Sunday, February 22, 2015

Item #1, Index to Home page


Prairie Hills Audubon Society (PHAS) is run by volunteers. The other pages on this web site have not been changed in years, as we need new volunteers, with web design skills, to help run the web site. The current material is all on this home page, and material on others pages, if related to "current events/projects" may be out-of-date.

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

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

To join Prairie Hills Audubon Society on-line at the same time as joining the National Audubon society go to
Our chapter code is V02, the 0 is a zero. 
Chapter only memberships are also available, for which you must mail checks to our P.O. Box 788, Black Hawk, SD 57718.
Basic membership is $20, low-iincome is $10, scholarships are available in exchange for volunteer work,
 with approval of Board.

Item # 2, Events/Deadlines

1. Events & Deadlines & Alerts in December 2019 & forward into 2020

Current Events
1.) Prairie Hills Audubon Society (PHAS) events 
2) iterative events,- local environmental/conservation group's monthly meeting list 
              (iterative events - events which reoccur each month at same day/time) 
3.) Federal law and rule making -  links  to Recovering America’s Wildlife Act - a federal wildlife funding bill. Attacks on Endangered species Act - Excerpts New York Times article on roll back of environmental regulations by Trump administration    (85 roll backs), and
4) Updates on PHAS's greater Sage grouse litigation,  Links. National Audubon Society's "Survival by Degrees"
5.) then specific events in chronological order, - CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNTS & Cracker Barrel List  are here, Legislative alerts will be here. Event notices may include alerts on subject matter that is still relevant/active & thus event/deadline notice may be left up after event date

scroll past 12 inches of empty space:

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

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

PHAS now has a Facebook page

Prairie dog photo copyright by Nancy Hilding

We schedule membership evening meetings some months...often towards later half of the month
We also have PHAS lunch or dinner meetings in some months  - 
they also may occur in the second half of the month, often on a Friday or Monday - 
at Hana's Restaurant,  (Asian food), on 3550 Sturgis Rd, Rapid City. 

There was  a PHAS lunch meeting at Hana's Restaurant, Saturday Jan 18th, 2020,
 11:30 am - 2:30 pm  3550 Sturgis Rd, Rapid City.  Scroll down for details.
We will be scheduling more lunch meetings on Saturday or Fridays in the future.

For Christmas Bird Counts 2019-2020 scroll down to Dec 14th-
For Cracker Barrels scroll down till  January 25th time frame
Field trips occur when announced.  
 Board meetings are by conference call and members welcome. 
Contact - nhilding (at), 787-6779
We need new board members, contact Nancy if interested in service.
We need help with web site design and maintenance



Early Part of the Month Enviro Group Meets:
Various environmental groups meet 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), they may take a break during summer.
for info: Mark Boddicker <boddicker (at)>
Northern Hills Bird Club meets the first Thursday eve (7 pm) , Sturgis Library - except  in June-August, when have potlucks, at member's homes.
- they also generally have 2 field trips each month on Saturdays -- or for info: Nancy Drilling, President - nancy.drilling (at), 791-0459   or for info: Contact Vic/Donna Fondy 605-269-2553,
The Rapid City Sustainability Committee meets the 2nd and 4th Monday of the month at the City/School Administration Building at 5:30 it is open to the public and they focus on sustainable practices for the City.
For info: Erik Heikes:  EHeikes (at)
Dakota Rural Action normally meets second Tuesday eve, mixed locations,
for info: Rick Bell <>:
The Black Hills Photography Club normally meets the second Tuesday of the month at Outdoor Campus West, 6:30 pm.
Some times, the meetings are about photography of outdoor's subjects
and photography field trips to photograph outdoors may also be planned.
The Darton Society meets at Outdoor Campus West (OCW) on 2nd Monday, 
maybe not during the summer (please verify meeting times)
For info: Cathie or LeRoy Draine at 787-5956 or cathiedraine (at)
Norbeck Society normally meets second Thursday eve, Rapid City,
at - SDSMT, Classroom Bldg., Faculty Lounge  or Outdoor Campus West at 5:45 pm
Monthly meetings may be skipped in the summer.
for info: Bob Burns < (at)>,787-4783,
SD Chapter of Citizen's Climate Lobby meets the 4th Tuesday of each month at Outdoor Campus West at 6:30 pm, in Rapid City   For info: Mary Deibert,  rmdeibert (at), 605-484-5790.
Clean Water Alliance normally meets the second Saturday
at 10:00 am at the Rapid City Public Library, downtown.  for info: nobhuranium (at)
(note recent - 2019- change of the start time from 9 am to 10 am)
Meets occurring at not regular times  of the Month:

