Sunday, February 22, 2015

Item #1, Index to Home page

This "home page" is managed like a blog, - items are added and deleted to this page to keep it timely.
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: 2017 Deadlines and Events  and then alerts or issue/project discussions


Item # 2, Events/Deadlines

1. Events & Deadlines & Alerts in August & forward in 2017

  A chronological list of environmental events. 
This list begins with 
 1.) Prairie Hills Audubon Society (PHAS) events 
2) iterative events,- a local environmental/conservation group's monthly meeting list 
(iterative events - events which reoccur each month at same day/time) , 
 3.) then specific events for the next few weeks of the current month (chronological) 
4.) then goes to events in future weeks of  August, September etc.
Issues we follow 
Alert Topics 
5) . then it goes an alerts:
B) announcement of Petitions to list or de-list under ESA and 
C) on possible radioactive waste disposal test drilling in Haakon County,
D)  S3254/SB 114 (Land Trade Little Spearfish Canyon & Bismark Lake) - PHAS opposes this land trade
This is a long section & provides many links to learn more about the issue associated with the proposed trade.
E).  SD Important Bird Areas
F)  Missouri River Recovery
G) SD legislative alerts as of March 10th  (mostly deleted)
H) to Sage Grouse Litigation filed by PHAS and others in February  2016

I) then goes to - suspended campaigns discussions, for which comment deadlines have past,
 but related issues persist

7). Links to web sites that continuously display documents or hearing notices

We shelter e-mail addresses by replacing @ with (at) 
Prairie Hills Audubon Society  (PHAS) Meetings & Events

Prairie dog photo copyright by Nancy Hilding

For the Fall 2017 we plan evening meetings at Outdoor Campus West (OCW), Rapid City, on the 4th or 5th Thursdays. Our Sept and Oct. meetings will start at 6:15 pm with 15 minutes of meet and greet before the speaker/discussion at 6:30 pm

 September 28th - meeting topic will be a review of PHAS active/moving campaigns - including mountain lions and access to SD non-meandered waters, but other campaigns will be discussed - such as Pennington County's Comprehensive Plan and mining ordinances,  WOTUS.
  Members may bring suggestions­ for campaigns.

October 26th  - Eileen Dowd-Stukel, Senior Wildlife Biologist for wildlife diversity for SDGFP will talk (via interactive Skype) about the State's Endangered Species Program with special focus on draft status review process for state listed species.  A public comment period will be open on the status reviews in Oct. and Nov.

We will meet the 5th Thursday in November 11/30/17 - (avoiding Thanksgiving on 4th Thurs.), 
Topic may be a "Celebrate Nature through Art"  - where members/friends bring and share their art work..although 
agenda not yet set - we are not sure of topic yet - watch for a meeting update - check our web-site.
We may also meet the 4th Thursday in December if enough interest in a meeting between Christmas and New Years Day is shown. (12/28/17) 

Hosting - Cracker Barrels We normally skip week night meetings during January and February but instead co-host cracker barrels.  
We always co-host a cracker barrel in Piedmont on afternoon of the second Saturday in February - this is at the Piedmont Valley Legion Hall usually at 2:00-4;30 pm, but please verify times as we get closer. Legislators from District's 29 and 33 are invited.
 We will again co-host one at Outdoor Campus West, Rapid City, on afternoon of the third Saturday in February, this will be partly a "Natural Resources" Cracker barrel - where  half the question time is for natural resource related questions... all legislators representing part of Pennington County are normally invited.

We have PHAS lunch meetings each month  - 
they normally occur in the second half of the month, often on a Friday - at Hana's Restaurant, 
(Asian food), on 3550 Sturgis Rd, Rapid City.
 We are not sure of the schedule for September, we may skip September lunch.
We can have meeting in other cities - if interested for your city....let Nancy know. ----------
.Christmas Bird Counts will occur in later half of Dec. and early Jan.
Board meetings are by conference call and members welcome. Contact Nancy 787-6779,  

We may have meal time meetings sometimes in Spearfish, at Perkins. 
If you live in Northern Hills and are interested in such...let Nancy know.
Field trips occur when announced.  
 Board meetings are by conference call and members welcome. 
Contact - nhilding (at), 787-6779



Early Part of the Month Enviro Group Meets:
Various environmental groups meet in first weeks of the month 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)
for info: Mark Boddicker <boddicker (at)>

Northern Hills Bird Club meets the first Thursday eve (7 pm) , Sturgis Library - except  in June-August.
- they also generally have 2 field trips each month on Saturdays -- or for info: Nancy Drilling, President - nancy.drilling (at), 791-0459   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: Gena Parkhurst <gmp66 (at)> 

The Black Hills Photography Club 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.
 Sept 12th - Sept Meeting
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,
SDSMT, Classroom Bldg., Faculty Lounge 5:45 pm
Monthly meetings are skipped in the summer
for info: Bob Burns < (at)>,787-4783

SD Chapter of Citizen's Climate Lobby meets the 2nd Saturday of each month at 10:30 at 1888 Hillsview Dr. in Rapid City   For info: Mary Deibert,  rmdeibert (at), 605-484-5790.
Clean Water Alliance normally meets the second Saturday
at 9:00 am in the Helen Hoyt Room at the Rapid City Public Library. 
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
Sierra Club has a meeting planned in mid October -  Oct. 19th.
The talk will be by John Harter, a Winner area rancher who is chair of Dakota Rural Action. He will speak about the Keystone XL pipeline. This public event will be at the Outdoor Campus in Rapid City, at 6:30 pm on Oct. 19th. 
For info on Sierra Club, e-mail Sandra <sandralss (at)>, 605-342-4335, or

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





September 21st & ONWARD

Help Protect Western Water from Uranium Mining!


August 28, 2017  - deadline extended to Sept 27!
Proposed Rule: Definition of "Waters of the United States" 
- Recodification of Pre-existing Rules

In July, the EPA announced its decision to roll back the Clean Water Rule and opened up a 30-day comment period to get public input.  Proposed Rule: Definition of "Waters of the United States" Recodification of Pre-existing Rules On July 27, 2017 (82 FR 34899).  
A 2006 Supreme Court decision affected which waters the the Clean Water Act regulated. 
Repealing the  2015 Clean Water rule (WOTUS) means loss of pollution protections for the nearly 60 percent of streams in the lower 48 states that don’t flow year-round—almost 2 million miles of streams—and the end of Clean Water Act protection for countless wetlands, which provide crucial habitat for millions of ducks and geese in particular. These wetlands also filter pollution and provide drinking water for more than 117 million Americans.
EPA extended the comment period through the end of September. 
Folks should write in support of the Obama administration 2015 version that 
the Trump administration wants to repeal.

Write and submit your comments,
 identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0203,

Or use the National Audubon Action network to submit a pre-fab on-line letter:

Articles about WOTUS
Audubon on WOTUS
Wiki-pedia on WOTUS
EPA announcing rule making
Proposed Rule

September 21st-22nd  N4C Convention
North Central Camera Club Convention
Hosted by Black Hills Photography Club
Holiday Inn, Rushmore Plaza
Link to a list of programs, which includes some topics of interest to outdoors enthusiasts
 Pennington County  Comprehensive Plan Revision
3 meetings - Sept 25-28
 Pennington County has initiated an update to its Comprehensive Plan focusing on correcting inconsistencies 
and redundancies, as well as restructuring for ease of use.    Matrix Design Group will be coming to host 
Public Workshops - Set III September 25th thru the 29th.  The focus of these meetings will be on
 Land Use / Zoning. 

Land Use / Zoning helps keep order, guide and regulate the County’s vision for the future;
additional documents (Zoning Ordinance, Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance, etc.)
help with the orderly implementation and development as well. 

