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 January 2018 & forward into 2018

 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 upcoming months etc.
Issues we follow 
Alert Topics 

5) . then it goes an alerts - to get to this section, scroll past 12 inches of empty space:
A) Mineral Mountain Resources Exploration project
B) Non-meandered waters Alert
C) Mountain Lion Plan Revision Alert 
D) Alert on Resilient Landscape DEIS (Forest Service)
E) announcement of Petitions to list or de-list under ESA and 
F)  S3254/SB 114 (Land Trade Little Spearfish Canyon & Bismark Lake) & 
G).  SD Important Bird Areas
H)  Missouri River Recovery
I) SD legislative alerts as of March 10th  (mostly deleted)
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


Hosting - Cracker Barrels - 
We normally skip week night meetings during January and February but instead co-host 2 cracker barrels.  
We may have informal weekend meetings to discuss the legislature while it is in session.

We will have a  meeting on  afternoon of Saturday Jan 27th 
to discuss legislature and Pennington Mining Ordinance re-write
we are not sure location yet but after the Rapid City Cracker Barrel, 
might be at a  restaurant .. Please check with Nancy for an update - nhiding (at) 605-787-6466

We always co-host a cracker barrel in Piedmont on afternoon of the second Saturday in February, 2/10/18, - this is at the Piedmont Valley Legion Post 1:30-pm-4:00 pm,   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, 2/17/18 this will be partly a "Natural Resources" Cracker barrel - where  natural resource related questions have priority.... all legislators representing part of Pennington County are  invited. (21 legislators...last year 5 came) Time of day 1 pm-3:30 pm

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

PHAS engages in environmental bill tracking during the legislature and puts alerts on this web site.
Anyone who wants to help with work Nancy.
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)
Ikes will have no meeting in January, February 7th is next meeting & by-laws changes to be considered.
for info: Mark Boddicker <boddicker (at)>
Northern Hills Bird Club meets the first Thursday eve (7 pm) , Sturgis Library - except  in June-August.
- they also generally have 2 field trips each month on Saturdays -- or for info: Nancy Drilling, President - nancy.drilling (at), 791-0459   or for info: Contact Vic/Donna Fondy 605-269-2553,
The Rapid City Sustainability Committee meets the 2nd and 4th Monday of the month at the City/School Administration Building at 5:30 it is open to the public and they focus on sustainable practices for the City.
For info: Erik Heikes:  EHeikes (at)
Dakota Rural Action normally meets second Tuesday eve, mixed locations,
for info: Gena Parkhurst <gmp66 (at)> 
The Black Hills Photography Club meets the second Tuesday of the month at Outdoor Campus West, 6:30 pm.
Some times, the meetings are about photography of outdoor's subjects
and photography field trips to photograph outdoors may also be planned.
The Darton Society meets at Outdoor Campus West (OCW) on 2nd Monday, 
maybe not during the summer (please verify meeting times)
For info: Cathie or LeRoy Draine at 787-5956 or cathiedraine (at)
Norbeck Society normally meets second Thursday eve, Rapid City,
SDSMT, Classroom Bldg., Faculty Lounge 5:45 pm
Monthly meetings are skipped in the summer.
for info: Bob Burns < (at)>,787-4783,
SD Chapter of Citizen's Climate Lobby meets the 2nd Saturday of each month at 10:30 at 1888 Hillsview Dr. in Rapid City   For info: Mary Deibert,  rmdeibert (at), 605-484-5790.
Clean Water Alliance normally meets the second Saturday
at 9:00 am in the Helen Hoyt Room at the Rapid City Public Library.  for info: nobhuranium (at)
Meets occurring at not regular times  of the Month:

Black Hills Group of Sierra Club has meetings and outings as announced
For info on Sierra Club, e-mail Sandra <sandralss (at)>, 605-342-4335, or

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






January 20th & ONWARD





January 22nd >>> FEBRUARY 6TH
Attend a hearing on mining, Rapid City
County Commissioners’ Meeting Room - Pennington County Administration Building

Next date will be  - Tuesday February 6th - before the Pennington County Board of Commissioners Meeting
9:00am , Commission Chambers, 130 Kansas City St, Rapid City, SD 57701,
Pennington County Planning Commission had a meeting on 
morning of Wednesday, January 22nd .The draft Ordinance was approved by the Planning Commission, with some additional amendments and sent upwards to Full Commission.

SCROLL DOWN for Discussion on this to January 30th


 JANUARY ?24th-??

Action - folks need to contact their (or other's) senators , it was on Calendar to be on the Senator Floor on Monday 22nd, but it was not discussed or voted on and is not on Tuesday calendar.  We are told deal making is happening. Don't know what the schedule will be, but it could be on Calendar any day after Tuesday..
 Scroll down to the next section,  for contact info on your legislators.

This is a bill to extend  by three years, the sunset clause that was placed on this summer's special session's bill,  which allows lakebed owners  to close off publicly owned waters to public access for recreation. 
SB 24  (a Governor's bill) was assigned to Senate Agricultural and Natural  Committee and was in Committee on Thursday the 18th at 10 am CT. 

