Sunday, February 22, 2015

Item # 2, Events/Deadlines

1. Events & Deadlines & Alerts in April 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) Updates on PHAS's greater Sage grouse litigation 
 4.) then specific events in chronological order

              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

Monday June 17th
The next PHAS meeting is Monday, June 17th, 2019
PHAS meeting on trapping reform & nest predator bounty program
Central States Fair Office Building in the conference room, 800 San Francisco Street (in SW area of Fairgrounds),
 6:15 pm, 6/17/19. The major focus of the meeting will be to discuss reform of SD's trapping regulations, such as ending the nest predator bounty program, but other needed reforms to SD trapping rules/law will be discussed and strategies to achieve such. We will also discuss GFP's mountain lion management plan revision, which is expected to be released for public comment in July. We may discuss other PHAS campaigns and/or other SD environmental issues, if trapping & cougar discussions are exhausted before attendance dissolves.  This will be a working meeting, where we discuss what needs to be done.  All folks interested in trapping reform in SD are welcome. Remote folks can attend by speaker phone or maybe Skype, if they ask in advance. Nancy 787-6466.

We used to have membership  meetings on the 4th Thursday at OCW, (except during summer)
 but this would 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  co-hosted a cracker barrel in Piedmont on second Saturday in February 
 (thus no monthly meeting in February). We had no meeting in March, and we had no meeting in April, except we had 
 an Earth Day booth at Earth Day fair 4/27th
We  had an Endangered Species Day event on the 3rd Friday in May  (4/17 at OCW) and a field trip to La Creek NWR in early May. (May 4th).
We had a lunch meeting on trapping reform, Thursday May 30th.

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: Cheryl Rowe: <cherylr (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,
at - SDSMT, Classroom Bldg., Faculty Lounge  or Outdoor Campus West at 5:45 pm
Monthly meetings may be skipped in the summer.
Meeting on May 9th, 2019 is Dan Licht speaking about bats.
for info: Bob Burns < (at)>,787-4783,
SD Chapter of Citizen's Climate Lobby meets the 4th Tuesday of each month at Outdoor Campus West at 6:30 pm, in Rapid City   For info: Mary Deibert,  rmdeibert (at), 605-484-5790.
Clean Water Alliance normally meets the second Saturday
at 10:00 am 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, 
Sierra Club is having an upcoming meeting on the American Dipper, May 23rd, 2019, at the Outdoor Campus West in Rapid City from 7:00 to 8:30 pm, Nancy Drilling speaker
We shelter e-mail addresses by replacing @ with (at) 


SPECIFIC EVENTS LIST February & onward
scroll down for legislative session


March 2019 & ONWARD


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

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

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

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

Photo of Sage Grouse, copyright Dan Licht

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

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

For Immediate Release, April 22, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Recent News article on this injunction request.


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 in July 1st with a 30 day public comment period
The revision is to be presented at the Sept. 5th/6th GFP Commission meeting, in Spearfish and adopted at the Oct 3rd/4th GFP Commission meeting in Oacoma, along with the new hunting season limits
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.
Scroll down to June 19th for Nebraska lion alert


Scroll down for alert on the nest predator bounty program approved by GFP in spring.


April 15th, 2019, was a Comment Deadline

The Trump Administration’s revised Waters of the United States rule would shrink the number of waterways protected under the Clean Water Act.

Link to NAS web site on this issue:

Here is the EPA press release:


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


MAY 8th & 10th Hearings
Croell Sand Gravel Mine Application (new application)

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

This application was to have been considered under the old Ordinance 507A and 507B existing before March 2018 as well as the current Ordinance 320 passed on or about March 28, 2018
Notes 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)
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.

May 15th-June 15th

  Citizen Science 
Time Interval for helping with 2019 Climate Watch

Audubon’s Birds and Climate Change Report predicts that over half of North American bird species will lose more  than 50 percent of their current climatic range by 2080. To test these predictions, Audubon is running the new citizen and community science project Climate Watch.
Climate Watch aims to document species’ responses to climate change by having volunteers in the field look for birds where Audubon’s climate models project they should be in the 2020s.

