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Letter worth reading

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Well-known member
Feb 26, 2005
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ludlow, SD
Lazy C Ranch purchase will hurt the community
By Sen. Jim Lintz

Lintz represents District 30 in the state Legislature and is a Hermosa area rancher.

This is in response to your editorial of July 14, 2005, "Good deal for Hills."

First of all, we need to look at your compelling reasons that purchasing theLady C Ranch by the Forest Service is a good thing.

Create Buffer Zone: It has been stated that, by purchasing adjacent lands to Wind Cave National Park, we would be creating a buffer zone. The reason there is a problem with adjoining lands to Wind Cave is that the Park's elk do not remain inside the boundaries. Why? Well, probably because the elk have overpopulated the range available within the Park and thus must move to adjacent ranches in order to feed. The Park does not allow hunting so there is no way to effectively manage the elk numbers. It would be the same as a rancher never selling a cow off of the ranch. It doesn't take long to overpopulate his or her pasture, but if your neighbors feed your excess cows for free, it is workable.

Adding Wildlife Habitat: I would like to know how having this land owned by the federal government adds wildlife habitat? The Forest Service has a poor history of maintaining their properties now. Historically, the best way to increase wildlife is to have a working ranch that raises crops and improves water availability for that wildlife.

Create More Hunting Opportunities:

The first thing that the Forest Service said they will do is close the access road on the property. In South Dakota, I suspect that this will eliminate over 75 percent of those who hunt or would like to hunt. Also, if all hunters were to use this property, after the first two days you wouldn't be able to find a single elk or deer on the property. Yes, it's true, private landowners do limit the number of hunters because they know how much hunting pressure their land can sustain. Limiting the number of hunters in a specific area actually increases the success rate, especially on elk since they have a tendency to be driven out of the area if there is too much pressure.

$3,500/acre: The seller's asking price is $3,500/acre, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) is willing to spend this to obtain the Lady C Ranch. In the July 14th Rapid City Journal editorial entitled "Good deal for Hills," it was stated that "at the asking price - $3,500/acre - no one would buy it to maintain it as a working ranch." I think we all can agree with this. But the implication is that if no one would buy it at this price to keep the property as a working ranch, then it will be bought at this price for development.

But I believe we also have to question this assumption: Would any developer buy this 2,400 acres at $3,500/acre in order to develop it? My own personal, and thus informal and unscientific, survey of real estate agents and land appraisers working in the Hot Springs area indicates that $3,500/acre is considerably more than any developer would pay today for this property and still expect to make a profit in a reasonable amount of time. If the real estate agents/property appraisers are indeed correct about this assessment, then why would the RMEF be willing to spend so much? Is it because they are confident of recouping their money when they resell to the Forest Service?

In a quote from the July 6 Rapid City Journal regarding this land purchase, the RMEF's Mr. Baesler stated, "And we can make it happen more quickly and efficiently than the Forest Service could directly. We're not bound by certain regulations." Exactly what regulations required for the Forest Service is Mr. Baesler and the RMEF avoiding? Are they skirting some Congressional oversight that is normally required for large expenditures? Would the purchase price to the American taxpayers be less if Congress and these regulations were not being sidestepped?

The loss of productivity of the land does more than just take it off the tax rolls. It takes the money away from the community that a working family would contribute. The fact is that the most important thing in this country is private property. Why are so many people trying so hard to do away with private property and have the government control it all?
Anyone can point out potential problems. What's the solution?

Buffalo or Development?

Some choice!

If the Nature Conservancy stepped up to buy the land and leave it as a working ranch, that would also receive criticism.

Get out your checkbook Jim Lintz!


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