The three meetings below will be the opportunity for the public to make recommendations
 regarding Land Use in the County.

The dates, times, and locations are as follows:
Monday, September 25, 2017 – Start time 6pm
Black Hills State University, Rapid City Campus – Rooms 124/126
4300 Cheyenne Boulevard, Rapid City, South Dakota
Wednesday, September 27, 2017  -- Start time 6pm
Hill City High School - Theater
488 Main Street. Hill City, South Dakota
Thursday, September 28, 2017  -- Start time 6pm
Wall Community Center
501 Main Street, Wall, South Dakota
Sept 27th
Sen. Rounds  Live Tele-Townhall - Wednesday, Sept. 27September 25, 2017
This Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, at 7:50 p.m. CT/6:50 p.m. MT,  If you would like to participate, all you need to do is call in or click on the link below on Wednesday at 7:50 p.m. CT/6:50 p.m. MT. The link will allow you to listen to the call live and submit your own questions for me to answer. 
Call into the telephone townhall at: 877-229-8493 Pin: 115923 
Listen to the telephone townhall live HERE.

 Sept 27th  Deadline
Proposed Rule: Definition of "Waters of the United States" 
- Recodification of Pre-existing Rules
In July, the  EPA announced its decision to roll back the Clean Water Rule and opened up a 30-day comment 
period to get public input. The response has been overwhelming - The response has been so large, 
EPA extended the comment period through the end of September. 
Folks should write in support of the Obama administration 2015 version that the Trump administration wants to repeal.
Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0203, at
Proposed Rule

 September 28th - PHAS monthly meeting
 at Outdoor Campus West , Rapid City,
Meet and greet at 6:15 and discussion at 6:30 pm
- our meeting topic will be a review of 
PHAS active/moving campaigns - including SD management of mountain lions and access to SD non-meandered waters, 
but other campaigns will be discussed - such as Pennington County's Comprehensive Plan Revision and the County's mining ordinances,  WOTUS.
  Members may bring suggestions­ for campaigns.
SATURDAY September 30th, 2017 
4PM - 6PM 

(Piya Wiconi) Head Start Conference Room 
3 Mile Creek Rd, Kyle, SD 57752 

For more information: 


October 5th-6th
SD GFP Commission Meeting
Rapid City , Outdoor Campus West
The rules about marking public waters as "off-limits" will be finalized,
 Status reports on State Listed Endangered Species will be presented
Meeting of the West Dakota Water Development District 
10 October 2017   6:00 PM

West River Electric Community Room
3250 Hwy 44

We need people to support funding for the USGS gaging stations on Rhoads Fork of Rapid Creek and on Castle Creek above Deerfield Dam  

-These are the only stations monitoring flow in the spring fed headwaters of Rapid Creek. Several West Dakota Water Development Directors want to eliminate those stations by ending funding. I’m uncertain of their reasons for this. 
- The District provides 60 % of the $14785 annual cost of the two stations. If that share of funding stops we lose the stations. They provide constant flow records  of those waters, and those records provide some of the most important watershed information in the Black Hills. 
-  District Directors voted to continue funding for the two stations at the August meeting, but by a narrow one vote margin. One director was absent and my understanding is that that person might not support funding. It is already back on the agenda. These people are serious. They need to hear from us.

Public Meetings on Oct 5th and 12th
October 30th Comment Deadline

Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the BLACK HILLS RESILIENT LANDSCAPES Project available for Public Comment
A large project which will determine actions on the Forest for the next decade or so is available online and at 2 open houses listed below.

Two public open houses will be held on:

• October 5: Mystic Ranger District office in Rapid City, SD, 8221 Mt. Rushmore Rd., from 6-8 p.m.

• October 12: Crook County Courthouse in Sundance, WY, 309 E. Cleveland St., from 6-8 p.m.

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.
Paper copies of the DEIS available on request and at all Black Hills National Forest offices.



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

SCROLL DOWN 10 inches to next text

New Section Below >>>scroll down 10 inches

New SectionON ISSUES
scroll down for various issues

A) Non-meandered waters Alert
B) announcement of Petitions to list or de-list under ESA and 
C). then it goes an alert on possible radioactive waste disposal test drilling in Haakon County,
D)  S3254/SB 114 (Land Trade Little Spearfish Canyon & Bismark Lake) & 
E).  SD Important Bird Areas
F)  Missouri River Recovery
G) SD legislative alerts as of March 10th  (mostly deleted)
H) to Sage Grouse Litigation filed by PHAS and others in February  2016

I) then goes to - suspended campaigns discussions, for which comment deadlines have past, but related issues persist


Marsh Wren. - painting by JJ Audubon

It was JUNE 12th - 10 am
press release on session:

Bill delivered to the Governor (HB 1001) (has an amendment to section 21-suset clause)

 final draft legislation from the summer study on non-meandered waters that was considered on 12th.

GFP will need to do rule making ordered by this bill - watch the SDGFP Commission schedule;

On June 12th the legislature passed the proposed bill, with an amendment (originating from the Senate) to change the sunset clause date  from July 1st 2021 to July 1st, 2018.  Some Senators  plan to rework or to "tweak" the bill during the full session but agreed to pass the summer study's version in order to do something immediately and to open the closed lakes.  In both houses some legislators objected to the bill from a public rights viewpoint (bill did too much harm to public rights), some objected from a private property owners rights viewpoint (bill did not do enough to protect private rights) and some argued both views with respect to different sections.  
The anti-bill votes can reflect people opposing the bill from either or both viewpoints.  PHAS opposes HB 1001, but at least the sunset clause means the issue will be cracked open again in January 2018.

Failed amendments
           On the Senate floor Senator Kennedy offered some good amendments, trying to change words in some sections to "access" from "recreation" and attempted to add a statement that recreation is a beneficial use of water.  His amendment did not pass the Senate . On the House floor Representative Representative Tulson offered a hog house to change the bill to a bill to just open the 30 closed lakes.That also did not pass. Votes in favor of Kennedy's or Tulson's  amendments are a pro-public trust/pro-public asset vote.

Link to special session:
Link to bill history (see some of the votes)
Link TO journals

Link to SDPB recording of special session:

Media article on session


The interim committee (non-meandered waters) last hearing/meeting was June 2nd.
The committee asked for a legislative session the week of June 12th
and they got it - June 12th..

PHAS opposes this latest version of non-meandered water's access bill also... in our view some positive and negative changes were made  from earlier version but the bill is still adverse.

The summer study approved the above version of the bill on June 2nd to be sent as a suggested bill to the
full legislature.

SD natural waters are divided into non-meandered and meandered classes. Folks have been arguing for years about what are the SD law or rules for public access to non-meandered waters and how to interpret existing law and previous court decisions with respect to this issue.  
The Supreme Court recently tossed the authority to decide this back to the legislature.  (March 2017).
Now the legislature will act - June 12th
PHAS opposes the proposed bill...

Here is a web link to the South Dakota Wildlife Federations (SDWF) petition on this matter - we suggest folks sign it.
This is a very simple thing to do.
Scroll down for their letter on this issue.

We suggest folks write in opposition to the draft bill - complain that this is not a fair and not a balanced compromise between recreators and lake-bed owners. 
Control over our public water is being surrendered to private individuals - 
this will be a huge surrender of public assets.

