Capitalist campground owners in the Black Hills are complaining that House Bill 1048, the socialist plan from Governor Kristi Noem and Game Fish and Parks to spend $9.89 million building 50% more campsites in Custer State Park, would unfairly compete against their businesses.
But Black Hills photographer and author Paul Horsted offers the best reason I’ve heard yet to oppose plowing up 75 acres in Barnes Canyon along the Wildlife Loop Road and cluttering it with 175 more RV campsites, four shower and bathroom stations, and pavement: it would be bad for the natural beauty of the park that the state is supposed to protect for all of us.
Horsted shared his latest observations from the field yesterday on Facebook:
This morning at sunrise (Jan. 20), I went out for a few more photos (OK to share!) of the proposed campground site in Custer State Park just off the Wildlife Loop Road. In the silence of dawn, I watched two bull bison graze across the area, and I thought about what will be bulldozed, blacktopped, wired, sewer-lined, mowed, and fenced if plans by the State and Game, Fish & Parks are funded by the Legislature.
…Temps this morning hovered around zero but the two bison didn’t seem to mind as they grazed for their breakfast. The sun rose on one side while the moon set on the other, bringing us and them a day closer to a decision about whether these bison, elk and other wildlife will roam here in the future or be displaced by what might better be called the CSP RV Park. A while later I spotted a herd of elk on a ridge a couple miles south…a few minutes walk for them [Paul Horsted, photos from Barnes Canyon, Custer State Park, FB, 2022.01.20; reposted by South Dakota Wildlife Federation].
House Bill 1048 envisions Barnes Canyon more like this:
According to Horsted, the Legislature may avoid an unpleasant debate over this specific eyesore by logrolling the CSP campground expansion into general appropriations:
It’s my understanding that if HB 1048 is passed through the Ag & Natural Resources Committee (next week), it will then go directly to the Appropriations Committee to be added directly to the general budget (it’s only $10 million, after all.) I am told it will probably NOT GET A FLOOR VOTE in the full House. So action is required.
May I suggest we email each member of the Ag & Natural Resources Committee (who are considering this bill) if you would like to stop HB 1048 before it gets rubber-stamped and sent to Appropriations. Each member’s email address is listed below. You can also call 605-773-3851 and ask for someone in particular or leave a message for the Committee. You may also testify remotely before the committee or submit written testimony in advance. Email for more info or to get on the agenda (apparently): email@example.com or visit this page: https://sdlegislature.gov/Session/Committee/1002/Detail [Horsted, 2022.01.20]
Now House Bill 1048 is written with an emergency clause to move the funding immediately upon passage and allow the bulldozers to tear up Barnes Canyon this spring. That means that, if legislators do intend to hide this appropriation in the total state budget and shield it from any floor debate or nay votes, they’d be delaying the funding by a few months. But either way, as a standalone emergency appropriation or pork packed into the general appropriations bill, citizens would not be able to refer this bill to a public vote.
Therefore, anyone wanting to resist this RV-ification of scenic Barnes Canyon should take Horsted’s advice and get on the horn to House Ag and Natural Resources today.