Interesting story in the Black Hills Pioneer where there appears to be a divergence of opinion between what the forest service is saying, and how South Dakota officials recall discussions.
In fact, it appears that the United States Forest Service might have been caught in a blatant lie.
The head of the Black Hills National Forest is adding his voice of opposition to a piece of federal legislation that would trade land between the federal and state governments ultimately leading to the formation of the proposed Spearfish Canyon State Park.
Mark Van Every, Black Hills National Forest supervisor, discussed his concerns about the land swap with the Pioneer Monday. He joins opposition from Leslie Weldon, deputy chief of the National Forest System, who testified against bills by Sen. John Thune and Rep. Kristi Noem Sept. 22 and said in a written statement that “the bill is unnecessary and contains provisions that raise concerns.”
“In a normal land exchange process we start out with two willing parties and come up with a mutually beneficial land exchange in which both parties feel that they are getting a fair deal in the process,” Van Every said. “That process has not happened in this case. There has not been any consultation, nor has the Forest Service been involved with the proposal or consultation.”
“That is blatantly false,” said Hunter Roberts, a policy advisor for Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
Roberts said the state reached out to the Black Hills National Forest at least a dozen times seeking input for the pending legislation.
“We spent a lot of time, a multitude of times, giving them an opportunity to provide input into our proposed land exchange. Continually, their statement is, ‘It is not Forest Service policy to comment on legislation until it has been introduced.’ In my opinion, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. You can’t say, ‘This is the first we’ve heard of it, we weren’t consulted,’ when you were consulted on it and just chose not to give input on it.”
This sounds like the people who didn’t participate in the Dakota Access hearings, and then started protesting over not being consulted. For a federal agency to not give their input after repeated requests, and then to deny they had a seat at the table is unconscionable.
It’s not as if this is a new development. The State has been working on this for most of the year. And NOW, the forest service is trying to claim they weren’t consulted? I’m calling bullsh*t on this one.
Our federal delegation needs to press forward with their legislation – AND get to the bottom of what is going on with the US Forest Service.