Here is a quote from the SDWF:

"South Dakota is on the eve of a great wrong—where over 40% of the waters in our natural lakes may be closed at the whim of private individuals.  The South Dakota Wildlife Federation (SDWF) cannot support a bill that delegates authority to private individuals to restrict access to massive amounts of publicly owned water with zero public due process, and then allows those private individuals to use the public waters for their own ends. "  

List of  36 Senator's e-mail addresses,

 "" <>,, "" <>, "" <>, brock.greenfield@sdlegislature.govterri.haverly@sdlegislature.govPhil Jensen <> ,, "" <>, "" <>,, Stace Nelson <>, "" <>, "" <>, Ernie.Otten@sdlegislature.govJeffrey.Partridge@sdlegislature.govDeb.Peters@sdlegislature.govArthur.Rusch@sdlegislature.govLance,

List of House members,,,,,,, "" <>,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, "" <>,,,,,,,

During the session (and hopefully Monday), you can also call each chamber's phone and leave a message: 
House: 605-773-3851 Senate: 605-773-3821
SD Wildlife Federation's letter on the proposed bill

Short discussion of issues and process


There is a SD special legislative session June 12th, with a bill proposed that may have large impacts for public recreation on or other public use of public waters; those that are in SD's non-meandered lakes. 

The draft bill is moving extremely fast outside the regular legislative time period. 
 The Summer Study Committee have had 4 meetings of the Committee thus far - 
3 in Pierre & one in Aberdeen. (4/27/17, 5/9-10/17, 5/24/17, June 2nd). 
 June 12 is Special Session day and bill is alleged to go directly to floor votes without more committee meetings.
 They will have moved this forward in one and a half months.  They have an emergency clause on the bill, so it needs a two thirds approval vote.
Summer Study link


Recent history:

Conflicts have arisen between property owners owning land around and/or under lakes & outdoor recreators: conflicts have especially been happening in NE SD over use of non-meandered lakes (smaller or more shallow lakes historically) . The status quo has been --  if the public has legal access to a lake they can use it.  Legal access can be from public property and public easements (a form of property).  Thus the public shares part of the lakeshore and perhaps the lakebed with other owner(s) around these lakes.  Lakes have increased in size due to rainy weather but also to extra runoff due to conversion of prairie grasslands to crop land and due to drainage tiling. Some lakeshore landowners have complained about conflicts with recreators - public's behavior and/or numbers. Counties and Townships have vacated section lines and closed roads to remove public access. There have been past court battles and battles in past legislatures over this issue. A recent Supreme Court decision (3/15/17) resulted in an injunction on 2 lakes, preventing GFP or general public from facilitating access on those 2 lakes, while not giving the public or the landowners superior access rights:

In response to a Judge's injunction on 2 lakes in SD, the SD Game Fish and Parks (SDGFP) has interpreted that injunction  broadly ... and has shut down access to additional lakes (25 lakes). Below is a link to a discussion of why GFP closed access to more lakes than the 2 the judge enjoined. This guidance was published in April 2017.

Fishermen and boaters both in SD and out-of-state visitors are alleged to now be afraid to use SD lakes, for fear they may be arrested and are thus not coming out to recreate and tourist businesses are suffering and hoping for relief.
SDGFP at the urging of the Committee issued this press release to reassure fishermen and boaters:

 Thus the legislature is moving at extreme pace to solve a very very complex issue that is currently impacting landowners, businesses and recreators. When people make decisions in a rush, they can be bad and can have unintended consequences.

Fifteen Legislators have been sitting on a “Summer Study” committee looking for a legislative solution to the Supreme Court’s decision on non-meandered waters.  (scroll down for a list of legislators)

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.


Lakes in NE SD have been increasing in size, alleged by GFP just due to rain fall, but also possibly due to drainage tiling, where land owners drain marshy or saturated areas, moving water downstream.  Also the rising waters could be partly due to conversion from native grasslands to crop lands, as the runoff from crop lands (or road beds) is greater than runoff from native prairie. The enlarging lakes & inundated farm lands, create hardships for farmers, who can't grow crops or pasture it. Farmers pay taxes on land they own under water..but less than for dry land.

While EXCLUDING several large lakes created by damed major rivers
the SD GFP estimates that there are:

1. Meandered lakes - are 29% of the cumulative lake area, and 267 lakes in number and take up 246,000  acres
2. Non - meandered lakes which are larger than 40  acres - are 39% of the cumulative lake area,
 they are 2,324 lakes in number and occupy 325,000 acres
  3. Non -meandered  lakes 40 acres or less -  constitute 32% of the cumulative lake area, and number at 26,709 lakes 
occupying 263,000 acres. 

 Not included are 487,000 acres of water in the Missouri River, Orman Dam,  Angostora, and Shadehill Reservoirs. Including these river dams with the other 3 categories would change the percentages of cumulative lake area significantly. The other 3 categories plus the dammed rivers create a total of  1,321,000 acres of water, of which 487,000 acres (dammed rivers) is 37%. and thus the above 3 categories divide up just 63% of SD standing "lake" waters. 
 This inclusion of river lakes created via dams in total acres, changes the percents of "not-river-lakes "to  19%, 25% and 20% respectively and river lakes 36%. 
 However some of the 3 classes of waters above, may be fully on private property with no public property rights held around the edges and thus they have no public access already. The lake data was assembled by GFP staff using aerial imagery. 

 Link to the SDGFP Fishing Access map

Link to Department of Environment & Natural Resources Rule that displays lakes by Counties that are
assigned the beneficial uses of immersion recreation and limited contact recreation and other uses:

DENR list of lakes by County
assigned beneficial use guides


See update above for 5 changes to draft bill on June 2nd - 

PHAS does not support this draft bill and does not consider this a balanced compromise.

 Lake-bed owners will be given the  choice to restrict access to the public's non-meandered lake water that overlays their private lake beds The bill will allow privatization of a large percent of SD water bodies.
Violators of restricted access areas will be guilty of criminal trespass.
There are 27 lakes (out of 29,033 non-meandered lakes) that are held open and the lake-bed owner must petition to close those, the rest -- it is his/her choice.

The types of bodies of water in question currently belong to the public. Local private property owners, under the status quo, own the ground beneath the non-meandered lakes in question, but not the lakes themselves or the wildlife, fish, and invertebrates that reside in the lakes. The public owns all water and the wildlife/fish that is above the lake bed.  With this bill the landowner can restrict the public access to something the public owns and thus land owners acquire unique access for themselves and their friends. If they commercialize such access -- they have successfully privatized some of SD's wildlife and fish for sale for private gain (you can't fish, hunt, trap, photograph or "nature study" on lake
 without paying to do so). The bill forbids them from receiving financial compensation for fishing, but not for other leisure activities nor does it prohibit non-financial compensation.

Main issues:

1.  The bill gives SD GFP's new legal authority to regulate recreation on these non-meandered lakes (Section 19.),, but does not wait to see if this new authority will solve many of the problems/conflicts.  It lets the lake-bed owner make the decisions about public access, without first requiring negotiation or mediation/arbitration of conflicts first (especially of concern given SDGFP's upcoming new  authority for regulation of recreation on non-meandered lakes).

2. Access closure decisions should be made by Game Fish & Parks Commission (GFPC) or Water Management Board (WMB). They should have the choice of whether to  1) block off all or parts of the lake, 2.) change recreation regulation on lake and/or 3) leave access and recreation as is. Appeal rights to any decision by GFP or Water Management Board (WMB) pursuant to the new law must be for both recreators and landowners. 

3. It allows privatization of a public resource, at choice of a private person(s).  If lake is closed to public recreators, the selling or trading of access to the closed-off public water resource must not occur.

4. Native American special treaty rights to hunt,fish and have access... must be discussed and addressed

Other problems

5. Lakebed owners can ask GFP to rent/purchase access on lake waters from them instead of closing the lake or parts of it. Expenses will be created for GFP under this bill - such as paying for access to keep lake open - ("ransoming back public water") and the likely cost & source of off setting revenue is not explained -- will GFP raise fishing license or park entrance costs to cover this? Will it short change other programs? Does this bill need a fiscal note? The GFP report in 2019 should disclose associated costs for GFP. (see Section 20) 

6. Native American's unique interests (1851 treaty rights to hunt, fish, have access) in this case need to be protected.
 GFP and DENR need to prove that consultation with tribes, especially Sisseton Wapheton Sioux Tribe, have adequately occurred.