In SD on some lakes the public owns the water, but private people own the lake-bed - these lakes are called "non-meandered waters".  As the public owns the water, if the public had legal access point to enter the lake water, they would recreate on the water (but not the lake-bed). In some instances this access was creating conflicts with the lake-bed owners.  This summer's special session's bill left the decision to close or open SD non-meandered waters up to lake-bed owner, rather than  letting an agency board, such as SD Game, Fish and Parks or the Water Management Board, review the conflicts,  determine validity of conflict and eliminate other possible solutions before closing.  It did not give appeal rights to recreators whose previous access is closed. There is very little protection against privatization of public waters & fish: i.e lakebed owner closes a lake to public recreation & then opens a clubhouse & hotel & thus sells the recreational access to the waters owned by the public. The summer session bill represents a substantial taking of a public resource.    PHAS opposed that bill last summer and still does.

 The Governor and  Committee wanted a long, multi-year sunset clause, so as to allow SD 4 years to experiment with their proposed solution to lakebed owner/recreator conflicts. This summer members of the legislature limited the sunset to one year so as to make the railroaded, summer solution a temporary/stop-gap solution. They would have a chance to review the issue and amend the bill, during the regular session, instead of  accepting, for a long time (4 years cumulatively) ,  the special committees recommended bill, that was approved during a hurried emergency session. 
The Governor's bills seeks to close the issue.
Object to HB 1001 (the summer bill) and to the Governor's attempt to shut down debate on revising it in the 2018 legislative session. 
SD Wildlife Federation cares deeply about this bill and is lobbying against it.
It passed the Committee 7 to 2 with minor grammatical amendment.
As it was amended, it was scheduled on floor on Monday the 22nd, but was not discussed.

Go to Dakota Free Press to read an ironic article on SB 24 and house version of this - HB  1081
SB 24 link:
HB 1081 link:

Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources:
Chair - Cammack, Gary (R);  others:
Ewing, Bob (R)Frerichs, Jason (D)Heinert, Troy (D)Klumb, Joshua (R)Monroe, Jeff (R)Otten, Ernie (R)Soholt, Deb (R)Youngberg, Jordan (R)
"" <>,,,,,,,,


Scroll down a long ways on this web site to find a discussion of the access to non-meandered waters issues...It is in the issues section, scroll down a long way  and it is a large section of text
January 27th first Rapid City Cracker Barrel
WDT, 9 am
scroll down for info,

PHAS  lunch meeting after the Cracker barrel on 27th, the location TBD but after 11:30 am
Any suggestions on a restaurant that won't be busy or has banquet room, but is open on Saturday? Our normal lunch place is closed on Saturday. Contact Nancy 605-787-6466, nhiding (at)

January 30th
Likely date of a meeting on Pennington County mining
Black Hills Concerned Citizens, a local group that is concerned about mining in Pennington County, is planning a community meeting on January 30th, next Tuesday at 7 pm.  The meeting is open to all.  The meeting is still tentative.  A more complete meeting announcement will be available on Wednesday, Sept 25.   The meeting will focus on the gravel operation at the Croell pit which is located on Highway 16 just south of Reptile Gardens but will address other issues as well, particularly the recent ordinance amendment OA 17-02 which is to be before the Pennington County Board of Commissioners on February 6.  For info: Duane  Abata  - duane.abata (at), cell (605) 431-5996

This meeting is related to the below issue

January 22nd >>> FEBRUARY 6TH
Attend a hearing on mining, Rapid City
County Commissioners’ Meeting Room - Pennington County Administration Building

Next date will be  - Tuesday February 6th - before the Pennington County Board of Commissioners Meeting
9:00 am , Commission Chambers, 130 Kansas City St, Rapid City, SD 57701,
Pennington County Planning Commission had a meeting on 
morning of Wednesday, January 22nd. The draft Ordinance was given approval by the Planning Commission, with some additional amendments and sent upwards to Full Commission for final approval.

Pennington County Mine Ordinance Revision -  
Below is a Report on Progress Pennington County Actions

Immediate action 

The Pennington County  Commission will  consider the Pennington County's proposed revision of it's mine permitting ordinance on February 6th.

  The draft ordinance revision was originally written for sand and gravel type mines and is 18 pages long, however two paragraphs were added at the last minute (Friday afternoon the 12th)  to apply it to "hard rock" minerals (mineral mining).  Two paragraphs are better than nothing, however more work will need to be done in the future on a mining ordinance that fully addresses "hard rock" minerals (mineral mining).

Contact - Hennies Holli <hollih (at)> 605-394-2171 for the most current version of the  draft ordinance or

To download Jan 17th version of it as PDF
Packet for the Commission:
Look for Jan 22nd version on this page. (It is not done yet on 1/23/18)

For now written comments for the Pennington County Commission should be submitted to
Hennies Holli <hollih (at)> 605-394-2171 

Process Background: 

There is a moratorium on issuing new mining permits in Pennington while a revision of it's Ordinance is being done.   That moratorium will expire in early April 2018. The Pennington County Commission will make the ultimate decision on the Ordinance rewrite, however  the Planning Commission and a Mining Committee below it, were working on draft versions for full Commission's consideration, this draft was being reviewed at the lower level, but next steps will be 2  hearings before the main County Commission.  Moratorium and rewrite may be related to past litigation  by Croell over Pennington's rejection of their Sand/Gravel//Aggregate application.

SD  Statewide Mine Governance Background

When considering mining law and regulation in SD at a state level, you need to differentiate between these two types of mining - sand and gravel (approval of such a mine is called licensing by State) vs hard rock or minerals mining (approval of such a mine is called permitting by State). The level of regulation and opportunity for public involvement is extremely different between the two in the state of SD. PHAS believes regulation of sand/gravel/rock mines to be woefully inadequate in SD.

