Monday, April 20, 2015

Racial tensions move Native celebration from Rapid City

Worried about a federal investigation, the GOP-owned South Dakota Supreme Court has reinstated some Indian child sex abuse claims (pdf) against the Church of the Holy Roman Kiddie Diddlers.
With racial relations in Rapid City under some tension after past events, the 32nd annual Lakota Omniciye Wacipi could not have come at a better time. The word Wacipi, meaning pow wow, is a spiritual celebration that brings together all generations to draw from the past and design the future through education of youth through tradition. [KOTA teevee]
Spearfish boy, Mato Standing High (Rosebud Lakota), attorney/consultant and Karin Eagle of Lakota Country Times are participating in the activities.

Citing contract obligations, organizers of the Lakota Nation Invitational have voted to keep the event in Rapid City for one more year.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Devils Tower plans fuel treatment; Badlands land swap slated

Update, 20 April, 0515 MDT: Park Service calls off prescribed burn at Devils Tower. "Decision comes after Wind Cave prescribed burn gets away from park service."

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Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell is passionate about protecting and preserving public lands. She has directed the US Park Service to continue its multi-pronged attack on cheatgrass.
Fire management officials from the Northern Great Plains Fire Office and Devils Tower National Monument plan to burn 85 acres near the entrance of the Monument and east of the Belle Fourche River. The burn is needed to remove build-up of dead fuels and woody herbaceous growth and encourage the growth of native prairie grasses and forbs and lessen the chances of possible wildland fires. Prescribed burns return a key natural process to the landscape, improve the health of the ecosystem under controlled conditions, and lessen the chance of wildland fires. Prescribed burns are carefully planned, conducted within an approved boundary and ignited only under specific weather conditions such as humidity, fuel moisture, wind speed and direction and short and long range weather forecasts. If conditions are not acceptable on the scheduled day of the burn, it will be postponed until desirable conditions return. [Sundance Times]
Of course fire managers would rather burn under April conditions than in July or August.

On Thursday ahead of forecast snow and rain land managers should have put the drip torch to every parcel of public ground in a triangle with points at Wright, Wyoming; Bismarck, North Dakota and Brush, Colorado.

Conata Basin and Badlands National Park are part of a land swap with The Nature Conservancy.
Big chunks of scenic badlands and grasslands would change ownership under a swap that seems headed toward approval over the objections of some ranchers in southwest South Dakota. The deal, known as the Cain Creek Land Exchange, is described by the parties doing the swapping as an attempt to straighten out some of the checkerboard pattern of public-private land ownership in the area. Some ranchers don't see the swap as so benign. Rather, they worry that the deal will put them closer to pesky prairie dogs and will subtract property-tax revenues from local governments. [Seth Tupper, Rapid City Journal]
The Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska put the Badlands at the top of her 2012 ten regional ecotourism favorites. The Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge is, of course, on the list as are other Montana treasures.

#1 is:
Badlands National Park (S.D.) -- The park has 244,000 acres of mixed-grass prairie. It is home to bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, black-footed ferrets and other wildlife. The South Unit of the park is in the process of becoming the first tribal national park, with its world-class natural and cultural resources to be managed by the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
And:
Conata Basin (S.D.) -- The basin refers both to a larger ecoregion consisting of some 142,000 acres just south of Badlands National Park and to a smaller tract of 6,188 acres (plus 25,188 acres of federal grazing allotments) owned by the Nature Conservancy. This largely intact prairie, which provides a home to the full array of prairie wildlife, is the site of a critical and controversial effort to reintroduce nearly extinct black-footed ferrets, which require prairie dogs as food source.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota and Devils Tower in Big Wonderful also made the cut.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Lawsuit slowing state land grab in Spearfish Canyon



Land stolen from the tribal signatories of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 appears to be going to a corrupt red state again.
The Spearfish Canyon Foundation would purchase a 73-acre tract that includes Spearfish Falls and donate it the department, according to Doug Hofer, director for the state Division of Parks and Recreation. The property was appraised at $1,225,000 but foundation officials are attempting to secure it for a smaller amount, Hofer said. [Black Hills Pioneer]
But a wrench has been thrown into the giveaway machinery:
A complaint of violation of easement law and resulting nuisance was filed Dec. 5, 2014, in Lawrence County by plaintiffs Kathy Romano, Chris Romano, and Debra Jilka against defendants the Homestake Mining Company; Arleth Land Surveying, LLC; Spearfish Canyon Foundation; Jerry J. Boyer; and South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks (GF&P). Todd Duex, closure manager for Homestake, declined to comment on the lawsuit citing company policy to not comment on cases in active litigation. [Black Hills Pioneer]
Todd Duex is the local representative for the Canadian firm. It owns most of the rights to water in the Northern Black Hills: water destined for the proposed Deadwood Standard Project.