7. There is no definition of "lakes" or "natural".  This creates confusion with how this bill applies (or does not apply) to "wetlands," "ponds" vs. applies to "lakes", and how it applies to "human made" or "human augmented" water bodies.  Does "unnatural" mean private chlorine enhanced swimming pools and sewage lagoons, or does it also mean lakes created by dams?  If this bill does not apply to these waters (dams), -  they remain in  the uncertain status about public access -- an uncertainty created by the March 2017 Supreme Court decision. This uncertainty can disproportionately effect west River SD, in which many of our standing waters are augmented or created by dams (impoundments). The instructions to surveyor in 1868 included no instructions to handle dammed water differently with respect to lakes/ponds.

8. Will the bill create an argument for adverse possession by lake-bed owner.. to eventually claim he/she owns the public's water, after it is closed off with buoys for years?

9.The bill needs to provide relief to recreators, from Counties and Township vacating section lines and closing roads to prevent public access to SD waters. This issue needs to be included in the bill.

10.  The legislation must clarify that if any lakes are bisected by a section line -- does this bill authorize lake-bed owner to "close section line access" across the lake? How does it effect navigation rights on navigable non-meandered lakes?

11. It allows GFP when considering petition to close one of 27 open lakes, to consider public, lake-bed owner and water quality/quantity interest. At such times it needs to also consider protection of biodiversity on the lake (the lake's animals and plants) not just the human use.

12. GFP (or whatever entity does bargaining with landowners) needs to learn and quantify when bargaining if - -  the land owner(s) seeking relief, have engaged in drainage tiling and have switched native grasslands to cropland, without vegetative buffers, and thus helped create their inundation or run-off problems.  If relevant - did the inundation happen before or after Bill Janklow provided a program to purchase some inundated lands  (with possible subsequent return to owner at the purchase price).  These landowner past choices should be a factor when seeking fair solutions.

13. Beavers create and created many "natural" lakes/ponds/wetlands. Given historic beaver trapping history and current GFP hunting rules, the trapping of beaver is not well enough restricted, thus we have lost and are maybe losing "natural" lakes.  Lost beaver created "lakes" may have been replaced with human constructed dams. This makes a difference if the law treats "natural" and "unnatural lakes" differently.

14. Adverse affect of buoys marking off "no trespassing areas" on lake scenery. This could effect enjoyment of lakes and tourism.

15. In the bill's introduction (Section 1),  private land owners have "rights" but the public only has "interests". As far as we know the public owns the water and has "rights" too.

Whose compromise?
What is proposed  is a deal cut by the landowners, the governor and SDGFP. The pro-recreator NGOs that have been involved in this, representing the outdoor recreator viewpoint (including an intervener in recent civil action) were not invited this most recent deal cutting.  PHAS is also concerned for inclusion of Native American interests during bargaining and we include a section on Native American concerns (those concerns of which we are aware)
 at the end of this section (scroll down).
With this "unbalanced negotiating" we get an unfair proposal.

UNCLEAR IMPACTS - East River vs. West River
  A question in all of this is - in the proposed bill, the meandered and non-meandered lakes are both qualified with the word "natural" and the words "natural" and "lake" are not defined in the bill.  Many lakes in SD may have been perennial, intermittent or ephemeral drainages, ponds or marshes that were augmented or created by dams or other water flow control structures such as flumes or altered with drainage tiling as locals may try to move water off one area or drainage basin to another.  Are such lakes now or were they ever "natural"?  How will the definitions in the draft bill and the bills goals effect western SD -- where there is generally not enough water and locals via "unnatural" actions  try to save it on their land? Conversely how will it effect northeastern SD where locals seem sometimes adverse to the amount of water on their land and may try to get rid of it or concentrate it "unnaturally"? 

If these are "unnatural",  how is SD GFP inventorying these "unnatural waters"?  Are "unnatural waters" in eastern SD (standing waters augmented unnaturally by tiling) considered natural and included in SDGFP inventories and concerns.. but are the "unnatural waters" in western SD (augmented unnaturally by dams) considered "unnatural" and ignored by the draft bill and left subject to the access uncertainty created by the Court's March 2017 decision?   Will the bill's impacts to both sides of the state  - which have very different water realities -- be fully understood & both sides treated fairly? 
The Committee has 2 legislators from west River and 13 from east River.. It has no Native Americans of which we are aware of.
Also of concern is how the Judge's decision will effect streams. they are not included in the proposed bill, but a future scenario of property rights advocates asking for a similar bill for streams in the 2018 legislature is a potential "falling dominos" scenario.  Will this bill set precedent or expectations that may be applied to other water types in the future?

Update on June 2nd Actions

6/2/2017Friday9:00 AMRegulation of Non-Meandered WatersRoom 414

An adverse bill passed Summer Study Committee  with a 13 to 15 vote. Senator Kennedy and Representative Tulson voted against it.. Thanks to the 2 of them for holding out for the public to the bitter end.  When many pro-public amendments were shot down, these 5 legislators voted leaning towards "pro-public" - Otten, White, Hawley  Kennedy and Tulson. Thanks to them all for their efforts for the public access to public waters and a for creating a more fair process.  

Changes to the bill (changes on June 2nd that modify May 24th version) include: 
1) change to the definition of recreation (improvement), 
2) not allowing landowners to charge $ for fishing once they rope off a section of the lake (improvement but not enough of an improvement - they can charge for boating or waterfowl hunting or other recreation),
3) there is a 4 year sunset clause (improvement but too long a time before sunsets),
4)  there is a reporting on results and review process scheduled after 2 years (improvement),  
5) there were 30 lakes that were sort of designated  open in the earlier draft, now just 27 (not an improvement).

PHAS does not support this bill and 
does not consider this a balanced compromise.
The link just below is to the draft bill (see link below), which is proposed to be adopted by the Committee 

on June 2nd  and  sent to a special session of the legislature in the week of June 12th (maybe - that is the Committee's  current objective). 

Draft Bills:
earlier version

Regulation of Access to and Use of Non-Meandered Waters
 on Public and Private Property 
Summer Study
Look up summer study committee:

 (Chair) Rep. Lee Qualm -, (Vice chair) Sen. Brock Greenfield, Sen. Gary Cammack, Sen. Jason Frerichs  -, Sen. Joshua Klumb, Sen. Craig Kennedy, Sen. Jim White -, Rep. Hugh Bartels  -, Rep. Mary Duvall -, Rep. Spencer Gosch, Rep. Spencer Hawley -, Rep. Steven Mccleerey -, Rep. Herman Otten -, Rep. Larry Rhoden -,  Rep. Burt Tulson

Past  Summer Study Hearings on can watch on  You-tube
5-9-17 Non-Meandered Waters Legislative Hearing - Day 1 of 2, You Tube Link,

5-10-17 Non-Meandered Waters Legislative Hearing - Day 2 of 2, You Tube Link

SD Wildlife Federation's 
Opinion on the Non-meandered waters draft bill (earlier version - May 24th)


GFP references on this:

GFP web page  has a text discussion of this 

GFP you tube of GFP presentation on this

PDF version of above power point... The bills in this PowerPoint are just that  -- bills, not law, --
they did not pass the legislature

Understanding the judicial side of this:

Parks v Cooper Supreme Court decision 2004

Duerre v Hepler Supreme court decision 2017. 