SD  Mining law is at  at SDCL Chapters 45-6 and 45-6B & rules are at ARSD 74:29.

"Hard Rock" or "Minerals"  Mining Law & Rules:

Sand and Gravel Mines Law:

Background on Draft Ordinance Content

Under state law, on the state level, there is no opportunity for public comment or contested case hearing  in the licensing of a sand and gravel mine.  There is no limit on mine size or length of operation. This new county ordinance would allow folks in Pennington County to attend a hearing and comment on mine applications at the County level and to appeal the decision - it gives us LOCAL CONTROL. It expands the ordinance from one paragraph to about 17 pages of text, although much of text repeats regulations identical to other state and federal agencies (thus it is often just indexing the regulatory status quo).  The current moratorium on Pennington County permitting of new mines applies to both sand and gravel mines and hard rock mines (mineral extraction mines) but the draft revised ordinance  as originally written only applied to allowing sand and gravel mines.   2 paragraphs were quickly added, last minute to address hard rock mining.

 An issue associated with this draft - is having an adequate notice & appeal process to County's

decisions to permit mines.  Too short a time is given for public notice (30 days) & too short a time  (5 days) is allowed by the draft ordinance to appeal the Planning Commission's decisions & limited types of people can appeal.   If appealed, the full Pennington County Commission would review the application. Too small a setback is required from dwellings (300 feet).  Another concern is that sand/gravel/rock mining would be a permitted activity in general agriculture, public lands (which includes Forest Service) as well as heavy industrial. In Lawrence County all commercial mining is reviewed under conditional use process (that is better). 

Suggested comments
 1) We suggest that all commercial mining in Pennington County require  conditional use approval. 
2) The County Commission should  give the final approval of all mining permits
 (no appeal to County Commission is needed to get application before them.) 
3)  We object to the requirement that the County Commission needs an appeal to review application and limiting appeal rights to  limited types of persons.   Why can't general taxpayers in the County who pay for county costs, appeal?
4) We suggest people ask for longer advanced notice of hearings - such as 45 day notice & longer time to file appeals - 20 days, if one is required.
  5) The new mine should not have automatic rubber-stamp approval, if it meets all the conditions in the Ordinance.  When making that decision the County Commission should have some flexibility to address new issues and apply new conditions not envisioned of by drafters of this Ordinance - as long as new conditions are in  harmony with purpose & intent of the Ordinance.
6)  The public should receive notice of pending mine permit renewal actions and have option to request hearing on renewals and renewals should not be a "rubber stamp". 
7)   Setbacks should be greater than 300 feet, we suggest a minimum of 500 ft, with flexibility on buffer size (could be greater).
8)  Better protections from sound impacts are needed. Better protection for historical, cultural & biodiversity resources are needed. Better protection from road use impacts to county and public needed.
9) Folks are disputing how to integrate old "grandfathered in" mines that were that were permitted by Pennington after Pennington started permitting construction, but before this ordinance rewrite. At issue is what is mine "expansion" and what triggers a new permit application for older mines. This relates to legal controversy,  not yet decided by SD Supreme Court. Pennington has 194 existing sand/gravel mines. PHAS wants older mines to come under  better regulation as soon as possible.
10) The County spent March-January (11 months)  reviewing and writing ordinance for regulation of sand and gravel mines and last minute added two paragraphs to insert into the ordinance on "hard rock mining" -- which includes open pit, heap leach, underground, in-situ and placer mining. All of which have more complex issues than sand and gravel mines & involve new issues & new concerns. Inserting two paragraphs  is better than nothing, but more work is needed on the mineral mining section.

CWA alert
Lilias Jarding of Black Hills Clean Water Alliance has an alert on their Facebook page.


How to navigate Planning Actions at Pennington County

Planning Commission link:
Public Notice link
Current Agenda Packet - latest draft may be on here at some point.
To download December 17th version of it via PDF. 

Link to Current Zoning Ordinance - see one paragraph on page 193

Compare to Lawrence County
Lawrence County ordinance to compare to - see chapter 20 "Extractive Industries" page 154-162. In our opinion they often make better choices with respect to ordinance design.
 History - Deep Background 
Link to Rapid City Journal Article explaining the beginning of this revision effort
Croell Mining Case
Link to SD Supreme Court Decision that upholds Pennington County's decision to reject Croell Redi-Mix's mining application. A lawsuit filed by miners over Pennington County rejecting a sand/gravel/aggregate mine application explains at least partly why Pennington wants a better Sand/Gravel/Rock ordinance.

Nancy Hilding (PHAS), Sandra Serberger  (Sierra Club), Lilias Jarding (CWA), Gena Parkhurst  (DRA) , Duane Abata (Black Hills Concerned Citizens) have been following this ordinance review.  Nancy Hilding at 605-787-6779, will have a copy of the current draft, that she can send you.

A Bill Related to Trapping: 

HB 1047 revise certain provisions defining fur-bearing animals.
 GFP Bill that adds River Otter and Fisher to fur bearers list.   
Passed 13 to 0 and placed on consent and passed in the full house.

PHAS opposes this bill
River Otters are still  listed  as a SD Threatened & Endangered  species:
here is link to SD Otter Management Plan:

According to testimony at the bills hearing, neither otters or fishers currently have adequate population to support hunting. In scientific articles, fisher's range does not currently or in the past  include SD. GFP staff claims some recent records of dead fishers in NE SD & that they were once extirpated from SD, but another staff says never in SD. Why add them as fur bearer species when their populations currently can't support hunting and if resident animals, numbers would be so low and habitat unknown and likely limited, so as to qualify for the State's threatened and endangered species list and "take" would be forbidden?

