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Poppers back, with a new slant
To quote another voice from the 1980s -- "well, there you go again."
The couple whose proposed "Buffalo Commons" concept lent its name to an upcoming annual McCook story telling festival have updated the idea with new momentum provided by the latest U.S. Census results and a perceived expanded role for the federal government.
To refresh our memory, the Poppers took a look at the declining population of the Great Plains, and proposed that some 139,000 square miles, covering parts of Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas, be converted back to grassland for a new herd of American bison.
Speaking at Sioux City earlier this month, Frank Popper, a professor at Rutgers University, and his wife, Deborah, a professor at the College of Staten Island and Princeton, said that while some farmers and ranchers, Native Americans, non-profits and folks like Ted Turner have supported the idea, the federal government was now more likely to get involved.
The Poppers had a cordial welcome when they appeared in McCook a few years after the idea was originally floated, but we have a feeling the reaction to a federal intervention would make the current Tea Party movement look like just that -- a tea party.
It's one thing for Ted Turner to buy vast tracts of land to stock with buffalo, but the ominous idea of Washington imposing a lifestyle on flyover red states is a non-starter.
Census numbers don't lie, however, and before dismissing any idea that offers long-term economic solutions, we should be prepared to offer viable alternatives for shaping the future of our region.