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Daugaard Proposes Funding Mickelson Trail Spur to Mount Rushmore

Here's one part of Governor Dennis Daugaard's budget proposal that I like: the Governor wants to spend a half-million dollars to connect the Mickelson Trail with Mount Rushmore.

...Daugaard wants $500,000 in state money to be used for an 18-mile spur off the 109-mile Mickelson Trail to reach Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Private donations and federal funding would cover the remainder of the $2 million project, said Doug Hofer of Pierre, director of parks and recreation for GF&P.

...The Mount Rushmore trail spur will attract people from across the nation and beyond, he said [Kevin Woster, "Sanford Lab, Mount Rushmore Trail, Pine Beetle Work among West River Projects in Governor's Budget," Rapid City Journal, 2012.12.05].

Alternative routes for Mickelson Trail spur to Mount Rushmore, by Wyss Associates (click for details!)
Alternative routes for Mickelson Trail spur to Mount Rushmore, by Wyss Associates

A final route has yet to be decided. (Keep us off Highway 244—go gold or red!) But whatever route the trail takes, this spur would boost Hill City tourism. The Hills are beautiful wherever you ride, but it's always fun to have a banner destination. And holy cow—what more fun destination could you ask for than Mount Rushmore? Plus, ride your bike from Hill City, and you save the $11 parking fee! Heck of a deal! Save that money for filet mignon at the Alpine Inn.

Governor Daugaard is asking that South Dakota taxpayers cover just a quarter of this useful project. That's a bargain. We could even bust out of the red-state moocher model and spot some more of the cost of a project that will bring great benefits to the Black Hills and South Dakota tourism.


  1. Barry Smith 2012.12.07

    Hey Hey --- Break out the fat tires!!

  2. Steve Sibson 2012.12.07

    We should100% fund the project with taxes on those who own bikes, and on any future sale of bikes.

  3. Barry Smith 2012.12.07

    Steve you have tax policy on bicycle bass akwards. There should be a tax credit for bicycle ownership.

  4. Steve Sibson 2012.12.07

    "There should be a tax credit for bicycle ownership."

    Typical crony capitalism type of thinking.

  5. Bill Fleming 2012.12.07

    Steve, why should people who ride bikes and don't use autos (which wear out roads, and pollute the air) have to pay extra taxes to help enforce laws and maintain roads and air for those who do use roads and pollute? I'm with Barry, you're being inconsistent here.

  6. Barry Smith 2012.12.07

    Now Steve is for a new tax and against a tax break- -OK

  7. Bree S. 2012.12.07

    I don't know, maybe someone could buy a bicycle just for the tax credit and never use it, meanwhile driving their Hummer everywhere.

  8. Barry Smith 2012.12.07

    I suppose you are right Bree--but wouldn't that be an exercise in futility, assuming of course the tax credit was no more than the bike cost.

  9. Bill Fleming 2012.12.07

    Hahahaha! I can see it now. A garage full of bikes that Bree never rides, Bree broke on her ass, but she pulled one over on the tax boys, by gawd. Too funny.

  10. Bree S. 2012.12.07

    That's right Bill. We need to keep these kinds of silly laws from being passed, so that corrupt lying people like me who are constantly gaming the system can't benefit, right Bill?

    You don't need a bicycle anyway Bill. You've got a hamster wheel.

  11. Bree S. 2012.12.07

    So we are going to waste legal paper for a tax credit that's $100? Or is it $900? Or $3000? Bicycles have a pretty wide price range. For $100, everyone will buy their kids a bicycle at Wal-mart. There you go! That will stimulate the economy and solve all our problems.

  12. Bill Fleming 2012.12.07

    The topic is whether or not $500,000 of existing tax dollars should be used in combination private donations and Federal dollars to extend the bike trail to Mt. Rushmore. This "new tax" discussion is the product of Barry trying to come to grips with the daily, off-the-wall Sibby and Bree Madville clown show. Good luck, Barry. Watch out for those rabbit holes. LOL.

