Thursday, March 25, 2021

Item #1, Index to Home page


 This page that you are on - was  the PHAS web site's home page until August 2021,  
but is now a separate google blog. 

it is last updated on 4/1/2023,  

Other PHAS internet sites are 

As of spring 2022, we have stopped adding most events (not sponsored by PHAS or NAS)  to this blog and instead we add them to the events page of our web site:

The Blog editing software misbehaves sometimes and alters the font type or font size or sometimes adds unwanted inches of space breaks and sometimes it just refuses to be fixed...sorry. I just don't understand it -- I need to learn some HTML editing skills.
Prairie Hills Audubon Society (PHAS) and our web presence  are run by a team of volunteers..

Scroll down immediately below for an index of how this "blog" is ordered..

Home page: includes 2021 & 2022 Deadlines and Events and also alerts, issue/project and current events discussions
Older posts are in "older posts" - scroll down it is red text in the lower right at the bottom above the maroon field. 
 Much older excerpts of the blog,  from 2015, 2014 and 2013 are found in blog archive which is shown as red text on a maroon background at the bottom,

Members can belong to only Prairie Hills Audubon Society or they can join both Prairie Hills Audubon Society (PHAS) and the National Audubon Society (NAS)
To join Prairie Hills Audubon Society & the National Audubon Society 
on-line - joining both at the same time go to

Our chapter code is V02, the 0 is a zero.  
If folks join the NAS directly without using this chapter link, if you live in our territory (much of western SD) you will become a member in our chapter, 
but we get no specific extra financial credit for the new membership dues.  We get a fixed grant of $565 dollars a year from the National Audubon Society and normally have about 210-230 joint members, which is about $2.50-$2.70 per member. 
Chapter only memberships are also available, for which you must mail checks to
 Prairie Hills Audubon Society, P.O. Box 788, Black Hawk, SD 57718.
Basic membership is $20, low-income is $10, scholarship memberships are available in exchange for volunteer work,
 with approval of Board in each instance.

Prairie Hills Audubon Society is a non-profit corporation and our purpose is to engage in such educational, scientific, literary, historical, charitable pursuits and purposes that will educate about, protect and restore the environment and natural heritage. All our purposes conform with the provision of Section 501c(3) of the tax code of the IRS.  The board of directors decides how the financial resources are spent, to further our mission and in compliance with the IRS requirements. 


1. Events & Deadlines & Alerts in January 2021 & forward into January/February 2022

1) Prairie Hills Audubon Society (PHAS) - the organization's events, upcoming and  historic in the recent & past year. Also recent chapter accomplishments.
2)  Then specific events in chronological order, - This is  now a historical section (EVENTS NO LONGER POSTED HERE). Non-PHAS events are now found at
This still includes the Christmas bird counts, Event notices may include written alerts on subject matter that is still relevant/active after the event & thus event/deadline notice may be left up even after the original  date has passed,  Some alerts with much older out-of-date deadlines are on the older posts page, which is another button to push. 
I have deleted older 2021 & 2022 events posts but hope to re-enter some of them eventually in a different way
3) Some  news articles
4) Some  alerts on state based issues , where there are no immediate deadlines - It has a section on timber issues in the Black Hills
5) Federal law and rule making - Info. on Federal  issues, such as  links to  NYTimes article on roll back of environmental regulations by Trump administration    (100 plus roll-backs), 
6) SD Legislature 2021 (The 2022 legislature is on the PHAS web site)


IN THE OLDER BLOG POSTING (see a button on your screen in lower right, click on it)  
OLDER ALERTS -  are in the older posts button:

1. SD River otters
2. Nest Predator Bounty Program
3. Mining
4.Greater sage grouse
A) SD Mountain Lion Plan Revision & Nebraska 2020 season revisions Alerts
B) Mineral Mountain Resources Exploration project
C) Pennington County - Croell Sand/Gravel Mine Issue
D) Non-meandered waters Alert
E) Alert on Resilient Landscape DEIS (Forest Service)
F) announcement of Petitions to list or de-list under ESA and :
G)  S3254/SB 114 (Land Trade Little Spearfish Canyon & Bismark Lake) & 
H).  SD Important Bird Areas
I)  Missouri River Recovery
J) to Sage Grouse Litigation filed by PHAS and others in February  2016
K) then goes to - suspended campaigns discussions, 


THIS BLOG IS OUT  OF DATE FOR EVENTS, go to the PHAS web site for up-to-date list of our events.

Section # 2 is on 
Prairie Hills Audubon Society  (PHAS) 
Meetings & Events, listing upcoming in 2021 
and historic meetings in 2020
Scroll past this section to get to other events that are in chronological order 

PHAS now has a Facebook page
Prairie dog photo copyright by Nancy Hilding

We schedule membership evening meetings some months...often towards later half of the month

PHAS membership meetings are scheduled at the end of the month - in the last week. The day may vary, but check here for 
events likely between the 25th-31st of any month.

PHAS schedules Zoom discussion & "working" meetings during most months that are not announced on this web page. but announcements are sent to members and friends who have expressed  past interest in some of the issues we follow - let us know if you want to be invited to "working' meetings on topics we follow.


Due to many demands on volunteer time in February 2022 - the web site is being updated more frequently than this blog
We use the same Zoom codes every month at our monthly  meetings, which are normally held within the last 7 days of the month.
Generically join our  Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 854 3392 0233
Passcode: 534620
One tap mobile
+16699006833,,85433920233#,,,,*534620# US (San Jose)
+12532158782,,85433920233#,,,,*534620# US (Tacoma)
Dial by your location (as far as I know they all work in Western SD, but you must
enter ID and passcode to gain access)
        +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
        +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
        +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
        +1 669 444 9171 US
        +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
        +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
        +1 646 931 3860 US
Meeting ID: 854 3392 0233
Passcode: 534620
Find your local number (other countries):

with Mary Zimmerman and Dave Mertz as speakers

PHAS monthly meeting - On BHNF timber issues by Zoom

This meeting will have as speakers Mary Zimmerman (volunteer from Norbeck Society) and Dave Mertz (retired forester, previously of BHNF).