On page 18 SD Otter Management Plan:
"Harvest Scenarios

Management options include total protection; adjusting opportunities to capture animals by season length and harvest period; establishing harvest quotas, management zones, and closed areas; limiting harvest by individual trappers; and restricting the size, type, and number of traps allowed (Melquist and Dronkert 1987). Melquist et al (2003) described Canada’s long- term use of registered traplines, which helps reduce competition among trappers, particularly during times of high fur price. 

River otters are vulnerable to overharvest because of their low fecundity rate, the long interval between generations,  their ability to travel extensively, and, when restricted to riparian corridors, their limited travel routes (Toweill and Tabor 1982, Melquist et al. 2003. This has led some states to regulate river otter harvest by allowing only 1 animal/trapper/season (Toweill and Tabor 1982).  River otters can be vulnerable to take in beaver sets. Hill (1978), as cited in Melquist and Dronkert 1987, analyzed otter and beaver trapping in the southeastern U.S. and found that 1 river otter was taken for every 6-10 beavers. However, some studies have found that otters are often taken in beaver sets, with most catches made by a few trappers. " (Emphasis added)

Fishers range does not overlap SD.
Based on information from SDGFP, a few dead fisher road kill have been found primarily in NE SD (believed to come from Minnesota). The Fisher's range overlaps with the NE corner of Minnesota, maybe 250 miles away from NE SD. (see the map). Are a few dead fishers sign of a resident population? Where is the SD habitat that is supporting them.

 Trapping has animal welfare concerns.

HB 1006: revise the extent of comments required by the director of the Legislative Research Council regarding certain ballot measures and the period of time in which those comments are to be made. -

Section 1 provides for substantive comments to be made on ballot initiatives by the Legislative Research Council (LRC), BUT, the bill’s second section creates a “blackout” period during/near the legislative session of a period of over a third of the year, when the LRC is not required to comment on the people’s initiatives. 
Citizens are required to start the initiative process with submission to LRC, and after that wait up to two months getting feedback from the Attorney General & Secretary of State's Office. House Bill 1006 makes the citizen initiative process more difficult.

In Senate State Affairs Committee - Wednesday morning 1/24/2018,,,,,,,,,


SD Legislative Session
January 9th - March 26th 2018

 Legislative Resource Council serves &  follows the legislature and 
provides all sorts of on-line resources & services. Their web site:

Calendar - find important deadlines, see the long weekends

Groups with lobbyists that may work on environmental issues include: SD Wildlife Federation's Camo-coalition (lobbyists - Chris Hesla & David Nauman ) , Dakota Rural Action (lobbyist - Rebecca Terk),  Izaak Walton League of America  -the "Ikes"  ((lobbyist -Paul Lepisto) , Sierra Club ((lobbyist -Mark Winegar),  and  South Dakota Renewable Energy Association (lobbyist - Steve Wegman). The Humane Society of US (lobbyist - Darci Adams), and SDFACT work on humane treatment of animals, which may include issues associated with wild animals. The above entities may have part time or full time lobbyists in Pierre  and may each follow some different issues.  Prairie Hills Audubon Society may or may not send a volunteer lobbyist to work a few days in the legislature, it depends on the year, volunteer resources and bills that are up.
For searching the lists of lobbyist's in Pierre:

SD Department of Environment and Natural Resources bill tracking link 
- they watch and list bill status on many bills we may care about:

SD Game, Fish and Parks bill watching link 
- they list bills that they and we may care about:

We will give some links to other organization's bill reviews, but the info at these links represents 
the opinions of web site owners and not necessarily PHAS's opinions.

The SD Wildlfie Federation Camo Coalition Daily has a daily summary of bills they track:
Folks can sign up with SD Wildlife Federation's Camo-coalition 
to get free daily alerts/summaries on legislation relative to  natural resources and outdoor recreation.
 Chris Hesla & David Nauman lobby for this group. 
- We recommend you sign up:
 They, other groups  and PHAS may send legislative alerts to their respective members and/or 
friends on their e-mail mailing lists and/or may put legislative alerts on web sites or Facebook pages. 
 Scroll up to see contact people for  some of these organizations, scroll down for web sites.

Democracy in Action sends out alerts to members, but joining is free. Let Karen know you want alerts: 
Karen Hall <karenehall57702 (at)>. These alerts may be on many topics, but can include environment and "good government".
 PHAS sends out our alerts to anyone who asks and posts on our web site, so let Nancy know if you want  PHAS alerts -

Links to web sites for some of the above organizations.
DRA and Ikes send out alerts to their members:
to join DRA  - so as to get their legislative alerts

Izaak Walton League
To join the Ike's  - so you can get their legislative alerts

Contact them to ask about alerts & updates, however alerts may occur on-line:

Sierra Club - alerts & legislative reports will be posted on web & Facebook page.