  13. Bree S. 2012.12.07

    You chose to go after Sibby for having an opinion as usual. Next time don't build your house on sand.

  14. Barry Smith 2012.12.07

    Your right Bill--- if I continued it would be my own exercise in futility.

  15. Bill Fleming 2012.12.07

    Barry, exactly.

  16. Bill Dithmer 2012.12.07

    I'm a little out of sorts here this morning so please bear with me.

    I am curious about a few things. I live over a hundred and fifty miles from every part of the Mickelson Trail, that means that I would have to drive over three hundred miles just to use the thing. What good is that money that is being spent going to do me or anyone else that lives out here?

    When are we going to get a project in this part of the state that is a priority? If you look at the big projects that the GF&Ps has had in the last twenty years there is nothing, if you look at the state itself there are only roads. But if you look at the hills there is the trail that benefits who? Well if you live close enough you get to use it but if you don't the state uses your money and you get 0 is that a fair trade?

    Who is benefitting financially from that trail? That's right the tourist industry along with those businesses along the trail. Does that make the rest of us any money except for the sales taxes that come as long as we spend our money to support it?

    While I'm on a good mad here lets talk about the hole in the ground that they call a lab. When is that thing going to turn a profit like it was promised to when it was floated the first time. When am I personally going to see something for my money? For that matter when is anyone else "this state"going to see something for the money they have invested? It is not what it was promised to be and never will be unless we continue to throw money at it and that is the simple truth.

    Now on to education. I don't mind paying for other people to be able to send their kids to school. But over 80% of my property taxes right now are going to educate someone else's children. I don't have any and will never have any. Is there anything fair about that arrangement? I have been paying those property taxes for over forty years and they keep going up, I don't mind that if I could see that I was getting something for what I am paying. It seems like I should have some way of getting some of that money back.

    Well there you have it. If you are using the trail you are in effect getting something for nothing. If you are involved in the lab you are getting something for nothing. And if you are paying property taxes and have never had any kids in school you are getting nothing for something. WHAT THE HELL?

    Im a firm believer in "pay to play." The problem Im having with the current arangment is that we arent even getting on the court to bust a move let alone play the game. I love liveing on this reservation but am getting tired of the suck this attitude that the rest of the state has when they want to use my money for something that I wont get a chance to use myself.

    The Blindman

  17. Taunia 2012.12.07

    What do you want for $500K of taxpayer money, Dithmer?

  18. Bill Dithmer 2012.12.07

    I dont want anything Taunia but thats not the point. What Im talking about is what other people want that dont seem to want to pay to play themselves. Its hard for me to see why Im paying for others to play when I wont get to.

    The Blindman

  19. larry kurtz 2012.12.07

    Bill: spoke on the phone with a friend in Spearfish this morning about how an unincorporated community occupies a land-locked space as a village township. Inverse rez?

  20. Taunia 2012.12.07

    Bill: not trying to argue at all, but discuss. M'k?

    So if you don't want anything with $500k/taxpay money, but other's do - and for something to which I see benefiting the state in terms of increased revenue through tourism-related needs (fuel, lodging, food), isn't that a good thing?

  21. Bill Fleming 2012.12.07

    Sorry to hear you're not feeling well today, Mr. Dithmer.

    Take good care, brother.

  22. Bill Dithmer 2012.12.07

    It would be a great thing if we weren't already balancing our checkbook with money that we don't have. We spend more money then we take in every year and have to rely on the feds to make up the difference. Still we insist on doing things that cost money in the hope that things will be better next year.

    Even if its cost share, we are still spending money that we don't really have aren't we? Even if we say we are saving money like the governor wants to say, we never had that money in the first place. If the federal government didn't let us use the money that they in turn didn't have to balance our own state budget this state wouldn't have a pot to piss in.

    Yes everyone would like to have nice parks to play in. Everyone would like to have those nice places to ride their bikes. But if the truth is known we don't have that money to spend.

    We are no different then the good old USA, what we want and what we can afford are two separate things and I cant stress this enough, "at this time." Maybe someday we will have that kind of money around to do things like the trail and the money pit but not now.

