Sunday, February 22, 2015

Item #1, Index to Home page


Prairie Hills Audubon Society (PHAS) is run by volunteers. This page you are on - the home page, is up to date.
 Most of the other pages on this web site have not been changed in years, because we need new volunteer(s), with web design skills, to help run the web site.  

This "home page" is managed like a blog, - items are added and deleted to this page to keep it timely. The Blog software misbehaves sometimes and alters the font type or font size or adds space breaks  and sometimes it just refuses to be fixed...sorry. I just don't understand it, I think I need to learn HTML editing skills.
As it was printed, in April 2017 - this "Home page" is about 40 "letter size" pages of text.
Scroll down immediately below for an index of how this "blog" is ordered..  
 Older excerpts of the blog,  from 2015, 2014 and 2013 are found on "older posts",  which is a button on the lower right.

Home page: 2020 Deadlines and Events and also alerts, issue/project and current events discussions

Members can belong to only Prairie Hills Audubon Society or they can join both Prairie Hills Audubon Society and the National Audubon Society
To join Prairie Hills Audubon Society & the National Audubon Society 
on-line at the same time go to
Our chapter code is V02, the 0 is a zero.  If folks join the NAS directly without using this chapter link, If you live in our territory (much of western SD) you will belong to our chapter, but we get no financial credit for the new membership dues.
Chapter only memberships are also available, for which you must mail checks to Prairie Hills Audubon Society, P.O. Box 788, Black Hawk, SD 57718.
Basic membership is $20, low-iincome is $10, scholarships are available in exchange for volunteer work,
 with approval of Board.


1. Events & Deadlines & Alerts in March 2020 & forward into 2020

1.) Prairie Hills Audubon Society (PHAS) - the organization's events 
2) iterative events,- local environmental/conservation group's monthly meeting list 
              (iterative events - events which reoccur each month at same day/time) 
3.) Federal law and rule making -  links  to Recovering America’s Wildlife Act - a federal wildlife funding bill. Attacks on Endangered species Act - Excerpts New York Times article on roll back of environmental regulations by Trump administration    (95 roll backs), and
4.)  Updates on PHAS's greater Sage grouse litigation,  Links. 
5.)  Then specific events in chronological order, - Among the many events -     .Black Hills National Forest over cutting Trees  (late May) & SD's river otter (mid June & July), Nebraska cougar hunting season  (mid June) sections  are here. Nest Predator Bounty Program section (July) this is another long section.  Event notices may include alerts on subject matter that is still relevant/active & thus event/deadline notice may be left up even after the original event/deadline date, This section is arranged in chronological order.

6) . then it goes to old alerts 
Old Alert Topics 
A) SD Mountain Lion Plan Revision Alert 
B) Mineral Mountain Resources Exploration project
C) Pennington County - Croell Sand/Gravel Mine Issue
D) Non-meandered waters Alert
E) Alert on Resilient Landscape DEIS (Forest Service)
F) announcement of Petitions to list or de-list under ESA and :
G)  S3254/SB 114 (Land Trade Little Spearfish Canyon & Bismark Lake) & 
H).  SD Important Bird Areas
I)  Missouri River Recovery
J) to Sage Grouse Litigation filed by PHAS and others in February  2016
K) then goes to - suspended campaigns discussions, 
for which comment deadlines have past, but related issues persist

Item # 2, Events/Deadlines

We may shelter e-mail addresses by replacing @ with (at) 

Prairie Hills Audubon Society  (PHAS) 
Meetings & Events

PHAS now has a Facebook page

Prairie dog photo copyright by Nancy Hilding

We schedule membership evening meetings some months...often towards later half of the month

PHAS had a Zoom meeting on the evening of Friday, May 29th, 6:30 pm MT
It was on BHNF timber program and a FS report called "Timber Growth and Yield Draft General Technical Report" - a report that documents the Forest's not sustainable cut. Speaker: Jonathan Word, BHNF's Natural Resources Staff Officer.

Here is a link to the Forest Service's  (FS) web page with link to report and other data on this issue and 
Scroll down to May 29th for more details on the issue

We had a meeting the last week in April, (Wednesday, 4/29/20) by Zoom, 
on the SD river otter, speaker Silka Kempema.