SD-FACT - alerts posted to Facebook page and sent to e-mail action network, sign up is free, on-line.. and 

Contact info for Legislators:

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, "" <>,,, Drew.Dennert@sdlegislature.govLynne.DiSanto@sdlegislature.govMary.Duvall@sdlegislature.govJulie.FryeMueller@sdlegislature.govBob.Glanzer@sdlegislature.govTim.Goodwin@sdlegislature.govSpencer.Gosch@sdlegislature.govLana.Greenfield@sdlegislature.govSteven.Haugaard@sdlegislature.govSpencer.Hawley@sdlegislature.govLeslie.Heinemann@sdlegislature.govThomas.Holmes@sdlegislature.govTaffy.Howard@sdlegislature.govjean.hunhoff@sdlegislature.govGreg.Jamison@sdlegislature.govKevin.Jensen@sdlegislature.govTimothy.Johns@sdlegislature.govDavid.Johnson@sdlegislature.govDan.Kaiser@sdlegislature.govchris.karr@sdlegislature.govJason.Kettwig@sdlegislature.govjohn.lake@sdlegislature.govIsaac.Latterell@sdlegislature.govOren.Lesmeister@sdlegislature.govSteve.Livermont@sdlegislature.govDavid.Lust@sdlegislature.govSam.Marty@sdlegislature.govElizabeth.May@sdlegislature.govSteven.McCleerey@sdlegislature.govSean.McPherson@sdlegislature.govMark.Mickelson@sdlegislature.govJohn.Mills@sdlegislature.govHerman.Otten@sdlegislature.govKent.Peterson@sdlegislature.govsue.peterson@sdlegislature.govTom.Pischke@sdlegislature.govLee.Qualm@sdlegislature.govNancy.Rasmussen@sdlegislature.govTim.Reed@sdlegislature.govLarry.Rhoden@sdlegislature.govRay.Ring,  ,

During the session you can also call each chamber's phone and leave a message: 

House: 605-773-3851 Senate: 605-773-3821

In complete update Tuesday morning Jan 23rd

Environmental Bills
Bills with asterisks - PHAS has a position on 

House Bills:

HB 1015: repeal the use of explosives, pyrotechnics, and fireworks for the protection of sunflower crops from depredating birdsYEAS 13, NAYS 0. Committee, YEAS 60, NAYS 0. Floor vote

HB 1022: revise certain provisions regarding wind energy permits, To Hse Com/Energy, 1/19/18 passed and put on consent calendar

HB 1023: Repeal certain provisions regarding pipeline safety, To Hse Com/Energy 1/19/18, Do Pass (13-0), to consent calendar on floor

HB 1046: allow certa in resident farmers or ranchers to receive a big game license during the Black  
 Hills deer season. Passed  Ag and Natural Resources, YEAS 12, NAYS 1. To full Hse
Hse Passed, YEAS 59, NAYS 0.

HB 1047: revise certain provisions defining fur-bearing animals. GFP Bill that adds River Otter and Fisher to fur bearers list.   *PHAS opposes this bill.  
Passed 13 to 0 and placed on consent. To full House - were it passed.

*HB 1081: extend the effective date of certain provisions regarding the recreational use of nonmeandered water*PHAS opposes this bill.  Dakota Free Press Article on
No hearing scheduled but has been sent to House State Affairs

HB 1098: Make an appropriation from the water and environment fund and its
revolving fund subfunds for various water and environmental purposes and to declare an emergency.
Referred to Hse Appropriations, hearing on 1/25/18, 8 am

HB  1106: allow hunting preference points to be assigned to people 10 years or older

HB 1119: Revise certain provisions regarding riparian buffer strips.
HCR 1003: Promoting a resilient and healthy Black Hills forest through endorsement of the forest management principles identified in "Black Hills Resilient Forest Strategy" published December 2017. to Hse Ag and NR, 

Senate Bills:
*SB 24: extend the effective date of certain provisions regarding the recreational use of nonmeandering water. *PHAS opposes this bill.  Passed Amended to Senate Ag, Passed, YEAS 7, NAYS 2, to floor, .It could be on the floor for vote any day, but seems delayed by deal making

SB 25: Revise certain fees for entities permitted under the national pollutant
discharge elimination systemReferred to Sen Ag & Nat Res,01/23/2018, 10:00 AM

SB 27: Make an appropriation from the coordinated natural resources conservation fund to the State Conservation Commission and to declare an emergency. Hearing 1/19/18, Do Pass (18-0)

SB 33: Repeal certain mediation programs regarding damages from oil and gas
development and disputes over drainage of water. 
Refer to Sen Ag & Nat Res,01/23/2018, 10:00 AM

" Bills on generic governance that effect all issues:"

Mostly - Initiative & Referendum  Bills 

HB 1004: Clarifies that the State Board of Elections can make rules regarding petition size and petition font size.
House of Representatives Do Pass, Passed, YEAS 60, NAYS 6.. To Senate State Affairs 
HB 1005: Revises the ballot recitation language from an statement crafted by the Attorney General l to a simple, “vote yes to pass” and “vote no to reject” phrasing.  State Affairs Do Pass Amended, Passed, YEAS 10, NAYS 0.
Deferred on Floor.
HB 1006: revise the extent of comments required by the director of the Legislative Research Council regarding certain ballot measures and the period of time in which those comments are to be made....State Affairs Do Pass, YEAS 10, NAYS 0.,House of Representatives Do Pass,   Passed, YEAS 64, NAYS 2.
H.J. 68, to Senate State Affairs ,  Hearing Wednesday 1/24/18, 10 am, PHAS opposes, 
 HB 1007, which creates a citizen initiative review commission.
State Affairs Deferred to the 41st legislative day, DEAD Passed, YEAS 11, NAYS 2. H.J. 72 

