Author would talk to Obama about water pollution

Author would talk to Obama about water pollution


Dayton O. Hyde is a rancher, photographer, essayist and author of 18 books, including Sandy, Don Coyote, Yamsi, The Pastures of Beyond, All the Wild Horses and Alone in the Forest. According to his online biography at, Dayton has been called a rancher’s rancher and a naturalist’s naturalist. He founded the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Institute of Range and American Mustang (IRAM), which provides a home for “unwanted wild horses.” The group’s Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary houses more than 600 wild mustangs on IRAM’s privately owned ranch in South Dakota. Hyde works to protect wild horses, native plants and wildlife, and is the subject of a documentary running in select theaters, “Running Wild: The Life of Dayton O. Hyde.”

ROBIN BRONK: If you had five minutes in the Oval Office with President Obama, what would you discuss with him? What issue would you like him to know about?


Dayton O. Hyde: I would talk to him about the scarcity of potable water and plead with him to turn full attention to legislation that will increase drinkable water. 

Water wars are only beginning. Mining companies seem intent on polluting what few good aquifers we have left. Even the once pure waters of Lake Superior are fouled by illegal oily bilge, and the Great Lakes trout and whitefish industries produce a product so polluted with chemicals such as mercury, it is not advisable to eat them more than once a week. The water in South Dakota and the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary is being threatened by the proposed uranium mining that will affect all of the water, land and beings on this land. We must act now or pure water will be next year’s gold! 

Water is the most important resource of all. Energy exploration is hardly significant if there is no available unpolluted water for use on the land.

RB: If you could ask the president one question, what would that be?

DOH: Mr. President, science can provide answers to many of our dilemmas but only if we use that knowledge effectively. With the population of the world increasing, we better look to what those extra millions will drink.

RB: What piece of advice would you give President Obama?

DOH: Show some guts. You will be judged not by how the Republicans were able to thwart your dreams, but by how effectively you were able to bring them to fruition.

RB: If you were going to send the president to one of your favorite places in the United States for one day, where would that be? Why?

DOH: I would like President Obama to see the Black Hills of South Dakota. The Hills epitomize a threatened environment. He would see thousands of acres of timber destroyed by pine beetles, the tasteless design and development of historic Mount Rushmore, and the effect of wildfires poorly managed. By contrast, [he would see] what private enterprise can accomplish: the magnificent Crazy Horse monument; Prairie Edge, a privately owned Rapid City business that provides a helping hand to Native American artists. Last but not least, [he would see] spectacular mustangs living free at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, which gives a far better life to America’s wild horses than government programs. The president will see first-hand the great American asset, IRAM’s Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, along with all of the Black Hills. All will be lost if uranium miners from foreign countries are legally permitted to jeopardize our precious fresh water aquifers and rivers.

RB: What piece of music would you recommend that the president add to his collection? Why?

DOH: The songs of healthy forest birds sweetly rendered. Their lovely melody [is] natures’ gift to remind man that we are caregivers of all the beings that walk with us. 

RB: Would you ever consider a political career?

DOH: I prefer to be non-political, able to speak my mind, to live and operate without being anchored down by public opinion, or the influence of big money.

Robin Bronk is CEO of The Creative Coalition — the leading national, nonprofit, nonpartisan public advocacy organization of the entertainment industry. Bronk is a frequent speaker on the role of the entertainment industry in public advocacy campaigns and represents The Creative Coalition and its legislative agenda before members of Congress and the White House. She produced the feature film “Poliwood,” airing on Showtime, and edited the recently published book Art & Soul. Bronk pens this weekly column with assistance from Risa Kotek.