    Now is the time to work on getting more money for education while maintaining our infrastructure.

    Now is the time to find jobs that pay a living wage for the people in the state so that they can actually pay more taxes.

    Now is the time to concentrate on the healthcare system that our governor seems to think is just fine the way it is. And why? So that he can protect our insurance companies. It has nothing to do with the good of the people of this state.

    Now is the time to hold back on spending on the fun and fancy things so that just maybe we can do those things in the future without jeopardizing the fiscal health of the rest of the people in the state.

    Now before anyone goes off and says that I don't want to pay my share of the tax load, think again. I'm for spending tax money on important things just not so someone else can make money off of the things my taxes built. It has never, I repeat never happened out here where I live, and I have been here for almost sixty years. When this state spends money recklessly it has always been either at the east end of the state, the west end of the state, or along the river. Sure there are a lot bigger populations in those places but we have paid taxes to and have nothing to show for the money we have invested through our taxes.

    This is rich. Our state is treating those of us that live between the Black Hills and the Missouri River, like the federal government treats the state of South Dakota. Pot meet mister kettle.

    The Blindman

  23. Bill Dithmer 2012.12.07

    Im ok BF I just need to complain once in a while. 420 would have a very special meaning today.

    The Blindman

  24. Taunia 2012.12.07

    "Now is the time to find jobs that pay a living wage for the people in the state so that they can actually pay more taxes."// Wouldn't an increase in tourism create more jobs? 18 miles on a bike trail is gonna cause a lot more granola to roll through the state. ;)

    I get the education thing. It would be the best use of money to roll $500K into education, IMO, but returns on a bike path/tourism enhancer would show immediate returns as opposed to a long term committment to some kid's education. We like instant gratification. SD voters also shot down investing more in education.

    $500k into healthcare would be amazing! And totally opposite of what SD voters want, based on the results of the Nov election. It's you v the population, and your voters haven't been ejicated yet on the benefits of one-payer healthcare, which is coming.

    I get your frustration. I also get investing in a project that's going to be easier sold to most people. Kind of crazy.

  25. JoeBoo 2012.12.07

    I'd be fine with this, but I wish the state and area did a better job of showcasing the already available trails. Yes the Mickelson trail is well known, but there are many smaller trails that are hard to find, unless you know someone who knows them, and then you aren't sure if they are private or public trails.

  26. Fred Deutsch 2012.12.07

    As one who rides his bicycle 5000 miles a year and recognizes the benefits of bicycle tourism, I give high-fives to the Governor for his vision.

  27. larry kurtz 2012.12.07

    Trail north of the Deadwood trailhead? Think: slag pile.

  28. Bill Dithmer 2012.12.07

    I guess I need figures to support your claim of more jobs. The tourism industry is notorious for their low paying jobs. And a living wage? I highly doubt that anymore people would use the trail, it would be the same ones that use it now only they would use it more.

    As for more businesses springing up and putting more money in the states coffers, again I would need figures from someone that knows such things before I would agree with that. Remember that the people that use the trail now do it for one reason, the lack of people and businesses on the trail. How many more would they support without going less and less?

    "I get your frustration. I also get investing in a project that's going to be easier sold to most people. Kind of crazy."

    No you don't get my frustration. Let me give you something to think about. If you have a family with five kids and you hold a family meeting for the propose of deciding whether or not to build a swimming pool, what do you think will happen? Now just suppose that you really don't have the money to build the pool but that you would need to go further in debt then you already are. Now if you would vote on it I would be willing to bet that all five of those kids would vote for the pool even if they knew you couldn't afford it, Wouldn't they? That is exactly what the state is doing with that money.

    JoeBoo how does your ridding 5000 miles help my bottom line? It looks like you might just be one of the kids that wants a pool in your back yard.

    The Blindman

  29. grudznick 2012.12.07

    We should not waste money on bicycle trails. They can ride on the road with everybody else. Unless we make bicycle trails that make the welfare people get to work on time and there probably aren't many welfare people who work around Mt. Rushmore. If so they can take a bus.