In mid March the speakers traveled to Washington DC to lobby for a few days on forest related issues. They will be reporting on their trip and discussing the dramatic over-cutting of the BHNF and how to to stop that over-cutting and protect the forest’s biodiversity, scenery, outdoor recreation and other values, besides timber production.

We normally meet on a day in the last week of the month, but have moved the meeting forward a week due to speaker availability. This is a Zoom meeting.

Nancy Hilding is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: PHAS monthly meetings - April
Time: Tuesday, April 4th, 6:30 pm MT to last till no later than 9 pm 
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 854 3392 0233
Passcode: 534620

One tap mobile
+16694449171,,85433920233#,,,,*534620# US
+16699006833,,85433920233#,,,,*534620# US (San Jose)
Dial by your location (As far as we know any of these work in western SD)
        +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
        +1 719 359 4580 US
        +1 253 205 0468 US
        +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
        +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
        +1 689 278 1000 US
        +1 305 224 1968 US
        +1 309 205 3325 US
        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
Meeting ID: 854 3392 0233
Passcode: 534620
Find your local number:

February 28th, 2023 -  A PHAS Zoom evening meeting. National Audubon Society staff from Fargo, ND will present on their activities in ND and SD - see our web page for details.

February 18th, 2023. We co-sponsor a legislative cracker barrel in Piedmont SD - see our web page for details.

Christmas Bird Counts happened. See our web page for details.

Saturday, October 29, 9:30 – 1:00

Forestry Basics Field Trip – back by popular demand!

Field trip with retired BHNF Natural Resource Staff Officer, Dave Mertz 

Prairie Hills Audubon Society is again working jointly with The Norbeck Society  and the Sierra Club to sponsor a field trip to learn about Forestry. Terminology and concepts that guide forest management will be illustrated with real life examples on our forest. Think beyond the confines of your own lifetime!

Meet at 9:30 at the gravel parking lot along Hwy 385 immediately south of the admissions gate to Crazy Horse. We will caravan from there and visit approximately 4 or 5 stops. 

Bring water and snacks.

Please RSVP to Nancy at or 605-787-6466

Recent Past Events


Prairie Hills Audubon Society July, 2022 meeting

Jointly sponsored with Black Hills Group Sierra Club and Norbeck Society

Thursday, July 28th, 2022 6:30 pm

Topics: Black Hills Forest Plan Revision Assessments

Speakers: Lou Conroy and Trey Schillie

Temporary link to meeting recording on the Zoom Cloud: 

Passcode: GsV^s6g*     

Permanent link to the recording on Vimeo 

For information on BHNF Forest Plan Revision Assessments -

Conroy of BHNF, speaking on BHNF Forest Plan Revision draft Assessments,
for details:


Special Prairie Hills Audubon Monthly Meeting -  Raptor Center

Sunday August 28,2022 1:00 PM

Private tour of Black Hills Raptor Center for our Chapter. See the birds up close and personal!

Address: 15256 East Highway 44, 4 miles past Rapid City Regional Airport, north side of highway.

Drive yourself directly or meet at Ace Hardware parking lot at 12:30 (corner of Omaha and West Boulevard) to carpool.

Call Jim Petersen at (605) 939-4995 for more information.

Chapter members & friends can bring guests 
In LATE AUGUST 8/28 in the afternoon (1 pm) there will be a tour of the Black Hills Raptor Center,
contact Jim Petersen for details - jim petersen <>

NO BIRDING FIELD TRIPS currently planned  in July or August


June 4th is a field trip - we will gather at Outdoor Campus West in the morning, but destination is undecided
May 20th, 2022, 
Endangered Species Day Celebration
May 20th, 2022, by Zoom at 6:00 pm MT
We will have several speakers, at this point

Eileen Dowd Stukel - of SD Game, Fish and Parks - will discuss Recovering America's Wildlife Act (RAWA).

RAWA exists now as House and Senate bills that have made it out of committees and await scheduling for floor votes  on bills that would give a great deal of money (almost 1.4 billion /year) to state and tribal entities to work to protect "at risk" wildlife.   For more info. on RAWA by the NWF : - ,  

Melissa Smith, Govt. Relations, Great Lakes Wildlife Alliance,  Executive Director, Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf & Wildlife, Pat Clark, GLWA, Madison Audubon Chapter & Lewiston Outing Club - will speak about - wolves: “Wolves and Wildflowers"

Most wolves in the USA were delisted by the Trump administration in November 2020. But due to a February2022 court decision, they are currently re-listed under the Endangered Species Act in much of the USA (but not in the northern Rockies). Link to discussion of change: Melissa will give history of listing/delisting actions, review wolf recovery needs & also discuss wolf ecology & lives of wolves. 

Bradley Phillips - Wildlife Biologist, Black Hills National Forest, Dr. Riley F. Bernard, Ph.D.,Assistant Professor Depart. of Zoology and Physiology, University of Wyoming – Brad & Riley will speak about northern long eared bat.

The bat is at risk due to a disease - whitenose syndrome. It has been listed as threatened, but the USFWS proposed in March 23rd, 2022 Federal Register to list it as endangered and the USFWS is currently accepting comments on the change to listed status - deadline: 5/23/22. .   We have the bat in SD, but especially in the Black Hills. 



All PHAS Zoom meetings are recorded & a link to the recordings are posted to our web page under Resources and Recordings menu items.

Endangered Species Day is a celebration of our nation's wildlife and wild places. Started in 2006 by the US Congress, Endangered Species Day is the third Friday of May. We have celebrated ESD in Rapid City w/ a multi-group sponsored event for 15 years, excluding 2020 due to the Pandemic.