* SJR1: which raises the percentage of votes to pass an initiated constitutional amendment to 55%,
referred to Senate State Affairs, 1/22/18 in Committee, Passed, YEAS 6, NAYS 2., to floor, PHAS opposes, 

SB 10, provide for the resolution of conflicts by multiple initiated measures and amendments to the Constitution adopted at the same election.State Affairs Do Pass, Passed, YEAS 7, NAYS 0, to floor
SB 11, reduces the time period during which petition sponsors may submit ballot measures to the Legislative Research Council for review and comment.,State Affairs Do Pass, Passed, YEAS 6, NAYS 1.,  to floor
SB 12, require petition circulators for certain ballot measures to make available the full text of the ballot measure to petition signers, State Affairs Do Pass, Passed, YEAS 6, NAYS 1, to floor
SB 77, revise certain provisions regarding required campaign finance disclosure statements submitted by ballot question committees. Referred to Senate State Affairs. 01/22/2018 hearing,Amended, Passed, YEAS 8, NAYS, to floor,  Dakota Free Press Article on,
SB 84, Revise provisions on public records, Sen Judiciary,
hearing 1/23/18, 8:30 Am
SB 100 Establish provisions related to grant monitoring and review



January 20th- March 3rd

Aberdeen Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
In the Centennial Rooms at Northern State University from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Saturday, January 27
  • Saturday, February 3
  • Saturday, February 10
  • Saturday, February 24
Belle Fourche Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
1 pm, Location To Be Determined
 Please verify location with Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce
  • Saturday, February 3
Brandon Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
In the Bethany Meadows Community Room from 9 to 10:30 a.m.
  • Saturday, January 27
  • Saturday, February 24
Brookings Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
Brookings City County Government Bldg Council Chambers  9 a
  • Saturday, February 24
  • Saturday, March 3rd
Clear Lake Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee: 
At the Clear Lake Municipal Building from 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, January 27
Canton Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee: 
Depot Viking Room at 600 West 5th St, 10 a.m.
  • Saturday, February 3
Chamberlain Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
Chamberlain Community Center, 1 p.m.
  • Saturday, February 3
Deadwood Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
At the Deadwood Visitor’s Center beginning at 9 a.m.
  • Saturday, February 17
Fort Pierre Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
At Magpies from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m.
  • Saturday, February 10
Huron Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
At City Hall from 9 to 10 a.m.
  • Saturday, January 20
  • Saturday, February 3
  • Saturday, February 24
Kimball Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
Kimball Fire Hall, 10 a.m.
  • Saturday, February 3
Mitchell Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
In the Mitchell City Council chambers from 12 to 1 p.m.
  • Friday, January 26
  • Friday, February 16
Newell Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
At the Newell City Hall beginning at 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Saturday, February 10
Onida Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
A Sully Buttes High School beginning at 10 a.m.
  • Friday, February 16
Piedmont ("Foothills Area") Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
At the Piedmont Valley Legion Post from 1:30 to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, February 10
Pierre Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
In the Pierre Area Chamber of Commerce Community Room from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m.
  • Saturday, January 20
Rapid City Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
Multiple dates and locations
  • Saturday, January 27 at the South Dakota School of Mines Classroom Building from 9 to 11 a.m.
  • Saturday, February 10 at Western Dakota Tech Event Center from 9 to 11 a.m.
  • Saturday, February 17 at the Outdoor Campus West  (3 meeting rooms are combined) from 1 to 3:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, February 24 at the South Dakota School of Mines Classroom Building from 9 to 11 a.m.
  • Saturday, March 3 at Western Dakota Tech Event Center from 9 to 11 a.m.
Sioux Falls Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
In the Falls Room of the Holiday Inn City Centre beginning at 10 a.m.
  • Saturday, February 3
  • Saturday, February 24
Sisseton Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee
At the Sisseton High School Practice Facility beginning at 9 a.m.
  • Saturday, January 20
Spearfish Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
In the Joy Center on the Black Hills State University campus beginning at 10 a.m.
  • Saturday, February 10
Sturgis Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
Meade County Erskine Building 8:30 am - 10:00 am
  • Saturday, February 3rd
Tyndall Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee::
At the Corral Cafe beginning at 10 a.m.
  • Saturday, January 27

Vermillion Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
In the Vermillion City Hall Council Chambers from 9 to 11 a.m.
  • Saturday, January 27
  • Saturday, February 17
Wall Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
The Chamber is trying to arrange one: (605)279-2665

Watertown Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
Multiple dates and locations
  • Saturday, January 27, In the Lake Area Technical Institute’s “Super Classroom” beginning at 9 a.m.
    • Saturday,  February 10, at the Codington County Extension Complex at 9 a.m.

    Webster Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
    At the Webster Armory beginning at 9 a.m.
    • Saturday, January 27
    Yankton Legislative Cracker Barrel/Coffee:
    In the Avera Professional Office Pavillion from 10 to 11 a.m.
    • Saturday, January 20
    • Saturday, February 3
    • Saturday, March 3

    Prairie Hills Audubon Society (PHAS) will be co-sponsoring a Cracker Barrel for Legislative District 29 and 33 in Piedmont on the afternoon of Saturday, February 10th ---- 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm
    at the Piedmont Valley American Legion Post. This is before the Legion's monthly steak night.
     Co-sponsors include Prairie Hills Audubon Society (PHAS), Piedmont Valley American Legion Post, Dakota Rural Action, (DRA), Foothills Chamber of Commerce & Foothills Kiwanis Club.  
    The Post is located at 101 Pine Street and is at the intersection of Pine and Sturgis Road (North First St). 