Black Hills Group of Sierra Club has meetings and outings as announced, meetings are often on 4th Thursdays
For info on Sierra Club, e-mail -Sandra Seberger <sandralss57702 (at)> 605-342-4335, 
 Thursday, January 23 7 p.m., at the Outdoor Campus West. 
Sierra Club will be showing segments of the film The Messenger, discussing the implications of bird population declines in our region, and providing time for a Q&A with people who participated in (and are willing to share their experiences) in the 2020 Western SD Christmas Count.

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


SPECIFIC EVENTS LIST February & onward
scroll down for legislative session





Recovering America’s Wildlife Act 
PHAS and the National Audubon Society support the
 Recovering America’s Wildlife Act bill - it is in the House.It seeks to increase federal funding to state and tribal wildlife agencies, to protect "at risk wildlife".
 RAWA passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee by a vote of 26-6.  All of the Democrats voted for it, and 7 of the 13 committee Republicans voted for it.  Such an overwhelming, bipartisan vote should provide real momentum for the bill.  All totaled, RAWA now has 163 co-sponsors, including 41 Republicans.  Such a large number of co-sponsors should also help make it easier for the bill to move forward towards a successful House floor vote. Dusty Johnson is not yet a co-sponsor.
.  Link to the bill

Here is a link to some basic South Dakota-centric facts regarding the bill that might be good to include in your message:

National Audubon Society Review of the bill:

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

 Endangered Species Act under Attack - Contact Congress
Trump's Department of Interior rule-making to harm the  Endangered Species Act

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

New York Times Article

Earth Justice Alert:

Common Dreams Article

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


"85 Environmental Rules Being
Rolled Back Under Trump"

Link to a New York Times Article

Excerpt from article:
"President Trump has made eliminating federal regulations a priority. His administration, with help from Republicans in Congress, has often targeted environmental rules it sees as burdensome to the fossil fuel industry and other big businesses.
A New York Times analysis, based on research from Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School and other sources, counts more than 80 environmental rules and regulations on the way out under Mr. Trump.
Our list represents two types of policy changes: rules that were officially reversed and rollbacks still in progress. The Trump administration has released an aggressive schedule to try to finalize many of these rollbacks this year."

Rollbacks completed  - 53; Rollbacks in process - 32;  Total rollbacks - 85

The # of rollbacks completed, # in progress and total  #  rollback -- these numbers appear to right side of text
Air pollution and emissions - 10, 14, 24

Drilling and extraction -  9,  9, 18

Infrastructure and planning - 12, 1, 13

Animals  - 9, 1, 10

Toxic substances and safety -  4, 1, 5

Water pollution -  5, 2, 7

Other -  4, 4, 8      

We suggest you read the article to learn more  details on rollbacks- see link above
 Also Nancy can send you a PDF of the Article (nhiding (at) 
PHAS has sued Trump Administration over greater sage grouse management plans, We won an injunction & are thus part of fighting these 85 roll backs. Scroll down >>

THIS ACTION HAD An August 26th Deadline
Scroll down to March 10th for update

 Deadline  August 26th
Some time soon (?January 2020?), 
Trumps revision of NEPA rules will be released for Public comment

Notice of extension to 26th

The Forest Service is proposing a significant overhaul of the NEPA process for logging and development on millions of acres of federal forest and grassland across the West. The Forest Service wants to expand the number of projects that would qualify for “categorical exclusions” — projects that can bypass thorough environmental analysis and replace with a cursory review. The Forest Service proposal would eliminate opportunities for citizen involvement and environmental review on more than 90 percent of all Forest Service projects. It would grant a nearly unlimited license to commercially log nearly seven square miles — about 3,000 football fields — or build five miles of logging roads at a time without involving the public or disclosing environmental consequences.  It would grant a nearly unlimited license to commercially log nearly seven square miles — about 3,000 football fields — or build five miles of logging roads at a time without involving the public or disclosing environmental consequences.
How to comment

 See below article At High Country News

Protecting Greater Sage Grouse:

