland.

Every time I go there I am worried about two things.

First, I am not sure I will be able to stay there at all. For years a certain evil corporation (ie., the Sierra Club) has been pressuring the Bureau of Land Management to prohibit all motorized travel there. As I explained earlier, this would mean that it is impossible for people without horses to explore this beautiful tract of lonely, rugged terrain to any significant extent. Not being a local rancher or a rich guy, I don't have a horse.

Second, I am never sure that the the prairie dog colony next to my favorite campsite will still be there. Since the early 'nineties, when I started taking notes, the prairie dog population has fluctuated violently. I don't know why exactly, but I do remember a time when the BLM was encouraging people to shoot them. They eat some of the grass that the local ranchers want their cows to be able to eat, don't you know. Also, ranchers in the nearby Conata Basin have been pressuring the government to "do more" in the way of deliberately killing prairie dogs on public land at taxpayers' expense.

Well, here goes!

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