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 November & 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 October, November etc.
space break - you need to scroll down 

Issues we follow 
Alert Topics 

5) . then it goes an alerts:

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

L) 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"  and/or on Sage Grouse- 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 most months  - 
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 have skipped the September and the October lunch.
We can have meeting in other cities - if interested for your city....let Nancy know. ----------
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.
.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,  

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)
There is no November 2017 meeting, next meeting is Dec 6th.
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,
Oct 10th in Hot Springs at Woolly's Restaurant
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.
Oct 10th, next 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.
The October Norbeck Society membership meeting will be on October 12 at 5:30pm at SDSMT, Faculty Lounge. The speaker will be a
representative from Black Hills National Forest speaking and answering questions about Black Hills Resilient Landscapes Project. 
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. Scroll down for info
For info on Sierra Club, e-mail Sandra <sandralss (at)>, 605-342-4335, or

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





November 19th & ONWARD


Help Protect Western Water from Uranium Mining!





Tuesday, November 21st, 2017
Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn, 1-4 pm
Mineral Mountain Resources Tribal Consultation Meeting
Black Hills National Forest is sponsoring a formal consultation meeting with Tribes on the proposed 
Mineral Mountain-Rochford Exploratory drilling project. They will also discuss recent proposals received from Rare Element Resources and Couer Mining Company. 
Gay Kingman, Executive Director of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmans Association says tribal and non-tribal people are welcome to attend and there will be opportunity for public comment.  The Forest Service would have appreciated an RSVP on Friday past,  so they can reserve adequate space, although that is not mandatory - If you wish - send a late RSVP to, 605-673-9265. 
The proposed Mineral Mountain Project would be relatively close to Pe Sla - to the north of it.
To learn more about the Mineral Mountain-Rochford Exploratory drilling... scroll down to the alert topics below...once deadline for action is past, we
put the alert lower down on the home page.  This PHAS alert is a  long alert
 and is at the top of the old alert section (scroll down). 
Also scroll down for an old alert on the Rare Element Resources proposed mine north of Sundance and the proposed mill at Upton, Wyoming.The Forest Service, Nuclear Regulatory Commission and State DENR were working on moving this rare earth mine approval forward in the permitting process but the Company stopped application process in late 2015 or early 2016, when market conditions changed.  This alert is far down towards the bottom of this home page.  We don't know yet if the proposal from Rare Element Resources is for this project or a new project
Tuesday November 21st
about 1 pm
Hard Liquor License Renewal Hearing
Meade Count Administration Building (Erskine Bldg.) , Sturgis,
Meade County has it's annual  hearing for renewal/transfer application for hard liquor licenses. 
This is of concern for folks who object to alcohol sales and/or campground
development near Bear Butte. Folks can go and object or send letters.
The legislature passed a law that allows any local government to decide if they will or won't accept testimony at alcohol renewal hearings, so they might not allow testimony, but they usually do. There is also an opportunity for generic public comment (any topic) at about 8:30 am
We believe Full Throttle, Pappy Hoel, Buffalo Chip, Glencoe's Campgrounds and/or other facilities
 are near Bear Butte 
Link to public notice
Commissoners link - to learn about Commission:
For info or to e-mail Commissioners:
Jerry Derr, Commission Assistant/HR Director
1300 Sherman Street, Suite 212, Sturgis, SD 57785
605.720.1625 | Fax: 605.720.1633 |
. . .To see meeting agenda's
Monday Morning ...? December 19th??
Possible date that the Pennington County's revision of it's mine permitting ordinance 
will be up before the Planning Commission.  There is a moratorium on issuing new mining permits while this revision is being done that will expire in April 2018.
(We believe that the draft Ordinance revision would just apply to sand and gravel type mines, we think as currently written, however we have not seen the very latest rewrite done on Nov 13th.) 
Contact - Hennies Holli <hollih (at)> for update and draft ordinance.
One issue associated with this draft is having an adequate appeal process to County's 
decisions to permit mines.
Planning Commission's web pate



Deadline - December 1st, 2017
Scoping on Sage Grouse Plan Revisions

, or click HERE to go directly to the comment submission form.

