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Published October 11, 2011, 09:11 AM

Reliable source? Bloggers should check facts first

TWIN BROOKS, S.D. — We are used to errors in the paper. I once was called “a consultant for the livestock industry” and I think that is a rather humorous error. I look in my mail box daily, but no checks from the livestock industry show up. Rats!

By: Linda Simmons,

TWIN BROOKS, S.D. — We are used to errors in the paper. I once was called “a consultant for the livestock industry” and I think that is a rather humorous error. I look in my mail box daily, but no checks from the livestock industry show up. Rats!

Other errors are more serious, and when forming a serious opinion based on facts, we’d better check our facts.

I was following dairy issues in northeast South Dakota while reading Cory Heidelberger’s blog — Madville Times — but I found that, for every two minutes I spend reading his and his blogger’s posts, I had to spend two hours checking the facts.

For example, I stopped and read his blog about photos of a plume of pollution in South Dakota’s Big Stone Lake that could be “traced right to (Rick) Milner’s doorstep.”

As it turns out, Milner’s doorstep, assuming it was one of his Veblen, S.D., dairy sites, is not in the watershed of that lake. I went to the EPA’s watershed maps for that.

Eventually, I found the photos referred to in the blog. The photos showed silt washing into and creating a visible plume from a large construction project being built to control the flood waters that threaten the town of Browns Valley, Minn. I wish that something could have been done about the real problem of the silt and other real water quality problems. I wish the readership that blogs drum up could be directed to the many high-quality information sources we all share.

Blogs do a great job of letting people vent their feelings, but blogs are not legally obligated to report the news accurately.

Feelings vs. facts

On some issues, moderators might be impartial, but on agriculture issues, too often, blogs are light on facts and high on feelings.

In eastern South Dakota we have East Dakota Water Development District, a Department of Environment and Natural Resources office, one of the top researchers in the study of ag waste odor control at South Dakota State University, Dr. Dick Nickolai, Natural Resources Conservation Districts that have helped build ag waste management structures and systems for small producers — producers of all sizes with manure management systems and some county zoning officers and commissioners who care about their counties and keep themselves abreast of the facts in their counties.

We certainly also need private environmental organizations, and we have many. I’m a member of the Nature Conservancy and the Audubon Society myself. I served on an eight-month county study group next to two empty seats reserved for protestors of a proposed dairy in Grant County, S.D., which also was a topic of Heidelberger’s blog. If I thought the Heidelberger blog made any contribution to solving or preventing problems I still would be reading it.

Editor’s Note: Simmons is a Twin Brooks, S.D., environmentalist, grazier and horseman

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