SD Water Management Board (WMB) has authority under Title 34A SD to assign beneficial uses for SD waters. It sets SD's water quality standards, which according to EPA are tiered to beneficial use. Thus to set water quality standards, WMB must first assign a water a "beneficial use"

"  34A-2-10.   Classification of waters. The Water Management Board shall promulgate rules pursuant to chapter 1-26 to establish or modify the classification of all waters in accordance with their present and future beneficial uses."

SD Water Management Board has created 11 categories of "beneficial use" of SD waters. It has assigned beneficial use # 9 to all lakes... Rule assigning recreation as a beneficial use to all lakes in SD

"  74:51:02:01.  Beneficial use of fish and wildlife propagation, recreation, and stock watering assigned to lakes. The beneficial uses of fish and wildlife propagation, recreation, and stock watering are assigned to all lakes in the state.(emphasis added)

Clusters of rules:

 Here is the 2016 Biennial Review of SD Waters, which has lots of nice information & maps.>>>..THE 2016 SOUTH DAKOTA INTEGRATED REPORT FOR SURFACE WATER QUALITY ASSESSMENT 

Water Management Board also assigns "beneficial uses" under Title 46 to SD waters when allowing appropriations from SD waters, which may involve constructing dams to collect water for use. So this is another set of SD law with a different concept of what a "beneficial use" is, than in Title 34A.

  46-1-3.   Water as property of people--Appropriation of right to use. It is hereby declared that all water within the state is the property of the people of the state, but the right to the use of water may be acquired by appropriation as provided by law. (Emphasis added)
Source: SL 1955, ch 430, § 1; SDC Supp 1960, § 61.0101 (2); SL 1983, ch 314, § 1.

46-1-8.   Beneficial use--Measure and limit of right to use of waters. Beneficial use is the basis, the measure and the limit of the right to the use of waters described in this title.
Source: SL 1955, ch 430, § 1; SL 1955, ch 431, § 1; SDC Supp 1960, §§ 61.0102 (6), 61.0401 (10).

DENR discussion of water ownership in SD


 Lakotas and other tribes,  may have special and unique access rights and fishing rights to western SD  waters under the 1851 treaty. Which rights have not been surrendered and remain in place... This is thus also about environmental justice and once again taking property rights from the Region's tribes.

See part B on pages 11 and 12 in this Brief filed by Yankton Sioux Tribe in civil case over Keystone XL

The legal argument for Tribal fishing and access rights is explained in this Motion for Preliminary Injunction 2008 by
Russell Means:

The Dog Ears Lake in Tripp County is one of the lakes with access blocked after Duerr v Hepler Decision..It  is named after a Lakota... It exists in Tripp County in land that was once within  the Rosebud Reservation and that jurisdiction taken away by the Supreme Court in  - Rosebud Sioux Tribe V. Kneip as recent as 1977. 

SD  statute grants a procedural right to  consultation for Tribes in SD
 SDCL  1-54-5.   Consultation with tribal government regarding state programs. It is the policy of the state to consult with a tribal government regarding the conduct of state government programs which have the potential of affecting tribal members on the reservation. This section may not be construed to confer any substantive rights on any party in any litigation or otherwise.
Source: SL 1990, ch 5; SDCL § 1-4-26; SL 2011, ch 1 (Ex. Ord. 11-1), § 83, eff. Apr. 12, 2011.

Part of Sisseton Wapheton Sioux Tribes Reservation's original boundaries overlaps part of Day County, the County where these law suits originated from.     In Western SD Lakotas have treaty rights to hunt, fish & pass over lands within western SD (1851 treaty... these treaty rights were not removed in subsequent treaties)

Various links to court cases on tribal hunting/fishing. 

Wisconsin - 

The Voight Decision,1983

March 1999 - "The Court affirmed the rights of the Ojibwe to hunt, fish, and gather on the lands ceded by treaty, contingent upon a set of guidelines to protect the Great Lakes fisheries. 
This decision is an important victory for proponents of Native American sovereignty."


Spragues pipit 
WildEarth Guardians - petition for pipit was recently denied - found not warranted to list, Spring 2016

Greater Sage Grouse - removed from the candidate list in September 2015


Scroll down further  for more  info on the petition to delist the American Burying Beetle, look for photo of the beetle 
Petition to de-list:

USFWS 90 Day Finding:

Black Backed WoodPecker, DPS
Chad Hanson , BCA, CBD
(deadline - USFWS decision in fall 2017) 

The Golden Winged Warbler, 
Anna Sewell


The Plains Spotted Skunk


western bumble bee petition
Defenders of Wildlife
Defenders of Wildlife
petition to list Monarch butterfly
Center for Biological Diversity, Xerces Society, Center for Food Safety

petition to list regal fritillary butterfly
Wildearth Guardians
Status of review 

 Petition to list Sturgeon & Sicklefin Chub, Wildearth Guardians,

 petition link:


Reptiles/Amphibians (lots-53 species)

One species within 53 species,  includes - Blanding turtle is in SD 

Center for Biological Diversity


Comment opportunity on proposed deep borehole drilling research test
Haakon County Commissioners met on Tuesday, December 6, limited public comment time was at 1:00 in Philip & the drill test was on the agenda.

 Haakon County does not have authority to approve or disapprove the research project, however DOE wants the contractor to get local approvals and do local outreach.
Haakon County Commission, PO Box 698, Philip SD 57567 Phone 605-859-2800, e-mail - haakon.public.comment (at)

The federal government is trying to find a new place & new way to dispose of  high-level nuclear wastes – and they seem to be considering Haakon County as a potential location.   Haakon County includes the towns of Philip and Midland. Phillip is east of Rapid City and Pennington County and NE of Wall.  The county sits directly south of the Cheyenne River Reservation and north of Interstate 90, Jackson County, and the Pine Ridge Reservation.  

Haakon County is being considered by Department of Energy as a location for a research project to  drill a test hole down to a depth of three miles (a “deep borehole”), slicing through groundwater aquifers.  This is being called a" Characterization Borehole"
 to see if the rock in the area is “appropriate” for nuclear waste disposal or the drilling plan works correctly. This "test" will cost 36 million dollars and may take 5 years. This drill hole might  be too small for depositing waste. There may be next step to drill a larger drill hole (17 inch), at the size that could be used for waste disposal - called "A Field Test Borehole" . This is not yet a proposal to deposit nuclear waste but a research test of a potential location. If a waste project ever developed subsequent to this research - waste would likely travel there along SD highways. 
Deep Borehole Field Test DE-SOL-0010181. DENR may have some regulatory authority on some activities associated with the test drilling  (or not) - DENR's Kent Woodmansey in Pierre is following this issue. DOE would fund the research project. Under SD law (SDCL 34-21-1.1) the Governor, or at his request the legislature, must approve use of SD for radioactive waste disposal.
Read up on this issue and view address for commenting to Department of Energy:

Link to DOE web page on this - you can download lots of documents about how to apply for an award for this set of research test.  Within document called the "RFP Amendment" you will see that DOE expects the applicant to get approval of locals, a task they expect applicant to  complete during the beginning of the drilling test project or full funding will not be granted. - https:///

Send your concerns on the Deep Borehole Project application for South Dakota to: Mark B. Payne, Idaho Operations, U.S. Department of Energy, Idaho Operations1955 Fremont Avenue, Idaho Falls, ID 83415 The email address is: - SUBJECT : A–RFP for Deep Borehole Field Test: Characterization Borehole Investigations SOLICITATION NUMBER : DE-SOL-0010181

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

SB 114 bill currently in the SD Legislature to fund SD GFP efforts to acquire this land.