  30. Bill Dithmer 2012.12.07

    Im sorry Joe I was talking to Fred. Man my eyes are seeing only what they want to see today.

    The Blindman

  31. Les 2012.12.07

    If the money comes from the 1.5% tourism tax it prob, can't be spent outside of tourism. It will cost us nothing in that case.

    Does that tax apply to hotels and such on the Rez Bill D. Get yur hand out if it does, I've got customers that do and would pay a pretty penny for the tours only you could give Bill D! I have Europeans and Aussies that just can't get enough. I'd raise Caine to help you make that work if you wanted and send any interest your way.

    I'm also a little older n you and understand if your just plain tired.

  32. Bill Dithmer 2012.12.07

    "We should not waste money on bicycle trails. "

    And that's not what I'm talking about either. We already have a nice trail system that isn't being over utilized yet. There is a shortage of money in this state, just put it off for a few years.

    If the state wanted to invest in a project right now the big water pipeline and treatment plant on the east side of the state would be a good place to start. That has been underfunded and put on the back burner for a few years while congress fights over money that the US doesn't have. The longer it takes to finish the more expensive its going to be. Just that one water project would add more money to the states coffers then the trail. It doesn't do any good to have towns there if there isn't sufficient water to run them. As much as I dislike having to say this, those that live east river are people to.

    The Blindman

  33. Les 2012.12.07

    Not bike Bill. I'm talking a tour from the seat of your pickup or leading them into the areas of the Rez most folks would never see without you taking them off road. My French couple spent two weeks with us strictly touring SD and Mt Rez.

    I do enjoy having folks at my side who appreciate the beauty of my native prairie.

  34. grudznick 2012.12.07

    Mr. Dithmer, we should ignore the east.

  35. Les 2012.12.07

    Btw, not sure how many support less spending yet Bill. My corn beef deer has another five days. Have to get you by for a bite sometime.

  36. grudznick 2012.12.07

    If this is a pastrami venison of which you type my mouth is drippling with rivulets of anticipation. Would you tell us more about it, please?

  37. Les 2012.12.07

    Similar Grud, cured in a brine 15 days then boiled a couple hours chilled,sliced, and Rueben sandwich,with pepper jack. Prob smoke some for a taste.
    Pastrami, dry rub and smoked, maybe different cuts not sure. That pastrami if its like some of the hard salamis about too good to be true.

  38. Bill Dithmer 2012.12.07

    Les I just got cussed out by Belinda because I drooled on her keyboard. I have never had corned deer meat but have an addiction to things like that.

    As for the other I'm not in good enough shape to do those things right now but I could sure point you in the direction that you seem to want to go.

    You are talking or course about the highs and lows of this country. The major buttes, Buzzard where the Indians stood on top and tried to find game.

    Eagles Nest where there is a vision pit on the east side dug out of rock. I'm not sure what happened there but it was most definitely important to the Indians that lived here at that time. It is still used for ceremonies today. Half way across the top there is room to land a small plane if you are very nervy, I have seen it done. And on the west end there are thousands of little bags of tobacco tied to branches of trees. These all face the west and the view is pardon the overused expression,"to die for." You can see almost to Kyle from there and in fact at one time there was a fire lookout on top of the butte.

    Then to the east and north of highway 44 about fifteen miles from the junction of 73 44 there is Horseshoe Butte, that looks out over much of the east side of the real badlands. From there you can look in every direction and see what this country looked like a thousand years ago. You can see most of the Black Pipe Creek drainage from on top of that butte from just north of the hills by highway 18 to Kadoka. I was on that hill one night coon hunting when the northern lights came up. There is no better show in this world then that. We stopped, caught the dogs, tipped a jug, and had our 420 experience right there for about three hours.

    Then on east on 44 to the hole in the road called Corn Creek. Just a little ways south of the highway is another butte that we have always called cemetery butte. When I was young you could still climb up there and see the scaffolding that they sent their warriors to heaven on. There were also boxes from later that I never found out what was inside. Sometimes its just best not to have that kind of knowledge.