 Co-sponsors of Endangered Species Day Celebration 2022
Prairie Hills Audubon Society, The Norbeck Society, Western Watershed Projects, Black Hills Clean Water Alliance, SD Chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby, Rapid City Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America, Great Lakes Wildlife Alliance, Black Hills Chapter - Dakota Rural Action,  Black Hills Group of the Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity

vimeo link to recording of meeting -

May 7th, Field trip to LaCreek National Wildlife Refuge,Co-sponsored with Sierra Club

Thursday,  April 28th, 2022  6:30 pm MT - PHAS Zoom Meeting
Update on Mining Threats to the Black Hills
Lilias Jarding, Ph.D., Executive Director, Black Hills Clean Water Alliance. 

There has been a lot of new activity around potential large-scale mining in the Black Hills.  There have been three new projects just in April!  This presentation will bring people up to date on what is going on, including providing BHCWA organizational updates and sharing a new map of mining activity.

Lilias has a copyright restriction on use of her powerpoint

THURSDAY, MARCH 31, 2022 AT 6:30 PM – 8:45 PM

PHAS monthly member's meeting on beavers and beaver dam analogs

Topic: PHAS monthly meetings on beaver
Time: Late March meeting , Thursday March 31st, 2022, 6:30 pm Zoom
Speaker: Lori Brown of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) on Beaver and Beaver Dam Analogs
Link to meeting recording


 THURSDAY, MARCH 10, 2022 AT 6:30 PM – 8:45 PM

Member's Monthly meeting on proposed SD Game, Fish and Parks Shooting Complex NE of Rapid City

Topic: PHAS early March Members Meeting-
Time: Thursday, March 10th, 2022 at 6:30 pm
Speaker: Nancy Hilding will present and lead the discussion, other speakers are invited.
This is a meeting to discuss proposed GFP Shooting Complex & maybe, but only if time permits, we may talk about bills the 2022 legislature

Link to meeting recording on  Vimeo: 

Link to recording of our PHAS meeting on the shooting range on Zoom, 
This will be temporary posting, All PHAS meeting recordings are put on our Vimeo account permanently (with hyperlinks on our website)
 as Zoom Cloud recordings, have to be dropped off  Zoom Cloud storage every month or two.


                    PAST - PHAS monthly Zoom  meeting January  26th, 2022 - 

Topic: Audubon Dakota - State Office Update 
Speakers: Megan Carter-Johnson & Amanda Booher from Audubon Dakota, the National Audubon Society's field office for SD & ND. Meghan & Amanda will provide an update on Audubon Dakota's programs and 2021 conservation efforts. Audubon has community science projects across the country such as Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count & the Winter 2022 Climate Watch survey (currently underway). Learn more about Audubon Dakota’s programs & how you can also help birds.


Photos below: Meghan has brown hair, Amanda is  the blonde 

Speaker - Meghan Carter + Amanda Booher,  from Audubon Dakota, on the National Audubon Society's activities in SD and the Region/Nation

 Vimeo link


The Piedmont (Foothills Area) Cracker Barrel, which PHAS co-sponsors was Saturday, February 5th, 2022 at 2 pm by Zoom. 
Legislators from District 33 and 29 invited. 
We expected 4 of the 6 to attend. 

Zoom Hyperlink:
The Zoom hyperlink we had posted for a few days was changed to new link 
to accommodate closed-captioning for the hearing impaired,
This is the up-to-date link & codes, updated - 1/28/2022

Zoom Hyperlink 
Foothills Area Cracker Barrel:

Passcode: 634365

Dial by phone         
Phone number: 1 669 900 6833  
Webinar ID: 839 3216 1252
Passcode: 634365

October 3rd  field trip  on Forestry Basics 
Sunday October 3rd  field trip  on Forestry Basics 
PHAS is working with the Norbeck Society to plan a field trip to teach forestry basics, to be taught by  Sunday, a retired BHNF forester (Dave Mertz), which will be a half day field trip on Oct 3rd,  meeting in Custer at 9:30 am near Crazy Horse.

9:30  am - meet at a gravel parking lot along the highway that is before and to the south of the admissions gate to Crazy Horse  We will stop at approximately 7-10 stops.  Some of this will depend on what the group would like to see and discuss.  We will talk over basic forestry and terms.  We will go over the types of harvesting occuring on the Forest.  We should be done by 12:30 or so.  If there is a lot of discussion and we want to go longer, we can do that.  You can bring along a snack or lunch if you would like.  We will end the tour at Hill City.  

We request that foks wishing to attend this field trip  RSVP so we have an idea of size, however RSVP is not required.. Compliance with Covid19 safety procedures will be asked of attendees, as carpooling will be offered. Attendees need to have had a Covid vaccine or to have recovered from diagnosed Covid within 6 months.  Attendees who may wish to car-pool, should bring a mask, in case anyone within their shared car requests mask wearing inside the car. 

Interested folks should e-mail, with the words Forestry Basics  in the subject line or call Nancy 605-787-6466 or text/call 787-1248 her or  contact Jim Petersen (605) 939-4995 (cell phone),

If weather is adverse or forest fires occurring, check to verify field trip - please call Jim for this, as he will be going to the field trip

Saturday, Sept 18th, 2021
Prairie Hills Audubon Society’s Field Trips - Fall River

Join Rajni Lerman on Saturday, Sept 18th, 2021 to learn about the Proposed Fall River Interpretive Trail along Fall River in Hot Springs, SD. 
  Anyone interested in carpooling from Rapid City, contact Jedediah. Everyone else will meet at the Mueller Center Parking lot at 8:45 am.  The entire trial is approximately 2 miles of mostly easy walking along the paved Freedom Trail. There is a section, "Spur" trail that has some more challenging footing. There are plenty of exit points along the way. We will end at Chautuqua park. For more info. contact Rajni @, (303) 564-0787, Jedediah  @,

If bad weather is expected, please check to verify the trip.


Monday, August 16th, 6 pm MT 
  Prairie Hills Audubon Society’s August Meeting
Topic: Mountain Lions in our Region 
and other issues related to SD Game Fish and Parks.