Like the Christmas Bird Count, birders help the National Audubon Society (NAS) collect data on birds...Only this one means you bird in warm June... not cold winter.  Birding occurs at 12 points in a 10 kilometer square area. Each volunteer chooses one or more small circle(s) within the square area from a grid supplied by the NAS.  Volunteer(s) needs to bird for  5 minutes at one or more of 12 points (small circles) and collect data on all birds seen and someone must  send the data into NAS.   NAS is trying to understand climate changes effects to birds better.

 This year the focus is Climate Watch focuses on these species: Eastern Bluebird, Mountain Bluebird, Western Bluebird, White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Pygmy Nuthatch, American Goldfinch, Lesser Goldfinch, Painted Bunting, Eastern Towhee, and Spotted Towhee.  So local birders need to chose the good birding sites for these birds in their adopted 10 square kilometer area part of the grid.  It is suggested that next June (2020) the same 10 kilometer square grid sections are visited again.. but not  mandatory. Birders can share a 10 mile square kilometer part of the grid and each birder(s) set can adopt one or more points (small circles). As information is eventually submitted via e-bird software, it is much easier to do, if folks chose a 10 square kilometer area with good cell phone reception or dependable reception for GPS devices.  Scroll down for a map of the grid in the western SD/Black Hills region. To learn more visit:



Thursday, May 23rd
(scroll down to June 3rd deadline for update on Alert)

There was an opportunity to comment before 23rd in opposition to  decisions by SD Game, Fish and Parks Commission  (SD GFPC) on the nest predator bounty program, recently initiated by SDGFP. 
If you don't want to read this long alert, go to HSUS Facebook page for a simple letter to send in, except now you need to send it directly to Commissioners individual e-mails (not submit on-line) before Thursday morning. 
Simple HSUS Alert (no longer posted)
PHAS Facebook Page also has info on this.

Commissioner's e-mails


SD Game, Fish and Parks  recently initiated a nest predator bounty program.

 However, the legislative Interim Rules Review Committee failed to concur with GFP Commission's rule making on this program & sent recently adopted rules back to the Commission - There is a special meeting on Thursday, 5/23/19, 7 am MT, which we can attend at 4 conference locations in SD, including Outdoor Campus West & testify. We can send in opposition comments via on-line portal Monday night, or by e-mail to individual commissioners up to beginning of the meeting. We can object to the increase in the length of the trapping season on public land by 4 months  (May 1st season endpoint changed to August 31st endpoint). thus reducing the impact of the program on public lands and public right-of-ways.

 In April SD GFP allocated a half million dollar to bounties, for the killing of raccoons, opossums, striped skunks, red foxes and badgers, at a rate of $10 per tail. This will end 8/31/19 or when funds spent, which ever first. This is alleged to be to promote pheasants and ducks in SD by killing those predators that eat their eggs/young. The GFP also will be spending at least 800-900 thousand dollars on live traps, which it will give away. This cost could add up to almost 2,5% of SD GFP wildlife division budget.  This program was initiated primarily by administrative decision, without public comment before decisions were made, with very poor transparency to the public. 

 PHAS does not support the killing of native predators to maximize prey species for humans to then kill, especially pheasants, which are an exotic species from Asia.  We don't believe this predator killing program will be effective as designed & protection of habitat would be better & also help other species.  However in some places pheasants compete with SD's rare greater prairie chickens & sometimes the addition of a shelter belt can fragment some grassland habitats of west river's northern plains ecoregion. 

For statements that predator control won't work well in large areas visit these links: We refer you to Pheasants Forever & ducks Unlimited web pages on predator control and pheasants/ducks.
Also see page 11 of SDGFP Pheasant Management Plan, the section on predators:
"Where predator control may be considered as a management option, managers should be aware that cost, logistics, and lack of effectiveness often limit success when compared to habitat management."