Federal bills that died at the end of 2016 and would need to be resubmitted in 2017
S. 3254 Spearfish Canyon and Bismark Lake Land Exchange Act (obsolete)
H.R.5871 - Spearfish Canyon and Bismarck Lake Land Exchange Act (obsolete)

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] oppose the proposed land trade from Forest Service to SD GFP for Spearfish and Little Spearfish Canyon and Bismark Lake.
Link to an ad hoc group against  Little Spearfish/Bismark Lake land trade 

(S. 3254 by Senator Thune & HR 5871 by Noem). 

SB 114 was a bill in the SD Legislature on this issue.  It did not pass.
It would have make an appropriation to GFP to provide for the purchase and land exchange of properties held by the Office of School and Public Lands and declare an emergency  - This bill was assigned to Joint Appropriations Committee. The bill was killed in Committee.

It was heard in Joint Appropriations February 15th  & was killed in Committee. If you go to this link...and you see a blue eagle in a can listen to hearing,  if you have downloaded "RealPlayer" software (free)

An excerpt from the proposed bill SB 114:
"There is hereby  appropriated from the general fund the sum of two million five hundred thousand dollars ($2,500,000), or so much thereof as may be necessary, to the parks and recreation fund to allow the Department of Game, Fish and Parks to purchase properties owned  by  the  Office  of  School  and  Public  Lands that  will  become  part  of  a  land  exchange agreement with the United States Forest Service to establish a state park at Spearfish Canyon in  Lawrence  County,  which  includes  Bismarck Lake,  to  be  managed  and  maintained  in perpetuity for the benefit of the public. "


This bill is but the local example of a nationwide effort by GOP to transfer federal lands to states.
Please look at GOP platform for 2016  on page 21
Quote from GOP Platform:
"Federal ownership or management of land also places an economic burden on counties and local communities in terms of lost revenue to pay for things such as schools, police, and emergency services. .....Congress shall immediately pass universal legislation providing for a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey certain federally controlled public lands to states."

Recent legislation in DC to make giving away public lands easier:

On January 3—the very first day the new Congress was in session—the House of Representatives voted to change a long-standing rule on how public lands are valued.

Below is a link to the SD GF&Parks website with information on the proposed exchange.

 On this web page you can download maps of the proposed land trade area.

Advisory Committee Application, due Jan. 18th, 2017 (Although effort not yet approved by SD Legislature or Federal Congress)
See S. 3254: Spearfish Canyon and Bismarck Lake Land Exchange Act
A proposed act - submitted by Senators Thune and Rounds in 2016 - the 2016 bill died as not passed in last congress and will need to be reintroduced in 2017 if Thune/Rounds so wish:

Track in DC:  S. 3254:
Track in DC:  H.R.5871

Archived webcast of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing in which this bill was considered (one 21 bills discussed)  is available here:

Changes proposed by SD GFP if federal congress orders FS to trade property.

The Forest Service land would be traded at below market values to the state 
- as the appraised value of land would be limited by S 3254 to only it's agricultural value
& will not consider commercial, residential or industrial values. 
Please compare SD agriculture values with what GFP paid for it's recent purchases in Spearfish Canyon.
What cost to purchase land at Spearfish,Spearfish Canyon- Savoy on behalf of GFP?

Map of SD Game, Fish & Parks existing land & development at Roughlock Falls area, 

Map of Forest Service Lands that may be traded - Little Spearfish & Spearfish Canyon

Map of Forest Service Lands that may be traded - Bismark Lake

 Map of SD State School Lands that may be traded within Buffalo Gap National Grasslands.

The trade may involve some State School lands near Ft. Pierre National Grasslands in Lyman County, SD

USDA Forest Service opposes S. 3254: Spearfish Canyon and Bismarck Lake Land Exchange Act.
A link to Forest Service testimony on the proposed bill

Here is Forest Service's Fact Sheet on S. 3254 - your browser may let you enlarge these JPG files:

 Rare Animals in Canyon

PHAS petitioned to list the American dipper (2008) and Coopers Rocky Mountain snail (2003) in the Black Hills as Distinct Population Segments (DPS) under the Endangered Species Act  (ESA) & this effort was denied by USFWS. For more information on these ESA petition efforts visit the links below. Impacts to these species from both proposed developments (that would facilitate increased recreation) & the resulting increase in recreation, is a concern of PHAS
in Spearfish & Little Spearfish Canyon.

Spearfish Canyon is designated as a state level Important Bird Area by National Audubon Society 
- view map on this page:
The National Audubon Society has recently inventoried & designated Important Bird Areas (IBAs) for SD
Link to Maps & data SD IBAs


Here is a study on dipper - likely done 2005-2009 (no date on report)
 - Lovett, K. The American dipper (Cinclus mexicanus) in the Black Hills of South Dakota. 
Report for the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks. 

Forest Service Management

Forest Service Management Direction (Recreational Emphasis) for Spearfish Canyon Area

Forest Service Management Direction (Recreational Emphasis) for Bismark Lake

Here are links to 4 Forest Service NEPA documents that may help you learn about 
BHNF resources and management at or near Bismark Lake & Little Spearfish and Spearfish Canyon

By-way Lakes Enhancement Project (RE: Bismark)
Vestal FEIS (RE: Bismark) 

West Rim FEIS (RE: Spearfish Canyon)

Links to info about trails and campgrounds.
BHNF campground & trail maps connect to Google maps with aerial view that can be moved about in the area

BHNF Camps & Trails
Little Spearfish Trail & Rimrock trail (BHNF)
Rod & Gun Campground  - (BHNF)
Bismark Lake Campground (BHNF)
Photo of Bob Marshall Cabins (FS cabins at NE side Bismark Lake)

SDGFP Management
Roughlock Falls Nature Area (SDGFP) 

Here is a You-tube video to a private person's videos of Roughlock Falls and nearby area

TAKE ACTION - This is likely dead now (August 2017)
We suggest that folks call up or write in opposition to the land trade a

Contact SD Governor Daugaard

Contact Senators Thune & Rounds:

Contact Ryan Brunner, Commissioner of School and Public Lands


a subset of a National Audubon Society Nationwideprogram

National Audubon Society recent conservation action in SD.
The National Audubon Society has recently inventoried & designated Important Bird Areas (IBAs) for SD
Link to Maps & data SD IBAs

Comment Period 12/16/2016 - 04/24/2017
Missouri River Recovery Management Plan Out for Review 
A new plan that will affect how the Missouri River is managed for year to come is out for public review and comment. 
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Missouri River Recovery Management Plan Draft Environmental Impact State (MRRMP-DEIS) that will directly impact fish and wildlife, outdoor recreation, and communities along America’s longest river was released in late December. 
The plan is very complex and with its supporting documents runs over 4,900 pages.
Both The Izaak Walton Leauge & the National Audubon Society are reviewing it.

The Government says:
" The Draft Missouri River Recovery Management Plan and EIS accomplishes the following: 
• Uses the best available science to develop alternatives and evaluate the effects of those alternatives on environmental resources and the human uses of the river; 
• Identifies a preferred alternative comprised of management actions based on the best available science and designed to avoid a finding of jeopardy for the species and minimize impacts to other resources; 
• Includes an adaptive management plan for the Missouri River Recovery Program to ensure management decisions are continuously improved by the learning that takes place from regular monitoring of the river and assessing the effectiveness of management actions. "

Documents available at for review during the public comment period from December 16, 2016 to April 24, 2017 include: 
• Notice of Availability 
• Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Appendices 
• Draft Science and Adaptive Management Plan 
• Supporting Technical Reports Incorporated by Reference 
• Missouri River Effects Analysis Reports 
• Human Considerations Technical Reports 
• Scoping Summary Report 
• Hydrology and Hydraulics Technical Reports 


Comment period closes Apr 24, 2017 at 11:59 PM Mountain Time



Prairie Hills Audubon Society's  (PHAS) 
Is deleted, but we can send it to you if you wish



