By Kay Braddock
A petition recommending the Bureau of Land Management return the Terry Badlands Wilderness Study Area to normal multiple use management is being presented to Prairie County residents.
Ranchers Lon Reukauf and Todd Devlin wrote up the petition and have rented a fair booth to give residents a chance to stop by and read the petition.
Reukauf, who neighbors the Terry Badlands Wilderness Study Area north of Terry, points to several reasons why removing the Terry Badlands from the wilderness study designation would be good for Prairie County.
“Your options are so limited,” Reukauf said of promoting or using the badlands under the WSA designation. He believes the Terry Badlands should be managed like regular federal lands throughout the county.
“Most people have it figured out that in 30 years our local economy hasn’t benefited from the WSA,” Reukauf said, referring to one of the original purposes for establishing WSAs by the BLM throughout the nation. The Terry Badlands was designated a WSA in the mid to late 1970’s.
Reukauf points specifically to the following restrictions that he says hurts the county’s economy:
a Under the WSA designation, development of natural resources or mineral exploration is prohibited within the Terry Badlands.
a Recreational development is also restricted in the fact that no wheeled vehicles are allowed in the badlands, except on existing roads and trails. Maintaining upkeep on current trails and roads is difficult due to restrictions within the WSA designation.
a Maintaining wells and springs within the WSA is also difficult because many cannot be reached using wheeled transportation.
a Controlling noxious weeds is problematic and expensive because accessing most of the WSA can only be done on foot or on horseback as wheeled vehicles are prohibited.
The petition came about as a response to a letter from the BLM to the Prairie County Board of Commission requesting input on the federal agency’s designation of wilderness areas. The petition, along with other input on the topic, must be turned in by August 12.
For more information about the petition please call Lon Reukauf at 486-5600.
Published Aug. 3, 2011