Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Prescribed burns in Tony Dean Wilderness could have prevented spread of the Cottonwood Fire

Update, 1740 MDT: it looks like the blaze began just north of I-90 on the Pennington/Jackson County border near the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site recently the setting in a political advert for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and staging ground for the suppression of the Cottonwood Fire. If intentionally set during red flag conditions it would be the first known case of weaponized wildfire in South Dakota. Recall that the Jasper Fire was intentional but was never proved to be politically motivated.

The State of South Dakota is the fourth most dependent on federal dollars and as expected disaster funding has been requested.


Mop-up operations on the human-caused 31,000 acre Cottonwood Fire east of Wall are continuing today. Some federal lands in Pennington and Jackson County, South Dakota managed by Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands were involved.

The above map was generated by Pennington County IMT: note the federal lands in green. Two state-owned parcels in the image (shaded purple) are proposed in the troubled land swap between the State of South Dakota and the feds in Spearditch Canyon. So, the State approached an agency based in Nebraska for the exchange likely bypassing the Black Hills National Forest.

Back in 2010 then-Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) tried to make some of that portion of the Buffalo Gap National Grassland part of the Tony Dean Wilderness Area.

Kevin Woster reported on its lack of progress in 2011. Former Deadwood businessman Dave Miller supported the Act, too:
Designating eight percent of the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands as wilderness is no land-grab conspiracy to curtail cattle grazing, nor will it threaten private lands or terminate management. Instead, it will secure a prairie grassland heritage that has few equals on this planet. [Grasslands bill isn’t a land grab]
Author George Wuerthner mentioned S. 3310 as a part of the doomed Omnibus Wilderness Bill.
America has very little of its native prairie in any protected status. Most of the plains have been carved up by till farming, and the rest is grazed by livestock. Tony Dean Cheyenne River Valley Conservation Act would correct this by designating 48,000 acres as wilderness in the Indian Creek, Red Shirt and Chalk Hills areas of the Buffalo Gap National Grassland on the borders of Badlands NP. Walking these vast open breathing spaces reminds me of being on the vastness of tundra in Alaska. It’s a sense of freedom that is more difficult to experience in more forested terrain. As with any designated wilderness, livestock grazing will continue. This is particularly ironic since Tony Dean, who was an outdoor writer in South Dakota, railed against welfare ranchers and their impact on the state for decades. [Wuerthner]
Election year politics from Senator John Thune (earth hater-SD) has forced federal land managers to curtail prescribed fires on national forests and grasslands in South Dakota. The Black Hill National Forest just cancelled a critical prescribed burn under favorable conditions because of threats from Thune.

Not talking about fuel treatments during a wildfire is the same thing as not talking about firearms management during a mass shooting.

Had Sen. Johnson been successful in passing his bill the land in question would have been placed within the stewardship of Badlands National Park and much, if not all, of the federal land scorched by the Cottonwood Fire would have been burned off prescriptively in increments instead of being managed by some careless rancher or passing motorist.

Of course, the South Dakota Democratic Party should urge President Obama to dissolve the Black Hills National Forest, move management of the land from the US Department of Agriculture into the Department of Interior; and, in cooperation with Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Forestry and Wildfire Management, rename it Okawita Paha or He Sapa National Monument eventually becoming part of the Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge. Mato Paha (Bear Butte), the associated national grasslands and the Sioux Ranger District of the Custer/Gallatin National Forest should be included in the move.

It's time for the State of South Dakota to abandon Bear Butte State Park that it claimed through colonization and remand it to the tribes for governance so they can restore its name to Mato Paha and for the US Park Service to add the name Mahto Tipila to Devils Tower National Monument.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Casita nearly enclosed

Front elevation, image shot from south. Underneath that tarp is about half of the roof foam and OSB; the other portion is inside the building. I buried the vigas in the parapet wall because neighbor Phil reminded this builder that as the vigas shrank and cracked there is no way to stop water from penetrating the adobe wall. Additional mortar will go into the viga bays, the adobes will be scrubbed and stucco applied.

Northeast elevation.

Northwest elevation. Some of the last adobes being laid are going between the vigas today. Progress development here, here, here and here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Allender learning how Rapid City bilks the feds and the poor

After the 1972 Flood that wiped out Teepee Town and killed some 238 people, mostly poor American Indians, the feds gave Rapid City rent supports to house those displaced by the disaster.

Extremist nutcase Mayor Steve Allender, the former police chief who led a "bunch of racists," is at a loss to house the 100 or so homeless people in Rapid City. He's even asked the Cornerstone Rescue Mission, a front for the Bandidos Motorcycle Club, to help.
The issue at hand is certain land lords getting rich at the expense of low income people needing housing. "Landlords or slumlords are making money on the poorest people who desperately need housing." Allender said, "People renting the place won't complain because they don't want to get evicted because then they won't be able to find anywhere else. It's kind of a sick arrangement between the landlord and the tenant. I'll let you rent my place and not do a background check on you or call your references but you don't complain about anything." Allender said in a letter to the city council that Rapid City has a "slumlord" epidemic that is carried out behind the shield of "free enterprise" or some other gutless reasoning. [KOTA teevee]
Under ethics-free Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard homelessness in South Dakota has become epidemic.

Back in 2013, NPR's Planet Money reported on an experiment in Kenya.
The results from the study are encouraging, says Johannes Haushofer, an economist at MIT's Poverty Action Lab who was one of the study's co-authors. "We don't see people spending money on alcohol and tobacco," he says. "Instead we see them investing in their kids' education, we see them investing in health care. They buy more and better food." Getting money made people happier, less stressed out. [What Happens When You Just Give Money To Poor People?]
Hey, Rapid City: give these people without places to live $1000 vouchers so they can flee South Dakota and its brutal winters or put them on Medicaid.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Fischer Rounds cutting fat hog as insurance oversight flags

Steve Rounds enjoys an unusual 30-year lease on land managed by a state agency. Rounds got the lease to the Oahe Marina from South Dakota Game, Fish and Plunder while his brother was governor and when his banker, Larry Deiter was named South Dakota Director of Insurance.
“We are obviously concerned about the impact that Wellmark’s decision will have on consumers,” South Dakota Insurance Director Larry Deiter told the Public Opinion this week. “The current environment under federal health care reform is causing companies to either raise premiums, narrow networks, or cease marketing of products.” Lonnie McKittrick, who heads up the Health Department at Fisher Rounds and Associates, echoed those comments. “ACA is just not working,” he said. “People are getting hammered. Everybody on the inside knew this is what could happen. You crossed your fingers and hoped it wouldn’t, but it did. It’s a system that was set up to fail, especially in a small state like ours.” [Looking for health insurance? Good luck]
Forty-three states and the District of Columbia require insurance commissioners to file some kind of personal financial disclosure report. All but two of those jurisdictions — Hawaii and Vermont — make the documents available for public inspection. Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming have no such disclosure requirements. [Drinks, dinners, junkets and jobs: how the insurance industry courts state commissioners]
Here's Mike Rounds' career donor page at Open Secrets.

Here is how Mike Rounds took federal money then gave it to SDGOP donors.

Kinda makes ya wanna puke, init?