The meeting is recorded to the on Zoom cloud (The cloud location is only temporary - It will be on vimeo long term ) :
Passcode: 7Nar+g9n 

Link to recording on Vimeo

Photo by Justin Shoemaker (CC BY 2.0)

We showed the SDGFP powerpoint, shown to the SDGFP Commission in July, that provides updates on the GFP’s estimates of the Mountain Lion population on the SD side of the Black Hills. We also discussed cougar management in SD’s Prairie Unit & on some tribal lands in SD.  We discussed cougar management in Nebraska as the Pine Ridge Ecosystem exists in both States on both tribal/non-tribal land. We discussed cougar management in Wyoming, as the Black Hills is in both states.  
     Penny Maldonado of Cougar Fund joined us. 
   Time permitting we may briefly update folks on beaver & otter management issues, the proposed shooting range at Elk Creek/Elk Vale Rd. & other issues associated with SDGFP.  



Meeting Announcement.
Wednesday June 30th 

Our June membership Zoom meeting will be about beaver

When: at 6:00 pm MT Wednesday June 30th 
Speaker: Michael M. Pollock of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is our speaker. 
Topic: Working with beaver for the benefit of people, fish, wildlife and biological diversity


Beaver play a vital role in maintaining and diversifying stream and riparian habitat and they are a keystone species. Michael will talk to us about beaver lives and beaver ecology, including the effects of beavers on physical and biological processes and other species.  He will talk about beaver restoration and non-lethal methods of mitigating unwanted impacts from beavers.  

Michael is a Research Scientist for the Northwest Fisheries Science Center and is well-known for using beaver to restore biologically diverse stream and riparian ecosystems. He has been studying and writing about the effects of beaver on ecosystems for 20+ years and pioneered the use of beaver dam analogues (BDAs) to work with beaver to restore streams.

Michael's key publications include:
 "The Beaver Restoration Guidebook -Working with Beaver to Restore Streams, Wetlands, and Floodplains” v.1.0 final reduced.pdf
Using beaver to restore incised stream ecosystems
and just accepted in BIoScience, "Design criteria for process-based restoration of fluvial systems"

You can find out more about Michael at:

Scroll down  a long ways for an alert on SD Game, Fish and Parks proposed changes to the beaver trapping/hunting season 

Other publications

Here is a web site that further explains what Michael Pollock was talking about – "the  Beaver Dam Analog"  (BDA) restoration.   It shows pictures  of the wooden stakes used to simulate and perhaps encourage beaver activity.

Video on  - Beaver Dam Analog - "Partnering with Beaver to Restore Fish and Wildlife Habitat"

Non-lethal control of wildlife, including beaver
In this webinar, Dr. Grassel discussed several non-lethal methods for wildlife management that have been used by the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.


Beavers: Dam Good For Songbirds

"The songbird has a friend in the beaver. According to a study by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the busy beaver's signature dams provide critical habitat for a variety of migratory songbirds, particularly in the semi-arid interior of the Western U.S.”

More Beavers Equals More Birds - In Western Montana, Birds Flock to Beaver Ponds

Here is a link to a page with references on Beaver or  go to home page and look for ecological benefits



Meeting Announcement.
 PHAS Meeting is Endangered Species Day May 21st.
Celebrate America's 16th Annual Endangered Species Day on May 21st, 2021
PHAS will co-host west River SD's
Endangered Species Day Celebration
It will be a virtual Zoom meeting this year.

Charlene Bessken of the USFWS in Pierre SD spoke to us about two topics

1. SD's Federally listed species and give us updates on what has happened with SD listed species in the last 2 years.
2. SD's bumble bees, which are listed or have been petitioned for listing - 
Listed:  Rusty-patched Bumblebee
Petitioned:  Western Bumblebee, American Bumblebee, and Variable Cuckoo Bumble Bee

Topic: Endangered Species Day Celebration

 Link to recording of meeting:

During the Zoom meeting  I promised I w
ould post 2 links 
Letter about funding for USFWS

Endangered Species Coalition's press release on Trumps rule making to weaken ESA regs 
Meeting Announcement.
PHAS April Zoom Member's 
Thursday April 29th, 2021
Zoom meeting 6:30 pm MT
2 topics: SD GFP & killing of predators and also BHNF overcutting of conifers.

Recording: new vimeo video link for april meeting

We showed a video film, “Cull of the Wild"
"The Truth behind Trapping" -
"The argument for ending animal trapping for profit, recreation or wildlife management."
Here is a link to learn more about the film:
Vimeo link to view the film:

Raccoon photo by S. Hillebrand

After the film we discussed the recent approval by the SD Game, Fish and Parks Commission 
of the Nest Predator Bounty Program at $500,000 per year for 2 years, with a $10 bounty per tail and with a bounty on 
raccoons, skunks, opossums, red fox and badgers. This is based on a misguided belief this will help increase nesting success of ground nesting birds such as pheasants and ducks. The state in the past two years has spent about 2 million on bounties  and a  live trap free give-away. In 2021 the season will be April 1st-July 1st. In 2022 the season will be March 1st-July 1st, but the first month will be for youth only (under 18 years old), who can trap/hunt for free.  During the the program, youth will be given some free live traps.  (Scroll down web page for more information on this program)
Time permitting we will perhaps also discuss some of these topics - (more info on items 1-3 is in older posts - scroll down).
1.  The 2020 delisting of river otters and the 2019 river otter trapping/hunting season. 
2. SD beaver trapping and beaver conservation
3. Mountain Lion hunting and bobcat hunting/trapping.
4. Reforms to SDGFP Commission functions.

2nd HALF
The last third or half of the program will be updates on and discussion about the Black Hills National Forest  Final  General Technical Report titled "A Scenario-Based Assessment to Inform Sustainable Ponderosa Pine Timber Harvest on the Black Hills National Forest." 

The final report was issued on Tuesday 3/23/21.  BHNF had a webinar explaining the report on the morning of  April 7th.

To view or download the 4/7/21 webinar- where the report is explained: :  -

Old growth pine in the Sand Creek Roadless Area. Photo N Hilding

The Black Hills National Forest (BHNF) has released data from a Forest Inventory & Analysis that shows the BHNF is cutting trees faster than then forest growth replaces them. If current rate of cutting continues the live sawtimber volume will be depleted in the next several decades. To meet the current rate of cutting allowed by the Forest Plan, they need twice the standing live timber they have. The rate of cutting must be reduced to provide for a sustainable supply of timber, wildlife habitat, and other forest resources. Various laws require a sustainable logging program. 

