EDITOR’S NOTE: The word “ugly” remains a fitting descriptor for gross examples of greed, hatred and meanness. It no longer fits for everyday descriptions of unsightliness. Today, disparaging a person’s appearance by calling them ugly could itself be cited as an example of ugliness. Ugly is loathsome, heinous. Few people sprinkle the word into daily conversations. Which makes the word problematic as an editorial format. For years, the Monday editorial fell beneath the header of Good, Bad & Ugly, which lightheartedly conjured the 1966 Clint Eastwood spaghetti western of the same name. It’s an editorial’s job to point out the good, bad and ugly. Unfortunately, we sometimes found ourselves stretching standards to describe something as ugly when it was merely bad. Good and bad things occur commonly. Ugly does not. Today, the Journal debuts Gold & Gullies, using a Black Hills theme for things positive and negative. Gold glitters, and nobody wants to stumble into a gully.
GOLD: The 29-page “Non-Motorized Trail Strategy” process that the Forest Service released in August appears to be succeeding. We learned last week that two existing but unauthorized recreational trails will be considered for inclusion in the Black Hills National Forest’s official plan. Any mechanism that helps to avoid conflict among so many diverse users of the Black Hills deserves applause. It was two years ago when mountain bikers and the leadership of the Mystic District in the Black Hills National Forest were on a collision course. The former district ranger, fed up with bicyclists creating and maintaining unauthorized trails, declared that future offenders would be prosecuted under the Code of Federal Regulations and face as many as six months in prison and a $5,000 fine. Bicycle groups, meanwhile, were frustrated the district didn’t seem to take their requests for new trails seriously. Things have come a long way since then. The trails newly accepted for further consideration are the Tinton Trail, which is a 26-mile loop trail in the northern Black Hills that is used for the Dakota Five-0 mountain bike race, and Shanks Quarry, a 22-mile network of trails west of Rapid City. Black Hills National Forest Supervisor Mark Van Every notified interested groups that proposals for some of the other four trails initially rejected could be modified for reconsideration. For the two trails that advanced for further review, several more steps in the process remain, including environmental reviews in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. Still, an early sign of willingness to consider two new trails is encouraging. The process has passed its initial test.
GULLY: Inaugural report cards issued under the Every Student Succeeds Act failed so miserably at drawing an accurate statewide picture that nobody dared defend them. Yeah, the findings were absurd, all agreed using the very diplomatic language of educationeze. The vast majority of school-related arrests do not take place in Rapid City Area Schools, and Asian American students are not running amok here. Violent acts were not committed by a negative five American Indian/Alaska Native students. This isn’t golf, so the category doesn’t calculate par. The state education department published the report knowing it was meaningless, because it faced penalties for missing a deadline. It would have been better to have instead claimed the dog ate it and pleaded for mercy. The education department apparently isn’t working up to its full potential. It needs improvement. The public deserves to see a much greater effort going forward. The report merits an F — minus five.