     "Natural Resources Cracker Barrel" will be  in Rapid City, at Outdoor Campus West on the afternoon of Saturday, February 17th,  1 pm to 3:30 pm.  This will be for all legislators that represent part of Pennington County:  Districts 27, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34 & 35.  The priority for questions will be "natural resources" issues interpreted very broadly.  Sponsor groups include PHAS, DRA, Rapid City Chapter of the Izaak Walton League,
     Black Hills Group of Sierra Club,  Clean Water Alliance SD Chapter of Citizen's Climate Lobby 


    January 15th- February 15th, 2018
    Climate Watch Citizen Science opportunity

    Audubon is running the new citizen and community science project Climate Watch. Climate Watch aims to document species’ responses to climate change by  having volunteers in the field look for birds where Audubon’s climate models project they should be in the 2020s. 
    The next survey will take place January 15 - February 15, 2018 and is open to all interested Audubon chapters and centers, in addition to organized groups with an interest in birds.Climate Watch participants are asked to survey for Eastern, Western, and Mountain bluebirds and/or White-breasted, Red-breasted, Brown-headed, and Pygmy nuthatches.

    Climate Watch occurs over two distinct thirty-day periods each year, in the winter and in the summer breeding season. The first phases of the pilot occurred in January and June 2016 and January 2017, and the next survey will cover the winter season and will run Monday, January 15 through Thursday, February 15, 2018. The summer survey season will be May 15–June 15, 2018.

    Each volunteer group chooses a 10 kilometer square area from a grid system supplied by the NAS (scroll down to grid  map  below) and birds for 5 minutes at one or more of 12 points (small circles) that are at least 200m apart and within that square.  Volunteers collect data on birds seen and someone must send the data into NAS.   NAS is trying to understand climate changes effects to birds better.

    This year the focus is on bluebirds and nuthatches, so local birders ideally need to chose the good birding sites for these birds in their adopted 10 square kilometer area part of the grid.  It is suggested that next year the same 10 kilometer square grid sections are visited again.. but not  mandatory. Birders can share a 10 mile square kilometer part of the grid with other volunteers and each birder(s) set can adopt one or more points (small circles).

    If you are interested in volunteering in Prairie Hills Audubon's territory (much of western SD), contact Nancy Hilding 605-787-6779  People need to adopt a grid and bird at 12 points in that grid.  You need to understand e-bird mobile application. Having an area to bird in with good wireless reception and recording  data via a cell phone, iPad etc, helps greatly, as using e-bird cell phone application to immediately record data simplifies the effort.  
    Conversely you can bird and record data on lists and use maps and/or GPS points etc, but you eventually have to translate all data points and birding data to the e-bird system. That is not easy to do.


    February 5 - Chat with Ranger/Q & A 
    - 5:00 - 7:00 p.m., PR Room, 
    Outdoor Campus West, 
    South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, Rapid City, SD

    March 5th Deadline
    Comment on Custer Gallatin National Forest  Proposed Action

    The Custer Gallatin released the proposed action as part of Forest Plan Revision for a 60-day comment period running January 3 - March 5, 2018.

    The Proposed Action represents a starting place for the Custer Gallatin revised forest plan and will be out for review for a 60-day scoping period running from January 3 - March 5, 2018. Comments, names and addresses will be part of public record. The Forest Service says "The document reflects extensive public involvement over the past two years through informational sessions, collaborative working group meetings both virtual and in-person, public meetings, e-collaboration, written submissions and other public input."

    Commenting is January 3 - March 5, 2018

    Commenting electronically is strongly encouraged on the online commenting tool. and clicking on Forest Plan Revision and then Commenting or

    Additional options include: 
    By Email: with subject line "Comment - draft plan - CGNF"
    By Postal Mail:  Custer Gallatin National Forest, Attn:  Forest Plan Revision Team, P.O. Box 130 (10 E Babcock), Bozeman, MT 59771
    At local open houses by placing in comment box.  Must be written submission.    
    social media icons 

    FB:  Custer Gallatin National Forest
    Twitter @GallatinNF or @CusterNF

    Weekly Webinars
    Webinars will be available weekly (mobile device compatible) throughout the comment period along with Ranger - led open houses and chats - view full schedule.  

    If you have questions about commenting, please contact Mariah Leuschen-Lonergan at 406-587-6735 or at cgplanrevision (at)
    Web site:






    February 16th-19th, 2018
    Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) -  includes a photo contest.

    There is an optional photo contest for photos taken during the GBBC. 

    Link to last year's winners in the contest:

    The 21st annual GBBC will be held Friday, February 16th, through Monday, February 19th, 2018.
     Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at  Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from beginning bird watchers to experts, and you can participate from your backyard, or anywhere in the world. 

    Please visit the official website at for more information and be sure to check out the latest




    January 8, 2018–April 9, 2018.

    2018 Audubon Photography Awards

    Enjoy photographing birds? Enter your best bird photos in the 2018 Audubon Photography Awards. You could win a cash prize or, if you’re our Youth winner, a special trip that will help you become an even better bird photographer. Winning photos will be published in a future issue of Audubon and in Nature’s Best Photography magazine, and displayed within the 2018 Nature’s Best Photography Exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. There are  Amateur, Professional, or Youth divisions. Entry fee varies from free to $15 to $20 per picture depending on how and when you enter.

