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: 2018 Deadlines and Events  and then alerts or issue/project discussions


Item # 2, Events/Deadlines

1. Events & Deadlines & Alerts in Jan 2019 & forward into 2019

Current Events
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 specific events in future weeks of upcoming months 
5) the section on the Legislature 
              scroll past 12 inches of empty space:
6) . then it goes to old alerts 
Old Alert Topics 

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

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

PHAS now has a Facebook page

Prairie dog photo copyright by Nancy Hilding


We normally have membership  meetings on the 4th Thursday at OCW, (except during summer)
 but this can vary as we may  have conflicts with holidays and/or 
schedule alternate event(s) in any month. 
We have PHAS lunch or dinner meetings in some months  - 
they may occur in the second half of the month, often on a Friday or Monday - 
at Hana's Restaurant,  (Asian food), on 3550 Sturgis Rd, Rapid City. 

There was no meeting in January. We will co-host a cracker barrel in Piedmont on second Saturday in February 
and Endangered Species Day event on the 3rd Friday in May and a field trip to La Creek NWR in early May..

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), they may take a break during summer.
for info: Mark Boddicker <boddicker (at)>
Northern Hills Bird Club meets the first Thursday eve (7 pm) , Sturgis Library - except  in June-August, when have potlucks, at member's homes.
- they also generally have 2 field trips each month on Saturdays -- or for info: Nancy Drilling, President - nancy.drilling (at), 791-0459   or for info: Contact Vic/Donna Fondy 605-269-2553,
The Rapid City Sustainability Committee meets the 2nd and 4th Monday of the month at the City/School Administration Building at 5:30 it is open to the public and they focus on sustainable practices for the City.
For info: Erik Heikes:  EHeikes (at)
Dakota Rural Action normally meets second Tuesday eve, mixed locations,
for info: Gena Parkhurst <gmp66 (at)> 
The Black Hills Photography Club normally meets the second Tuesday of the month at Outdoor Campus West, 6:30 pm.
Some times, the meetings are about photography of outdoor's subjects
and photography field trips to photograph outdoors may also be planned.
The Darton Society meets at Outdoor Campus West (OCW) on 2nd Monday, 
maybe not during the summer (please verify meeting times)
For info: Cathie or LeRoy Draine at 787-5956 or cathiedraine (at)
Norbeck Society normally meets second Thursday eve, Rapid City,
SDSMT, Classroom Bldg., Faculty Lounge 5:45 pm
Monthly meetings may be skipped in the summer.
for info: Bob Burns < (at)>,787-4783,
SD Chapter of Citizen's Climate Lobby meets the 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 10:00 am in the Helen Hoyt Room at the Rapid City Public Library.  for info: nobhuranium (at)
(note recent - 2019- change of the start time from 9 am to 10 am)
Meets occurring at not regular times  of the Month:

Black Hills Group of Sierra Club has meetings and outings as announced
For info on Sierra Club, e-mail -Sandra Seberger <sandralss57702 (at)> 605-342-4335, 
February 14, 2019 SC will have a membership meeting featuring Prof. Scott Kenner of the SD School of Mines and Technology speaking about Water Resources in the Black Hills. 6:30 pm at OCW

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


SPECIFIC EVENTS LIST February & onward
scroll down for legislative session


January 2019 & ONWARD

Assaults on NEPA were occurring in Congress via the Farm Bill (House version).
 The Wilderness Society web link on roll backs to NEPA in Farm Bill

SDGFP hosted a cougar stakeholder group on Oct 3rd in Rapid City.
Nancy Hilding went for PHAS.

   A biennial report on SD mountain lions can be found at  This document will provide more recent mountain lion data than what is found in the current SDGFP management plan.  This report can be found at the bottom of the mountain lion webpage at 
Oct 2018 Commission meeting.
SDGFP staff was to present an update on lion management.
 It will eventually be available on the web site, however Audio of meeting is here
Draft copy of revised management plan is expected out sometime in late February.
Denise Petersen (staff of MLF) has mapped data from the SD GFP Mortality data spreadsheets.  
Up to date to Sept 2018

Older version, with layers
This Interactive GIS map has different layers and shows mortality in layers,sorted by type of death or sex of dead lion. You need to go to the upper right hand corner and see the various layers available.
January 10-11
SD Game, Fish and Parks Commission Meeting
RedRossa Convention Center at 808 West Sioux Avenue in Pierre
Governor Noem is keeping Kelly Hepler as Secretary of GFP