Topic: South Dakota's River Otters
Time: Apr 29, 2020, 6:30 PM 
Speaker: Silka Kempema of SD Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Wildlife Diversity Program 

Link to recording of the meeting on Otters (already happened)
Nancy was a little late starting the recording and missed the first three slides, which included the title slide, a slide called Mustelid - which had 4 characteristics listed (carnivore, long body, short legs, scent glands) and a slide called Biology, which had 3 points.- (adapted to life in water, indicator of water quality, associated with beaver.)

Scroll down to 6/19 for more info:

Another PHAS ZOOM Meeting in late MARCH (already happened, on Fight to Save the Greater Sage Grouse) -  Erik Molvar, Western Watersheds Project was the speaker
Link to recording of the meeting on Sage Grouse (already happened)

We also used to have PHAS lunch or dinner meetings in some months  - 
at Hana's Restaurant,  (Korean/Japanese food), on 3550 Sturgis Rd, Rapid City, however due to social distancing have temporarily discontinued those. Instead we are having Zoom conferences for working meetings. Person's that we know to be interested in topics are invited - they are generally not posted on web /Facebook pages. Contact Nancy if you want to be invited to discussion meetings...
we are having on otters, cougars and BHNF issues just now.
 February's membership meeting was on GFP program on Nest Predator Bounty Program Friday evening- the last week of February - on February 28th, at West River Electric Co-op building, and a meeting on greater sage grouse in  last week in  March , 
March 31st  by Zoom Audio/Video Conference.  Meeting in the last week in April: April 29th meeting on SD River Otters by Zoom Audio/Video Conference. (scroll down)

Field trips occur when announced - however likely won't happen during social distancing.
 Board meetings are by conference call and members welcome. 
Contact - nhilding (at), 787-6779
We need new board members, contact Nancy if interested in service.
We need help with web site design and maintenance



Early Part of the Month Enviro Group Meets:
Various environmental groups meet on a fixed/repeating day of month.

The Black Hills Sportsmen have lunch meeting (start 12:00 am) the first Tuesday,  Rapid City, Rushmore Hotel, for info: Eric Porisch <ericporisch(at)>, 
Rapid City Chapter of Izaak Walton League may meet in the eve (6:30 pm) of the first Wednesday
Rapid City,  normally at  Outdoor Campus West (OCW), they may take a break during summer.
for info: Frank Caesare <fdic917 (at)>
Northern Hills Bird Club normally meets the first Thursday eve (7 pm) , Sturgis Library - except  in June-August, when they have potlucks, at member's homes. 
- they also generally have 2 field trips each month on Saturdays.However due to pandemic all activity is suspended. -- or for info: Nancy Drilling, -, 791-0459 (President)  or for info: Contact Vic/Donna Fondy 605-269-2553,
The Rapid City Sustainability Committee meets the 2nd and 4th Monday of the month at the City/School Administration Building at 5:30 it is open to the public and they focus on sustainable practices for the City.
For info: Erik Heikes:  EHeikes (at)
Dakota Rural Action normally meets second Tuesday eve, mixed locations,
for info: Rick Bell <>:
The Black Hills Photography Club normally meets the second Tuesday of the month at Outdoor Campus West, 6:30 pm.
Some times, the meetings are about photography of outdoor's subjects
and photography field trips to photograph outdoors may also be planned.
The Darton Society meets at Outdoor Campus West (OCW) on 2nd Monday, 
maybe not during the summer (please verify meeting times)
For info: Cathie or LeRoy Draine at 787-5956 or cathiedraine (at)
Norbeck Society normally meets second Thursday eve, Rapid City,
at - SDSMT, Classroom Bldg., Faculty Lounge  or Outdoor Campus West at 5:45 pm
Monthly meetings may be skipped in the summer.
for info: Bob Burns < (at)>,787-4783,
SD Chapter of Citizen's Climate Lobby meets the 4th Tuesday of each month at Outdoor Campus West at 6:30 pm, in Rapid City   For info: Mary Deibert,  rmdeibert (at), 605-484-5790.
Clean Water Alliance normally meets the second Saturday
at 10:00 am at the Rapid City Public Library, downtown.  for info: nobhuranium (at)
Meets occurring at not regular times  of the Month:

Black Hills Group of Sierra Club has meetings and outings as announced, meetings are often on 4th Thursdays
For info on Sierra Club, e-mail -Sandra Seberger <sandralss57702 (at)> 605-342-4335, 

We shelter e-mail addresses by replacing @ with (at) 