Click HERE for a list of upcoming scoping meetings.

The BLM has issued a Notice of Intent (NOI) initiating a 45-day public scoping period for RMP amendment(s) with associated NEPA document(s).  The BLM intends to consider the possibility of amending some, all, or none of the BLM land use plans that were amended or revised in 2014 and 2015 regarding Greater Sage-Grouse conservation in the states of California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Montana ("2015 Sage-Grouse Plans"). 

*UPDATE**  The public scoping period has been extended to December 1, 2017.  

The public is encouraged to help identify any issues, management questions, or concerns that should be addressed in the plan amendment(s). The BLM would also like to receive input on whether the planning effort should occur through state-by-state amendment processes and decisions. The BLM will work collaboratively with interested parties to identify the management decisions that are best suited to local, regional, and national needs and concerns. Further, the BLM looks forward to receiving the comments of the Governors of each state, and will strive to accommodate those comments to the extent practicable given prior collaborative efforts.

For more info.:
December 8, 2017.   

SD State threatened and endangered species status review

To help prioritize future rare species efforts, department staff drafted a status review for each state threatened or state endangered species to summarize the current status of each of these species in the state.
If sufficient information existed, draft criteria for downlisting (changing status from endangered to threatened) and/or delisting (removing a threatened or endangered species from the state list) are described. If such information was lacking, the review describes additional monitoring or research needs.
For species also listed as federal threatened or federal endangered under the Endangered Species Act, separate state recovery goals were not drafted. For those, GFP will continue cooperating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to meet identified recovery goals.
Written comments can be submitted to or 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD  57501 until December 8, 2017.   

 Following is the link to the website location where the PDF is available to link to.  
Alleged link to the document:  

List of SD T & E species

December 14th-15th, 
SDGFP Commission meeting
RedRossa Convention Center
Pierre, SD

If any rules were proposed in November the commenting deadline is -  3 days in advance of hearing day - comments sent  to However we believe that no proposals were submitted in November and that there will be no finalization hearings.

Commissioners e-mails:


Monday Morning ...? December 18th??
Possible date that the Pennington County's revision of it's mine permitting ordinance 
will be up before the Planning Commission.  There is a moratorium on issuing new mining permits while this revision is being done that will expire in April 2018.
(Draft Ordinance revision would just apply to sand and gravel type mines, as currently written) 
Contact - Hennies Holli <hollih (at)> for update and draft ordinance.
One issue associated with this draft is having an adequate appeal process to County's 
decisions to permit mines.
Planning Commission's web page
We shelter e-mail addresses by replacing @ with (at) 

SCROLL DOWN about 12 inches to the next text

New Section Below >>>scroll down 12 inch

New Section ON ISSUES
scroll down for various issues

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

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


Mineral Mt Resources Rochford Exploration Project 


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 underway - Forest Service (FS) seeks public input on proposed project.  Link to FS info:

The Forest Service is 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
go to
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 are 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:
Ruth Esperance 
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)




Wednesday, November 15th, 2017
GFP Seeking Comments on Current Mountain Lion Management Plan
PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) is seeking comments on the 2010-2015 mountain lion management plan prior to drafting the next management plan.
All individuals interested in mountain lion management in South Dakota have through November 15, 2017, to provide suggestions and comments on the plan in its current form. These comments will assist the GFP in determining additional public involvement and identifying topics that need to be considered during the plan revision process. A final revised plan, which incorporates additional public comment, is scheduled to be presented to the GFP Commission in mid-2019 for adoption and implementation.
The current mountain lion management plan can be found online at:
 Written comments on the plan can be sent to 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, S.D. 57501, or emailed to
Comments must be received by November 15, 2017, and include your full name and city of residence. To request a printed copy of the plan, please call 605.773.3387.

