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Tree Huggers Promote Tree Muggers? Cop Says Fewer Trees Mean Less Trouble at Sioux Empire Fair

Uh oh—do trees promote crime? Captain Adam Zishka of the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office says the removal of trees at the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds has made stopping trouble easier:

Crews have removed as many 50 ash trees from the fairgrounds property to stop the spread of the emerald ash borer. And the empty spaces left in the wake of that tree removal have given law enforcement better sight-lines to spot any potential suspicious activity.

“It really opened up our field of view. I think it also helps, anytime you have more wide-open spaces, I think it actually helped with people acting out at the fair or violating fair rules,” Zishka said.

That’s because fewer trees in the fairgrounds mean fewer places for troublemakers to hide [Perry Groten, “Fewer Trees Help Boost Security at Sioux Empire Fair,” KELO-TV, updated 2023.08.11].

Hmm… so perhaps to decrease criminal activity during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, we need to napalm the Black Hills? Perhaps to get a grip on increasing rates of violent crime and assaults on police, Attorney General Marty Jackley needs to bring a bill calling for bulldozing all shelterbelts and city park trees?

But hey, don’t tear down those “Tree City USA” signs yet. Research shows that buildings and neighborhoods with more trees and vegetation see less crime than less green places. So hey, Minnehaha County—ignore the captain, read the research, and replace those ash trees with some new saplings to bring shade and joy to the fairgrounds!

24 Comments

  1. e platypus onion 2023-08-11

    Suspicious activity is not a crime. And certainly should not be grounds for detainment.

  2. Donald Pay 2023-08-11

    Is there any data, or is this simply a hypothesis? Were the 50 trees spread widely across the fairgrounds, or were they aggregated together? I’d like some data before I buy into this theory. Maybe they should level the buildings, too. People hide in there, too. They would have better vision then. And get rid of the rides and booths. They block lines of sight. Hey, how about doing away with the fair entirely? No crime problem then.

  3. jerry 2023-08-11

    There ya go again Mr. Pay, making sense. I guess old doofus Dishka never really read much of anything that speaks of beauty. Here is beauty timeless https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/182091-i-think-that-i-shall-never-see-a-poem-lovely
    What beautiful words. Of course, this combat veteran was killed in action before knowing how popular this poem would ever be. Doofus Dishka, making up stories to make our world that much more of a blight to the eyes.

  4. All Mammal 2023-08-11

    This must be the next authoritative level of complete control by reducing the chances for civilians to enjoy freedom, congregate in open air spaces, and potentially spread ideas.

    The Beautification of Rapid City Project has also gotten rid of all my enormous cottonwoods along Rapid Creek. Instead of slapping purely false labels on the project, just be honest about what the goal truly is, because it damn sure isn’t about beauty. Just call it straight up: the Racist Removal of Beautiful Shade Trees in Order to Deny Natives and Other Park Denizens a Respite From Heat and Direct Sun, as Well as a Safe, Comfortable Place to Relax, Birdwatch, People watch, Contemplate, and Seek Knowledge from the Old Earth Project. Or, for short: eliminate all the trees and Natives for more room to drive police cars on the bike path and grass.

    Piss off with your hatred of freedom, Mr. SD police man. Leaf the trees alone! The last thing nature needs is more MANagement. Long, unobstructed eye lines are not healthy in nature. That’s a fact.

    Quit being weird and peeping on kids at the fair. They just want to practice being little adults (aka smoke and mack) without creepy watchos leering at them.

  5. P. Aitch 2023-08-11

    Isn’t this a really just subtle jab at the humor of this cops arrogance by a clever journalist?
    – “Hey there, folks! Strap yourselves in because we’re about to take a ride on the twisted rollercoaster of self-centered authoritarianism! Now, picture this: A person so incredibly full of themselves, so convinced that their way is the only way, that they become the self-proclaimed ruler of everyone’s lives. Hilarious, right?

    What makes this brand of humor so absurdly funny is the sheer audacity of it all. I mean, come on! Who in their right mind believes they’re qualified to dictate every little aspect of people’s lives? They take themselves way too seriously, and that’s where the laughs begin.

    You see, these self-centered authoritarians are essentially trying to play God, but with a huge ego and a complete lack of self-awareness. They believe they hold the ultimate wisdom, that their ideas are infallible. It’s like they skipped Humility 101 and went straight to Delusions of Grandeur 201. And let me tell you, the clash between their inflated sense of importance and the reality of their cluelessness is comedy gold.