Bill Harlan reported a previous swindle:
Homestake and its parent company, Barrick Gold Corp. of Toronto, have agreed to those terms, but GF&P Secretary John Cooper warned that if the state doesn't act, some of the most spectacular scenery in the Black Hills could end up in private hands. "Without public acquisition of these lands, it appears inevitable, that Barrick will sell these lands to developers that seek to build trophy homes," Cooper wrote in a letter accompanying his proposal. He argued that even Roughlock Falls could become privately owned, "thus locking out a public treasure." Money for the $3.3 million deal would not come from taxpayers, Cooper said. In fact, most of it would come from Homestake. Cooper hopes to use about $3.1 million that the state already has been awarded as compensation for cyanide and other hazardous substances Homestake dumped into Whitewood Creek for decades. The creek was named a Superfund site in 1981, but Homestake completed restoration in 1994, and the creek was taken off the Superfund list in 1996. In 1997, however, South Dakota and Indian tribes sued Homestake. The settlement established the Whitewood Creek Restoration Fund. The state's share of the complicated settlement was about $2.7 million, which has grown with interest to about $3.1 million. Cooper hopes to use that money to buy the Homestake land.
While tribes are forced to raise $9 million to buy their own land, the State of South Dakota is bribed to just take it.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Lakota council endorses tribal cannabis

RasDawn Meeks will host an educational event Saturday at Mount Rushmore, paying tribute to Jack Herer and his book, “The Emperor Wears No Clothes”. The focus of the book is on the many industrial, medical, religious uses of cannabis and hemp. [KOTA teevee]
Hey, Governor Daugaard: it's time for you to pardon Bob Newland.
In what could be a first step towards legalization of marijuana on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation the Wounded Knee district passed a motion that legalizes the sale of medicinal and recreational marijuana as well as industrialized hemp. “There was a motion passed by the district to legalize,” said Wounded Knee tribal council representative Mike Her Many Horses. The debate over legalization on reservations has picked up steam after the Department of Justice advised U.S. Attorneys across the country to not prosecute tribes who were attempting to enter in to what some experts are guessing is a $6 billion dollar industry in the U.S. alone. [Lakota Country Times posted at Indianz]
Funny. Where have i heard this before?
Some of this state’s most business-savvy Native American tribes are evaluating the risks and opportunity to grow or sell marijuana, as well as the relatively untapped potential in medical-marijuana research. What all this means for Washington is that, in time, tribes could be a major influence in legalized marijuana. They have the capital and business acumen to grow the market while keeping prices competitive, something that will appeal to some medical-marijuana patients and perhaps put a dent in the black market. For the state of Washington, getting out in front of this and working with the tribes is not only the smart thing to do, it’s imperative. [excerpt, Mark Higgins]
Oh, yeah: now i remember.

As oil prices tank North Dakota's Republican governor, Jack Dalrymple, has taken steps to avert an economic bust in his state.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wind Cave area residents: chill



Update, 1015 MDT, Bill Gabbert on John Thune: "A rational person would wait until an investigation or review sheds more light on what actually caused the prescribed fire to go out of control."

It's National Park Week.

Further discussion of the Cold Brook Fire's contribution to habitat restoration can be found at Dakota Free Press.

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Update, 17 April, 0740 MDT:

Fire managers expect full containment of the Cold Brook Fire by noon today.

500 acres of cheatgrass is burning north of Wall: not even close to enough fire for the confluence of the Cheyenne and Belle Fourche Rivers.

Elemental carbon produced by wildland fire sequestered in aquifer recharges filters contaminants from essential water supplies: a practice long-forgotten by profit-driven livestock producers sucking the federal tit.

Corridors leased from landowners could connect public grounds like the Comanche, the Pawnee, the Oglala, the Buffalo Gap, the Thunder Basin and Ft. Pierre National Grasslands with tribal lands and national forests in the upper Missouri River basin to heal some of the destruction caused by the Anthropocene.

Bison, not cattle, will save the High Plains from the European descendants who have decimated the West in the last two hundred years.

The discussion among those of us driving the rewilding of the basin wonders whether the ecosystems should look like they did before the Clovis People began altering them 12,000 years ago or before humans even got to the continent.



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Update, 16 April, 0350 MDT: unplanned wildfire "not all bad;" and, a crystal ball would have seen dust devil in advance.

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Update, 1830 MDT, at 80% containment:
Authorities say the Cold Brook Fire has scorched 6,500 acres in the southwestern South Dakota park. That's about 20 percent of the park's surface area. [Associated Press]
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The area of the planned Cold Brook Fire inside Wind Cave National Park hadn't burned since at least its founding in 1903.
The prescribed burn began Monday morning after an 8:48 a.m. test burn. The park’s superintendent, Vidal Davila, who was not made available for an interview Tuesday, then made the decision to continue with the full burn. Hours prior to the test burn Monday, the National Weather Service had issued a fire-weather watch for the following day, Tuesday. But at the time of the test burn Monday morning, the forecast for the rest of Monday was good: a high temperature in the 50s, with 6 mph winds. [Rapid City Journal]
Despite some strong gusty winds the fire is 30% contained and consuming invasive cheatgrass at rates the previous human inhabitants of the Black Hills would have yawned.

600 years ago 20 million bison migrating north would be cropping those grasses ahead of Spring thunderstorms while people following them gathered dry dung to fuel campfires.

The Rocky Mountain Type II Interagency Incident Management Team ordered will ensure that structures are protected; and, the event will give way to greening conditions after light rain forecast for this weekend.

As the Black Hills fire risk increases, good on the US Park Service for bringing attention to a century of destructive fire suppression.

Now burn some more.

More information and photos of this incident are posted at Wildfire Today.

ip photo.