SPECIFIC EVENTS LIST February & onward
scroll down for legislative session





Recovering America’s Wildlife Act 
PHAS and the National Audubon Society support the
 Recovering America’s Wildlife Act bill - it is in the House.It seeks to increase federal funding to state and tribal wildlife agencies, to protect "at risk wildlife".
 RAWA passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee by a vote of 26-6.  All of the Democrats voted for it, and 7 of the 13 committee Republicans voted for it.  Such an overwhelming, bipartisan vote should provide real momentum for the bill.  All totaled, RAWA now has 163 co-sponsors, including 41 Republicans.  Such a large number of co-sponsors should also help make it easier for the bill to move forward towards a successful House floor vote. It may go to the floor in February or March.
Dusty Johnson, John Thune, Mike Rounds are not yet co-sponsors or indicated support
 (as of Feb 6th)
.  Link to the bill
Here is a link to some basic South Dakota-centric facts regarding the bill that might be good to include in your message:
National Audubon Society Review of the bill:

Excerpt from above NAS article:
"In wildlife action plans submitted to USFWS, state agencies have identified some 8,000 animal species of “greatest conservation need,” including more than 800 birds. To implement those plans and keep species from sliding toward extinction, each state would need an average of $26 million a year—a total of $1.3 billion. But current federal spending for state and tribal wildlife grants falls far short of the mark, "

National Wildlife Federation
There is a resolution to support this in the SD Legislature, passed house and to be considered next in Senate Ag and Natural Resources (as of 3/2/20)
 Endangered Species Act under Attack - Contact Congress
Trump's Department of Interior rule-making to harm the  Endangered Species Act

National Audubon Society Alert - Send a letter to SD congress members:

New York Times Article

Earth Justice Alert:

Common Dreams Article



"The Trump Administration Is Reversing 100 Environmental Rules. Here’s the Full List."

Excerpt from article:
"After three years in office, the Trump administration has dismantled most of the major climate and environmental policies the president promised to undo.

Calling the rules unnecessary and burdensome to the fossil fuel industry and other businesses, his administration has weakened Obama-era limits on planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and from cars and trucks, and rolled back many more rules governing clean air, water and toxic chemicals. Several major reversals have been finalized in recent weeks as the country has struggled to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

In all, a New York Times analysis, based on research from Harvard Law SchoolColumbia Law School and other sources, counts more than 60 environmental rules and regulations officially reversed, revoked or otherwise rolled back under Mr. Trump. An additional 34 rollbacks are still in progress.

Rollbacks completed  - 66 Rollbacks in process - 34;  Total rollbacks - 100

The sequence of numbers is 1) # of rollbacks completed, 2) # in progress and 3) total  #  rollback -- these numbers appear to right side of text
Air pollution and emissions - 19, 8, 27

Drilling and extraction -  12,  8, 20

Infrastructure and planning - 11, 1, 12

Animals  - 9, 2, 11

Toxic substances and safety -  6, 2, 8

Water pollution -  4, 7, 11

Other -  5, 6, 11     

We suggest you read the article to learn more  details on rollbacks- see link above
 Also Nancy can send you a PDF of the Article (nhiding (at) 
PHAS has sued Trump Administration over greater sage grouse management plans, We won an injunction & are thus part of fighting these 100 roll backs, under animals.
 Scroll down >>
On January 10, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (“CEQ”) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) that would revise NEPA’s implementing regulations.[1]


American Rivers: Don’t let the Trump administration kneecap NEPA!
Audubon Society: Don’t Let the White House Gut the National Environmental Policy Act
Environmental Defense Fund: Tell Trump: Don't Roll Back Environmental Standards
Ohio Environmental Council: Action alert
National Wildlife Federation: Don’t Let the Trump Administration Mute Your Voice for Wildlife
NRDC: Don’t let Trump silence the American people and embolden polluters
Sierra Club: Stop One of the Trump Administration’s Biggest Environmental Assaults Yet
Waterkeeper Alliance: Undermining a Fundamental Law
*WildEarth Guardians
Protecting Greater Sage Grouse:
Oct 16th, 2019 
Judge Winmill grants a preliminary injunction against Trump's BLM 
in lawsuit brought by Prairie Hills Audubon Society, Western Watersheds Project, 
Center for Biological Diversity & WildEarth Guardians.
Our Attorneys: Advocates for the West

Link to the injunction is below:

New York Times Article on

Dec 18th, 2019

 Interior Department, states appeal Judge Winmill'sage grouse ruling

Link to article about"

