Wednesday, November 26, 2014

SDGFP announces annual cougar killing derby

The removal of apex predators has triggered trophic cascades in numerous biomes throughout the US and the Bureau of Land Management has stopped at least one killing derby in the Mountain West.

A multi-year study tracking North Dakota’s mountain lion population indicates the number of big cats is trending downward. In August 2011, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, in conjunction with South Dakota State University, embarked on a $218,000 study funded by Pittman-Roberston excise tax money. [Bismarck Tribune]
It's widely acknowledged that the Black Hills cougar population has been strong because of the absence of a viable wolf population. South Dakota's GOP-owned Game, Fish and Parks apparently wants to increase a wolf presence.
Black Hills residents have a love-hate relationship with livestock predators — for ranchers, it's mostly hate — and a South Dakota School of Mines & Technology professor is studying how those historic attitudes toward wolves, mountain lions and coyotes have evolved. Frank Van Nuys, a history professor speaking in both a Tuesday lecture and an interview, said the relationship between humans and such animals had been largely antagonistic right up to the late 20th century. [Rapid City Journal]
President Obama, it's time to rewild the West: tear out the main stem dams, extend the CM Russell Wildlife Refuge to Oacoma, South Dakota along the Missouri River and to Yellowstone then to the Yukon.

Sir, please move the US Forest Service and its associated lands into the Park Service under tribal management and protect public properties from the destructive forces that just bought the recent midterm election.

It’s time for cougars to enjoy Endangered Species protection and for you, Mr. President, to dissolve the Black Hills National Forest; and, in cooperation with BIA Forestry and Wildfire Management and the US Park Service, rename it Okawita Paha National Monument then make it part of the Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Save Black Hills bat; timber industry strong

While it won't win any cutest animal contests, the northern long-eared bat deserves the same chance as any critter to continue to exist. We urge anyone who shares that concern to use the official commenting process. And if such a listing does occur — we certainly support trying to save the bats and preserve them as a species — we hope wildlife officials will use common sense while balancing the protection that would be offered against the potentially devastating economic impacts that could result. [editorial, Rapid City Journal, hyperlinks mine.]
South Dakota's Republican blog hates the Rapid City Journal except when an editorial serves up a political dish it likes.

Logging out the basin for the Grizzly Gulch Tailings Disposal Project above Pluma and Deadwood in 1977 helped to launch this blogger's love of the Black Hills. Homestake Mining Company that also operated the sawmill near Spearfish, hired a local contractor who gave a farm boy and School of Mines dropout a skidder job.

Now, that sawmill is owned by Neiman Enterprises of Hulett, Wyoming.

Neiman owns three mills in the Black Hills operating a virtual monopoly and lobbying heavily in Pierre to pump the handle(s). They also own a mill in Colorado.
The Earth Partners LP, a land restoration and bioenergy development company, announced that it has acquired Deadwood Biofuels LLC, a company based in the Black Hills of South Dakota that produces wood pellets for heating and industrial markets. The Black Hills, where Deadwood’s raw material is sourced, is a historically fire-maintained conifer ecosystem. Fire suppression over the past century has allowed the forest to become overstocked and characterized by unbroken stands of old trees, fueling the risk of catastrophic wildfire, insect infestation, and habitat loss. This is fertile ground for the mountain pine beetle epidemic, which has caused trees to rot on hundreds of thousands of acres of Black Hills National Forest and private land. The Earth Partners and Deadwood are using these forest residues, thinnings, and low-grade timber resources to improve forest health. [Rapid City, SD (PRWEB) September 29, 2014]
The mountain pine beetle is successfully returning water supplies to depleted Black Hills aquifer recharges while the timber industry would rather just take the oldest trees.

At least one Wyoming mill operator gets it:
Clint Georg, one of the partner-owners of the sawmill in Saratoga, said burning wood to produce steam, in turn spinning turbines to create electricity, is currently being done on a somewhat limited scale. Another potential bioenergy application for wood byproducts is to turn wood chips into biofuel. According to Forisk Consulting, there are three general techniques to convert wood biomass into transportation fuels. [David Lewis, Casper Star-Tribune]
The Feds are offering grants to develop alternative and renewable fuels: Republicans take the money even when they say they hate big government.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

SDDP affiliated forum begun

It's too bad South Dakota doesn't have an effective Democratic blog presence.