Tuesday,  JANUARY 8th
SD Legislature begins
Last day (except veto day) is March 13th

photo by Jake DeGroot

SD Legislative Research Council
Legislative Research Council (LRC) phone- (605) 773-3251  

2019 bill list

2019 Bill Status Report (changes daily)


SD Game Fish & Parks - Bill Tracking Link

SD Department Environment Natural Resources -  Bill Tracking Link
Go to bottom of page & look for 

"DENR Focus 2019 Legislation"

Or insert today's  date in red text area

SD Wildlife Federation's Camo Coalition's
 Legislative Alerts.
Folks can sign up for Camo Coalition's daily legislative alerts...this is free service.
Opinions represent those of Camo Coalition and not necessarily those of PHAS.

Other Groups

SD Chapter of the Sierrs Club has a part time lobbyist - Mark Winegar, He sends out weekly summaries & other bill alerts.. He follows environmental bills & sometimes "good government"  bills.  
To get copies of alerts join Sierra Club or contact Mark Winegar, 605-670-9738, Mark.Winegar (at) He will add you to mailing list

Izaak Walton League of America (Ikes) has a part time lobbyist Paul Lepisto
 PLepisto (at), He sends out weekly summaries & other bill alerts. He follows environmental bills. 
To get copies you need to be a member of "Ikes", contact Paul for more info.

Dakota Rural Action has a full time lobbyist - Rebecca Terk, She sends out weekly summaries & other bill alerts. They follow some environmental bills, some good government and other issues.
To get copies you must be a member--visit their web site to join.

Darci Adams lobbys part time for Humane Society of US, dadams (at)

2019 legislator list, with contact info

Statewide Lists of Cracker Barrels,
Visit these 3 web sites for lists of Statewide Cracker Barrels,
scroll down PHAS web page for info on western SD ones

SD Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities Cracker Barrel List

Associated School Boards of South Dakota


SD Rural Electric Association
Bills in the legislature

January 25th, 2019 Action Alert
Thanks to Dakota Rural Action for the original alert, 
which we modified a little and posted.
Action NO longer Needed on HB 1019

House Bill 1019 would have created an incredible chilling effect on democracy in our state.

The short piece of legislation requires the state to pursue costs of litigation--not just in cases found to be frivolous, but in all cases where the state prevails.  
If passed, this bill would have meant that, in cases where citizens and organizations pay the already substantial costs of taking an agency or department to court for violations of law or procedure, the penalty for losing is to pay the very entity they were rightfully and reasonably questioning.  For example, if the state acted illegally on a mining permit, we would have to pay their lawyer fees, if we lost a lawsuit.
Interestingly, this bill was  first assigned to Commerce & Energy Committee and then transferred to House Judiciary for hearing on Friday the 25th at 10 am..

This Bill was killed in Committee...thanks to folks for helping kill it.

this list is not complete -  
more bills need to be added - please help bill track  & send bill suggestions - nhilshat (at)

HB 1018 An Act to transfer the collection of various fees from the Department of Revenue to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

HB 1023: revise certain provisions regarding the sale and purchase of big game animal parts.  GFP supports the bill, it would allows paws attached to pelts to be sold.

HB 1024: authorize certain species of game fish to be used as bait.

HB 1030 - allow the Office of School and Public Lands to accept internet bidding for the leasing of state minerals.

HB 1031: authorize certain wind and solar easements and leases by the commissioner of School and Public Lands.

HB 1054: revise certain provisions regarding the possession of firearms on certain vehicles. Bill would allow passengers and operator in a steering wheeled controlled UTV with seats for 4 or more to have their guns loaded and not required to have them cased either.

HB 1073 revise provisions regarding the killing of certain birds or animals from an aircraft.

HB 1075 An Act to revise certain provisions regarding the authority of conservation district governing boards.

HB 1077 - revise provisions regarding designation of a no maintenance highway.

HB 1090 provide for the establishment of commercial property assessed clean energy programs.
HB 1100 revise certain programs regarding landowner rights. (nothing in it yet)

HB 1101 revise certain programs regarding the Department of Game, Fish and Parks.(nothing in it yet)

HB 1145establish certain provisions regarding the mowing of rights-of-way adjacent to the state trunk highway system. 
HB 1152provide for the permitting of outfitters and guides.
HB 1153revise certain provisions on the protection of historic properties. 
HB 1159repeal a provision that prohibits hunting mourning doves on public roads and highways. 
HB 1161revise certain provisions regarding the issuance of temporary permits for the use of public water. 