    We are suing to protect Sage Grouse
    NEWS - PHAS Press Releases - 

    Excerpt from Press Release
    Former Oil Industry Lobbyist Violated Federal Law, Groups Say
    BOISE, Ida. ― Four conservation groups sued Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Idaho federal court today over their recent decisions to gut protections for greater sage grouse across millions of acres of public land in the West.  A copy of the lawsuit is available here. The groups are Western Watersheds Project, Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians and Prairie Hills Audubon Society. 
    “The Trump Administration is gutting sage-grouse protections on at least 50 million acres of public lands without admitting what they are doing,” said Laird J. Lucas, lead attorney for the Plaintiff groups with Advocates for the West. “The lawsuit today exposes these actions as violating bedrock federal laws and flouting the extensive body of science on what sage-grouse need to survive.”

    Photo of Sage Grouse, copyright Dan Licht

    April 22th Update - Preliminary Injunction Requested
    Court Order Sought to Stop Destruction of Sage-grouse Habitat in Seven States

    BOISE, Idaho― Four conservation groups have asked a federal judge to block new plans that allow drilling, mining and other destructive activities across 51 million acres of greater sage-grouse habitat in seven western states: Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, California and Oregon.

    The motion for a preliminary injunction, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Boise, says the land-management plans approved by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt last month would gut protections for the birds’ dwindling populations and destroy their habitat.


    Recent News article on this injunction request.

    Here are links about PHAS's 2016 original litigation 
    that these recent 2019 filings supplement.


    D BLM's Supplemental EISs on the management of greater sage grouse on their lands in 6 western states (DEADLINE  to comment past). They did these SEISs as a response to the litigation's complaints about their NEPA processes.





    New Section ON ISSUES
    scroll down for various issues that are old files....some are out-of-date

    A) SD Mountain Lion Plan Revision Alert 
    B) Mineral Mountain Resources Exploration project
    C) Croell Sand/Gravel Mine Issue
    D) Non-meandered waters Alert
    E) Alert on Resilient Landscape DEIS (Forest Service)
    F) announcement of Petitions to list or de-list under ESA and 
    G)  S3254/SB 114 (Land Trade Little Spearfish Canyon & Bismark Lake) & 
    H).  SD Important Bird Areas
    I)  Missouri River Recovery
    J) to Sage Grouse Litigation filed by PHAS and others in February  2016
    K) then goes to - suspended campaigns discussions, 
    for which comment deadlines have past, but related issues persist




    The revised 2019 mountain lion management plan can also be found online at  

      A biennial report on SD mountain lions can be found at  The 2010-2015 report can be found at the bottom of the mountain lion webpage at

    Oct 2018 Commission meeting.
    SDGFP staff presented an update on lion management. It will eventually be available on the web site, however Audio of meeting is here


    Projects/process on federal land that might move forward in 2018/2019


    It is possible that Rare Element Resources will restart, at any time, the moving forward of it's application process for the proposed rare earth mine north of Warren Peak, in the Bearlodge and associated mill at Upton, Wyoming.
    The Forest Service, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Wyoming Department of Environment Quality, put the  Companies applications and approval process on hold in early 2016, at the request of the Company. The Company stopped work on a DEIS on a proposed mine due to short fall of revenue, at a time when the market conditions on rare earth minerals changed. (Scroll down towards bottom of home page for more info.) Formal notice on restart has not been given yet. Where in the  approval process it will be restarted is not known yet. China is the major source of rare earth minerals and Trump and China conflict, may change the market. Contact Karl Emanuel  at the Northern Ranger District for more information or to be added to notice mailing list -
    It is possible  that mineral exploration will re-start at Mineral Hill, in Wyoming. This exploration would be very near the Sand Creek Roadless area and a FS Botanical Area. Area is north of Cement Ridge and west of Tinton ghost town. In previous exploration efforts in the area, the target minerals were gold, silver and copper.  Scoping has not yet started on this, nor has exploration re-started and this may be on hold.  Contact Karl Emanuel  at the Northern Ranger District for more information or to be added to mailing list -, 605- 443-3072

    Mineral exploration has started near Rochford, SD for Mineral Mountain Resources, scroll down for our alert on that topic. Scoping has past and this project may be on hold. Contact DENR at Roberta.Hudson (at)
    Another project in the Central Hills  near inlet to west of  Pactola Res. is also being considered.

    Mineral Mt Resources Rochford Exploration Project
    Exploration was approved and is ongoing. They are trucking in water.
    UPDATE - Scroll up to Jenny Gulch project, another mining project in the area.