Legislators at the 2/18/17 Cracker Barrel
February 18th in the morning 9 - 11:30 am  Rapid City Legislative Cracker Barrel 
(Rapid City- Outdoor Campus West [OCW])  
Five conservation groups co-sponsored this cracker barrel:
PHAS, DRA, Black Hills Sportsmen,  RCC- Izaak Walton League,&  BHG-Sierra Club 

For an article on this cracker barrel in Native Sun News:

photo copyright Jake DeGroot
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License
  2. Is deleted, but can be sent on request

Announce litigation


Thursday February 25th
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. 
The  lawsuit is about more than a dozen greater sage-grouse plans produced by federal agencies, plans that fail to adequately protect this iconic western bird from a series of threats, including fossil fuel development, grazing and mining. The plans cover about 70 million acres of public lands in 10 states, administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. The suit doesn’t seek to eliminate the plans but to strengthen them with science-based protections recommended by the government’s own scientists.
To understand more details follow link to the press release below.
The case is Western Watersheds Project et al. v. Schneider et al., case number 1:16-cv-00083-EJL,

 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho.
We will also have a meeting about this in Rapid City,  on March 29th, 
scroll down to March specific events

USFWS photo

Press Release 2/25/16:

News Articles:

Link to Complaint. 

Link to Litigant's Protests of Agencies' Decisions (earlier step) :

Link to WWP et al. protests (an earlier step)

Link to WEG et al. protests (an earlier step)

Other References for NGOs

Link to Defenders of Wildlife's review of Draft Environmental Impact Statements on
BLM's & FS's grouse management plans

Link to "Evaluating Sage Grouse Conservation Efforts", WildEarth Guardians, August 2015

Link to "The Shrinking Geography of Sage Grouse Conservation", WildEarth Guardians, July 2015,

Related BLM & USFWS Federal Reports

Final EISs on BLM & FS Management Planning for Sage Grouse

A Report on National Greater Sage‐Grouse Conservation Measures, Sage-grouse National Technical Team, Dec. 2011
Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), Conservation Objectives: Final Report, February 2013 

NAS's Opposing View
 National Audubon Society's (NAS) opinion - NAS supports Federal Agencies' Decisions on grouse RMPs.

- SUMMER 17                  

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

American Burying Beetle Photo - Lindsay Vivian,
On August 18, 2015, the Service received a petition from the American Stewards of Liberty, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and Dr. Steven W. Carothers to delist the American burying beetle (which is currently protected under the Endangered Species Act & can be found in SD). Some of the issues raised in the petition are items that are currently being evaluated through the Service’s species status assessment, including uncertainty surrounding the population trends, distribution, and threats impacting the species. 
         In response to the petition, the Service is publishing a substantial 90-day finding, which is the first step in determining whether or not the American burying beetle should be delisted. A substantial 90-day finding by the Service means that we will take a closer look at the status of the species and the effectiveness of existing conservation efforts through what is known as a 12-month finding. 
         The Service is requesting additional scientific and commercial data on the American burying beetle. We will accept public comments on the 90-day finding until May 16, 2016. Comments may be submitted by one of the following methods:
Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: the Search box, enter FWS–R2–ES–2016–0011, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. You may submit a comment by clicking on “Comment Now!”
By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to:  Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R2–ES–2016–0011; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike; Falls Church, VA 22041–3803.

Center for Biological Diversity's comment letter on USFWS's current status review of the beetle
it has a map of the range on  page 4.

USFWS web page on beetle:

USFWS Fact Sheet 

SD USFW page on:

USFWS 2008 status review --  it has a map of SD sites for 2008 on page 21:

Petition to de-list:

USFWS 90 Day Finding:

To see a map of beetle's range in 2004


June 3rd (Of  previous year  -2016 - out- of-date alert)
Deadline for sending in comments to Wyoming Game and Fish
on cougar hunting in Wyoming
Wyoming  triennial review/revision of their Wyoming cougar hunting regulations

photo by Bruce Tuten

Now is the time to act for Wyoming mountain lions! Every 3 years, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department 

suggests changes to it's mountain lion hunting regulations, and NOW is that time.  You can send in comments on Wyoming Game and Fish on cougar hunting regulations, or attend a hearing in Pinedale in July.
Below is a link to a way to comment on-line 
Public comment due at 5:00 p.m. Friday, June 3, 2016.
Existing regulations (see map of areas, second link) 

             Latest version  (May 9th, 2016) of proposed changes to regulation.

The May version of the proposed rule change supersedes & improves an earlier circa April 4th, 2016  version.   Wyoming Game & Fish reduced "limits' on harvest  in 5 out of the 33 hunting areas between April & May.  We believe the May version replaces the April version which  is out-of-date   
General Link:

Meetings specific to cougars are past, but this shows locations (last meet - May 24th)

Comment to:
Wyoming Game and Fish Department
,  ATTN:  Regulations, 3030 Energy Lane,  Casper WY 82604
There is a way to comment on-line (by 5 pm June 3rd),

All written comments will be presented to the Wyoming G&F Commission for consideration prior to
the July 7-8, 2016 meeting in Pinedale, Wyoming.

Suggested comments below, with background in italics: 

~ We suggest folks object to Wyoming's past and planned future management  goals for cougar population in the Wyoming Black Hills. Their goal is to manage as a "sink". Please request the harvest "limits"be reduced and it be managed as "stable" or "source" populationWe suggest you object to "unlimited harvest" in the area to immediate west of Black Hills (Area 24).

A sink population keeps lion populations lower than the area could support, so lions will likely be drawn into the area to fill vacant habitat.  A source population exports lions. Wyoming does not attempt to count lions in it's areas. When SD counts/estimates lion populations it assumes migration equals immigration, which is a questionable assumption, given the aggressive "sink"management 
on the Wyoming side of the Hills.

4 years ago, in response to local public pressure Wyoming, reshaped harvest areas and increased harvest "limits" in Wyoming Black Hills Area (Areas 1, 30 & 32). The cumulative "limit" in Wyoming Black Hills is 61 lions, hounds are allowed and the season is 7 months long. To the immediate west of the Black Hills is Wyoming's Area 24, in which unlimited harvest is allowed for 9 months, with hound hunting allowed. In 2015-16, hunters in Wyoming failed to meet quota in areas 30 and 32 - so they harvested 54 out of  the cumulative 61 Black Hills lions allowed.  Wyoming allows out-of-state cougar hunters. SD does not. Some Wyoming hunters are upset because out-of-state hunters beat them to a limited supply of cougars.  In the 2011-2012 season Wyoming Black Hills harvest was 41 lions, and in 2012-2013 harvest was 61 in the Black Hills area - the first year of the aggressive sink management and larger harvest. An estimated two fifths of Black Hills/Bear Lodge pine habitat in Wyoming.  

SD's cougar harvest "cap" in Black Hills in 2015-2016 is 60, with a much shorter 3 month hunting season & very little hound hunting allowed.  In 2015-2016 SD hunters harvested 41 out of 60 cougars possible/allowed.  SD's lion population numbers, shorter season & restriction on hound hunting likely limits the harvest - before hunters can approach the "cap".  In 2011-2012 SD hunters harvested 73 lions. In 2012-2013 SD  hunters harvested 61 and in 2013-14 harvested 53 and 2014-2015 they harvested 43.
To the east of the Black Hills in SD (the rest of SD in GFP jurisdiction) is a 365 day season, with no limits & hounds allowed.

~ Thank Wyoming Game & Fish for their plan to switch the word "kittens" to "dependent young" which includes those traveling with mom and/or other kittens -- hunters can't kill dependent young.
~  And also thanks for new provision for checking to see if "harvested" females were lactating.