    Then there are the major badland basins that I have walked and ridden horseback working cows and hunting cats. Beansoup, where there are fire rings from a thousand years ago. Water Hole where there was everything but water. And Red Stone where there is a creek that isn't a creek but a highway that has been used by the natives for centuries.

    Or maybe you would be interested in something else like the Pass Creek drainage. It goes by my house and runs from just north of highway 18 to the Big White River and is the only twelve month creek for a hundred miles going west and fifty miles going east to the Little White River at White River. There have been digs done on this creek that show evidence of four tribes other then the Sioux that were here before they were. Jim Berry one of my best friends has an arrow and axe collection that is one of the most respected of any private collectors in the world. He also lives on Pass Creek right in the middle of the badlands.

    Did I mention rock hunting? I can show you solid stretches of rocks without any dirt where people come to hound the rocks. How about meteorites, I know where there is one of those that they think is about thirty feet under the ground. If you take a magnet out there you can pick up long strings of iron from the ground.

    Or maybe your interest is in old bones. Turtles, that were here when this place was an ocean. Buffalo that were much bigger then they are today whose skulls get washed out of the banks once in a while. All sorts of dinosaurs that roamed this part of the country way back when. All it takes is a little knowledge and luck.

    Or maybe the interest would be about the reservations themselves. The common pastures that covered hundreds of thousands of acres where there is still some of the original barbed wire to see. The graves of cavalry officers on a hill side out in the middle of nowhere. And places where you can feel the ghost of the people that came before you. There are even some of those that I wont go to anymore.

    Just the tip of the reservation iceberg but things that the normal tourist doesn't get to see very often. Remember this. Every time the seasons change its like going to another place. Nothing is the same, nothing. Did I mention wild game? Better not I don't want to overload your senses.

    I can put you in touch with people that can show you these things but I am about blind and I cant walk like I used to because like the doctor said that did my surgeries. "Who the hell has been using your body besides you?"

    I can still tell the stories and sing the songs many at the same time, but I just cant get around anymore.

    Im sorry for taking up so much space here but this land is a passion for me. My family has been here for almost a hundred years and in that time the stories handed down from them and my old friends, both indian and white get me to thinking some times. Any fool can tell a story but when you can stand in the spot where something happened and tell that story and make it come to life well that is something special. I was lucky to have people like that in my life.

    The Blindman

  39. Les 2012.12.08

    Now that is much more than just words Bill! To stand with a brother on our sacred earth and share while those wonderful ancient spirits fan the flames inside our souls. The circle becomes complete.
    Your writing is art. I will read this again in the morning for another perspective I'm sure.

  40. Charlie Hoffman 2012.12.08

    I just gained an enormous respect for you Bill. Incredible respect.

  41. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.12.08

    Holy cow, Bill D! Give us more text like that, and we'll sell out tours to your place! Beautiful. Tell me we can spur that Rapid City–Kadoka rail-trail to your place, and we'll have donors and riders in no time.

  42. Bill Dithmer 2012.12.08

    Thank you gentlemen for your kind words. I can assure you that they have been misplaces when you are talking about me.

    Cory the old rail bed south of Kadoka to Rapid is an interesting place to ride. Depending on the time or year it represents the best and the worst of South Dakota.

    It is probably best seen in the late spring when there has been snow laying on it for a couple of months. If we are lucky there has been a few inches of rain to help everything get started. Those rains have given it enough strength to again regrow the grass and the wild flowers, some that only grow in places like that. Have you ever eaten a cactus plumb? Indian potato's? Wild turnips? I have.

    It is only then that there is enough moister to find moss growing on the north side of the trestles that you have to travel over to get where you are going. The bottoms of the draws under those trestles have by this time become deep with mud that you don't want to try to walk in. Think quick sand from the old westerns and then multiply that by ten.