HB 1162 provide for the expiration of certain statutory authorityregarding the promulgation of rules by the Game, Fish and Parks Commission 

HB 1181: create a habitat conservation emblem specialty plate.

HB 1182 - require a balanced and representative membership on the Game, Fish and Parks Commission.

HB 1201  revise provisions regarding group pheasant hunts for disabled

HB 1221- revise administrative rule to add palmer amaranth as a prohibited noxious weed seed.

HB 1223 An Act to modify the distribution of taxes on concentrated animal feeding operations.

HB 1226 - revise the distance certain wind energy systems must be set back from surrounding property.
HB 1234 An Act to provide funding to schools rom the contractor's excise tax on concentrated animal feeding operations.

HB 1239 An Act to revise certain provisions regarding temporary permits for the use of public water.

HB 1240 An Act to revsie certain provisions regarding water permits.

HB 1242 include opossums within the definition of predator

HB 1254 An Act to make appropriations from the water and environment fund and its revolving fund subfunds for various water and environmental purposes and to declare an emergency.

HB 1255 - make an appropriation from the coordinated natural resources conservation fund to the State Conservation Commission, and to declare an emergency.

HB 1258 An Act to create the clean air act settlement fund, to make an appropriation from the fund, and to declare an emergency

HB 1261- make an appropriation for costs related to suppression of wildfires in the state and to declare an emergency. 

HB 1270 - protect the teaching of certain scientific information.

HCR 1001 A Concurrent Resolution supporting the Governor's efforts to fuel the state fleet with premium E-30 fuel.

Senate Bills:

SB 4 - revise certain provisions regarding the classification of agricultural land for property tax purposes.

SB 14 - define solar energy facilities and to establish certain provisions regarding solar energy permits.

SB 15 - extend the timeline for granting wind energy permits.

SB 16 - establish certain provisions regarding financial security for the decommissioning of wind turbines.

SB 17 - revise certain provisions regarding certain indemnity bonds that the Public Utilities Commission may require.

SB 18 An Act to update certain references to federal laws and regulations regarding pipeline safety inspections and to increase the maxiumum civil penalty for certain pipeline safety violations.

SB 33: authorize the commissioner of school and public lands to sell and acquire certain real property.

SB 34 - make an appropriation for the replacement of the Elm Lake Dam spillway and to declare an emergency.

SB 46 An Act to repeal provisions regarding river basin natural resource districts.

SB 47 - repeal and revise certain provisions regarding permits to carry a concealed pistol.

SB 46 An Act to repeal provisions regarding river basin natural resource districts.

SB 63: increase the penalty for a subsequent conviction for trespass to hunt, fish, or trap.

SB 73 An Act to revise qualifications for sanitary district trustees.

SB 102 An Act to make an appropriation for gas well cleanup in Harding County.

SB 112 - provide for the assessment of certain agricultural land as non cropland.

SB 147 - provide certain provisions regarding commercial pesticide applicators.
SB 153: authorize the Game, Fish and Parks Commission to provide for a special hunting license with the proceeds to be used for habitat.

SB 154 - authorize the production and transport of saltwater crustaceans.

SB 171 An Act to designate saltwater aquatic farms as agricultural operations.
SB 176: make an appropriation for the second century habitat fund and to declare an emergency.

SB 176: make an appropriation for the second century habitat fund and to declare an emergency.

SB 178 - make an appropriation to the Department of Game, Fish and Parks to fund certain improvements to Palisades State Park and to declare an emergency.

SB 183: revise certain provisions regarding buffer strips.

SB 183: revise certain provisions regarding buffer strips.

this list is very much not complete -  
more bills need to be added - please help bill track  & send bill suggestions - nhilshat (at)

HB 1019 - require that the state pursue recoverable costs of litigation.
PHAS opposes this bill...see alert on this web page. DEAD
This bill was killed in Judiciary on 2/25/2019

HB 1115revise certain provisions regarding local referendums.
 Increases time to file petitions to refer local ordinance.

HB 1048  - An Act to authorize a public body to conduct certain deliberations in an executive or closed meeting.

HB 1224 An Act to revise certain proviisions regarding violations of county and municipal ordinaces.

HB 1244 An Act to provide for the disclosure of certain documents and records of public officials.

SB 39 An Act to prohibit the state employment of certain relatives.

SB 45 An Act to revise the provisions regarding the filing of a statement of additional issues on appeal for certain contested cases

SB 59 An Act to revise certain provisions regarding public records.