Some trappers will be trapping with leg-hold traps or snares, or body crushing traps. Some will use the live traps.   People should also realize that in SD west river the trap check time is 3 and a partial day and east river the trap check time is 2 and a partial day. Trapping can be cruel.  In high heat, an animal in a box can die in half a day. Animals in boxes or leg-hold traps can freak out and damage their bodies and/or teeth & thus not survive even if released. Animals in boxes or traps can't feed their dependent children. Via a "live trap" non-target species adults and their dependent young will die, in addition to target species. This may include endangered and threatened species.

 The swift fox is listed under SD threatened & endangered species law.:
There is a petition before the USFWS to list the plains spotted skunk and the prairie grey fox under the Endangered Species Act.

People should also realize that there is plague in western SD. Plague is spread by fleas often carried on rodents, which these small predators might eat. SD's bounty program will be removing some of the rodent's predators.

While the Commission will consider the extension of length of trapping season on public land on Thursday, (May 1st season endpoint changed to August 31st) the Interim Rules Review Committee also sent back the rule about bounty hunters sending in an affirmation, not an affidavit, in order to collect bounties. That may be before the Commission again in the future we this trapping bounty program commenting is not over. If this passes the Commission, one can still comment again to the Interim Rules Review Committee, as they again review whatever the Commission does (or doesn't do) on Thursday.

PHAS has long had a campaign to ask for trapping reform in SD, including to ask for trapper IDs on all traps and for a reduction of the trap-check time to  24 hours, from the current time of 3 and a partial day west river and 2 and a partial day east river.  In addition to objecting to the bounty program,  people should ask for 24 hour trap check times & trapper IDs on the traps in SD. 

If bounty trapping is occurring on  public land, such as the Forest Service or BLM, we can always contact those agencies and ask them to close their land to trapping.

Commenting to SD GFP:

To get  the GFP staff to send your comment to the Commission use  web link - before midnight CT Monday
To send your comments directly yourself (anytime) - there are 8 Commissioners:

GFP notice on special meeting - gives 4 locations of meeting & agenda:

 For more info on this issue:

There is a Facebook page created to end the program: 

Both HSUS and SD FACT are continuing to battle the bounty program - primarily through social media so you can find info at:

Interim Rules Review Committee hearing on this. Starting at 1:21, a member of the GFP staff explains the rules brought forward


Thursday, May 30th
PHAS late May meeting is a lunch at Hana's Restaurant, 3550 Sturgis Road, Rapid City, from 11:30-2:30, Thursday, May 30th in the banquet room.
The major focus of the meeting will be to discuss reform of SD's trapping regulations, including the nest predator bounty program, but other reforms to SD trapping rules/law will be discussed and strategies to achieve such. We may also discuss other PHAS campaigns, if trapping discussion is exhausted before attendance dissolves. This will be part social for folks to meet each other, but also a working meeting, where we discuss what needs to be done. (Next meeting June 17th)


Deadline - June 3rd, 2019, Monday
SD Interim Rules Review Committee (IRRC) Meeting.
UPDATE - IRRC voted 5 to 1, to pass the amended rule forward. It will be published & in force around May 26th.

This is another opportunity to try to mitigate the impacts of the Nest Predator Bounty program.

Photo by David Menke - Public Domain,
PHAS asks you to e-mail or call IRRC members to object to the SDGFP nest predator bounty program. One can send comment letters to IRRC's staff at -, 
so he has a copy, but Doug will not forward your letter to the 6 legislators on the Committee.
Please send your letters directly to and/or call the IRRC members:
Nancy Hilding will be driving to Pierre to testify at Committee meeting, if anyone wants to car pool. Nancy will need to leave Rapid City at 5:00 or 5:30 am. The hearing starts at 10:00 am CT.

