Betty Olson a welfare rancher; grazing on federal land in South Dakota 'ridiculously cheap'

Cattle shitting in a sensitive watershed on the BHNF: note bug kill. Antimicrobials in manure kill fungal communities necessary for healthy forests.

There are eight grazing allotments on the Northern Hills district that can no longer support livestock.
There are four federal land management groups that allow grazing: the National Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the National Park Service. Tom Smith, range staff officer for the Northern Hills Ranger District of the Black Hills National Forest said there are 36 allotments in his district, eight of which are vacant. The allotments add up to 304,387 total acres and each allotment ranges from 1,223-20,479 acres in size. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has 504 grazing allotments in Western South Dakota said Carmen Drieling, the group’s rangeland management specialist. “It’s a rate based on a formula that we have nothing to do with,” Smith said. “Congress set up the formula during the Regan [sic] administration and has done nothing to change it.” Currently that rate is $1.35 per grazing pair, per month. “It’s ridiculously cheap,” he said. “If you were to lease private land to do the same thing, you’re looking at $30. $20 would be cheap.” [Mark Watson, Black Hills Pioneer]
Betty Olson is an earth hater state legislator defending the Bundyists in Nevada. Writing in the Black Hills Pioneer she says:
The federal government shouldn’t be allowed to own any land within a state’s boundaries unless it is granted permission by the legislature of that state, and so far, no state has given that permission to the federal government.
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.
Ranchers who rely on the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Oglala Sioux Tribe grazing permits were recently notified that their leases will expire in October 2015. The plan would reintroduce buffalo into the South Unit by carving the Stronghold Buffalo Grazing Unit out of private land and leased lands within the South Unit of Badlands National Park. It was approved in June by the tribal council. The tribe is currently working with the National Park Service to create the nation's first tribal national park that would encompass the 133,000-acre South Unit. The plan includes the return of bison to the park and the end of cattle grazing. "The National Park Service and the tribe are working to resolve issues that will result in legislation that could be introduced," Perry Plumart, Sen. Tim Johnson's press secretary, told the Journal on Wednesday. Plumart said the senator is impressed by their cooperation. [Andrea Cook, Rapid City Journal]
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, rename it Okawita Paha National Monument then make it part of the Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge.


Forest Service crappy place to work, broke Black Hills

Some imaginary war with the bark beetle on the Black Hills National Forest is really more a fight for clean water than it is about insect control: dead trees don't suck aquifers dry.

Until forest managers get that they are being preyed upon by the Akers and the Neimans to take legacy trees and leave the doghair for someone else to deal with, they won't be focused on hardwood release, prescribed fire and restoring the Hills bioregion to what it was 150 years ago.

The Black Hills are broken because the US Forest Service is broken.
# 260 of 300 Agency Subcomponents Index Score: 49.0
Alan Aker is a long time campaign supporter of earth haters like John Thune, Kristi Noem and Larry Rhoden. He is a vocal critic of equal rights for women and American Indians. The GOP former lawmaker now Meade County Commissioner has billed that county $31,000 for logging on federal ground under an unwritten agreement with the Forest Service.
Sometimes, things are just stranger than anything you could make up. Turns out, those charged with putting sound forest management into practice perhaps didn’t actually know what a MPB-infested tree looks like, or at least couldn’t agree on it. In that knowledge vacuum, most any tree was fair game, apparently including many with no MPB presence but with one or two turpentine beetle pitch tubes (close enough?) Of course, the side story is that Meade County commissioner Alan Aker, who has been “involved in overseeing the work of the county”, just happens to also own a logging company, Aker Woods, which has been “responsible for determining which trees to cut.” Commissioner Aker has also been a leader in the “The Bug Stops Here” campaign (their slogan: “Enough talk. It’s time for action. Donate Dollars. Kill Beetles)” [Guy Knudsen, New Century of Forest Planning]
Aker responded, linked here.

The collapse of the Black Hills hydrologic region was forecast in 2002 even as the mountain pine beetle fights to save Paha Sapa water supplies.
In a 2013 survey, two million federal workers were asked about the quality of leadership, the level of morale, and other management conditions in their agencies. The responses ranked the Forest Service as worse than 260 out of 300 similar federal agencies. [Robert H. Nelson, Taking an ax to traditional forest management, The Western News]
There aren't enough litigators to sue the Forest Service allowing Republicans to infiltrate management of the Black Hills National Forest.
Insect mapping was a cooperative effort between Neiman Timber Company, South Dakota Division of Resource Conservation and Forestry, State of Wyoming Forestry Division, Weston Natural Resource Conservation District, Weston County Weed & Pest, USDI-Bureau of Land Management, and the USDA-Forest Service. [press release, Black Hills National Forest]
There is no evidence to support the claim that logging is effective insect control so the logical conclusion is that BHNF chief Craig Bobzien is on the take.