    SCOPING DEADLINE was - Oct 27th, 2017
    After the deadline - we suggest folks send in short letters expressing basic concern and asking to be on the  mailing list for the project. 

    Mineral Mt Resources Rochford Exploration Project 
    on the Mystic Ranger District.  
    A scoping period was underway - Forest Service (FS) sought public input on proposed project.  Link to FS info:

    The Forest Service was considering whether to approve exploratory drilling for gold by the Canadian company, Mineral Mountain Resources, Ltd . 
    The drilling would occur on public national forest land south of Rochford, South Dakota.
     This proposed project on public land is in addition to a similar project planned by the same company on private land next to Rapid Creek, less than a mile SE of Rochford near the old Standby Mill site. The Standby Project's site is handled by DENR not the FS. 

     The Stanby exploration project will consist of drilling up to 120 drill holes from 12 different drill sites. No drill holes will exceed 4,000 feet in depth. Approximately 3,000 feet of additional overland trails may be needed to access all planned drill site locations.  
    The company already has a mine exploration permit from DENR on the private land 
    (Standby Project) site, but may not have started work yet, but it does not yet have permit for exploration on Forest Service lands.

    Standby Project Map of private land -- 
    on which exploration has already been permitted by DENR
    is below

    Mineral Mountain EXNI  for the Rochford/Standby Area - DENR's records.
    Map of Proposed exploration sites on Forest Service Land near
    Meyersville and Castle Peak is below

    Mining Claims on federal land in the Area, as mapped by Clean Water Alliance
    is below
    This map is not guaranteed to be accurate 
    The above map is not guaranteed to be accurate. It was done circa 2016 and claims may have been added or deleted since then

    Aerial Map of the region provided by Bing maps
    to zoom in and out at various resolutions

    You may click HERE for a version of local opponent's  presentation that discusses the issues.       Concerned local folks are organizing and sponsored a recent meeting about the project -  for questions to locals contact - rees.doug (at) 
    Comments were due on the proposed exploration drilling on Forest Service lands near Rochford on October 13 (original deadline was extended and folks  got another extension - new deadline was Oct 27th).   
    This would be partly in the Rapid Creek watershed.  The upper edge of the  Forest Service site is about 2 miles south of Rochford and Rapid Creek. The sites continues past Castle Peak  to north of North Fork of Castle Creek and are also near Meyersville (historic town). There is a historic mine site (Alta Lodi) at Meyersville/Meyers City.,_South_Dakota   Here is a view of Castle Peak Campground, which is within a mile south of  site on the Forest Service land. -  
      This project on FS lands involves constructing 21 drill sites for the purpose of collecting core samples with a track or rubber tired mounted drill rig. Maximum water to be used for exploration on FS land is 1.8 million gallons of water (5.52 acre feet) at a maximum rate of 200 gallons per minute from Rapid Creek. This may convert to .45 cubic feet/second...The limits may translate to - withdrawing less than 5% of the flow of the lowest recorded level at a downstream Rapid Creek gauge location, for about an hour a day, for about three months duration.   Water is to be trucked to the site. The Company has received a Temporary State Water Right Permit to withdraw the water, which expires on December 31st, 2017.  Both sites may rely on the same temporary permit's 1.8 million gallons. Water Rights Program Chief Engineer approves temporary water withdrawals, but has the discretion to refer such to the Water Management Board.  Some closed roads will be opened and use of un-named trails and 3400 LF of over-land routes is planned. 
     The Forest Service at this point is planning to use  a "categorical exclusion" (CE) on the exploration. This designation (CE) means a less thorough environmental review happens for the exploration phase and Decision Memos are not subject to FS Objection process .  Folks should object to the "categorical exclusion" and ask for higher grade of NEPA, one that at least releases the environmental study on the exploration phase to the public for comments, before the Forest Service's decision is made & allows for objections to be filed. This exploration may lead to a large mine in the area.  Folks could express concern about water withdrawal from both projects and cumulative impacts to Rapid Creek's in-stream flows, water quality and Rapid City water supply - - the exploration impacts now may be much less significant than if a large mine ever results.  Also express concern for Castle Creek's water as some drill sites are near the North Fork of that Creek and Castle Peak Campground.  Canyon City Research Natural Area (RNA) is down stream of both Castle Peak and Rochford areas and is upstream of Silver City.  Pe Sla (Reynolds Prairie)  is to the south. Mickelson Trail runs along Rapid Creek through Standby site.  One can ask if there are any potential impacts to these special resources - some are next to the activities and some in the region.  One can express concern for bonds and liability assurances.
    If they find minerals this could morph into a large mine. We suggest concerned people keep in contact with the F.S. & DENR with your concerns even after deadlines and ask to be added to the mailing list.
    For questions to the Forest Service:
    District Ranger
    Mystic Ranger District Office
    8221 South Highway 16
    Rapid City, SD 57702
    (605) 343-1567,
    Also Gary Hauge at Mystic (605) 343-1567 and Ralph Adams at Supervisor's office (605-673-9200).
    Roberta Hudson at Minerals and Mining Program, DENR, Pierre - Roberta.Hudson (at), (605) 773-4201