  We suggest people
1)  Object to the current Plan as allowing overly aggressive hunting of cougars
 both in the Black Hills and in the Prairie.  Support management of the Black Hills as a "source" population to help recolonize eastern areas with cougars.The Hills are the principal source of dispersing cougars that are being documented in the Midwest, one getting as far as Connecticut.  Cougars should be allowed to recolonize the Midwest and East to restore ecological balance and to undo the moral wrong when misinformed settlers extirpated them.
Request that cougar population objectives be set so as to allow for some dispersal of cougars out of the Black Hills;

2) Ask GFP to  support protection of small breeding populations or breeding or resident individuals in suitable habitat on the SD prairie.  SDGFP current goal is not to manage for cougars on the prairie, just to manage for cougars on the Black Hills. SDGFP current Management Plan believes that there is not [politically] suitable habitat on the prairie. We believe there is suitable habitat; that there are small breeding populations on the prairie and some populations exist across tribal/non-tribal jurisdictions.   There is evidence of a few kittens and thus breeding is occurring on the prairie in SD and we believe SDGFP needs a new plan for management of cougars on the prairie.

3) Request that SDGFP consult with tribes on the management of cougars and cougar's prey in areas where Tribal and non-tribal jurisdictions are nearby each other. Tribal wildlife agencies may have a duty (like SDGFP) to conserve the Tribe's wildlife species, but they may just have a few lions. 

4) Object to killing cougars to maximize prey species for human hunters to subsequently kill...SD hunters need to do a better job of sharing "prey" with other non-human predators.  SDGFP should dispel, via transparency of their data,
any untrue beliefs of hunters about effect of lions on prey.

 5)  Ask that all yearly data on population estimates to be very transparent and to be available to the public, further in advance, than a powerpoint presentation at the Commission meeting a month before season's finalization hearing. This presentation is held outside the Black Hills, often on the east side of the state.  PHAS sometimes question GFP estimates of the population numbers in the Black Hills; we sometimes fear they are over estimating the populations and this overestimate justifies a too high "harvest" limit.   We are concerned about very large confidence interval ranges and conflicting conclusions that could be drawn between comparing different sets of data.
 We ask that "harvest" limits be less aggressive to compensate for uncertainty.

6) Object to hound hunting in Custer State Park or on the SD prairie. We believe this is a cruel practice for both lions & hounds. It is not "fair chase". It gives advantage to hound hunters over "boot hunters" as hound hunts are more productive, but not all hunters can afford hounds or to hire guides. On the prairie where we have small populations recovering; hound hunting is more effective at destroying recovery.

6.  Guidelines for managing “conflict lions” should be changed to reduce the likelihood of killing a cougar whose only crime is temporarily hiding near a settled area.

8) Request that SD be divided into more cougar districts rather than just 3 Districts-- the Black  Hills Fire Protection District, Custer State Park and the prairie unit.  More units, especially in the prairie, would permit different management objectives in different areas of the prairie. For example a sanctuary area in the Black Hills could be set aside with no hunting. If tribes want to protect lions in their tribal jurisdiction, upon consultation with the tribes, GFP could modify objectives in  areas where small lion populations occur in both tribal and non-tribal areas.

9) Increase the fee - a lion hunting license costs $28.00

10) Do not allow out-of-state hunters to hunt lions.

11)  SDGFP needs to give balance and respect to both hunters and non-hunter concerns. Not all South Dakotans are hunters - some are passive wildlife enthusiasts, who don't want lions killed.  

12) SDGFP should provide information on how to co-exist with cougars both on web sites and at office locations.
Information on domestic animal depredations by lions on both the prairie and the Black Hills
 should be available for public review.

 The Mountain Lion Foundation has a letter questioning the SD 2017 population estimates, that I can send on request.
 Contact Nancy (nhilshat (at) for past and interim alerts on these issues. 


Audio link to SD GFP Mountain lion presentation --

 If you want a copy of the power point GFP staff is showing the Commission...e-mail me (Nancy Hilding)  and I will send it.  It has lovely charts to help you make sense of the talk & what is happening to lions in Black Hills of SD.  It is a 2.7 MB file, Here are some sample slides.