Wasicu have stolen the ground, plundered the resources, encouraged ponderosa pine to infest lands once dominated by aspen and sage, pollute waterways and deplete watersheds. Nine tribes have sued to force the courts to act on Forest Service and BLM mismanagement.

President Obama: it's time to wrest control of these sacred mountains from earth haters and put the original owners back in charge.


Rolling Stone: Obama won't approve KXL

Jeff Goodell has penned a longread at Rolling Stone: he believes President Obama will deny approval for the climate-killing Keystone XL pipeline after mid-term elections:
But the sad truth is that even if Obama manages to pull off the climate trifecta – implementing EPA power-plant rules, killing Keystone and forging a global agreement to cut carbon pollution – he won't have done enough. He won't have pushed through a price on carbon. He won't have stopped oil drilling in the Arctic. He won't have cut subsidies to Big Oil and Coal that distort the energy market. But he will have changed the political calculation about what is possible. Already Hillary Clinton is talking about the need for a mass movement on climate; Podesta believes climate will emerge as a key issue in the 2016 presidential race. As for Republicans, "being hostile to science is not a good way to win elections," says Steve Schmidt, a prominent GOP consultant. Sen. Whitehouse believes that energy politics are changing so quickly that Congress may well take up legislation again in the not-so-distant future that puts a price on carbon. [Goodell, Obama's Last Shot]


South Dakota, New Mexico, Wyoming spinning energy revolving door

Looks like South Dakota Secretary of Tribal Relations JR LaPlante is leaving a Republican post for one under a Democrat. My guess is he got fed up with the kidnapping of American Indian kids during the Rounds and Daugaard terms. You can listen to Kealey Bultena's story that she produced for Bill Janklow's idea of public radio here.

The sign for Black Hills Exploration and Production in Bloomfield, New Mexico was head-snapping on the recent drive to Chaco Wash. So was the announcement that ecoterrorist Peabody Coal is sending their CEO to deliver the commencement speech at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology where a Peabody board member, an earth hater former US Representative from New Mexico, serves as president. Her twitter feed reveals quite the jet-setter life regularly flying home to Albuquerque and elsewhere.

Fracking is happening just outside of Chaco threatening to trigger seismic activity under the fragile sacred site.

Intersecting with a blogger's obsession and Republicans plundering the earth for personal and corporate gain is a piece from guest writer University of Wyoming professor emeritus Peter Shive posted at WyoFile. Here are a few grafs:

Powerful external and internal voices argue that the University has failed to adequately serve the needs of the state, and that we must never offend the energy industries. Because of the importance of energy resources to Wyoming’s economy, we are encouraged to enter into “partnerships with energy.” Our newest college, the School of Energy Resources, is designed to foster such partnerships.
I saw the benefits of similar partnerships to my department colleagues, and in fact the new Geology building was built using excess funds from the Abandoned Mine Lands program, which would not have existed without Wyoming coal. These partnerships worked, and the key reason they worked was that there were no strings attached.
It is different now, because the strings (cables, actually) have been added. When legislators say, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you,” or threaten to reduce or remove university funding, and even suggest reprisals to individuals for offending an energy corporation, the message is that we must not carry out certain kinds of research projects or reach conclusions that an energy corporation might not like.
This kind of coercion is fatal. In certain areas of interest to the energy corporations, it will eventually drive away the legitimate researchers and replace them with the sort of scientists who used to work for the cigarette companies. However, if energy corporations need to not be offended, then their needs are not the same as the needs of the state. Why not? Because corporations sometimes lie or obstruct the search for the truth, because one of the duties of a university is to reveal the truth, and because one of the rights of its citizens should be to have access to the truth. Wyoming is not well served if it requires its own university to lie to its own citizens. [Shive, Corporations lie. So what? WyoFile with permission, links ip added]
When Black Hills Corp. greases candidates like Heather Wilson while South Dakota's Board of Minerals and Environment makes conflicts of interest harder to find and the Public Utilities Commission is stacked with Republicans, the blur of the revolving door is head-snapping.