SB 91 An Act to revise certain provisions regarding open meeting requirements.


February 9th,
PHAS co-sponsors a Cracker Barrel in Piedmont SD

For East River ones...see link above

Saturday, January 26, 
Rapid City Legislative Cracker Barrel,
 9-11 a.m. South Dakota School of Mines & Technology Classroom Building  

Saturday, Jan. 26th 
Pierre Legislative Cracker Barrel,
10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Pierre Area Chamber of Commerce

Saturday, Jan. 26th 
Springfield Legislative Cracker Barrel,
9:00 -10:00 a.m., Community Center 

Saturday, Jan. 26th 
Pickstown, Legislative Cracker Barrel,
11:15 a.m., Abby's Convenience Store
Saturday, Jan. 26th 
Platte Legislative Cracker Barrel,
2:00 -3:00 p.m. , Dutch Oven Bakery 

Saturday, Jan. 26th
Gregory Legislative Meet and Greet,
4 p.m., Dayspring Coffee Co.,   524 Main St

Saturday, , Jan. 26th
Winner Legislative Meet and Greet
West River Tap, 5:30 p.m. ,  845 W Second St

Saturday, February 2nd, 
 Rapid City Legislative Cracker Barrel
9-11 a.m. Wester Dakota Tech Event Center

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019 
Sturgis Legislative Cracker Barrel
 9 a.m., Erskine Building, 1300 Sherman St

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019 
Belle Fourche Legislative Cracker Barrel
1 p.m. , Garp's Burgers, 12 National St

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019 
Spearfish Legislative Cracker Barrel
9 to 10 a.m, In the Joy Center on the Black Hills State University campus 

Saturday, February 9th, 2019   
Newell Legislative Cracker Barrel
10 am Newell City Hall 101 E Third St

Saturday, February 9th, 2019 
Piedmont Legislative Cracker Barrel
1:30 p.m., Piedmont Valley American Legion Post 101 Pine St

Foothills Area Cracker Barrel will be Saturday, February 9th, 2019 from 1:30 to 4 pm at the Piedmont Valley American Legion Post. PHAS co-sponsors this Cracker Barrel
The Cracker Barrel, is a question and answer session with panel of legislators that represent Foothills Area: Districts 33 and 29. The public is invited.
For Questions contact Kim Anderson - (605) 787-5886 or nhiding (at) 

The Post is located at 101 Pine Street and is at the intersection of Pine and Sturgis Road (North First St). It is on the southeast side of the town of Piedmont, travel about a half mile northwest of exit 46 (Elk Creek Rd Exit) on Sturgis Rd.

Saturday, February 9th, 2019 
Custer Legislative Cracker Barrel
1:30 p.m.  Senior Center, 538 Mt. Rushmore Rd

Saturday, February 9th, 2019 
 Hill City Legislative Cracker Barrel
4 p.m., Super 8 Conference Room, 109 E Main St

Saturday, February 9th
Pierre Legislative Cracker Barrel,
10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Pierre Area Chamber of Commerce

Saturday, February 16,
Chamberlain Legislative Cracker Barrel
1:00 p.m., Community Center

Saturday, February 16,
Rapid City Legislative Cracker Barrel
 9-11 a.m., South Dakota School of Mines & Technology Classroom Building

Saturday, March 2,
Rapid City Legislative Cracker Barrel
 9-11 a.m., Western Dakota Tech Event Center

March 2nd,
Deadwood Legislative Cracker Barrel
9:00 a.m., Deadwood Visitor Center



Pennington County Comprehensive Public Review Draft Plan
is up on Pennington County web site for review -
 The plan was to have the first hearing January 28, 2019 –  It has to go before the Planning as an agenda item.  Planning Commission will review it  first, before County Commission.
Link to web page and draft Plan.


"The Public Review Draft of the Pennington County Comprehensive Plan View to 2040 is now available for download. Input may be provided via this website by clicking on the green “Comments” tab on the right [of County's web page] or by emailing the County's Project Manager, P.J. Conover at pj.conover (at)"
Postal mail address is: 
PJ Conover, Planning Department, 130 Kansas City St., Suite 200 Rapid City, SD 57701

This review was continued

Jan 28th the Comprehensive plan was on the Planning Commission agenda & discussed.
Future dates
Feb 25th - 9 am, start time of 
Pennington County Planning Commission Reviews Comprehensive Plan, 

check the agenda for what time the Plan will be discussed.
March 11th, 9 am start time of
Planning Commission Reviews Comprehensive Plan, 
check the agenda for what time the Plan will be discussed.
Show up and address verbal concerns or you can type up a word document and send to PJ Conover,>>>>

Board of Commissioners will be meeting on March 19th at 10 am and  April 2nd &16th at 10 am...We don't know yet when PCC will be going over to them (I.e. when Planning Commission sends to full Commission -- the Commission needs 10 days notice in the paper)  so theoretically, it could be a Tuesday in March or April or a special meeting, or later in watch March and April.