    But wait, it gets better! These authoritarian types are often so blinded by their own self-importance that they overlook the irony of their actions. They preach about freedom and democracy, yet they stifle any dissenting opinion or independent thought. It’s like watching a magician who’s so caught up in their own trick that they forget to pull the rabbit out of the hat.

    And the cherry on top? These self-centered authoritarians tend to surround themselves with sycophantic followers who enable their ridiculous behavior. It’s like a circus where the ringmaster is convinced that the clowns are the real stars of the show.

    So, my friends, the humor in self-centered authoritarianism lies in the absurdity of someone thinking they’re the almighty ruler of the universe when they’re actually just a walking punchline. It’s a comedic spectacle fueled by arrogance, obliviousness, and a complete disregard for the absurdity of it all. And as we sit back and witness this hilarious display, we can’t help but realize how truly laughable it all is. After all, laughter is sometimes the only response to the sheer madness of the human condition!”
    – AI GENERATED ~ fully curated & edited by P. Aitch

  6. Donald Pay 2023-08-11

    It’s sad if they dropped all those cottonwoods along Rapid Creek. I loved to walk stretches of the creek where trees and shrubs lined the creek. I must say those cottonwoods were pretty old trees for cottonwoods, and they could have been weak and a danger for people should large limbs drop in wind. They should have been thinking about staggering replacement of those trees back in the 1990s.

    I lived a couple blocks from the creek. We had a neighborhood watch group because of crime, mostly due to drug dealers and legalized gambling dens in the neighborhood. There was, of course, public drunkenness under the bridges, but those folks weren’t that dangerous to folks walking or biking. They were more a danger to themselves. There were mysterious deaths of homeless Native Americans that never got figured out.

  7. e platypus onion 2023-08-11

    Uh oh—do trees promote crime? In the sense that trees were illegally harvested for profit by thieves, the answer would be yes.

  8. Nick Nemec 2023-08-11

    Good grief, I grew up on the prairie and a healthy shade tree was treasured. On the West River farm where my father grew up there was a giant cottonwood tree on the banks of the creek and one summer a few years before Dad died his brother called him up to let him know the tree was sick and dying. Dad and Mom made a special 200 mile trip to see this giant of his youth before it was too late, you might call it a requiem for a tree. If trees are dead or have dangerous branches trim them up but leave the mature shade trees alone. They bring joy to life and make a trip to the fair or a park much more pleasant and enjoyable.

  9. Arlo Blundt 2023-08-11

    We’re fighting a necessary, but ultimately losing battle against Emerald Ash Borer. Removal of Ash will slow its’ progression, but Nature marches on. Another invasive species marching on to victory.

  10. All Mammal 2023-08-11

    The Beautification of Rapid City Project turned my beachfront view of the creek into a desolate wasteland where RCPD drive their cruisers all over the creek banks where people used to veer off the bike path in the middle of town to sit under my healthy trees and enjoy the beauty of nature in the heart of Rapid City.

    One morning, a crew showed up and sawed the massive trees down to stumps by lunchtime. By 1pm, the stumps and roots were mulched up and spit out. Nothing but big soft spots where they proudly stood like sentinels just hours prior. It still breaks my heart and my neighbors have even decided to leave because they chose to move here based on the gorgeous trees in the park we all cherished. Now we look out at barren, eroded creek banks with cop car ruts.

    It is a fact that the area in North Rapid spanning between Campbell St. to E. Blvd, along the entire length of E. North St. is the epicenter of ill health, crime, drop outs, drugs, and low achievement in Rapid City. It just so happens that entire stretch has not one tree. No grass. No ground poking through. It’s one giant black top parking lot. No greenery; no hope. Natural beauty was forsaken for casinos and pawnshops and drunkenness.

    But hey, now the kids can see it all on their way to school without those pesky trees to conceal the scourge of skid row. And the cops are unobstructed when they hop the curb to drive under the bridges on the bike path and get right up on folks chilling in a park.

    Anything that promotes citizens getting together outdoors is allowing too much freedom. Nightlife, trees and open air civic plazas are things of the past. Now, freedom of movement is on the chopping block in Rapid City.

    There are two big ones left on the NE corner of N. Maple Ave. and Omaha St. I call them my babies and think of tactics someone might have to employ to save them. If someone’s letter writing to Mayor Salumun doesn’t work.

  11. grudznick 2023-08-11

    Tree Huggers are bad. They are very bad. But trees are just fine. grudznick likes trees as much as the next guy, maybe more. And I know the stretch of E. North St. to which Ms. All Mammal refers. It is all casinos and pawnshops and drunkenness. The Wendy’s along there is OK, and I highly recommend the Great Wall of China. There are a number of eateries along there that look scary but are quite decent if you’re a big tipper, like grudznick. But more trees would be nice.