~ Thank Wyoming for downward movement of harvest levels in some areas:
Wyoming Game & Fish recommends downward movement of harvest ""limits" in 5 out of  the 33 hunting areas for cumulative reduction of 11 fewer lions killed per year. Reductions in  area 2 (in Teton County) , area 3 (in Sublette County) , area 6 (SW of Douglas), areas 12  ( in Sweetwater County), and area 20 (west of Worland). It merged Area 33 into area 11 & redefined boundaries of areas 19, & 20 in NW Wyoming..

Visit Cougar Fund's Facebook page for their alert to see their recommendations for cougar hunting goals in various areas of Wyoming ~ Cougar Fund thanks Wyoming for reductions but request additional reductions in some areas (Areas south of Yellowstone Park - areas 2, 18, 26,  29  & also Black Hills Areas):.

Or visit Panthera Puma Program for their recommendations for cougar hunting goals in other areas of Wyoming - they also recommend additional 
reductions of harvest area 2 & 29.

Or visit Klandagi -Cougar Rewildlng Facebook page for other insights

North Dakota Lions

July `14th, 2016 (OUT-OF-DATE alert)
Comments were likely most effective if sent by then by June 24th, but comments can be sent till July 14th
Comments due on the North Dakota Mountain Lion Management

Jeb Williams, Wildlife Division Chief, North Dakota Game and Fish 
Department, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, ND 58501-5095
ndgf (at)

For info:
Game Management Section Leader and Furbearer Biologist
Stephanie Tucker  <satucker (at)>, 701-220-1871

LINKS on ND & Tribal government 

You Tube video on ND Cougars

North Dakota Game and Fish, in partnership with South Dakota State University, has completed their first part of two --  three-year long studies of the mountain lion populations in their state. The results of the study indicate that the population is vulnerable, with a declining average age and a low survival rate. 

Mountain Lion Foundation's letter asking for a temporary moratorium on sport hunting due to low cougar population numbers:, 

 To read Cougar Fund's comment letter visit below link. The Cougar Fund puts forward positive solutions, 
such as creating and implementing a Mountain Lion Management Plan and emphasizing proactive conflict prevention like the use of livestock guardian dogs.



July 28th, Thursday
Eastern Cougar Delisting Comment Deadline
On June 28, 2016, the USFWS published a Federal Register notice  to reopen the comment period on the 2015 proposed rule to delist (due to extinction)  the eastern cougar - in order to seek review from independent experts, as required by USFWS 1994 peer review policy.  Reopening the comment period will also allow an opportunity for additional general review.  Previous comments need not be resubmitted.  USFWS anticipates making a final decision on the delisting proposal within the next few months. 
Currently the eastern cougar (Puma concolor couguar) and Florida Panther (Puma concolor corgi) are seen  by the USFWS as different sub species of cougar.

Here is the USFWS 2011 5-Year review on Eastern Cougar

Here is the USFWS 1982 Eastern Cougar Recovery Plan

Additional comments can be submitted starting on June 28 through July 28, 2016 at under docket no. FWS–R5–ES–2015–0001.    

For info: Mark McCollough, Ph.D.Endangered Species Specialist,Fax: (207) 469-6725, Cell Phone: 207 944-5709
mark_mccollough (at) or Krishna Gifford,  413-253-8619, 

Here is a  news article about issue

Wikipedia on

PHAS suggests that folks ask the USFWS to designate the area of Florida with Florida Panthers as a Distinct Population Segment under the Endangered Species Act. 

Here is a link to Mountain Lion Foundation's on-line sign-on letter on this

(OUT-OF-DATE alert) 

Deadline Past: January 15, 2016

(OUT-OF-DATE alert - 2016)
-  NRC FR Notice on Upton Mill site hearing process
See:  Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 220 / Monday, November 16, 2015 / Notices, page 70846

SUMMARYThe U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has received an
application from Rare Element Resources, Inc., for a license to possess
and use source material associated with its Bear Lodge Project. The Bear Lodge
Project includes a mine in the Black Hills National Forest in Crook County,
Wyoming for the purpose of extracting rare earth element ores, and a rare earth
element processing plant in Weston County, Wyoming. In addition, the
license application contains sensitive unclassified non-safeguards information (SUNSI).

DATESA request for a hearing or petition for leave to intervene must have been filed by January 15, 2016.
 Defenders of the Black Hills has requested a hearing.  This review & licensing process is suspended at request of Company.
for info. on that process;

Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to and search
for Docket ID NRC–2015–0255. Address questions about NRC dockets to Carol
Gallagher; telephone: 301–415–3463;

"Kalman, Kenneth" <>   301-415-6664
Report of NRC on pre-application visit;
Rare Earth Mine Review Processes Suspended

Proposed Rare Earth Open Pit Mine 
North of Sundance, Wyoming

The Forest Service had completed the
Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Bear Lodge Project. 

The Company (Rare Element Resources) has given notice it temporarily suspends all further activities on the Bear Lodge Project, which includes all permitting and licensing efforts, including the DEIS process.
There was going to have been a 45-day comment period  beginning January 15th and ending on February 29, 2016
– however the Forest Service has suspended the DEIS process and removed DEIS from web site availability:

Alternative H had been identified as the preferred alternative.
The DEIS was viewed (but is now deleted, except appendices and maps)
on the Black Hills National Forest website at

Public open houses hosted by the Forest Service were not  be held.
The 2  open house meetings  were suspended at request of  Rare Element Resources Inc. due to the company's decision to temporarily suspend the project. 

 ,Check with Forest Service  BHNF - Bear Lodge District for updates -Jeanette Timm 307–283–1361
jmtimm (at)

Discussion of issue as declared during scoping:

Rare Element Resources proposes to create a 232-acre open pit mine at Bull Hill on Forest Service (FS) land 6 air miles north of Sundance, Wyoming.  Ore will be crushed and concentrated at a facility on FS land.  A Hydromet Plant (chemical processing for crushed & concentrated rare earth mineral ore) is proposed to be at Upton, Wyoming, on private land next to the railroad.  Some existing roads will be closed, some upgraded, and some new roads built.  Mineral exploration will continue for 43 years. 

As the mine will be on FS land, an Environmental Impact Statement must be written.  The Forest Service has released the Draft EIS, you may read it and comment on it. The FS must respond to your questions and comments in writing in the Final EIS. 

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has been reviewing an mining permit application for mine, that they received June 3rd, 2015. DEQ must give a first round response from their technical review that was due out Oct 31st. Usually a few rounds of back and forth between agency and applicant occur before application is deemed technically adequate. When permit application deemed complete and ready for approval, public comment period will start, it will be a 60 days for public commentingRER has requested temporary halt on their permit application process so
 DEQ review is also suspended at request of  Rare Element Resources. 
Other permits with Wyoming DEQ may be applied for by Company later.
Contact - BJ Kristiansen, 307-675-5615, for updates, bj.kristiansen (at)



Links to Web sites that display/link to their documents or hearing notices continuously

SD Game Fish and Park's Commission meets the first Thursday and Friday of most months.
The hearings to finalize (approve) any proposed rule changes submitted by staff
 are heard the month after they are on the Commission schedule as "propose".
The Commission normally has the hearing at 2 pm on Thursday and normally allows comments on any subject briefly between 1 and 2 pm.
By SD statute the deadline for written comments on any rule making, is the close of the hearing
but GFP will offer suggested deadlines in advance of the meeting to allow Commission and staff to read comments in advance. 

To sign up to get announcements of events from GFP  online at:

SD Department of Environment & Natural Resources oversees Clean Air & Water issues in SD & Permits facilities that pollute:
 Click on the  following link to view all DENR activities undergoing public notice in South Dakota - this provides information on comment deadlines & links to public notices:

Visit this link to see projects the BHNF is working on

Visit this link for SD Public Notices in Newspapers
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