Oct 16th, 2019 
Judge Winmill grants a preliminary injunction against Trump's BLM 
in lawsuit brought by Prairie Hills Audubon Society, Western Watersheds Project, 
Center for Biological Diversity & WildEarth Guardians.
Our Attorneys: Advocates for the West

Press Release by Western Watersheds Project:

Link to the injunction is below:

New York Times Article on

Dec 18th, 2019

 Interior Department, states appeal Judge Winmill's sage grouse ruling


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

    For Immediate Release, March 27, 2019
    Media contacts:
    Laird Lucas, Advocates for the West, 208-342-7024,
    Greta Anderson, Western Watersheds Project, (502) 623-1878,
    Michael Saul, Center for Biological Diversity, (303) 915-8308,
    Sarah McMillan, WildEarth Guardians (406) 549-3895,

    Former Oil Industry Lobbyist Violated Federal Law, Groups Say
    BOISE, Ida. ― Four conservation groups sued Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Idaho federal court today over their recent decisions to gut protections for greater sage grouse across millions of acres of public land in the West.  A copy of the lawsuit is available here. The groups are Western Watersheds Project, Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians and Prairie Hills Audubon Society. 
    “The Trump Administration is gutting sage-grouse protections on at least 50 million acres of public lands without admitting what they are doing,” said Laird J. Lucas, lead attorney for the Plaintiff groups with Advocates for the West. “The lawsuit today exposes these actions as violating bedrock federal laws and flouting the extensive body of science on what sage-grouse need to survive.”
    Bernhardt is President Trump’s nominee to replace Ryan Zinke as Secretary of Interior, and is a former lobbyist and attorney for oil and gas, coal mining, and other industries.  He has been criticized for using his position to favor those industries, including by opening millions of acres of sensitive lands to fossil fuel development.
    “We’ve tried to improve the 2015 plans by providing the agency with the best science and substantive recommendations,” said Greta Anderson, Deputy Director of Western Watersheds Project. “The loopholes and exemptions built into the earlier plans were vulnerable to being exploited, but now they’ve been expanded into all-out industry giveaways, backroom decision-making, and weakened habitat protections. It’s very discouraging to see these plans being weakened in light of still-declining populations.”
    Greater sage-grouse once occupied hundreds of millions of acres across the West, but populations have plummeted as oil and gas development, livestock grazing, roads and powerlines, and other actions have destroyed and fragmented their native habitats.  To avoid Endangered Species Act listing, BLM and the Forest Service adopted Sage-Grouse Plans in 2015 that identified key areas for protection and limited development in them.
    “Trump and his oil industry cronies have declared open season on the vanishing sage grouse and the West’s remaining sagebrush landscapes,” said Michael Saul, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This administration can’t ignore the law, even if it wants to ignore science. We’ll do everything possible to keep this beloved bird off the path to extinction.”

    The lawsuit filed today identifies Bernhardt as the “architect” of recent policy changes adopted by the Trump Administration to rescind or weaken the 2015 plans on BLM lands in seven states – Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, California, and Oregon – that have most of the remaining sage-grouse populations.
    The challenged plans create enormous loopholes that make it easier for fracking and drilling near the imperiled bird’s prime habitat.  The lawsuit notes that these changes were sought by the oil and gas industry beginning in July 2017, and that Bernhardt and BLM have misled the public about the nature and extent of the changes.
    “We knew that this administration was deeply enmeshed with fossil fuel production, but we’re shocked that they are willing to sacrifice the sagebrush sea and the many plants and animals found there, not to mention to long-term impacts to climate disruption, while squandering public resources for private profit,” said Sarah McMillan, Conservation Director at WildEarth Guardians.
     The groups are represented by Advocates for the West, a non-profit public interest law firm based in Boise.  The groups previously challenged the 2015 Plans as not doing enough for sage-grouse, and the complaint filed today seeks to supplement that case to challenge the recent Trump Administration roll backs.