  12. grudznick 2023-08-11

    In fact, my good friend Bob used to favor breakfast at a joint called Video Blue. They had breakfast, and beers, and topless waitresses all day long! Alas, they are no more, but it was along that stretch with no trees.

  13. DaveFN 2023-08-11

    Although cottonwoods can under optimal conditions live upward to 100 years, 50 is typical and Rapid City did the right thing in downing some of the giants, nostalgia-waxing notwithstanding.

    I bike the path along Rapid Creek routinely and see Native Americans every time, not infrequently in the waters of Rapid Creek, giardia-ridden though it might be and likely is, fantasies of Gitche Gumee likewise notwithstanding. (And what’s up with all those articles of clothing including undergarments strewn along the length of the bike path?) As far as cop cars on the path, they are in service of assistance to the drunk, unconscious, and indigent.

    But more to Cory’s point, perhaps, if fewer trees mean less trouble according to the Captain, fewer guns would serve to alleviate all kinds of trouble.

  14. Donald Pay 2023-08-11

    I lived in that area between E North and the bike path before the casinos, pawnshops and title companies. It was never the rich part of town, and it sure was devoid of any attempt by the city to grow trees, but it was a good neighborhood with lots of kids and a good little league baseball team. When gambling came in the neighborhood went downhill. It had been over-served by fast food and convenience stores, but at least these businesses employed people, and attracted families. Northgate Mall was full of businesses, and two grocery stores served that area. The city looked at the area as a sacrifice area so the gambling honchos could bleed folks try. The city ruined the neighborhood.

  15. grudznick 2023-08-11

    Do you remember the Robinsdale area, Mr. Pay? Our common blogging friend who was a bit of a radical might comment, were he around, but that is another area that just went all to hell. grudznick is glad that I live in a different part of the area, but I still do like to go to the Robbinsdale Bowl. Goodness sakes, I don’t know if it’s like this out-of-state where you live, but it’s like the core gets better but a ring around it gets worse and then out on the fringes there are swell places to live. I’m sure Milwaukee is probably the same as Rapid City.

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-08-12

    Like Nick, I treasure trees. When I was at the Sioux Empire Fair last year, I found the few shady spots on the grounds quite precious. Removing trees makes the grounds less hospitable, meaning fewer people will attend, meaning pickpockets (do people pick pockets in South Dakota) and muggers and drug dealers will have fewer targets, meaning there will be fewer crimes during the fair and the few miscreants who remain will be easier to spot in the thinner crowds… so hey! maybe Captain Zishka is on to something!

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-08-12

    Removing trees to fight emerald ash borer is a perfectly reasonable environmental policy that trumps my own sadness at seeing any tree felled. But to claim an additional public safety benefit to removing trees is specious, as my link and Donald’s articles demonstrate.

  18. WillyNilly 2023-08-12

    In another place not far away just next to a busy street stood a stand of oaks with full crowns over sturdy trunks and long branches. I rode by in a bus on my way to work each day and admired those lovely trees. Till one day I saw that large equipment had been brought in to wrench them from the ground. The branches weren’t cut, they were ripped from the trunks using some kind of clawed thing on an arm. My stomach turned when I saw it. The remains were loaded into large trucks and carted away. I witnessed a mass murder of living things. Big ugly houses took their place.

  19. Arlo Blundt 2023-08-12

    South Dakota is addicted to gambling and city leaders are very pleased to sacrifice neighborhoods for those strip mall “casinos” that are nothing but addiction parlors robbing the down and out. This is “freedom”.

  20. Nick Nemec 2023-08-13

    grudznick over the years I’ve surmised that you enjoy good gravy. Did you ever sample the biscuits and gravy at the Video Blue all day breakfast place you mentioned?

  21. grudznick 2023-08-13

    Mr. Nemec, over the years I’ve had no illusions about the extent of your thoughts and fixations on my breakfasting habits.

  22. Arlo Blundt 2023-08-13

    I’m not so far down on red cedars. They provide valuable pheasant habitat in the winter and are a great nesting species for some song birds, including some rare warblers we don’t see often in South Dakota. Control through burning is a fine option as there is also a lot of grassland, especially around the Missouri River which would benefit from a hot fire. Finding a day when the wind isn’t gusting and a way to direct it to a place you and your crew can put it out, may be a challenge. If you cut them down, remember the wood is very slow to rot and red cedar makes a good fence post.

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