Anthropocene threatening extinction of Earth Day


Elizabeth Harball and ClimateWire wrote about findings cited in a report published in the journal Nature:
Compared with a watershed where a beetle infestation's impacts were less intense and occurred less recently, a watershed with more beetle-killed trees absorbs about 30 percent more groundwater, the researchers found. In fact, the study was motivated by a paper published in Nature Climate Change in October of 2012 that found that Colorado water treatment facilities in beetle-impacted areas dealt with higher organic carbon concentrations in their source water — along with significantly more disinfection byproducts in the drinking water, which can be harmful to human health. [Scientific American]

The scale of carbon emissions associated with industrial activity and land clearing is leading to a rise in atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHG) at a rate unprecedented in the Cainozoic record, excepting events triggered by global volcanic eruptions, large asteroid impacts and methane release. Such an evidence is leading to attempts at classification of a new geological era—the Anthropocene. The era has been defined in terms of the onset of the modern industrial age and its acceleration since about 1950.
On one hand, it could be from the onset of Neolithic agriculture and gradual rise in carbon dioxide (CO2) since ∼6000 years ago and methane since ∼4000 years ago. On the other hand, it may be an amalgamation of factors in an era referred to as the Palaeoanthropocene. This paper suggests the defining point leading to the Anthropocene and subsequently the 6th mass extinction of species hinges on the mastery of fire and thereby the magnification of energy output and entropy in nature over which, in the long term, the species has no control. The discoveries of ignition of fire and its transfer have rendered Homo a unique genus from the minimum age of >1.8 million years (Ma) ago, regarded as a turning point in biological evolution and termed here Early Anthropocene. The onset of the Neolithic, allowed by stabilization of the Holocene climate, is referred to as the Middle Anthropocene, while the onset of the industrial age since about 1750 AD is referred to as the Late Anthropocene. [Andrew Glikson, Fire and human evolution: The deep-time blueprints of the Anthropocene]


Quinnipiac: over half of Colorado voters have tried cannabis

Luke Runyon of KUNC, produced a radio story on Colorado's cannabis industry: businesses are rebranding product offering organic strains while still being challenged by banking laws.

Data released by Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University pollsters show cannabis trends across seven states in which they had conducted polls last February and March.

A Pew poll reflects American acceptance of cannabis becoming more universal.


Lederman linked to Bendagate, too

On the anniversary of the BP ecocide in the Gulf of Mexico, South Dakota's Bendagate just gets weirder.

State Senator Dan Lederman and lawyer Joel Arends have teamed up to run Annette Bosworth in the earth hater US Senate primary in South Dakota to deflect attention from former governor Mike Rounds, the current cash leader in the race and to siphon resources from viable candidates: it's likely there are two fraudulent runners. Rounds is stained by the EB-5 Bendagate scandal as are his successor, Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Attorney General Marty Jackley.

Jonathan Ellis writes in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader:
SDRC Inc., a South Dakota company that managed the state’s EB-5 immigrant investor program, wanted to supply financing to TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, a project that ignited a fierce national political battle between environmentalists and pro-business groups. A state investigation revealed that Richard Benda, the former secretary of economic development and tourism under Gov. Mike Rounds, diverted $550,000 of a $1 million state grant to Northern Beef Packers shortly after Benda left state government to work for SDRC. [Ellis, Documents link state-sponsored company, Keystone XL]
Scott Waltman from the Aberdeen American News:
Dennis Hellwig was answering a series of questions in February 2013 about the plant’s financing and a $2.11 million mechanic’s lien filed against the plant by Scott Olson Digging five years earlier, in March 2008. He also testified in the deposition that he once tried to call Rounds’ office to discuss the plant and left a message for the governor. A couple of minutes later, Hellwig said, Benda called him back and said, “You go through me to get to the governor." [Waltman, Beef plant deals fired up, froze]
Bob Mercer sez:
And for what it’s worth, the public-affairs trio whose firm is running the U.S. Senate campaign of former Gov. Mike Rounds — the former governor’s former chief of staff Rob Skjonsberg, former senior aide Jason Glodt and former state Sen. Bob Gray — also are involved in the effort to put together the money to get the line west to Lyman. It all might be a coincidence, but it’s also worth noting that the former governor’s father, Don Rounds, was a long-time lobbyist for the petroleum industry. The Obama administration will be in office through 2016. With a new South Dakota permit becoming necessary, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the next move would be proposal of rail shipping that could send trains of oil in any direction from South Dakota. [This matter bears watching.Bob Mercer, Pure Pierre Politics]


STUDFISH Lordz Rez-Erection 2014

Timothy McVeigh=Cliven Bundy=Ted Nugent.