No rule passed by a SD agency is law in SD until the The Interim Rules Review Committee (IRRC) approves it & Secretary of State publishes it 20 days later. On May 6th, 2019, the IRRC rejected the two rules relative to trapping and the predator nest bounty program that SDGFP Commission had formerly passed in early April.  THANKS TO ALL WHO WROTE THEM! These rules could never have been law and legally used by GFP before May 26th at the very earliest.  The IRRC sent the rules back to SDGFP for reconsideration, so they were never ever made law.
To listen to the IRRC discussion visit this link & to skip unrelated audio, scroll audio forward & start listening at 1:21

GFP Commission on Thursday May 23rd, reconsidered one of the problem rules -- the one that extended the  trapping season by 4 months (beyond May 1st to August 31st) on public land and public right-of-ways.  They amended it by restricting the type of traps that may be used during the time extension. Thus if the IRRC accepts this change,  trappers in SD can catch animals on SD public land and right of ways using live traps, but not leg holding traps or snare or body crushing traps. This new trapping period would last from about June 23rd to August 31st. This is an improvement, but not adequate.   THANKS TO ALL WHO WROTE THE COMMISSION ALSO! 

The IRRC will meet again on June 3rd, review the proposed rule amendment to see if that change adequately mitigates the IRRC objections.  
We (PHAS) continue to object to the trapping season time extension and while the 5/23/19 changes offered by the Commission is mitigation, it also remains inadequate to us, as we object to the "nest predator" bounty program entirely & also object to any extra time given to trap any animal, in spring/summer when many parents raising young.
This also remains inadequate as SD allows for 3 and a partial day trap check time west river & 2 and a partial day trap check times east river.  A "full calendar day" is midnight to midnight.
Technically due to a very poorly written rule,  in SD the trap check time west river is 3and a partial day,  and east river it is 2 and a partial day.
 In the summer in high heat an animal can die in a trap in half a day.
Wild animals trapped in boxes can freak out & damage teeth or body parts. Mothers in "live traps" are kept from nursing or feeding dependent young. May-August is the season many wildlife raise children.  So trapper, does not just kill the mom, but the kids may die slowly also.  Animals in traps don't have access to food or water & can die from exposure. In high summer heat, traps need checking at least twice a day, as heat & lack of water can kill. Target, non-target animals & either's dependent young can suffer cruel deaths. With excessively long trap check times, SD trapping program was always was inhumane, even if "live traps" are used. 
Link to hand-outs by Nancy Hilding to the IRRC meeting:

SD GFP spin on their "live trap" give away and nest predator bounty program,  is that they are teaching families and kids to enjoy trapping and the outdoors. We are using public dollars, to be spent on public land to teach families and children that in-humane treatment of wildlife is both accepted, paid for & promoted by the state.

 The  Commission on Thursday May 23rd was asked to shorten trap check times, but decided not to do so.
Many small mammals in SD don't have a season past May 1st. The animals this would apply to are the 5 on the "nest predator bounty" list - red fox, striped skunk, badger, opossum, raccoon. But it would also apply to other wildlife with year round seasons: west river muskrat, grey fox, spotted skunk, jackrabbit, coyote, ground squirrel, gopher, porcupine, marmot.  

Other domestic animals and wildlife, for which there is no current season will likely be accidentally trapped. A petition has been submitted to the USFWS to list our regions spotted skunk & grey fox under the Endangered Species Act.  The swift fox, is listed as threatened and black-footed ferret as endangered under SD's Threatened & Endangered Species act. The black footed ferret is listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

For more information on the nest predator bounty program, visit our web site's home page:

We refer you to Bornfree web site to spreadsheets to see how badly SD trapping rules compare with other states &  how desperately we need reform. SD's overall score for 2017 s an "F". There are 2017 and 2012 scorecards to download & look at:
It is a damaged, in-humane trapping program & trapping ethics that we are spending public dollars to teach & promote to our children. Please help us reform this. Please learn about SD's trapping program & communicate to legislators, our governor, SDGFP Commission & GFP's Secretary.

We refer you to Pheasants Forever & ducks Unlimited web pages on predator control and pheasants/ducks.

Also see page 11 of SDGFP Pheasant Management Plan, the section on predators

On-line commenting to SDGFP Commission
Secretary Helper,

To view SD Trapping rules - click button on upper left. to download the entire "article in MSW format"

Other actions to reform trapping will be planned, so this is not the last opportunity to seek change or to seek an end to the nest predator bounty program.