    Photo of Sage Grouse, copyright Dan Licht

    As many as 16 million greater sage grouse once ranged across 297 million acres of sagebrush grasslands, a vast area of western North America known as the Sagebrush Sea.
    Over the past 200 years, agriculture, oil and gas drilling, livestock grazing and development have reduced the grouse’s range by nearly half, and sage grouse populations have steadily declined. Today sage grouse are found in 11 western states: California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
    The greater sage grouse is under threat because it is intensely loyal to particular areas, reliant on large expanses of intact sagebrush, and is especially sensitive to disturbance and habitat fragmentation. It also needs sufficient vegetation cover and nutrition to raise chicks, unaltered mating grounds called leks for reproduction, and sufficiently healthy winter habitat to survive the cold season.
    Protecting the grouse and its habitat benefits at 350 other species that depend on the Sagebrush Sea ecosystem, including pronghorn, elk, mule deer, golden eagle, native trout and nearly migratory and resident bird species.
    The Bureau of Land Management is responsible for managing about half of the remaining sage grouse habitat. After years of inaction and then prompted by a 2011 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the bird for protection under the Endangered Species Act, the BLM initiated sage grouse protection planning.
    This unprecedented five-year effort, led by the Department of the Interior, resulted in land-use plans with new measures to protect the bird. The Fish and Wildlife Service's decision not to list the greater sage grouse as endangered was predicated on the assumption that the public land management plans would be implemented and would reverse the decline of the grouse.

    April 22th Update - Preliminary Injunction Requested
    Press Release 4/22/19:

    For Immediate Release, April 22, 2019

    Laird Lucas, Advocates for the West, (208) 342-7024,
    Erik Molvar, Western Watersheds Project, (307) 399-7910,
    Randi Spivak, Center for Biological Diversity, (310) 779-4894,
    Sarah McMillan, WildEarth Guardians (406) 549-3895,

    Court Order Sought to Stop Destruction of Sage-grouse Habitat in Seven States

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

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

    “Since 2004 scientists have warned that preventing sage grouse from sliding toward extinction requires protecting all its remaining habitats and populations. The Trump administration has gone in exactly the opposite direction,” said Laird J. Lucas of Advocates for the West, lead attorney for the plaintiffs. “Interior Secretary Bernhardt is opening up key sage-grouse strongholds to energy development and other impacts, while falsely claiming this will help sage grouse. Lying about what these plan changes mean violates bedrock requirements of federal law, and we are asking the court to hold this administration accountable.”

    “Sage grouse are an American icon that will be irreparably harmed by the wanton destruction of sagebrush habitats that the recent amendments allow,” said Erik Molvar of Western Watersheds Project. “From rolling back protections in sensitive habitats to removing habitat designations entirely, the plans could cause already fragile sage-grouse populations to disappear completely. We need to stop that.”

    “Bernhardt’s despicable plan is to open every last acre of sage-grouse habitat to fracking,” said Randi Spivak, public lands program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “He’s stripping critical protections, holding fire sales of our public lands and pushing these beautiful birds to extinction. We’re asking the court to preserve sage-grouse protections until our claims can be heard.”

    “Sage-grouse populations are in serious trouble across the West,” said Sarah McMillan of WildEarth Guardians. “These plans hasten their extinction by allowing extractive industries increased access to the last best public lands habitats for the birds.”
    Friday’s motion is supported by expert declarations from sage-grouse scientists, wildlife biologists and public-lands enthusiasts, who urged the judge to stop the Trump administration’s plans.

    “BLM essentially ignored analyzing either current habitat conditions and fragmentation or how plan changes may impact sage-grouse habitats,” said renowned wildlife biologist Clint Braun, who spent 30 years with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, including as its avian program manager. The revisions “are contrary to the best available science and will allow significant adverse impacts to sage-grouse populations and habitats that BLM has failed to acknowledge and has misrepresented in its decision documents.”

    In March the conservation groups sued Bernhardt and the Bureau of Land Management over the new land-use plans, which rescinded or weakened 2015 plans on BLM land in the seven states with most of the remaining sage-grouse population. That complaint supplemented a 2016 lawsuit arguing that those earlier plans ― intended to avoid Endangered Species Act listing ― didn’t go far enough to protect the grouse.

    Greater sage grouse once occupied hundreds of millions of acres across the West, but their populations have plummeted as oil and gas development, livestock grazing, roads, powerlines and other activities have destroyed and fragmented their native habitats.

    Western Watersheds Project, the Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians and Prairie Hills Audubon Society are represented by Advocates for the West, a nonprofit, public-interest law firm based in Boise.

    The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.


    Recent News article on this injunction request.

