Cliff HansenCliff Hansen is a Custer County Commissioner and a rancher near the Boulder-White Clouds. We interviewed him in August on his ranch.
What do you think about the proposal to designate the Boulder-White Clouds wilderness?
“I have always said that I am opposed to more wilderness in Custer County because there is so much wilderness in Custer County now. But I am willing to look at this thing, and see if it would be a clarification of a lot of problems. If we clarified what can be wilderness and what can’t, because this wilderness study area has been going on for 30 years. It seems to me that it is a waste of a lot of people’s time and government money to be studying it every few years…If we can make the area open to more people than just those who can physically access the wilderness area, I think it would be very beneficial to the county…With our generation in the United States getting older, there are a lot of people who can’t see the country if it’s wilderness. I don’t really want to see any more roads or that sort of thing built. But I certainly don’t want to see what’s already there locked up.”
Can a compromise be reached between the different user-groups?
“Hopefully, there will be a chance if everybody will use a little commonsense, don’t get greedy, look at a little compromise, and try to understand each other’s position…It would be positive for Custer County because we have so little land in Custer County that it is hard to meet all the requirements that we have to meet…I would like to see this county be able to stay going…I would like to see them all be able to live here, be able to stay here, raise their families here if they want to, and certainly, be able make a decent living.”
What difficulties do you face as a rancher near the Boulder-White Clouds?
“The SNRA restrictions are not as tough as the Endangered Species
Act. The Endangered Species law has certainly crippled agriculture in
this area, the way I see it. I know it has affected my own operation,
and I am sure it has a lot of other people…It is very tough dealing
with the wolves. It has really hurt ranching…At this particular
time, I would not advise anyone to go into the ranching business. You
can read that anyway you want.”