May 29, 2019 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. MST
Open House Meeting for
 Belle Fourche Reservoir Resource Management Plan
GFP/BOR Open House Meeting
Location: Belle Fourche Community Hall

The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and South Dakota Game Fish and Parks (GFP) will be hosting an open house meeting on Wednesday, May 29, at the Belle Fourche Community Hall from 5:00-8:00 p.m. MDT. The meeting will be held at 512 6th Avenue, Belle Fourche, SD.

The public is invited to the open house to visit with staff, provide comments, view maps, provide input on options, and help name roads around the Belle Fourche Reservoir. Reclamation, in cooperation with GFP, is working on the Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the Reservoir. The RMP will be the blueprint for future management and development at Belle Fourche Reservoir.
For more information or to comment - please contact Jay Leasure at 605-519-5504,,
Jay Leasure, Bureau of Reclamation, 515 9th Street, Room 101Rapid City, SD 57701
Here is a pdf on this to download:

June 6th/7th
SDGFP Commission meeting

Thursday June 6th
Comment Deadline, just before midnight MT 6/6/19
Custer Gallatin National Forest Plan Revision

Link to Forest Plan Revision's Core Page, links to maps & all documents found here, scroll down

Executive  Summary


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



June 13th
Court hearing in Rapid City on Kristi Noem's legislation to make protesting more difficult.
The law, among other things, made it a crime to exercise our First Amendment rights to assembly and free speech in some circumstances. The legislation was aimed at opponents of the KXL oil pipeline, but could impact anyone who voices their opinions in public places in SD. 
Explanation of Issue:
NDN Collective Inc, 317 Main St, Rapid City, SD 57701, (605) 791-3999
12:30 pm @ NDN Collective: Formal event start w/drum group, prayer, opening and bringing together by NDN Collective
1:00 pm: Walk to Federal Courthouse, 515 9th Street, from NDN Collective (5-10 minute walk)
1:15 pm @ Federal Courthouse (515 9th Street): Rally with speakers
2:15 pm @ Federal Courthouse: Closing, prayer, folks start going into courthouse and hearing room
3:00 pm-unknown: Hearing on Riot Booster case @ Federal Courthouse


June 17th
PHAS meeting on trapping reform & nest predator bounty program
Central States Fair Office Building's conference room, 800 San Francisco Street, 6:15 pm
PHAS meeting on trapping reform & nest predator bounty program
Central States Fair Office Building in the conference room, 800 San Francisco Street (in SW area of Fairgrounds), 6:15 pm
The major focus of the meeting will be to discuss reform of SD's trapping regulations, such as ending the nest predator bounty program, but other needed reforms to SD trapping rules/law will be discussed and strategies to achieve such. We will also discuss GFP's mountain lion management plan revision, which is expected to be released for public comment in July & maybe other PHAS campaigns or SD environmental issues, if trapping & cougar discussions are exhausted before attendance dissolves.  This will be a working meeting, where we discuss what needs to be done.  All folks interested in trapping reform in SD are welcome. Remote folks can attend by speaker phone & teleconference, if they ask in advance. Nancy 787-6466.

June 19th, 2019
Nebraska Mountain Lion Comment Deadline
Wednesday June 19th, at 1 pm CT is the deadline to send comments to 
the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC),
on the proposed mountain lion hunting season in the Pine Ridge area of Nebraska. 
There is a NGPC hearing in Alma, Nebraska on Friday the 21st, cougars up at 9:30 am
At: Alma Golf Coarse Clubhouse, 102 Dick Brown Memorial Drive, Alma, NE

Pine Ridge Ecosystem is in Wyoming, Nebraska & SD

The NGPC's suggested take is 8 mountain lions, 4 (or 2 females) from south unit and 4  (or 2 females) from north unit. In 2017, biologists estimated there were 59 adult lions, sub adult lions and kittens in the Pine Ridge. 
 NGP assumes similar demographics as other well studied populations, and extrapolates the # of kittens, males, females to estimate those groups. Given their most recent (2017) population estimate of 59, that would be ~20 kittens, ~24 independent females, ~15 independent males at any given time. Thus the adult/subadult population is estimated at 39 individuals. They are allowing "harvest" of 16% of the 2017 # of adult/subadult females and 20% of the 2017 # of adults/subadults.