February 20th

Game, Fish and Parks Fisheries Plans Available for Public Comment
South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) has prepared draft fisheries management area plans for 2019 – 2023. Plans are available for public review and comment until Feb. 20, 2019.
The plans cover fisheries management in the Southeast, Northeast, West River, and Missouri River portions of the state. The plan for the Black Hills is currently being revised and will be available for review and comment later this year. Management objectives and priorities contained in the plans will be used to guide fisheries management efforts for the next five years.
The draft plans and a summary of each can be viewed online at under “Plans Up for Revision.” A hard copy of each plan is available and can be requested by emailing or calling 605.223.7660.
Comments can be submitted online at or mailed to 523 E. Capitol Ave Pierre, SD 57501. 

Feb. 25th
Deadline to file - intervene on TransCanada's (Keystone XL) 3 Water Permit Applications
Petitions due to Water Management Board (SD DENR). 
3 applications, to appropriate from Cheyenne, White & Bad Rivers respectively.
A petition about the application(s) filed by an interested person by February 25, 2019.
The Water Management Board will consider these applications at 1:00 PM on Wednesday, March 6, 2019, Training Center, Joe Foss Building, 523 E. Capitol Ave. Pierre SD. The hearing may continue on Thursday, March 7, 2019, if necessary to complete testimony.
Hearing may also be postponed at request of petitioner(s).
Here is the web  link to hearing notice -DENR Keystone XL water applications 
Feb 25th - 9 am, start time of 
Pennington County Planning Commission Reviews Comprehensive Plan, 
check the agenda for what time the Plan will be discussed.
RCJ article about

Appl. No.
Water Source
Type of Use
Petition Deadline
TransCanada Keystone Pipeline LP, c/o Gayle Konik, Environmental Manager, US, Houston TX
White River
Industrial (multiple uses)
TransCanada Keystone Pipeline LP, c/o Gayle Konik, Environmental Manager, US, Houston TX
Bad River
Industrial (multiple uses)
TransCanada Keystone Pipeline LP, c/o Gayle Konik, Environmental Manager, US, Houston TX
Cheyenne River
Industrial (multiple uses)
February 28th-March 1st
SDGFP Commission meeting
RedRossa Convention Center 
at 808 West Sioux Avenue in Pierre
March 15th
The 17th annual Black Hills Area Botany & Ecology Workshop (BHABEW) will be Friday, March 15, 2019, at the SD Game, Fish & Parks' Outdoor Campus West in Rapid City.  

The call for contributed presentations and posters is now open.  Deadline to apply to present a talk or poster on any Black Hills area ecology or botany topic, is February 15, 2019... If interested please contact Amy, asymstad (at) usgs.gov605-745-1191

April 4-5
SDGFP Commission meeting
Outdoor Campus West at 4130 Adventure Trail in Rapid City

May 2-3
SDGFP Commission meeting
Creekside Lodge at US Hwy 16A in Custer State Park

Croell Sand Gravel Mine Application (new application)
Planning Commission 
 Jan 8th hearing Pennington Cty Planning Commission was postponed. While no reason was given, it is suspected that the delay was requested because of current litigation about Pennington's Sand/Gravel Ordinances, that is waiting on appeal to the South Dakota Supreme Court.
  The lower court found against the Ordinance, the County appealed.
Pennington County Planning Commission Hearing, 

Pennington Cty Commission 
Jan 16th hearing before Pennington Cty Commission was postponed. 
on Croell Sand Gravel Mine Application (new application)

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

They are making a new web page, that we don't have the link to yet.
We copied the Black Hills Concerned Citizens  6 page Alert on the issue 

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

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

Below find an alert on the matter from
Black Hills Concerned Citizens
Contact Duane Abata for more information


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

Mineral exploration has started 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. 