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



    October 1st, Deadline to Object to FS Decisions 

    Supplemental Environmental Impact Statements may be released in a few months (Feb?)

    on Greater Sage Grouse ManagementThe USDA Forest Service has prepared the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Greater Sage-Grouse Proposed Land Management Plan Amendments (LMPA) and five Draft Records of Decision (RODs) for the National Forests in Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Wyoming/Colorado. The Final EIS identifies and addresses potential impacts upon the environment of 19 National Forest System planning units on 5.4 million acres of potential greater sage-grouse habitats. This notice is to inform the public that a 60-day period is being initiated where individuals or entities with specific concerns on the Greater Sage-Grouse Forest Plan Amendments may file an objection for a Forest Service review prior to the approval of the five Draft RODs.

    Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink.  
    The report indicates that birds are under threat from climate change, and birds tell us: it’s time to act. 
    To see SD's vulnerable birds:

    It is possible that the mineral exploration will restart at Mineral Hill, in Wyoming. This exploration would be very near the Sand Creek Roadless area and a FS Botanical Area. Area is north of Cement Ridge and west of Tinton ghost town. In previous exploration efforts in the area, the target minerals were gold, silver and copper.  Scoping has not yet started on this, nor has exploration re-started and this may be on hold.  Contact Karl Emanuel  at the Northern Ranger District for more information or to be added to mailing list -, 605- 443-3072

    Mineral exploration has started near Rochford, SD for Mineral Mountain Resources, scroll down for our alert on that topic. Scoping has past and this project is active.. Contact DENR at Roberta.Hudson (at)

    Another project in the Central Hills  near inlet to west of  Pactola Res. is also being considered. The company involved in the gold exploration project near the inlet to Pactola is F3 Gold of Minneapolis.

    There are two companies that have applied for gold exploration permits on Forest Service land that are currently secret.  The Forest Service will not say who or where specifically they are, but has said they are also in the central Black Hills. 

    Azarga Uranium, locally known as Powertech, has proposed an in situ uranium mine on over 10,000 acres in western Custer and Fall River Counties.  The company is in the permitting process and has received one of the ten permits it would need to start mining.  The permit they have received is under litigation.  For more information:


    Pigeon Hawk by J.J. Audubon

    Wildlife watching exceeds 
    hunting/fishing for participants

    2016 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation: National Overview
    Download the USFWS survey on wildlife related recreation 2016.
    Wildlife watching - page 7, fishing- page 5, hunting -page 6
     Total wildlife watching expenditures: $75.9 billion, Total fishing expenditures: $ 46.1 billion, Total hunting expenditures: $ 25.6 billion,
     Total wildlife watching participants: 86.million, Total Anglers 35.8 million, Total hunters: 11.5 million
     Of this Wildlife Watching subset 
    Wildlife watching away from home: 23.7 million participants  or at watching home: 81.1 million;
    Observe Wildlife away from home:19.6 million, at home 43.8 million, 
    Photograph Wildlife away from home:13.7 million, at home  30.5 million
     Feed wildlife away from home: 4.9 million, at home 59.1 million, 
    Visit public parks or areas 11.4 million; Maintain plantings or natural areas 11.0 million
    Bird Observers: 2016
    Away-from-Home Observers : 16.3 million
    Around-the-Home Observers: 38.7 million

    Total Bird Observers: 45.1 million


    SCROLL DOWN about 12 inches to the next text



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




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

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

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


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


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

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

    Mineral Mt Resources Rochford Exploration Project (ON HOLD 2019) 

    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. This project, may be on hold.

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

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


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

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

    This application was to have been considered under the old Ordinance 507A and 507B existing before March 2018 as well as the current Ordinance 320 passed on or about March 28, 2018. The Supreme Court upheld a challenge to the public notice for the new Ordinance 320, so the new Ordinance is dead, and the mine is thus permitted under the old ordinance
    Notes on Croell Sand Gravel Mine Application (new application)
    Also called "PERLI PIT ROCK QUARRY "

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

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

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

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




    Marsh Wren. - painting by JJ Audubon

    PAST EVENTS - for current events, scroll up.

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

    Link to GFP Discussion of "Progress Update"

    FALL 2017 UPDATE
    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.