    Eric Gronlund, Water Rights Program, DENR, 605 773-3352, eric.gronlund (at)


    MAY 8th & 10th Hearings
    Croell Sand Gravel Mine Application (new application)
    Also called "PERLI PIT ROCK QUARRY "

    MAY 8th  & May 10th were Hearing on
    Croell Sand Gravel Mine Application (new application)
    (This is a proposed mine off of Highway 16, SW of Rapid City)
    before the 
    Pennington County Planning Commission & Full Board of Commissioners,
    The Planning Commission recommended approval and it went to the full commission
    Full Commission recommended approval also
    RCJ article about such:

    This application was  considered under the old Ordinance 507A and 507B existing before March 2018 as well as the current Ordinance 320 passed on or about March 28, 2018. 
    Subsequently the SD Supreme Court upheld a challenge to the public notice for the new Ordinance 320, so the new Ordinance is dead, and the mine is thus permitted under the old ordinance.
     Then at the end of the year (2019) Pennington Cty started process to re-adopt Ordinance 320 and correctly public notice it.
    Notes on Croell Sand Gravel Mine Application (new application)
    Also called "PERLI PIT ROCK QUARRY "

    This is a controversial Project that has been subject to past litigation and a citizen's group was formed to oppose it. For information Black Hills Concerned Citizens - duane.abata (at)
    We had copied the Black Hills Concerned Citizens  6 page Alert on the issue, but deleted it due to lack of space on the Blog.

    SD law and the County's ordinance are inadequate to protect locals and the environment from adverse impacts from sand/gravel mining. Scroll down on PHAS web page for more info on the battle over Pennington County mining ordinance rewrite.

    Croell Mining Case (Old history but relevant history)
    Link to SD Supreme Court Decision that upholds Pennington County's decision to reject Croell Redi-Mix's mining application. This is about a historic lawsuit filed by miners over Pennington County rejecting Croell's mine application ( a sand/gravel/aggregate mine). The County won in the Supreme Court. It explains at least partly why Pennington worked to rewrite it's Sand/Gravel/Rock ordinance in 2017-2018. Some Commissioners  have changed since this past vote.

    Alert on Croell Mining from
    Black Hills Concerned Citizens
    Deleted to save space
    Contact Duane Abata for more information




    Marsh Wren. - painting by JJ Audubon

    PAST EVENTS - for current events, scroll up.

    Update January 2020

    We have deleted a lot of the non-meandered water section text and attached sheets, to create space on the blog.

    Link to map showing closed lakes or sections of lakes  (about 17 closures)

    Link to GFP Discussion of "Progress Update"

    This section has been modified to remove most of the text to create space on the blog.
    We have deleted more non-meandered waters text to create space on the blog.


    Bear Butte Lake (east side)  Original Survey map - to find lake look on west edge of map.

    The origin of meandered & non-meandered juxtaposition for lakes: the 1868 federal instructions to surveyors were to not draw meander lines around a body of water that was, (a) less than 40 acres;  or (b) shallow or likely in time to dry up or be greatly reduced by evaporation, drainage, or other causes. In these cases the surveyors included the water body and its bed in their survey as part of the lands available for settlement. 
     Water like this are called non-meandered waters & the person with title to the land(s) owns the ground underneath the lake (the lake bed) but the public owns the water (& living animal creatures in the water itself) - above the lake bottom 
    The waters & ground beneath "meandered waters" were given to the public & the ground beneath meandered waters were never open for settlement. 

    Link to the 1868 Surveyor's instruction manual

    These land surveys in SD did not necessarily happen right away after 1868 -- in 1868 western SD was part of the recently designated "The Great Sioux Reservation" by the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty.