For information about the Custer-Gallatin Forest Plan Revision effort;

For maps from the Forest Plan Revision effort visit

 The Sioux Ranger District is comprised of 175,660 acres located on 8 separate land units. They are mesas/tablelands in NW South Dakota & SE Montana that arise several hundred meters above the surrounding grasslands.  They have miles of steep cliffs of Fort Union sandstone and White River group (volcanic ash); geology which provide plentiful ledges, crevices, and small caves for nesting birds, especially raptors.The Sioux District is one of the seven ranger districts of the Custer Gallatin National Forest.  

For information the Sioux Ranger District:

Custer National Forest in SD is designated as an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society.

Pigeon Hawk by J.J. Audubon

April 21st & 28th
Custer Gallatin National Forest Plan Revision 
 Meetings on Alternatives
The FS Meetings are in Montana

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 Forest received just over 10,500 letters and are working through individual comments.  Comments submitted help to create the range of alternatives for April public meetings, with a DEIS expected out in the fall of 2018.

Options for feedback & commenting included: 
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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



about 3,500  valid signatures were needed, gathered in 20 days.
.However some individuals sued the County, due to irregularities in public notice of Ordinance.
They won in the District Court and it was appealed by the County to the Supreme Court, so
the fate of the new Ordinance rewrite is uncertain.

A referendum of the ordinance amendment was being organized by Black Hills Concerned Citzens (BHCC),  a group that has been fighting the expansion of a mine (Croell) 
near Highway 16 between Rapid City and Hill City. 

Prairie Hills Audubon Society, the Rapid City Chapter of the Izaak Walton League 
and the Clean Water Alliance supported the referral.
Discussion on this potential referendum has occurred at various environmental group meetings in March and petitions handed out. The Ordinance provides inadequate protection to the public & environment from impacts of mining. Of special concern are the pre-existing mines and how they will be grandfathered in, with inadequate regulation. BHCC wrote Wednesday" 
"We did not file the petitions today at 5 pm because we did not have a sufficient number of signatures.
We are exploring other options and we will keep you informed as they unfold."

  -On Tuesday, February 27th 
Pennington County Board of Commissioners 
Commissioners voted to approve the Ordinance Rewrite:

Pennington County Mine Ordinance Revision -  
Immediately Below is a Report on Progress Pennington County Actions,
scroll down for problems list

Past action 

Pennington's Board of County  Commissioners completed the Pennington County's revision of it's mine permitting ordinance,  on February 27th.
 SD law requires two readings of ordinances -- hearings were held by the Board of County Commissioners on February 6th, the 13th, 20th, 23rd and 27th The public was given 3 minutes each to testify at some of these meetings.
On February 13th, they  decided to create a new committee to review  an improved ordinance amendment on "hard rock" or "mineral mining". The County will consider how to structure committee and who to appoint to it later.

The final  version of the ordinance amendment, was published in the paper (RCJ) on the 7th.
The link to the publication in the Journal- proving published
 (they don’t put all pages online, this just shows the end of the minutes.)

It can be fully downloaded via the February 27th minutes of the Commission

Contact - Hennies Holli <hollih (at)> 605-394-2171 for the final version of the  ordinance re-write
Written comments for the Pennington County Commission should be submitted to Holli.

Process Background: 

There is a moratorium on issuing new mining permits in Pennington while a revision of it's Ordinance was being done.   That moratorium will expire  April 5th, 2018. 

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 make it easier for folks in Pennington County to learn about and to attend a hearing and comment on future mine applications at the County level.  The existing mine ordinance section is one paragraph & the SD Supreme Court allowed the County to reject a mine application based on that paragraph & related parts of the County's Zoning Ordinance.  The Ordinance rewrite expands the length of mining ordinance section to about 20 pages of text, although much of that text merely repeats regulations of state and federal agencies (thus it is often just indexing the existing regulatory status quo).  The current paragraph about mine permits and the 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 was to only be applied to sand and gravel mines, while revoking the existing paragraph.   2 new paragraphs were quickly added, last minute to apply the ordinance rewrite to hard rock  (mineral) mining.  This was better than no jurisdiction, however more work will need to be done in the future on a better mining ordinance that fully addresses the issues associated with "hard rock" minerals (mineral mining), which can be different.

