Badlands Trip Report
My Early Winter in the Badlands Photo Workshop is the last workshop of the year. I always look forward to it, because I love being in the Badlands and that time of year is quiet in the park. Next year, I’m running a June workshop there and in the Black Hills, so I’ll miss the early winter workshop. It’ll come back in 2019. This year didn’t have any snow on the ground, but the wildlife was right next to the road. It was easy to shoot out the window or just step out of the door and hide behind the car and get pictures of the animals. The lighting was amazing and every sunset and sunrise was close to epic. It was hard to get better conditions than what we had. We even had several 360 degree sunrises or sunsets. Those happen when everything around you lights up in bright colors. You can look any direction and it looks like the sun just set there or could rise there.
Few people pay attention to the histories of our national parks. I think most assume that they were just designated a park. Usually, it’s much different history. Badlands National Park started as a National Monument as were other parks such as Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, Acadia (Maine), Tetons, Olympic and others. Badlands maintained that status from 1929 until 1978 when it was finally designated a National Park.
Badlands’ National Monument status was the same as Bear Ears & Grand Staircase-Escalante – both could have eventually been national parks. It’s disappointing that the current administration downsized both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante and plans to downsize other national monuments and open them to energy extraction companies (why we don’t go solar instead is beyond me). Hopefully, the courts will understand that Congress never delegated the power to downsize or eliminated national monuments to the president. It kept that power for itself, so it could decide what to do with the areas designated as monuments by the president.
If the courts find that the power to eliminate or downsize national monuments is one that congress gave to the executive branch, then monuments such as Devils Tower, Dinosaur, Canyons of the Ancients and 126 other monuments, could be shrunk willy-nilly by any old anti-conservationist administration based on the whims of fancy. Nothing will truly be safe if that is the case. Our loved and protected areas like Effigy Mounds in Iowa or Grand Portage in Minnesota could be eliminated by the stroke of a pen.