When Republican Pat Powers removed his content from public view to take a job in the South Dakota Secretary of State's office his blog continued to run with little outcry except from us - the disaffected. In the interest of transparency this blogger has engaged Cory Heidelberger to make Madville Times a party-affiliated forum: he has refused. PP was ruled a member of 'The Fourth Estate' by a judge while Heidelberger seems to believe his independence will be compromised. Furthermore, Madville's hosting space for a Republican whose fortune is being spent on that party's candidates is an embarrassment.

When this blog asked Susan Wismer to run for governor she told me Cory and Madville Times were just too radical for her, hence Cory supported Joe Lowe in the primary so that weblog never really got behind Rep. Wismer as a gubernatorial candidate.

Although Mr. Heidelberger has been a thorough investigator, a persuasive voice for liberals in South Dakota and deserving of praise, Madville Times hasn't delivered for Democratic voters.

While the author of interested party is a staunch Democrat and has been 100% correct on how to run a credible political campaign ip is far too radical to represent South Dakota Democrats in the party's present deflated context.

The Dakota Progressive intends to be a temperate but unwavering voice and will be a SDDP affiliated forum after it can raise enough money to compete with the SDGOP blog, Dakota War College.

Guest contributors can contact the creator of The Dakota Progressive through interested party or at my twitter account.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Lead clinging to survival, might live if she listens to me

Lead’s Alco store will close sometime in the coming months along with the Kansas-based national discount retail company’s 197 other stores scattered across 23 states. [Black Hills Pioneer]
Clambering up a slippery, groaning sheet of ice is not necessarily for the faint of heart. But it’s also not as inaccessible as it might seem, said Cody-based professional ice climber Aaron Mulkey. [Casper Star-Trib]

Not long after Homestake Mining Company announced its intent to close operations in Lead, we were listening to this NPR story about an ice climbing park in Ouray, Colorado, a former mining town that has remade itself by farming ice. My daughters' mother turned to me and said: "Wow, they should do that in the Open Cut."

It was if she had spoken with the Voice of God.  The very next day I made an appointment and met with Bruce Breid, the general manager charged with the mine's mothballing, an aerial photo of the pit displayed on the wall behind his desk.

"What a brilliant idea, Mr. Kurtz, we have water here, here, and here," Mr. Breid said, pointing to locations at the rim near the Homestake Visitor Center. "Can you provide a legal instrument holding Homestake harmless?"

Right. There was that.

Though not a climber myself, more research led me to locals, some of whom had actually climbed some of the natural seeps deep in the pit while working for subcontract miners.

The horseshoe-shaped bowl directly under the Visitors Center is geologically sound, anchors for top roping easy to place. I have spoken to every Lead mayor since; the desired property is in the city limits. Barrick, the current owner has resisted any discussion of the concept. The Sanford Lab is apparently uninterested.

The Open Cut contributes about 11% of the water to the mine being pumped for the Lab, the ice climbing park would add another 5000 gallons or so. If a clay liner would be applied to the floor of the pit, the resulting reservoir (yes, acidic mine runoff mostly) could be tapped for emergency fire-fighting or diverted to the treatment facility for water from Sawpit Gulch in Central City: some of that is already happening.

Barrick returned some Wyoming holdings to the tribes; and, after it takes responsibility for its complicity in the destruction of the Missouri River Basin it should divest of its remaining holdings in the sacred Black Hills remanding them to the owners by treaty.