Cougar population in the SD side of the Black Hills


Denise has mapped data from the SD GFP Mortality data spreadsheets.  We have copies of GFP's mortality spreadsheet if you want a copy of it.  Some maps have layers or it you click on a lion point a drop down menu with info about the lion appears.
Denise Peterson's maps show 21 years of SD Documented Cougar Mortality.
Denise Peterson <>

* Please note that Denise is using GFP designation of kittens on the GFP mortality spreadsheets,. SD GFP classifies (on their mortality spreadsheet) all cougars under 1 year old as kittens.  This cut off point between kitten and sub-adult is not consistent with research nationwide or research in SD. Dan Thompson's research indicates kittens leave mom between 10 - 16 months in the Black Hills: From page 33 of Dan's 2009 PhD dissertation at SDSU

"Independence of cougars from females averaged 13.5 months (range = 10 - 16 months) from parturition; dispersal occurred 1-3 months post independence."
This quote is from his dissertation titled:
"Population Demographics of Cougars in the Black Hills: Survival, Dispersal, Morphometry, Genetic Structure, and Associated Interactions with Density Dependence"
** Please note Denise has combined SD GFP designation (on  the GFP Mortality spreadsheet) of Public Removal and GFP Removal under the cause of Public Removal


Deadline Comments to SDGFP
 Thursday, November 2nd - noon CDT (past)
See also Nov 15th Deadline - scroll up.
To view public comments etc

The hound hunting issue was resolved in our favor before the Commission - 
the Commission did not approve the extension of hound hunting on to to new areas on the prairie (increase in areas where hound hunting would have been allowed)... 

However there is an opportunity to comment on the Mountain Lion Management Plan Revision ...comments due Wednesday, November 15th, 2017. One can send objections to hound hunting in SD as comments on the Plan Revision - as it is allowed in Custer State Park and private land on the prairie.
Scroll down to Nov 15th to see more,

The set of rule changes proposed included a proposal to 
increase the area in the SD prairie, where  hound hunting
 of lions is allowed  (outside the Black Hills Fire Protection District). 
While this issue is over, the talking points on hound hunting can be used to comment on the Mountain lion plan revision

Now hound hunting is allowed in Custer State Park and on private land in prairie unit (with permission of landowner/leasee). Also the hunters may continue a hunt started on private land on to BLM and State School lands. The rule change sought to expand this permission to hunt on any public land in the prairie if the hounds start on private land. This would expand hunting to our federal grasslands, Custer National Forest and potentially other federal, state and local government lands where hunting is permitted by the public land managing agency. 
This rule was asked for by a petitioner - a hound hunter (not the Commission or staff)

Please write to the Commission  before end of November 15th, 2017  at
and object to hound hunting on the prairie and in Custer State Park (CSP).
Since hound hunting was allowed in the prairie in early 2015,  nine prairie lions have been killed
 by hunters using hounds.  Since 2013, 32 lions have been killed by hunters using hounds on Custer State Park

Below find some specific reasons to object to the prairie hound hunt, some overlap with CSP.

