Letters to the Editor – March 22

Dear Editor,

Several weeks ago there was a letter written expressing negative sentiments about the mining of Rare Earth Minerals here in Crook County. This letter was written with obvious sincerity and feelings, so well written it caused me to re-evaluate my initial support of this business endeavor. However it was unfair and not based with sound reasoning.

Many years ago I was asked to help graduating seniors from the Hulett High School develop job interview skills. It became apparent that this was a melancholy experience made necessary because of the lack of opportunity for employment near home. At that time I felt that next to cattle the county’s biggest export was its youth. They had to go to Colorado, North or South Dakota, or if they are fortunate only as far as to Gillette to find meaningful employment. That was ten years ago, nothing much has changed.

Now we have the potential for new jobs, not just the jobs of actually mining the Rare Earth minerals, and Gold, but the other jobs downstream that support those who do the actual mining. While it is easy to bring forward problems that have happened in the past to libel those that are involved with this recent development it is unfair, the laws in the past allowed those things to happen. We have a much different set of expectations now. To throw the use by the military of the land in the past in to the conversation was beyond what was fair, or understandable. And lets be real, the pristine forest vanished long ago when the first cow was let graze, if it ever existed as was described. Lets not forget that forest fires ranged and raged over this area leaving blacken ground to recover as best it could. This is displayed by photos showing much less forested Hills by the Custer Expedition.

But all that aside, 95% of Rare Earth Minerals are controlled by Communist China, and even now they are restricting the sale of those vital and essential metals to us so as to cripple our industry. They have purposely monopolized all the resources world wide with a single intent, to stop others from having the opportunity to develop new and old products that requires these resources. Our country needs these materials.

The State of Wyoming, our County Commissioners must be vigilant and protect our environment, and they will, or be held accountable. But let’s not just let emotion and a fixation on the past guide us toward the future.

Dave Craig



I missed the Game and Fish mountain lion meeting last month but did get a report and feel a need to speak some truth as in Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota there is more hearsay and hateful gossip than facts.

Predators in general cause very few problems, all things considered. The USDA recently released their current non-predator facts. 98 percent (97.7) of the cattle deaths nationwide, reported by producers, are caused by something ‘other than’ predators! Claiming excessive livestock loss is NOT a viable argument.

60 to 70 percent of all neglected, abused, injured, tortured and or murdered children are victims of their own ‘parents’. Claiming death of children by predators is NOT a viable argument. People kill kids…cougars and wolves do not!

Over hunting with unrealistically high quotas coupled with multiple tag licenses AND severe weather events are the major reasons for declining deer/elk populations. We do know that predators can and will ‘keep’ prey numbers depressed for awhile yet they are NOT the initial cause of less ‘targets’.

As with all things human, one has to follow the money. Land owners can make money by killing deer [hunting]. Fees can be charged directly to hunters for hunting privilege on private lands and or outfitters can pay the owner and then benefit from the hunter. There are other incentives as well in Wyoming.

Wyoming already kills at a ‘sink’ level in the Black Hills areas, causing more cougar deaths than are replaced. More cougar kills are not needed or good for the environment since the benefits from predators greatly outweigh the negatives.

All you have to do is some basic study of the predator/prey relationships that have been put in play by our and their Creator…it is modern man who has it wrong!

Dr. Tom Huhnerkoch

Lead, SD