    You own the rights to your photos. By entering the Photography Awards, you grant Audubon and our contest associate Nature’s Best Photography a non-exclusive license to your photos for uses related to the Photography Awards only.



    Projects/process on federal land  likely to move forward in 2018


    It is possible that Rare Element Resources will restart 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. Contact Karl Emanuel  at the Northern Ranger District for more information or to be added to mailing list -
    It is probable that mineral exploration will start at Mineral Hill, in Wyoming. This exploration is 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.  Contact Karl Emanuel  at the Northern Ranger District for more information or to be added to mailing list -, 605- 443-3072

    It is probable that mineral exploration will start near Rochford, SD for Mineral Mountain Resources, scroll down for our alert on that topic. Scoping has past.  Contact DENR at Roberta.Hudson (at),



    The Custer /Gallantin National Forest is in the process of revising their Forest Plan, using the 2012 forest planning rule. A pre-scoping document called a "plan" is expected out in December 2017 or January 2018.

    They have been having public input meetings & collaborative workshops in  2016-2017

    Notes on the Camp Cook public meeting is hear

    An inventory of wilderness eligible and wild and scenic river eligible lands has been released for comment this summer.
    Links to this data:

    But all of this is not as part of a NEPA doc yet...the wilderness data will be in the appendix of the DEIS when they do the DEIS.




    Help Protect Western Water from Uranium Mining!

    Send the EPA a letter via on-line link


    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) Non-meandered waters Alert
    C) Mountain Lion Plan Revision Alert 
    D) Alert on Resilient Landscape DEIS (Forest Service)
    E) announcement of Petitions to list or de-list under ESA and 
    F)  S3254/SB 114 (Land Trade Little Spearfish Canyon & Bismark Lake) & 
    G).  SD Important Bird Areas
    H)  Missouri River Recovery
    I) SD legislative alerts as of March 10th  (mostly deleted)
    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


    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 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)




    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.

    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 will need to do 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  plan 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


    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 the last version of non-meandered water's access bill also... in our view some positive and negative changes were made from earlier version but the proposed bill was 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 oppose the bill/new law - we suggest you 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. "  

    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 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 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 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."

    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 -- Lion Info Item Sept17.mp3

     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 <>

    ~ Map has 3 tabs for kittens, cause, and sex: (Cannot add or remove layers)*
    ~Map has causes of mortality: (Can add/ remove layers)**
    ~Map has sex: (Can add/ remove layers)
    ~Map has kittens: (Cannot add or remove layers)*

    * 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



    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 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.



    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).

    USFWS Says:
    "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


    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. 

    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.

    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



    a subset of a National Audubon Society Nationwideprogram

    More details on PHAS web page


    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.

    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 


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


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

    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. 

    USFWS photo
    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.

    Link to Complaint. 

    More details on the issue and litigation can be found on another PHAS web page

    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. 

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

    Here is a link to WWP alert on this topic, 
    it has a sample letter
    , or click HERE to go directly to the comment submission form.
    Click HERE for a list of upcoming scoping meetings. (None were in SD)

    Or go directly to bLM web page - Greater Sage-Grouse Plan Amendments Scoping link - 
     Once you get to the comment page, we suggest put in "all" in the "Chapter Reference"  & "Section Reference"

    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.:

    Deadline to comment on similar action by the Forest Service may come later in 2018   

     Changed to January 19th,
    It was Jan 5th 2018,
    Deadline is Extended 2 weeks, Federal Register notice:

    FS Deadline to Submit Sage Grouse Comments
     The Trump administrations wants to reduce protections given to the greater sage
    grouse during the Obama administration, but has to go through the NEPA process to amend federal land management plans first.
    Jan 5th is the deadline to send comments on potential amendments to Forest Service (FS) Land and Resource Management Plans on greater sage grouse management.
    Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received by January 5, 2018. There will be a second opportunity to comment later once amendments are created by FS.

    The Forest Service has  initiated a scoping process to solicit public comments on greater sage-grouse land management issues that could warrant land management plan amendments. Land management plans for National Forests in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming were amended in September 2015 to incorporate conservation measures to support the continued existence of the greater sage-grouse. Critics of the Obama era sage grouse conservation effort  have identified issues since 2015. The Forest Service intends to work cooperatively with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to address these issues and others to be identified through this scoping process. . In February 2016, PHAS and other environmental groups sued the BLM & the FS over inadequate protections for greater sage-grouse in land management plans, although we did not attempt to stay what Obama Administration did, just get improvements to it.  
    Some states and other actors also sued over the plan amendments,  from their diverse perspectives.

    Send written comments to Sage-grouse Amendment Comment, USDA Forest Service Intermountain Region, Federal Building, 324 25th Street, Ogden, UT 84401. Comments may also be sent via email to, or via facsimile to 801-625-5277.

    We suggest people write either in support of the Obama era protections, or ask for greater protections for the greater sage grouse. We suggest people oppose any further weakening of the protections, which are already inadeguate.

    Link to Harvard article on

    This is the  link to Federal Register's web page, with this explained


    Delayed/suspended Campaigns
    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


    (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. There was a teleconference hearing in 2016, RER asked for process to be put on hold due to lack of funds. The Company was supposed to have an April 2017 deadline to restart or withdraw from the process. We don't know what happened in April.
     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) 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. 
    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. 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 a permit application is 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 
    Other permits with Wyoming DEQ may be applied for by Company later.
    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