Reasons to have objected to this proposed rule change were

1. Hound hunting is cruel and can cause harm to both the cats and the dogs. It is more cruel and unethical in the
prairie areas where there are less trees for lions to climb to avoid dogs. Kittens can be inadvertently killed or orphaned.
2. Hound hunting is not "fair chase" 
3. Hound hunting is generally more efficient than "boot hunting" and confers a hunting advantage to those
who own hounds or hire guide with hounds, over those who merely own a rifle.
4. One justification for the hound hunt is to help landowners remove "problem lions" that threaten livestock. At the October Commission meeting the petitioner  (President of the South Dakota Houndsmen Association) could not clearly show that many of the 9 lions killed by hound hunters in the prairie since prairie hound hunting was allowed (2015), were in fact "conflict" lions.  He claimed one lion of the nine killed via hound hunters was alleged to have scared livestock in a pen and thus harmed livestock.    GFP had only 4 documented depredations by cougars on livestock or pets in 1999-2015 and there are no documented depredations since then, that west river staff can tell us of -- so where are the documented depredations problems that the hound hunters are allegedly curing? Why doesn't GFP insist on substantive evidence?
5.  Hounds may disturb other wildlife and may disturb other public land users. 
6.  Public land managers may have a duty to protect wildlife viability - including protecting their few cougars. The public owns public lands and you want a say in how they are managed -- these are not private lands.
7.  Hounds may create trespass to private lands.  This is also a jurisdiction issue when in the checker board of tribal/non-tribal lands on the prairie unit, as hounds & hunters may exit GFP jurisdiction to tribal jurisdiction.
8.  Hound hunting harms  the recovery of small number of breeding cougars in suitable habitat on prairie. When cougar populations are small, every female and kitten in small populations is especially important and connectivity to larger cougar populations is needed for population viability.   Hound hunting is more effective than "boot hunting" and will make recovery of lion populations on prairie even more difficult, given the 365 day prairie season.
9.   Increased hound hunting will further impede possible cougar recolonization of the Midwest and East.  Since 1990, occasional wild cougars have been turning up in states where they’d been extirpated by the 1920s.  DNA analysis has shown that most of these cougars were born in the Black Hills.  The SD Game Fish & Parks (GFP) has declared all the state outside the Hills as “[politically] unsuitable habitat.  Cougars on the Prairie can be killed at any time.  Hounds drive cougars into trees or onto rock outcroppings where they can easily be shot & thus are extremely effective method for killing them.  The DGFP is in the process of reducing the Black Hills lion population by setting unattainable hunting quotas.  Expansion of opportunities for killing cougars with the use of hounds on the Prairie may cut off any possibility of recolonization of the Midwest and East and restoring more balanced ecosystems there.  

The proponent of the petition for rule change, could not well document that hound hunters were actually killing "problem lions" rather than just engaging in recreational hunting. We object to hound hunting on the prairie unit, however if this rule change is passed, it should be amended to require an affidavit of landowner be submitted to SDGFP with the cougar carcass, stating the conflict he/she had with the dead lion.

THIS ISSUE WAS RESOLVED IN OUR FAVOR...however SDGFP still permits hound hunting on private land in the prairie and on Custer State Park.

Map Created by SD GFP





photo by Bruce Tuten

Rule Finalization # 9
PHAS objected to the expansion of public lands on which hound-hunting
for cougars is allowed on the prairie.  This was resolved in lion's favor.

One can object to hound hunting for cruelty reasons, for not being "fair chase", for advantage to hound hunters in the competition for lions between hound and "boot" hunters, for disruption to other users/wildlife on public land and for trespass issues on private land, and impact on small population  in areas on prairie with just a  few breeding cougars -- hound hunting is more efficient at eradication of small populations.

 A petition asked to hunt cougars on all public land on the Prairie Unit when hunt originates on private land.

 Existing Rule:
"(5)  The use of dogs to hunt mountain lions is only allowed during those specified hunting intervals in Custer State Park that allow the use of dogs and year round outside of the Black Hills Fire Protection District on private land with permission of the landowner or lessee. However, a pursuit of a mountain lion by dogs that originates on private land may cross over or culminate on property owned by the Office of School and Public Lands or the United State Bureau of Land Management other than the Fort Meade Recreation Area;"  (emphasis added)