    Much of the first twenty miles from Kadoka west is a mixture of both private and what we call around here LU land. There are still people that use the LU land sometimes as many as four different ranches that turn there cattle together on the big units and then later in the year have roundups just like the old days. It isn't uncommon to see a calf being born from that rail bed. I have seen one band new colt within fifty yards of the trail too. Antelope and both white tail and mule deer share these same pastures and you get to see a lot of those babies to, spring is special around here.

    Although I have done it I wouldn't recommend riding in the heat of the summer. When its hot everyplace else its hotter then hell there. Its a long ways from anywhere and I know from experience that you cant use a cell phone in some of those places. But if you are friendly with the snakes by all means have at it.

    Its a good trail to ride in the fall and winter. NO SNAKES. That and you get to see all those animals that were babies that have sense grown up. When it snows and then melts there will be patches of green where they was none before. If the snow stays there for a few days you will find every track known to man crossing either over or under the rail bed. Ya I like ridding in the winter, its just different.

    I have rode the first fifteen miles of that rail bed from Kadoka west many many times. I have been to Interior once. Somewhere in this house there is a box of pictures from about 95 or 96 that has pictures taken from the top of all three of the main trestles from both sides from the bottom, and looking from both sides off of the tops. As that rail bed is in most cases the highest point of land it is fun to ride just for the views that it gives of the country on both sides.

    In that same box is a picture of six people standing below a sign made out of a cheap piece of plywood by one of us that read. "THE BILL JANKLOW MEMORIAL TRAIL." I wont say who that person was that made the sign but you know him.

    We rode the BJMT a lot back then. It would be interesting to see what the rest looks like. I have coon hunted on the river east of Rapid along the rail bed for about ten miles, but that was always at night. I would guess that if you are a bike rider that a full moon over the river or the badlands would be about as good as it gets. Think about ridding beside the river and a thousand fireflies, and hundreds of bats flying around trying to catch sheeters,and you will have a mental snap shot of why I have allways liked being out at night.

    Does it get any better then that? I don't know, you might have to be dead to find out.

    The Blindman

  43. Taunia 2012.12.08

    I'd take a trip down Bill's memory lane anytime. You've painted a picture story. Good stuff.

    Almost sounds like Bill is advocating for new bike trails. ;)

  44. Bill Dithmer 2012.12.08

    It might have sounded that way but its not what I was advocating at all. Taunia I was trying to get people to do the hard things, go to the hard to get to places, and see life for what it is, not what they thought it would be.

    I want them to feel, it touch it, and smell it, as much as see it. I want them to go home at night and close their eyes and wonder why the hell didn't I go over that hill to see what's on the other side. I want them to be so excited about what they have found that they want to tell someone, but at the same time worried about someone knowing about a place that is so special that sharing seems sacrilegious.

    I could have told about a hundred different places that I have hunted and it would have been the same kind of story. Or I could have told about standing on the front porch of a farm house in Pinckney Michigan one night looking out over a sea of white sheets. They were trying to convince my friend that he shouldn't rent his other house to a black family. They ran like mice when a twelve gauge belched fire and knocked leaves off the trees.

    Or I could have told the story about standing in the checkout line at a convenience store in Lumberton Mississippi only to see racism at it worst. A young man beat to the back of the line because he was OMG black.

    Or the story about a teenage Indian boy that was stripped of all his cloths and shoes by his own people and left in the badlands. He found his way to our front door and met Belinda who was mad cow mad that someone could do such a thing. But I'm trying real hard not to write about those things.

    I want the reader to open their mind and allow the optic nerve to overload them with details of images that they don't even know they saw until they get home and think about it. I want them to be thrilled at what they saw and did, but also be a little disappointed that they hadn't paid more attention when they were there.

    You know the old song "Every Picture Tells A Story?"Well I want every story to make a movie. I write the same as I talk. Sometimes it comes through clear, and then there are times its like popping corn in a pan without a lid. Nuff Said

    The Blindman

  45. grudznick 2012.12.09

    Sounds like you have a whole passel of Washabaugh stories, Mr. Dithmer. If you ever write them down be sure to let us all know. There are many who would like to read them.

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