Direct link to a report on this research released on 3/23/21 : -
 "A Scenario-Based Assessment to Inform Sustainable Ponderosa Pine Timber Harvest on the Black Hills National Forest"  
Link to many FS references on the overharvesting topic. 
At "Timber Stakeholder & Local Government Official Meetings" 
this  web site also has links to  recordings of 4 stakeholder meetings in April and May 2020 where issues are also explained/discussed: 
Link to Black Hills Forest Inventory Data
Here is February 2021 multi-party letter sent by PHAS and other groups and Oglala Sioux Tribe to the Forest Service
 about the overharvesting:


 We had 4 meeting programs this past summer on the BHNF timber related issues and 
 April 29th will be an update/continued discussion .
See also:
Topic: Black Hills National Forest - timber sustainability and the implications of overharvesting
Thursday, August 27th, 2020, 6:30 PM MT

Topic: Structural Stages and Species Viability, BHNF
Time: Friday July, 31st, 2020,

Topic: Conservation of Black-backed Woodpeckers in the Black Hills
Time:  Tuesday, September 29th, 6:30 PM MT

Topic:  "Timber Growth and Yield Draft General Technical Report"
Friday, May 29th, 6:30 pm MT 

Link to Norbeck Society videos about Black Hills National Forest


Virtual meeting recordings
Old meetings - History, recording still on Zoom cloud or vimeo

Prairie Hills Audubon Society
Monthly meetings are at the end of the month & use the same Zoom codes (recurring codes).
This meeting will get removed from Zoom cloud on May 21st and will eventually be transferred to vimeo

Prairie Hills Audubon Society
March Zoom Meeting
will be Cory Allen Heidelberger editor and publisher 
of  Dakota Free Press
speaking about 

Initiative and Referendum in South Dakota 
What is the status of our right to initiative and referendum
 after years of monkeywrenching from the Legislature and court challenges.

Wednesday, March 31st, 6:30 pm MT

Link to  vimeo recording: 
PHAS Facebook Notice of this event

        For the last decade some members of SD government have worked to erode SD initiative and referendum (I & R) rights, with bills, resolutions and/or court cases. Cory has been following SD politics as a blog editor and publisher for years and has been writing about this erosion of our initiative and referendum (I & R) rights.  In 2019 he led SD Voice in an effort to place an initiative on the ballot to redress some of the egregious changes to I & R, but SD Voice failed to get enough signatures by the deadline to place the initiative on the ballot. However Cory, SD Voice and their attorney Jim Leach filed litigation in federal court in summer of 2019 and won twice. Part of the litigation is not yet resolved. 
        Seeing four more bills/resolutions on I & R  passing this year; PHAS is concerned with this continuous erosion. We also see the legislature in past & present passing or attempting to pass laws to overturn public vote on initiatives. We see members of SD government suing in court to overturn initiatives the voters voted into law. 
       We had asked Cory to ­help us explore this history.  He gave us an introduction and then we went  to question and answer.  We learned what is currently and will soon be required of circulators and petition sponsors.  What hassles and threats do they face, that we didn’t in the old days?  We learned to learn about expected constitutional amendments and I & R petition efforts for this coming year. We  discussed what we can all do to be more effective defenders of and advocates for initiatives and referendum rights in SD. 


PHAS's older virtual meeting recordings are stored on Vimeo


Past two year's meeting videos - recording is on Zoom cloud or Vimeo


Prairie Hills Audubon Society’s August Meeting (Historic meeting recorded)

Monday, August 16th, 2021, 6 pm MT  

Topic: Mountain Lions in our Region 

and other issues related to SD Game Fish and Parks.





PHAS June membership Zoom meeting will be about beaver

When: at 6:00 pm MT Wednesday June 30th, 2021, (Historic meetings- recording on Vimeo ) 

Speaker: Michael M. Pollock of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is our speaker. 

Topic: Working with beaver for the benefit of people, fish, wildlife and biological diversity



PHAS Meeting is Endangered Species Day May 21st.(Historic meetings- recording on Vimeo ) 

Celebrate America's 16th Annual Endangered Species Day 

on May 21st, 2021, 6 pm

PHAS will co-host west River SD's

Endangered Species Day Celebration

Charlene Bessken of the USFWS in Pierre SD spoke to us about two topics:

1. SD's Federally listed species and give us updates on what has happened with SD listed species in the last 2 years.

2. SD's bumble bees, which are listed or have been petitioned for listing - 

Listed:  Rusty-patched Bumblebee

Petitioned:  Western Bumblebee, American Bumblebee, and Variable Cuckoo Bumble Bee

 Link to recording of meeting:




                                        Prairie Hills Audubon Society (PHAS) April Zoom Member's Meeting.(Historic meetings- recording on Vimeo ) 

Thursday April 29th, 2021,  6:30 pm MT

2 topics: 1. SD GFP & killing of predators and also 2. BHNF over-cutting of conifers.

During the program we showed a video film, “Cull of the Wild” "The Truth behind Trapping" - you can find it here:                   

Link to recording of PHAS's entire meeting - 




Prairie Hills Audubon Society March Zoom Member's Meeting.(Historic meetings- recording on Vimeo) 

Wednesday, March 31st, 2021, 6:30 pm MT

will be Cory Allen Heidelberger editor and publisher 

of  Dakota Free Press

speaking about

Initiative and Referendum in South Dakota

What is the status of our right to initiative and referendum

 after years of monkeywrenching from the Legislature and court challenges.

Link to  vimeo recording: 

Also meeting is recorded on Zoom cloud (This is only temporary, will be removed) :

Access Passcode: m?0OrCgH

February PHAS meeting (Historic meetings- recording on Vimeo )
Time:  Thursday, February 25th, 6:30 PM MT 
Topic:  Tribal Efforts to Conserve Biodiversity 
Speakers: Emily Boyd Valandra, Biologist, Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Dept. of Natural Resources - Game, Fish & Parks,
Shaun Grassel, PhD, Wildlife Biologist, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe’s Dept. of Wildlife, Fish & Recreation.