Currently the hound hunters (on the prairie)  are not allowed to hunt with hounds on public land except if they start on private land and cross a boundary to BLM or SD State School Lands.  They may hunt cougars 365 days of the year with hounds on the Prairie Unit on private land.
        The SD prairie unit includes the hog back, small hills and eco-tone around the Black Hills which is good lion habitat and where hound hunters have harvested lions in the prairie unit. There is recent documented breeding on Oglala Sioux Tribe lands and probably on Rosebud Sioux Tribe lands and possible breeding on Yankton Sioux Tribe lands. There have been dead females with proof of past lactation on or near Rosebud & Oglala ST lands. There was a past report in the mid nineteen nineties by Forest Service employees of a mother cougar with kittens on Slim Buttes unit of Custer National Forest.  Some "prairie unit" lands can support very small number of breeding individuals in some spots. The Black Hills National Forest is in Wyoming and SD.  Custer National Forest is both in SD and Montana. The Pine Ridge Ecosystem is in Wyoming, Nebraska, and SD.  There is a well established breeding in the Nebraska component of the Pine Ridge... lions  have no clue where state or tribal/non-tribal boundaries are.
We should not allow hunting on federal lands that are parks/refuges or are supposed to be managed for multiple use and sustainability...which includes sustaining wildlife populations. Very small populations with a few breeding individuals won't survive thorough hound hunting and need connectivity to large sustainable cougar populations.  Wildlife watchers are recreators like hunters and need to be seen with equivalency by SD GFP.  We should really ask for no hunting of lions on public land in the prairie.  
      The permission to hunt on the Prairie Unit with hounds was granted at the January 2015 Commission meeting after a petition for rule-making...It was a close vote, almost half  of the Commissioners present, were opposed to it...we lost 3 to 5.  One argument was fear by landowners of depredations on their domestic animals. In January 2015, GFP staff (Kirschenmann) testified that since 1999 (~25 years) they had two confirmed, documented cases where that occurred on livestock and 2 related to pets on the Prairie Unit. We have received no acknowledgement from GFP of any confirmed prairie unit depredations since the 2015 hearing.   This new rule was also brought forth by public petition and threat of depredations is one of the justifications for hound hunt. If people want more information on this issue and more maps call Nancy Hilding.

Existing rule that may be amended

For more information on the petitions and proposal, please visit

For proposed rules (they are not posted here yet, but will be eventually):,%20Fish%20And%20Parks

Game, Fish and Parks is posting the finalization draft rules to their Commission web site on Oct 13th

 You can send in written comments to Commission at  on the rule on hound hunting on the prairie.





October 30th Comment Deadline

After the comment deadline we suggest folks send in short letter expressing concern and asking to be added to the project mailing list.
Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the BLACK HILLS RESILIENT LANDSCAPES Projectr
is available for Public Comment
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 aa forest thaiexperiencing 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 StructuraStage 4A stands and the associateroad- 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.




Marsh Wren. - painting by JJ Audubon


A contested case hearing on November 2nd about
petition asking to remove public access from Cattail-Kettle Lake
UPDATE - the Commission did not approve the petition. 
- a non-meandered "Section 8" Lake-
8 am in the morning of November 2nd

The Commission has adopted rules (October 2017)  on how to petition the GFP Commission to have a "Section 8" Lake closed to public access...  "Section 8" Lakes are the non-meandered lakes the Legislature specifically named as open to the public on June 12th, 2017. They told the GFP to create a process for public to petition to close such lakes...GFP Commission did that and held the first contested case about a Section 8, Lake Closure.

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 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 was 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 was 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 did 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). It was adopted on June 12th with a change to date of the sunset clause...which is now July 2018.

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
Black Backed WoodPecker, DPS
Chad Hanson , BCA, CBD
(deadline - USFWS decision in Sept 2017 - it was denied) 

Sept 30th was the Deadline for  the USFWS to decide if the Black Hills population of black-backed woodpecker should be listed under the Endangered Species Act as a distinct population segment.  
 The Trump Administration denied ESA listing petitions for about two dozen species, including the Black-backed Woodpecker (see link below).

"After a thorough  review  of the  best available  scientific  and  commercial  information,  we [USFWS] find  that  listing 14 Nevada springsnail  species, Barbour’s  map turtle,  Bicknell’s  thrush, Big  Blue  Springs cave crayfish, the Oregon  Cascades-California  population  and  Black  Hills  population  of the  black-backed woodpecker,  the eastern population of the  boreal  toad, the Northern  Rocky Mountains population of the  fisher,  Florida Keys mole  skink, Great Sand Dunes  tiger beetle, Kirtland’s  snake, Pacific walrus,and San Felipe  gambusia is not warranted  at this time. "


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:


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

UPDATE Fall 2017
The Trump administration plans to change the decision on the sage-grouse plans and will engage in a NEPA process to do that. Dates are yet unknown. 
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