    This link leads to what we suspect is the original first USA surveys (BLM General Land Office Records) - you can look up the "original survey" map for your area. Inputing your area's township and range allows you to find your square of land surveyed and then look for "plat image" in the various drop down menus and choices.

    We have deleted more non-meandered waters text to create space on the blog.


    Temporarily deleted Native American section of non-meandered waters to create space on Blog


    October 30th Comment Deadline

    March 30th-April 29th, 2018 Objection Period
    Black Hills Resilient Landscape Project
    Notice of the FEIS was released on Friday March 30th. The objection period for Forest Plan Amendment shall end 60 days after March 30th and 30 days after March 30th for  objections to the Project.

    A large project which will determine actions on the Forest for  perhaps the next decade is available online/

    Further information on the project is also available at:
    It is on this webpage that you can also go to the “Reading Room” (in the right hand column of the page under “Get Connected”) to read comments (including those of the Norbeck Society) that were given about a year ago when the Forest Service conducted Scoping on the Project and recent comments.
    Paper copies of the DEIS available on request and at all Black Hills National Forest offices. 605-673-9200

    We recommend reading Norbeck Society, & Sierra Club comments
    If you have time to read and then if you agree with the content of one or more - you could write to the FS  and tell them that you agree with any of these writer(s)

    Norbeck Society's
    Black Hills Group Sierra Club

    The purpose of the proposed project is to move landscape-level vegetation conditions in the project area toward objectives set by the Black Hills National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan, as amended, in order to increase ecosystem resilience to insect infestation and other natural disturbances, contribute to public safety and the local economy, and reduce risk of wildfire to landscapes and communities.

    Proposed activities include reduction of hazardous fuels, prescribed burning, enhancement of hardwoods and grasslands, timber harvest, non-commercial thinning, and associated actions. The project area, which includes most of the Black Hills National Forest, consists of the areas designated under Healthy Forests Restoration Act authority at the request of the Governors of South Dakota and Wyoming.

    This is the beginning of a PHAS alert on this Project

    Please oppose any reduction in mature dense pine stands. These have been reduced by logging for timber, logging to protect trees from mountain pine beetle or fire and also by the beetle and fire themselves. These are Structural Stage (SS)  3B and 3C, 4 B and 4C and 5 .  Have the Forest Service leave anything with a 35% canopy cover alone.  This lack of dense stands risks the viability of goshawk, brown creeper, martin and also indirectly black-backed woodpecker.  The woodpecker needs dense stands that have been killed by fire or beetles, but the stands have to first exist in order to be killed.

    The mountain pine beetle epidemic is over and the beetles are at slightly below endemic levels and decreasing.  The MPBR Project is still logging mature dense stands, of which we don't have enough, in order to protect us from
    a threat that is over.

    The project will impact about 4/5ths of the forest... the project will occur in the major management areas to which most of the forest is assigned.  In these management areas only 1% or less of structural stage 5 (old growth) remains, except for MA 5.6, which is  2.2% of the forest & is found up in the NW corner of the forest. It has 2% old growth (SS 5)  left.  This means that the past management policy and structural stage goals for most of the forest (which goal was to have 5% old growth)  have not adequately protected the old growth from 1)  logging to produce timber output, 2)  logging with hope to reduce the beetle & fire risk,  3) beetle kill, and 4) fire kill.     Goshawks need old growth and the Forest Plan requires 180 acres of such near nests and also meeting the Plan's structural stage objectives generically, which protection has been inadequate as too few dense stands are left near nests. The current objectives of the existing Plan don't work for old growth.  A Forest Plan amendment is needed to address how to create and secure adequate replacement old growth -- before more logging is approved via this project.  What the Forest has been doing since 1996 obviously does not work.

    There is not enough protection of the forest from the spread of weeds. Too much surface disturbance has happened in past and will happen in the future to promote pine regeneration and allow for logging and roads. The Forest Service  likely does not have the budget to treat all  the weeds - that  will grow after the planned disturbances. Funding for treating noxious weeds should be a limiting factor to actions that create them.

    One of the side effects of beetles, fires and logging to prevent beetles and fire is to open the canopy which
    results in the Black Hills in little pines sprouting like weeds.  These will grow and create a lower canopy fire risk and ladder fuels.  The real fire risk from beetles is not the standing dead pine trees. The needles fall off the dead trees. Needles on a live pine tree during drought can be just as flammable as dead pine tree needles.  A risk comes after 10 or 20 or so years later when the small pines start growing in mass next to the ground and producing ladder fuels.  The Forest Service pays for small pine thinning by cutting down big trees... but the Forest Service has a limited supply of those left.  The Forest Service does not need to be planting more small needs a plan to reduce the supply we have. The FS should not disk, rake & scarify sod to plant little pines.