Lead has a long wait before the Lab starts producing the number of jobs needed to sustain the community now. Hope they hang on.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Final Indian war underway; sage grouse doomed to PRTC, KXL

What is even worse South Dakota’s media has also buried its collective heads in the sand even though Native Sun News has been reporting on the Keystone XL Pipeline since 2006. Award winning Health and Environment Editor for Native Sun News, Talli Nauman, has been at the journalistic forefront of this environmental disaster about to happen from day one and she has been rewarded by the South Dakota Newspaper Association with many awards for her yearly series of articles on this most important topic. Until this issue became a political football, the rest of South Dakota’s media had been silent. The Keystone XL Pipeline that is being pushed by TransCanada may well be the beginning of the final war between the United States government and the Indian Nations. [Tim Giago, The final Indian war in America is about to begin]

The expansion will quadruple the size of the existing airspace to an area of about 20 million acres lying northwest of Rapid City and spanning parts of South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota. The lowest allowable altitude would be 500 feet, with higher minimums in some areas. [Seth Tupper, Rapid City Journal]

As hundreds of welfare ranchers reap windfall benefits for their negligence during a late fall blizzard, the Anthropocene is wiping out thousands of native species.

The extirpation of bison from the American West has led to the introduction of European cattle now doing untold damage to prairies, the sage steppe and to the high plains and deserts.
As sage grouse have been listed as a species worthy of protection under the Endangered Species Act, but precluded by higher priorities for now, western farmers and ranchers have been concerned about what the implications of such a decision might mean to the way they use the land. “They’re real worried that if that bird gets listed, the federal government will come in and tell them how to manage that ground,” said Melissa Foster, an FWP biologist who was the lead author of a four-year study in Powder and Carter counties. Scientists and conservationists are trying to piece together the best way to preserve sage grouse on their traditional sagebrush steppe environment, which is seeing greater pressures from oil and gas development, loss of habitat to wildland fires and even conifer encroachment. The study area included a land mix of about 54 percent private, 36 percent BLM and 10 percent state, spreading east from the Powder River to the South Dakota border and south from the Powderville Road to the Wyoming border. [Brett French, Billings Gazette]

It's not like we haven't seen it coming.

South Dakota's junior US Senator is betting his career on ramming the expansion of the Powder River Training Complex and the Keystone XL pipeline down American Indian throats.

His actions to defeat tribal sovereignty are putting natives peoples' rights at risk.

Verily, South Dakota's At-large US Representative wails that the US Environmental Protection Agency is employing a land grab to regulate water pollution yet heralds TransCanada's efforts to condemn land for a diluted bitumen pipeline. Recall that Tim Giago supported Kristi Noem's candidacy.
If [municipal solid waste] were to be used as a fuel in [waste to energy] power plants, it could replace all the coal imported by states such as New York, California, Idaho, New Jersey and Maine. Use of MSW fuel in place of coal could reduce the U.S. state-to-state transportation of coal by 22%. [American Chemistry Council, pdf.]
The emergence of warrior societies led by veterans of the Gulf Wars, Afghanistan, and Kosovo has unified young people in North America's tribal regions. Movements are growing from the Mohawk Nation in Quebec and New York to the Lakota strongholds in South Dakota, among the descendants of the Arapaho in the Mountain West, south to the Navajo Nation and into the border regions of the Tohono O'odham.

From Al Jazeera English:
In recent years in particular, Canada's indigenous communities have shown the will and potential to grind the country's economic lifelines to a halt through strategically placed blockades on the major highways and rail lines that run through native reserves well outside of Canada's urban landscape. There are more than 800 outstanding native land claims held against the Canadian government. And in many First Nations communities there is deep crisis, with poverty, unemployment and overcrowding the norm. According to figures from the Assembly of First Nations, more than 118 First Nations lack safe drinking water and some 5,500 houses do not have sewage systems. Almost one half of homes on native reserves are in need of "major repairs", compared with 7 per cent of non-native homes. Natives suffer a violent crime rate that is more than 300 times higher than Canada's non-native population, while natives represent 18.5 per cent of the male prison population and one-quarter of the female population, although natives only constitute 4 per cent of the total population.
In the US, where sovereignty rights, culture and language resurgence and growing capital resources from burgeoning black markets are building alternatives to hopelessness, suicide, and repression in Indian Country, deaths from firearm violence are higher than in any ethnic group.

South Dakota, New Mexico, Wyoming and Montana are in the cross hairs.