Rapid City Journal Editorial on the draft Ordinance

During hearing on the Ordinance rewriting, we won improvement on some issues, but lost a lot also.
Via all the Commission days of hearings, we got better mechanics/process for the public notice and hearings for future mines. But the substantive guts - the parts on regulation/mitigation of the harm from future mines - did not improve enough between draft and final version.
The Ordinance was written with heavy influence from mining industry and is is substantially a laundry list of rules and laws they already have to comply with anyway, thus the public gains little in terms of new regulation of future minesThe County gained some enforcement tools to help it enforce it's ordinance. It is unclear, at least to me, if County has discretion to add new conditions to address additional concerns or reject mines for issues not on the Ordinance's "laundry list",  especially for environmental issues. 

This was a bad outcome for existing mines.  A subset of the "laundry list"  of rules/laws is applied to existing mines.    Sand/gravel mines as licensed by the State, can be very large and include multiple disjunct large pieces of land, where current mining is far away from future disjunct expansion.  All existing licensed mine parcels will become grandfathered in mines, nominally called -  "non-conforming uses", with automatic approval if mines submit various data describing their mine,  to County in 180 days.  They don't need a permit pursuant to the Ordinance, so their permit can't be revoked for non-compliance.  The County has an option to ask for an additional County bond for sand/gravel mines and the mines must give the County a copy of a reclamation plan . Existing mine section is inadequate & the"poison pill" to this Ordinance.

Results on PHAS Talking Points:

1) All commercial mining in Pennington County should require approval via conditional use permits.
 We won on this, sort of - but it was sort of a last minute change due to a  technicality. It is not well written to create clear conditions that protect the quality of existing neighborhoods from future mines
2) The  County Board of Commissioners should give the final approval of all mining permits
 (Thus no appeal to County Board of Commissioners
 is needed to get application before them, as they automatically review it.)
 We won on this for future mines,
3)  We object to the requirement that the County Commission needs an appeal from public to review application. We object to limiting appeal rights to limited types of persons.   
Why can't general taxpayers in the County who pay for county costs, appeal?
We won on this, for future minesas Board decides - thus no need to appeal.
4) Longer advanced notice of hearings is needed - such as 45 day notice & longer time to file appeals - 20-30 days, if one is required. They need to look at the cumulative time the public has had to study the mine application and related law, between the public first learn about a pending mine and are arguing about it's approval before the Commission. 
No need for longer appeal time, as Board makes final decision (no appeal needed)...30 days written notice mailed to residents within a half mine and some tribes is a win. So a partial win for future minesBut the -  at least 17 days notice in newspaper of hearing-  remains totally inadequate for notice in newspapers.
  5) A 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.
  Allocation of discretion to Commission for future mines seems vague and we are not sure how it would/could be enforced. We are not sure how the Commission can ask for more than the explicit requirements in 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". 
 The limits on who can request a renewal hearing are way too narrow.
For future mines, there is a renewal hearing and the public gets notice of renewal hearing, like they do of the first application. The County can deny renewal if the mine failed to comply with the ordinance, or continued operation poses a threat to public health, safety, or general welfare.
7)   Setbacks should be greater than 300 feet, we suggest a minimum of 500 ft, with flexibility on buffer size  - buffer should be greater, depending on local conditions.
For future mines, this is still  basically a problem - it now says the set backs will be "at least" 300 feet. The words "at least" were added. The burden to get a larger setback rests with the public, who must be watching,  show up and force the issue.
8)  Better protections from sound impacts are needed. Better protection for historical, cultural & biodiversity resources are needed. Better protection from impacts to roads in the county is needed - The Commissioners need discretion on this issue.
For future mines, this is still a problem - it was not fixed.
9) The "purpose" needs better language  so as to protect the environment.
For future mines,This is still a problem, it was not fixed
10) Folks were arguing how to integrate old "grandfathered in" mines that were that were permitted by Pennington after Pennington started permitting construction or mines, but before this ordinance rewrite. At issue is  -- what is permissible mine "expansion" under the old permit and/or state license and what "expansion"  triggers a new permit application for older mines. This relates to legal controversy,  not yet decided by  SD Courts on "diminishing assets". Pennington has 194 existing sand/gravel mines. We don't know how many "mineral mines".  PHAS wants older mines to come under better regulation as soon as possible.
Grandfathered in mines, aren't given enough oversight, they are expected to comply with some environmental laws via Ordinance, but most of those they had to comply with already under other laws (not the ordinance) & unfortunately there is no process to deny, mitigate, punish or revoke, thus all compliance language is meaningless.  Grandfathered in mines remains an extreme problem. Ordinance allows County the option to ask for a county bond for existing sand/gravel mines. Thus the Croell sand/gravel mine expansion will be rubber stamped.
11) 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" (mineral 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.  Applying Sand and Gravel mine rules won't fit over all these processed. Inserting two paragraphs is better than nothing, but more work is needed on the mineral mining section. Then potential for a mine application filed by Mineral Mountain Resources before Pennington has a decent revision, makes this inadequacy even more scary.
This is still a problem -- the two paragraph "stop gap measure" still needs work. The Ordinance will be problematic when applied to some future "mineral" mine types.