Learn about the challenges and successes in conserving biodiversity on tribal lands in South Dakota.

Link to  vimeo recording:

JANUARY Meeting (Historic meetings- recording on Vimeo )
Time:  Wednesday, January 27th, 6:30 PM MT (History)
Topic: Audubon Dakota - State Office Update 
Speakers: Megan Carter, Audubon Dakota, 
The National Audubon Society's field office for SD & ND works on the restoration & conservation efforts at the Wolsey Crane Stopover Important Bird Area.  Audubon has community science projects across the country such as Audubon’s 121st Christmas Bird Count & the Winter 2021 Climate Watch survey (currently underway). Learn more about Audubon Dakota’s programs & how you can also help birds.  
Scroll down for Zoom details  
Link to recording of meeting

NOVEMBER PHAS ZOOM MEETING (Historic meetings- recording on Vimeo )
Time: Monday, November 30th, 6:30 PM MT
Topic: Title: Climate Watch: Monitoring Birds in a Changing Climate
Speakers: Kathy Dale, National Audubon Society’s Director of Science Technology

Audubon’s newest community science effort, Climate Watch, seeks to understand how birds are being affected by climate
change and to test the future range change predictions for U.S. species. Learn about Audubon’s Climate Watch program, the science that is its foundation and current results. Kathy will talk about Audubon’s ground-breaking work to model the future of birds’ response to climate change and the way you can help ground-truth how your birds are responding.

Link to recording of meeting

OCTOBER MEETING by Zoom (((Historic - recording on Vimeo )
Time: Thursday, October 29th, 2020, 6:30 PM MT
Topic: Recent Mining Issues in the Black Hills
Speakers: Lilias Jarding, Ph.D., Black Hills Clean Water Alliance
Hearing a lot about mining and potential mining in the Black Hills? It's not an accident. We're part of an international gold rush. Learn more about this, uranium mining, and a plan to protect the central Black Hills.
 Link to recording of meeting::
Lilias has a copyright restriction on use of her powerpoint

September Meeting ((Historic - recording on Vimeo )
July 31st 
Time:  Tuesday, September 29th, 6:30 PM MT
Topic: Conservation of Black-backed Woodpeckers in the Black Hills
Speakers: Chad Hanson, Ph.D., research ecologist
Dr. Hanson will discuss the threats to the Black Hills subspecies of the Black-backed Woodpecker, including logging, fire suppression, and small population size due to limited suitable habitat. He will suggest key conservation steps that should be taken to ensure viable populations. 
 Link to recording of meeting:


August  2021 Meeting by Zoom  (Historic - recording on Vimeo )
Time:  Thursday, August 27th, 2020, 6:30 PM MT
Topic: Black Hills National Forest - timber sustainability and the implications of overharvesting
Speakers: Mary Zimmerman, volunteer for the Norbeck Society; Dave Mertz, retired forester 
Dave and Mary will talk about the implications of over-harvesting on the forest. Their presentations may include some power-points, videos, discussion and answering questions.
                                             Link to recording of meeting:
July  2021 PHAS meeting by Zoom (Historic - recording on Vimeo )
July 31st 
Topic: Structural Stages and Species Viability, BHNF
Time: Friday July, 31st, 2020, 6:30 PM MT
Speaker: Kristopher Hennings, Forest Wildlife
Program Manager, Black Hills National Forest

 Link to recording of meeting:

MAY 29th 2021 by Zoom ( (Historic - recording on Vimeo )
 Friday, May 29th, 6:30 pm MT
 "Timber Growth and Yield Draft General Technical Report" 
- a report that documents the Forest's not sustainable cut. 
Speaker: Jonathan Word, BHNF's Natural Resources Staff Officer.
Link to his powerpoint
 Link to recording of meeting:

APRIL 29th 2021 PHAS Meeting by Zoom  (Historic - recording on Vimeo )
Topic: South Dakota's River Otters
Time: Apr 29, 2020, 6:30 PM 
Speaker: Silka Kempema of SD Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Wildlife Diversity Program 


Nancy was a little late starting the recording and missed the first three slides, 
which included 1. the powerpoint's title slide, 2. a slide called Mustelid - which had 4 characteristics listed (carnivore, long body, short legs, scent glands) 
and 3. a slide called Biology, which had 3 points.- (adapted to life in water, indicator of water quality, associated with beaver.)
 Link to recording of meeting: 

 MARCH 31st 2021 by Zoom ( (Historic - recording on Vimeo )
Topic: Fight to Save the Greater Sage Grouse -  
Speaker:  Erik Molvar, Western Watersheds Project was the speaker
 Link to recording of meeting:


HISTORY 2020 meeting not on the Zoom Cloud or Vimeo

 February 28th, - Face-to-face
 February's membership meeting was on GFP program on Nest Predator Bounty Program 
at West River Electric Co-op building, 

We helped co-sponsor a cracker barrel in Piedmont on the second Saturday of February 2020 and 2021 and other years.
2021 was virtually recoreded by DRA a co-sponsor


We  are having Zoom conferences for working meetings. Person's that we know to be interested in topics are invited - they are generally not posted on web /Facebook pages. Contact Nancy if you want to be invited to discussion meetings.
We also used to have PHAS lunch or dinner meetings in some months  - 
at Hana's Restaurant,  (Korean/Japanese food), on 3550 Sturgis Rd, Rapid City, however due to social distancing
we  have temporarily discontinued those face-to-face eating meetings  due to Covid19. 

Field trips occur when announce
 Board meetings are by Zoom and members welcome. 
Contact - nhilding (at), 787-6779
We need new board members, contact Nancy if interested in service.