    SDGFP writes:
    "PIERRE, S.D. – Earlier this month, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission denied a petition submitted by Cattail Land and Cattle Company, LLC, to restrict recreational use on portions of Cattail-Kettle Lake in Marshall county. 
    A contested case hearing was conducted on the morning of Nov. 2, 2017, in Brookings where the GFP Commission heard testimony from the petitioner requesting to close a 100 yard buffer zone surrounding their property from all recreational use.  The GFP Commission also heard testimony from other interested parties who were both in favor and opposed to the petition. They then considered evidence as it related to privacy, safety and substantially affected financial interests of the petitioner in addition to historical use of the waters, the water quality, water quantity and the public’s interest in recreational use of the water. 

    In failing to meet the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence, the GFP Commission unanimously approved a resolution denying the petition. As a result, all portions of Cattail-Kettle Lake remain open to public recreational users."

    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 has done rule making ordered by this bill - look to the SDGFP Commission web page for archives and SD administrative rules;

    UPDATE ON LEGISLATIVE ACTION -June Special Session Report
    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  planned to rework or to "tweak" the bill during the full session (2018) 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

    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).

    PHAS opposed the proposed bill...

    Here is a web link to the South Dakota Wildlife Federations (SDWF) petition on this matter -
    Scroll down for their letter on this issue.

    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 in the summer:

    "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. "  

    SD Wildlife Federation's letter on the proposed bill


    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 was moving in spring/summer 2017 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 was proposed  was 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


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


    October 30th Comment Deadline

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

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

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

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

    Norbeck Society's
    Black Hills Group Sierra Club

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

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

    This is the beginning of a PHAS alert on this Project


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



    Endangered Species -
     petitions to list under Endangered Species Act

    This section is for the most part 
    temporary deleted to make space on the Blog. 

    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). 
             In response to the petition, the Service will be publishing a substantial 90-day finding, which is the first step in determining whether or not the American burying beetle should be delisted.
    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

    October 9th, 2019
    Deadline on second comment period on 
    American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus)

    Links to USFWS page on beetle downlisting

    News Release (May 1, 2019)

    Status: Endangered with a proposed rule to reclassify to threatened

    Proposal to Reclassify from Endangered to Threatened with a 4(d) Rule

    The Service is proposing to downlist the American burying beetle from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act. USFWS is also proposing a 4(d) rule that would limit ESA protections to only those, it thinks, the beetle needs for recovery. Publication of the proposed downlisting and 4(d) rules in the Federal Register on May 3, 2019, opened the first 60-day public comment period that closed on July 2, 2019.
     Then new revised publication  was issued on Sept 1st & new comment period.

     Public comment on the proposal, which would downlist the beetle from endangered to threatened, will also be extended 30 days until October 9, 2019. For more information see FWS's ABB page.
    Revised Guidance for American Burying Beetle Mitigation Lands!
    September 5, 2019 - This revision provides guidance for Federal and non-Federal proponents (conservation bankers, sponsors, mitigation landowners, federal agencies) involved in the establishment, management, and operation of American burying beetle (ABB) mitigation lands in Region 2 (proposed as Region 6 of Department of Interior Reorganization Plan) of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service). Revisions are based on new climate projections, which indicate that southern portions of the ABB range may only support the species for 20-30 more years. This revised guidance promotes locating mitigation lands in more climate safe areas to provide long-term protection that contributes towards recovery of the species. Revisions include minor changes in the percentages of unfavorable or buffer habitat allowed in mitigation lands and changes in service areas to include northern portions of the species' historical range. Incentives are included that reduce mitigation recommendations by 50% when implemented in northern service areas.




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

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



    a subset of a National Audubon Society Nationwideprogram

    More details on PHAS web page




    Announce litigation


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

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

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

    UPDATE Fall 2017
    The Trump administration plans to change the decision on the sage-grouse plans and is engaging in the NEPA process to do that. 


    Delayed/suspended Campaigns

    (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) had 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).

     Defenders of the Black Hills had requested a hearing. There was a teleconference hearing in 2016, RER asked for process to be put on hold due to lack of funds.  Last we knew this review & licensing process was 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) gave notice it temporarily suspended 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

     ,Check with Forest Service  BHNF - Bear Lodge District for updates - 307–283–1361

    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. 
    DEQ review is also suspended at request of  Rare Element Resources. 
    Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality had been reviewing an mining permit application for mine, that they received June 3rd, 2015.
    Other permits with Wyoming DEQ may be applied for by Company 
    Contact - BJ Kristiansen, 307-675-5615, for updates, bj.kristiansen (at)


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

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

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