Washington, DC – During this summer work period, U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) took the time to personally meet with those most directly affected by his wilderness bill, the Tony Dean Cheyenne River Valley Conservation Act of 2010, for constructive meetings on the plan.
The designation, initially proposed by President George W. Bush’s Administration in 2002, would add a portion of the Buffalo Gap National Grassland to the Wilderness Preservation System. The Senator wanted to take the opportunity today to clarify false information that has recently been distributed.
The Tony Dean Cheyenne River Valley Conservation Act is a balanced approach to the protection of these lands. It keeps the 6-mile long Indian Creek Road open by excluding it from the wilderness boundaries. Hunting would continue, as would recreational rock collecting. Johnson has worked with ranchers holding grazing permits on these lands and other affected stakeholders throughout this process. The bill gives the Forest Service the tools to manage the lands by addressing fire, invasive species and prairie dogs.
“Throughout this process, I have worked with numerous stakeholders and am proud to have the support of organizations representing over 100,000 South Dakotans. My legislation will provide lasting protection and recognition of the most exceptional parts of the grassland, while preserving long-standing grazing uses and sound management of the area. Finding the right mix of public land management requires balance and careful consideration,” said Senator Tim Johnson.
In 2002, the U.S. Forest Service under the Bush Administration recommended areas in Indian Creek and Red Shirt for wilderness protection. Johnson’s bill is based on that recommendation, and includes approximately 48,000 acres within the Buffalo Gap National Grassland, covering land in the Indian Creek, Red Shirt, and Chalk Hills areas.
In 2002, the Rapid City Journal editorialized in favor of wilderness, noting that within a couple hours drive of Rapid City would “offer a different experience for hikers and campers, who may be more used to mountains and trees than grass prairies and unrestricted vistas.”
In 2010, the Argus Leader favorably editorialized Johnson’s bill saying, “South Dakota is home to some of the most unique and picturesque territory in the country. Our collective goal is to preserve those lands for generations to come while giving residents the opportunity to enjoy them.”
For more information on the bill, including Frequently Asked Questions, go to: http://johnson.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=ProtectingSouthDakotasGrasslandHeritage
Senator Johnson’s legislation has the support of more than fifty organizations including, the 29/90 Sportsmen Club, ACTion for the Environment, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Beadle County Sportsmen, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Black Hills Sportsmen’s Club, Black Hills Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Brookings Wildlife Federation, Campaign for America’s Wilderness, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Clean Water Action — South Dakota, Dakota Sportsmen Inc., Democracy In Action, Grass Lake Conservation Club, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Great Plains Native Plant Society, Greater Dacotah Chapter of Safari Club Intl., Hecla Sportsmen Club, High Plains Wildlife, Honor the Earth, Izaak Walton League of America, Izaak Walton League of America — South Dakota Division, Jerauld County Fish and Game, Jones County Rifle and Pistol, Lake Campbell Wildlife Club, Lake Traverse Area Wildlife Federation, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, Maka Foundation, Marshall County Sportsmen, Missouri Breaks Audubon Chapter, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Norbeck Society, Oahe Sportsmen Club, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Orion — The Hunter’s Institute, Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce, Prairie Hills Audubon Society, Red Shirt Community Council, REP (Republicans for Environmental Protection) America, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, South Dakota Chapter of the Sierra Club, South Dakota Chapter of the Wildlife Society, South Dakota Ornithologists’ Union, South Dakota Peace and Justice Center, South Dakota Resources Coalition, South Dakota Wildlife Federation, South Shore Sportsmen, Spearfish Canyon Preservation Trust, Sportsmen’s Club of Brown County, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Wilderness Society, Trout Unlimited, Whetstone Sportsmen and the World Wildlife Fund.
For more Myth versus Fact, Please see the following page
The Tony Dean Cheyenne River Valley Conservation Act
U.S. Senator Tim Johnson introduced the Tony Dean Cheyenne River Valley Conservation Act (S. 3310) on May 5, 2010. The legislation would designate a total of approximately 48,000 acres in the Indian Creek, Red Shirt and Chalk Hills areas of the Buffalo Gap National Grassland as wilderness.
Myth: This legislation is a federal land grab.
Fact: This legislation results in no new federal land ownership. Senator Johnson’s legislation deals exclusively with existing federal lands within the Buffalo Gap National Grassland, which is managed by the U.S. Forest Service for the benefit of all of the American people. A wilderness designation can only be made on existing federal lands and does not impact any privately owned or state lands. Furthermore, the agency charged with managing the land does not change if an area becomes part of the Wilderness Preservation System.
Myth: This legislation would open the door to possible reduction and elimination of grazing on the designated lands.
Fact: The legislation actually provides stronger legislative protection for the continuation of grazing than currently exists. Under Senator Johnson’s legislation, the Forest Service will abide by the Congressional Grazing Guidelines. The Guidelines carry the force of law and were designed to protect grazing in the strongest terms. They state, “There shall be no curtailments of grazing in wilderness areas simply because an area is, or has been designated as wilderness, nor should wilderness designations be used as an excuse by administrators to slowly "phase out" grazing.”
Additionally, the Congressional Grazing Guidelines expressly allow for necessary maintenance of existing supporting facilities, including fences, water wells, stock tanks, etc., as well as the construction of new improvements or replacement of deteriorated facilities. Furthermore, the use of motorized equipment for emergency purposes, such as rescuing sick animals or the placement of feed in emergencies is allowed.
Myth: This bill would compromise the control of forest fires, prairie dogs and noxious weeds.
Fact: The Wilderness Act specifically allows such measures as may be necessary to control fire, insects, and disease. Senator Johnson includes specific language in his legislation to reaffirm the authority of the U.S. Forest Service to manage for fires, prairie dogs and noxious weeds.
Myth: This legislation would end multiple use management of these lands.
Fact: Wilderness is one of many uses of our national forests and grasslands and it is consistent with the Multiple Use-Sustained Yield Act.
Myth: This legislation will be detrimental to off-road vehicle users and rockhounds.
Fact: The legislation does not close any trails or roads that would otherwise be open to motorized use. Rock collecting for personal use continues to be allowed in wilderness.