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




The Black Hills National Forest (BHNF) has released data from a Forest Inventory & Analysis that shows the BHNF is cutting trees faster than then forest growth replaces them. If current rate (2020) of cutting continues the live sawtimber volume will be depleted in the next several decades. To meet the current rate of cutting allowed by the Forest Plan, they need twice the standing live timber they have. The rate of cutting must be reduced to provide for a sustainable supply of timber, wildlife habitat, and other forest resources. Various laws require a sustainable logging program. 


The  Black Hills National Forest has done research and determined it is cutting pine trees faster than they can grow back...the cut is not sustainable.  
Direct link to a report on this research: Timber Growth and Yield Draft General Technical Report (TGYDGTR)

These actions are illegal, violating the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act and the National Forest Management Act.  In the future the Forest Service will need to change it's cutting rate. Future timber cutting scenarios proposed in the TGYDGTR do not reduce the cut fast enough or deep enough; they take years to reach timber sustainability and do not provide for sustainability of other values nor forbid logging on some lands that are unsuitable for logging nor do they forbid cutting young trees before their finish fastest growing period. 

 A not sustainable cut is not desirable, as viability of some wildlife species will be at risk and values such as some habitats, scenic quality, back country recreational & 
water quality will be harmed.  The Forest has less than .5% old growth left, the Forest Plan says it was supposed to provide at least 5%. Some species at risk include the northern goshawk, brown creeper and  black backed woodpecker that need mature dense stands, and the pgmy nuthatch that needs large old yellow barks. The forest does not have money, or ways to generate revenue to pay for all the needed pre-commercial thinning of the huge area of understory baby pine trees.

The timber industry is very opposed to the necessary reduction in annual timber volume. 
They are busy lobbying our elected leaders.  Other forests have also had reports that found the forests had not-sustainable harvests. Several such reports were buried due to politics and never made it past draft form. We need the public to fully understand what has been discovered by the Forest Service, to listen to critiques of the analysis and to insist that politics does not bury this report and that the Forest Service commits to quickly reducing the annual harvest on the Black Hills to a level that is not just sustainable for commercial goals (i.e.: timber production) but also sustainable for wildlife habitat, scenery protection, back-country recreation, water quality, soils etc.  The natural amenities of the forest that give us spiritual renewal and cause us to want to live near the BHNF, need to be valued & protected, not just it's  timber production valued.
 comprehensive article about the Black Hills timber situation was recently published:

Here is a link to the Forest Service's  (FS) web page on this topic:

  This web page has a discussion of the issues & lots of links to more data on this issue, including the Timber Growth and Yield Draft General Technical Report (TGYDGTR) and links to webinars from 4 FS meetings with stakeholders/local governments, some of which include power-points created by the FS & stakeholder groups on the issues. April 3rd & May 1st are virtual meetings the FS had with "timber stakeholders" - namely NGO environmental, timber industry & state government stakeholders. Environmentalists attending the 4/3/20 meeting were from Prairie Hills Audubon Society, The Norbeck Society, BHG of the Sierra Club. 

An ad hoc group of retired foresters was also represented. In May the Nature Conservancy was added as stakeholder. At least one future "timber stakeholder" meeting is planned. 
April 10th & May 15th are virtual meetings the FS had with the local government.
All 4 meetings are recorded,
A  link to the April 3rd meeting's  presentations and related documents 
(mostly saved as PDFs) is:
We recommend that you view power points from Bob Burns of the Norbeck Society, Jim Margadant of Sierra Club and Dave Mertz of retired foresters.
Webinar link

Quote from Abstract of the TGYDGTR:

"If the current (2019) annual sawtimber harvest of 153,534 CCF per year (CCF = 64 100 cubic feet) were to continue, the live sawtimber volume will be depleted in the next several decades. To meet the current  allowable sale quantity (ASQ) of 181,000 CCF as described in the  BHNF Plan, a standing live sawtimber volume of approximately 12 million CCF would be required. However, current standing live sawtimber volume is approximately 5.9 million CCF.  Furthermore, the current forest conditions in 2019 and probable growth and mortality estimates  suggest a saw timber program on the BHNF with an annual harvest of 70,000 to 115,000 CCF per year would be possible. Nevertheless, these harvest levels would allow the live sawtimber inventory amounts to increase to 6 million CCF in approximately 60 years and return to the level needed to support ASQ as identified in the current forest plan (181,000 CCF) within a century." (emphasis added)

Page 4 at lines 80 to 82 TGYDGTR says:

“All scenarios assume no harvest reduction for other resources (e.g., wildlife, botany, aquatics, and so on) or for Forest Plan adjustments. However, Black Hills National Forest (BHNF) may have restrictions that could alter the amount of area treated and the volumes removed.”

At lines 431 to 437 TGYDGTR says:

“Forest Plan constraints such as slope steepness, wildlife, recreation, grazing, or other values were not considered in the scenarios.”

Page 6 of the  TGYDGTR,  Lines 111-120, states

In 2019 the USDA Forest Service, Forest Inventory and Analysis Program (USDA 2019) identified 765,733 acres of timberland: (suitable), as forestland that is producing or is capable of producing 20 cubic feet per acre per year of industrial wood in natural stands and not withdrawn from timber utilization by statute or administrative regulation. Lands inaccessible and inoperable were included.”
(Emphasis added)

To help understand terminology used  in timber management on the Black hills
                 Structural stages are any of several developmental stages of tree stands described in terms of tree size and the extent of canopy closure they create. In the Black Hills stands are inventoried and assigned to one of 9 structural stages: SS1, SS2, SS3A, SS3B, SS3C, SS4, SS4B,  SS4C,  SS5. Various wildlife are associated with older dense stands of live trees. Some are associated with large snags (large dead trees).

The Rocky Mountain Research Station (the research branch of the Forest Service), has a draft report out that analyzes a large data set showing the current level of logging on the Black Hills National Forest is unsustainable. Below find a direct link to a report on this research: Timber Growth and Yield Draft General Technical Report (TGYD-GTR)

  The BHNF has admitted it is cutting the pine trees at a faster rate than the trees can replace themselves. They have very little old growth (structural stage 5) left - less than1 percent (.6 percent) and an inadequate supply of one of their other structural stages for adult pine stands (SS4B) . If cutting continues at the current rate, they will run out of saw timber in about 30 years.