Pursuant to research, Washington State has adopted a "harvest" rate of 12% to 16% of adults and sub-adults, as the harvest levels that result in a sustainable population. Adopting the mean value of 14% for Nebraska's Pine Ridge justifies a harvest of 5.6 cougars. At the highest value of 16%, only 6.4 cougars could be harvested, and at the lowest value of 12% only 4.8 cougars could be harvested. The Nebraska's Pine Ridge cougar habitat is more isolated than Washington State's and these percentages may need to be lower in Nebraska due to Pine Ridge population's relative isolation.

The 2019 hunt, which ran from Jan. 1 - Feb. 28th, killed 8 lions, which is aggressive enough to depress the population -- a 20% hunt  is not likely to create a stable population, but create a shrinking population.  As they still use the 2017 mt. lions estimate of 59 lions, NGP seems to be assuming the mt. lion population is stable & that they yet again in 2019 have 59 lions & can harvest 8 more. 

We want Nebraska managed as a source population to help recolonize areas to the east and south.   Because we want Pine Ridge to be a source population, we request a harvest of 4 or fewer lions.  Folks should object and state the proposed "harvest" is too high and should be reduced. 

Pine Ridge Ecosystem is in Wyoming, Nebraska & SD. In SD, the Oglala Sioux Tribe has a cougar breeding population also & a cougar hunting season

Link to article, which has more details:

HSUS has an alert:
The Mountain Lion Foundation's alert on their web site:

Send comments to:,
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, c/o Sandra Paice, Wildlife Division, 2200 North 33rd Street,, P.O. Box 30370, Lincoln NE 68503-0370

Areas in Nebraska with cougar populations

 June 24th meeting, July 8th meeting
Pennington County Planning Commission

Pennington County Comprehensive Plan -  Draft Revision
is up on Pennington County web site for review -
 The Planning Commission will review it  first, in more detail, before final approval by the 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 has been continued
You can show up and verbally comment on any part. (Or send written comments)

 (Past hearings) Jan 28th, Feb 25th, March 11th, April 22nd,   May 13,  May 28, June 10th

Future date:
June 24th and July 8th,  it will an agenda item -
 July 8 is set to be their final review and the day they make a formal recommendation to the Board. 
As Planning Commission Reviews Comprehensive Plan, 
check the agenda for what time the Plan will be discussed.
Discussion will be just a subset of the meeting, 

Show up and address verbal concerns or 

you can type up a word document as comment letter and send it to PJ Conover,>>>>

July 2nd, 2019 Deadline
American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus)

Links to USFWS page on beetle downlisting

Status: Endangered with a proposed rule to reclassify to threatened

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

The Service is proposing to downlist the American burying beetle from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act. USFWS is also proposing a 4(d) rule that would tailor ESA protections to only those the beetle needs for recovery. Publication of the proposed downlisting and 4(d) rules in the Federal Register on May 3, 2019, opens a 60-day public comment period that closes on July 2, 2019.

News Release (May 1, 2019)

The Service is requesting comments or information from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning the proposed downlisting and 4(d) rule. Comments must be received within 60 days, on or before July 2, 2019. You may submit comments by one of the following methods:

Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal. In the Search box, enter FWS–R2–ES–2018–0029, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, click on the Search button. On the resulting page, in the Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on “Comment Now!”

By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R2–ES–2018–0029, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

USFWS  requests that you send comments only by the methods described above. They will post all comments on

July 26-July 29th

National Audubon Society (NAS)
Bi-ennial Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Visit NAS web page for details

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

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



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




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. This project, may be on hold.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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