    The Forest is cutting timber at a rate that the forest can't sustain and the timber industry is heading off a cliff. The Forest is going to run out of timber. It needs to slow down the rate of the cut.

    The Forest needs to protect birch stands from adverse impacts of logging pine from birch. Also small stands of lodgepole, doug fir and limber pine need to be protected and expanded. At one time there were blue grouse in the Black Hills, which are extirpated they need old ponderosa pines  or the above conifer species.  Aspen needs to be protected and expanded. Mixed aspen/pine stands are useful for species richness and visuals, and the Forest should save some of those, not just eradicate them.

    The Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA) seeks to “reduce the risk or extent of, or increase the resilience to, insect or disease infestation” in areas experiencing declining forest health (defined in the Act as “a forest that is experiencing substantially increased tree mortality due to insect or disease infestation…”).  A large portion of the remedies presented in the proposed project, namely the harvest of 185,000 acres of Structural Stage 4A stands and the associated road- building, will do very little-to-nothing in the way of reducing the risk and extent of, and increase resilience to mountain pine beetle infestation and the incidence of catastrophic wildfire.

     . Send written comments to: BHRL Project, Black Hills National Forest, 1019 North 5th Street, Custer, SD 57730, or via facsimile to 605-673-9350, c/o BHRL Project. Written comments also may be hand-delivered to the above address between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Mountain time, Monday through Friday except federal holidays.



    temporary deleted to make space on the Blog. 
    Oct 24th, 2019
     USFWS announces intent to delist the interior least tern.
    Dec 23rd, 2019 was the deadline to Comment on this. Link to Federal register:

    May 16th
    American Burying Beetle Status Review, 90 Day Finding, comment deadline

    American Burying Beetle Photo - Lindsay Vivian,

    Parts  of American burying beetle section are deleted for space 



    Spearfish Canyon and Bismark Lake 
    Land Exchange Act
    This SD State Park Enlargement Effort Is Likely Dead For Now
    Prairie Hills Audubon Board voted to oppose this proposed 
    land trade ("land grab") on Oct 18th, 2016. 

    PHAS [and the Forest Service, the Norbeck Society, Black Hills Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America , BHG of Sierra Club and Black Hills Group of Dakota Rural Action] opposed the proposed land trade from Forest Service to SD GFP for Spearfish and Little Spearfish Canyon and Bismark Lake.
    Also opposing was an ad hoc group. Below is link to their page: 


    a subset of a National Audubon Society Nationwideprogram

    More details on PHAS web page




    Announce litigation


    Thursday February 25th, 2016
    Complaint filed about greater sage grouse
    PHAS major campaign announcement

    On 2/25/16 Prairie Hills Audubon Society joined 3 other environmental groups (WildEarth Guardians, Western Watershed Projects, Center for Biological Diversity) in filing litigation to protect greater sage grouse. 

    More details on the issue and litigation can be found on another PHAS web page or scroll up.


    Delayed/suspended Campaigns

    (OUT-OF-DATE alert) 

    We have deleted  text  on mining threats relative to rare earth mining, proposed in Hills to create space on the blog.



    OLDER POSTS INDEX - see below
    2. 2015 items - Deadlines & Events old , this has events, that recycle each year (will occur again next year)
    3. 2014 & 2015  items - Recently expired comment periods with link to public documents

    Even Older - Below items are from the 2014 SD legislative session 
    #2. - #4 various out of date & obsolete legislative 2014 alerts
    (in Feb Blog Archives )
    5. Links to Environmental Bill Tracking Services on the Internet (SD 2014 Legislature)
    (In January  Blog Archives)
    6. How to Contact SD Legislature 2014
    (In January Blog Archives)
    7. SD Legislative Cracker Barrels and Legislative Coffees 2014,

     (In January  Blog Archives )
    8. Grey Wolf Delisting Comment Opportunity 
    9. Christmas Bird Count List 2013-14
    10 Mt Lion, SDGFP Commission meet
    11 BlackBacked Wood Pecker Meeting
    12, Missouri River Ponca Bluffs  Meeting
    13. BLM Management Plan Revision