We worry about various species associated with dense forest conditions, older trees, large snags and fire/insects.  The northern goshawk, brown creeper and black backed woodpecker need mature dense stands and the black-backed woodpecker needs them as snags, burned by wildfire. Pygmy nuthatch needs older yellow barks and it and the Lewis woodpecker need larger snags. The silver haired bat and fringed myotis need large snags for maternity roosts.  The golden-crowned and ruby-crowned kinglets need relatively dense older forests.  The northern flying squirrel and red squirrel need older, dense forests, at least mature stands. Pine Martins need connectivity corridors with 50% canopy closure.  Rare snails need forest cover (shade) and damp ground. Some big game need thermal cover in the winter.  

What tree habitat species need and which may be at risk if  the Black Hills National Forest loses it's older dense saw timber and old growth?       

Excerpted slides from an April 2020 Powerpoint
 by Andrew Johnson of the Forest Service (BHNF)
 "How the FIA data and sustainability analysis relate to the Forest Plan and available timber "
Below are photos from Andrew Johnson's powerpoint 
and quotes from the Glossary of the Black Hills National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan 2006 - 
at pages Glossary -67-68
"DBH" stands for "diameter at breast height".

"Structural Stage 1 (Grass/Forb): The grass/forb stage was historically a product of
fires, windthrow or similar disturbances. Under forest management, this stage can be
created through harvesting. This stage is dominated by grasses and forbs lasting until
tree seedlings become established."

Structural Stage 2 (Shrub/Seedling): The shrub/seedling stage consists of shrubs
such as chokecherry, rose and serviceberry along with tree seedlings. A stand remains
in Stage 2 until the tree seedlings reach one inch diameter at breast height (DBH),
which should take less than a decade

Structural Stage 3 (Sapling/Pole): The sapling/pole stage consists of trees with
stems one to nine inches DBH. This stage typically persists up to 30 years to age 70.
Less than 40 percent canopy closure is 3A; 40 to less than 70 percent canopy closures
is 3B; and greater than 70 percent canopy closure is 3C. Understory production is
inversely related to overstory pine canopy cover.

Structural Stage 4 (Mature): The mature stage begins when trees reach the 9-inch
DBH class. Trees remain in this stage until they are about 160 years old. As with
Structural Stage 3, understory productivity depends upon the overstory canopy cover.
Less than 40 percent canopy closure is 4A; 40 to less than 70 percent canopy closures
is 4B; and greater than 70 percent canopy closure is 4C. The sizes of trees in this
stage will vary depending upon growing-site potential and the density of the stand.

Structural Stage 5 (Late Succession): This structural stage is characterized by very
large trees (16+ inches DBH). Trees are at least 160 years in age; ponderosa pine
that reach this age are commonly referred to as “yellow barks.” Late succession
ponderosa pine may occur in dense stands, but may also grow in the open or in “parklike”
stands (Mehl 1992).

===================================    ====================================================================


Wildlife watching exceeds 
hunting/fishing for participants

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

Total Bird Observers: 45.1 million

We include link to another report,  done just for SD by SD Game, Fish and Parks
"Economic Impact of Hunting, Fishing, Trapping, Boating, and Wildlife Viewing in South Dakota"

"South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks commissioned this study to estimate the regional and statewide economic activity generated by the State’s fish, wildlife and boating-related resources. Drawing from license sales records and survey-based data sources, this report presents economic contributions based on retail spending in South Dakota attributable to recreational fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing, boating and trapping. "
Please note the report does not include income from "at home wildlife watching" - which is very significant in the federal study..

Wild Earth Guardians Alert on  Trump's latest attack on the Endangered Species Act, late August 2020 

We are not sure what will happen to this bill due to pandemic, we think it is on hold.
Recovering America’s Wildlife Act 
PHAS and the National Audubon Society support the
 Recovering America’s Wildlife Act bill - it is in the House.It seeks to increase federal funding to state and tribal wildlife agencies, to protect "at risk wildlife".
 RAWA passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee by a vote of 26-6.  All of the Democrats voted for it, and 7 of the 13 committee Republicans voted for it.  Such an overwhelming, bipartisan vote should provide real momentum for the bill.  All totaled, RAWA now has 163 co-sponsors, including 41 Republicans.  Such a large number of co-sponsors should also help make it easier for the bill to move forward towards a successful House floor vote. It may go to the floor in February or March.
Dusty Johnson, John Thune, Mike Rounds are not yet co-sponsors or indicated support
 (as of Feb 6th)
.  Link to the bill
Here is a link to some basic South Dakota-centric facts regarding the bill that might be good to include in your message:
National Audubon Society Review of the bill:

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

National Wildlife Federation
There is a resolution to support this in the SD Legislature, passed house and to be considered next in Senate Ag and Natural Resources (as of 3/2/20)
 Endangered Species Act under Attack - Contact Congress
Trump's Department of Interior rule-making to harm the  Endangered Species Act

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

New York Times Article

Earth Justice Alert:

Common Dreams Article


Trump Administration to delist wolves, 

Trump strips protections for endangered gray wolves

"Hunters and ranchers celebrate while conservationists say wolves will be hunted to extinction".

link to Washington Post article:


Washington Post Article:

Tracking Biden’s environmental actions 

The new president is unwindingTrump’s legacy while forging his own

"In just over three months, President Biden has begun to transform the nation’s energy and environmental landscape, according to a Washington Post analysis, by overturning 29 of former president Donald Trump’s policies and finalizing 19 of his own. From pausing new oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters to rejoining the Paris climate agreement, Biden has elevated the issue of climate change across the U.S. government and signaled a shift away from fossil fuels."


Washington Post article Trump rolls back 125 Environmental Regulations/Policies

Trump rolled back more than 125 environmental safeguards. Here’s how.

"The administration has allowed more pollution, drilling and logging
while weakening protections for animals such as bees, bears and birds"