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Do you remember Teddy Roosevelt? Of course you do. He’s the New York tenderfoot who came out to North Dakota and tried to be a rancher. But he found out that it’s a lot harder than it looks. 

So he headed back east and wrote books, columns, articles and anything he could to make back the money he lost ranching. Later he found out that running a country was easier than running a ranch. After all, getting your fingers dirty is never as fun as pushing a pencil. And to be a rancher you’ve got to love it, more than money.

Then, during his first administration, he did something very American: He broke up monopolies, and that’s the good news. The bad news is the monopolies are back.

You see, in Montana there’s a group of rich people, who are not from Montana, nor America in many cases, buying up land and turning it into what they call a nature reserve where the deer and the antelope play. 

Their goal is to own 500,000 acres that connects to an astronomical 3 million acres of public land, creating a 3.5 million-acre public-private reserve that’ll be 50% larger than Yellowstone National Park. 

Is that legal? It might be or it might not, depending on who you can influence. Is it right? Time will tell.

Besides, it should make all of us a little uncomfortable knowing that a few rich folks get to control over 3.5 million beautiful acres.

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And I think I have a better idea for them anyway. Why not buy up 3.5 million acres of useless desert land, irrigate it, make it productive and unload their deer, antelope and buffalo herds there, instead of buying up already productive ranch lands that help feed the world, just to put it out of commission.

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Plus, it reeks of a lack of fairness or free trade. For example, you might have a rancher who wants to sell his land. Or he may not even want to sell his land but he’s overwhelmed by the rich folk’s offer, because they can pay any price.

Meanwhile the rancher next door would love to buy his neighbor’s land and expand his operation and feed more of the world. Or maybe some kid would like to get into ranching. But ranching is a bad thing, right? Because all they do is take care of their land and feed the world and what good is that? 

Plus, in the end, neither the neighbor nor the kid can afford to top the rich folk’s offers anyway, especially with the well-manipulated cattle market. And that’s what I mean when I call it a monopoly situation.

Then again, what’s ironic about the whole thing is that the rich folks call their seminonprofit land-grab the American Prairie Reserve, which isn’t very American at all. Especially since it is monopolylike, and because plenty of the rich folks aren’t even from America.

And furthermore, there’s really no such thing as a nonprofit organization, is there? After all, everything on the planet is either in the black or in the red. And nonprofits are springing up like weeds these days, redirecting dollars away from private businesses, just like this one.

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Kevin Holten is the executive producer of "Special Cowboy Moments" on RFD-TV.

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