How to navigate Planning Actions at Pennington County

Planning Commission link:
Public Notice link
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, has a copy of the final and earlier versions, that she can send you.



Marsh Wren. - painting by JJ Audubon

PAST EVENTS - for current events, scroll up.

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

Link to GFP Discussion of "Progress Update"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Link to SDPB recording of special session:

Media article on session


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.

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

PHAS opposed the proposed bill...

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

We suggest folks oppose the 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 in the summer:

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

SD Wildlife Federation's letter on the proposed bill

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  had 4 meetings of the Committee  - 
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 had an emergency clause on the bill, so it needed 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."

  A biennial report on SD mountain lions can be found at  This document will provide more recent mountain lion data than what is found in the current SDGFP management plan.  This report can be found at the bottom of the mountain lion webpage at

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

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017
GFP Was Seeking Comments on Current Mountain Lion Management Plan
PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) was seeking comments on the 2010-2015 mountain lion management plan ,prior to drafting the next management plan. 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:

OUR 13 Talking Points on the Mountain Lion Plan, have been temporarily deleted due to lack of space on this home page.
We will return the text when we have space again.
to get a copy...ask Nancy 605-787-6466 or nhilshat (at) rapid

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 is a sample slides.

Cougar population in the SD side of the Black Hills

Denise has mapped data from the SD GFP Mortality data spreadsheets.  


Up to date as of June 2018,- this is a simple map,. 
this will be updated to Sept 2018 soon.
Older version , with layers
This Interactive GIS map has different layers and shows mortality in layers,sorted by type of death or sex of dead lion. You need to go to the upper right hand corner and see the various layers available. 



October 30th Comment Deadline

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

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

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

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

Norbeck Society's
Black Hills Group Sierra Club

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

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

This is the beginning of a PHAS alert on this Project


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Endangered Species -
 petitions to list under Endangered Species Act

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

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

American Burying Beetle Photo - Lindsay Vivian,
On August 18, 2015, the Service received a petition from the American Stewards of Liberty, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and Dr. Steven W. Carothers to delist the American burying beetle (which is currently protected under the Endangered Species Act & can be found in SD). 
         In response to the petition, the Service will be publishing a substantial 90-day finding, which is the first step in determining whether or not the American burying beetle should be delisted.
         The Service was requesting additional scientific and commercial data on the American burying beetle. 

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



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

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



a subset of a National Audubon Society Nationwideprogram

More details on PHAS web page


Comment Period IS OVER
U.S Army Corps of Engineers Missouri River Recovery Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement 
A new plan that will affect how the Missouri River is managed for year to come was 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 2016.

Documents available at 



Announce litigation


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

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

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

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

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

The BLM had 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 had been extended to December 1, 2017.  
For more info.:

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

 Changed to January 19th,
It was Jan 5th 2018,
Deadline was 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.
Comments concerning the scope of the analysis on potential amendments to Forest Service (FS) Land and Resource Management Plans on greater sage grouse management, must have been received by January 19, 2018. There will be a second opportunity to comment later once amendments are created by FS.

 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.

We suggest people support of the Obama era protections, or support  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

(OUT-OF-DATE alert) 

Deadline Past: January 15, 2016

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

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

 Defenders of the Black Hills had requested a hearing. There was a teleconference hearing in 2016, RER asked for process to be put on hold due to lack of funds.  Last we knew this review & licensing process was suspended at request of Company.
for info. on that process;

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

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

Proposed Rare Earth Open Pit Mine 
North of Sundance, Wyoming

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

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

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

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

Discussion of issue as declared during scoping:

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

As the mine will be on FS land, an Environmental Impact Statement must be written.  The Forest Service has released the Draft EIS, you may read it and comment on it. The FS must respond to your questions and comments in writing in the Final EIS. 
DEQ review is also suspended at request of  Rare Element Resources. 
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality had been reviewing an mining permit application for mine, that they received June 3rd, 2015.
Other permits with Wyoming DEQ may be applied for by Company 
Contact - BJ Kristiansen, 307-675-5615, for updates, bj.kristiansen (at)


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