Today is the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. It happened a month after my little sister was killed and three months after the birth of my first daughter.

May 4th: The Stud Bar: 399 9th Street at Harrison, SF 94103
DUSTFISH goes back to the playa HARD in Lord Huckleberry’s honor. Our live music stage (usually about 8/Esplanade) will be a hot air balloon flying airship. This was Lord’s dream of travel, and we’ll create it this year. Monkey’s flying out of Lordz Ass? You betcha . . . and more! . . . Mebbe you’ll wanna join us out there, anyway come play with us at STUDFISH. All welcome!


Veteran Robinson to unhood KLAN

Kristi is headed to Asia: whither Bryon?
The campaign of Democrat Corinna Robinson, who is challenging [At-large earth hater Rep. Kristi Lynn Arnold] Noem, raised $65,266 in the most recent reporting period; with $15,000 coming from PACs including the UPS Store and ExxonMobil. Much of the rest came from individual contributions. The Rapid City native ended March with $19,400 in cash on hand. She has total receipts of $109,000 during the election cycle. Of that, Robinson has donated $7,150 and loaned an additional $20,000 to her campaign, records show.
Ashley Heacock, campaign manager for Corinna for South Dakota, said the candidate is working aggressively to meet people across the state and spread her background and message and stress the need for funds to help her win in November. The more people find out about Robinson and learn about Noem's voting record in Washington, "they're going to put their hat in for Corinna," she said. Heacock pointed to a recent poll the campaign commissioned from RMA Research that showed only a third of those registered voters sampled in South Dakota thought Noem did a good or excellent job, with almost the same number saying her work was poor or very poor. RMA said that signals dissatisfaction with Noem and shows voters are interested in supporting an alternative, even if they are not familiar with the candidate. [Christopher Doering, USATODAY, published in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader]
Read Cory's take at Madville Times.


Mountaintop removal mine worrying Wyoming Black Hills residents

Surprise! Cross-state pollution rules? Marty could care less.
The Bear Lodge Project has three main components: 1) construct and operate an open pit mine and associated facilities on National Forest system lands and private lands within the Bearlodge Mountains in Crook County, Wyoming; 2) construct and operate a hydrometallurgical plant for further concentration and recovery of rare earth elements on private lands in Upton, Wyoming; and 3) continue mineral exploration activities by drilling and trenching on the Bearlodge Mountains, Wyoming. [press release, Black Hills National Forest]
More Canadians are taking advantage of Wyoming's continued assault on the Black Hills. A mine intended to remove Bull Hill at the headwaters of the Beaver Creek drainage in the Bear Lodge could pollute the Belle Fourche and Cheyenne Rivers even worse than they are now.
More than 140 people attended the first public meeting held by the Black Hills National Forest to address the mine plan. If approved, it would be the second rare-earth mine in the U.S. Only two rare-earth mines exist right now outside of China – one in Australia and another in Mountain Pass, California. The mine would be about 6 air miles north of Sundance in northeast Wyoming and would cover about 1,700 acres in the Black Hills National Forest. The Forest Service is accepting written comments from the public on the plan until April 30. A draft environmental impact statement will be presented for public comment in the spring of 2015 with a final objection period in the winter of 2015. [Christine Peterson, Residents question safety of proposed rare-earth mine, Casper Star-Tribune]

The Sundance Times' Sarah Pridgeon tells readers:
Rare Element Resources has initiated a land exchange that, if approved by the Board of Land Commissioners, will allow the company to acquire 640 surface and mineral acres of State Trust Land near Warren Peak, adjacent to the planned Bull Hill Rare Earth Mine. In exchange, the State of Wyoming will acquire 400 acres of additional land in the Little Grand Canyon area, says Lisa Reinhart, Office of State Lands and Investments. The exchange will aid RER in its development of the Bull Hill Rare Earth Mine, allowing waste rock and low grade material to be stored after extraction from the Forest Service land upon which the mine will sit. The detailed analysis is now available for public review on the website at lands.state.wy.us and the comment period is open until March 15, while the final Board consideration date is anticipated for April 11.

AP Photo/Gillette News Record, Steve Remich from Rapid City Journal

The industry's rooters have been saturating the media with propaganda ahead of Congressional review of the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act. Comes this from Bloomberg's Jim Snyder:
"It's astounding in this time of trillion-dollar deficits that we aren't looking more closely at revenue off of public lands," Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said in an interview. "This would be a very good place to do it." Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., estimated the U.S. could generate about $3 billion over 10 years with a 12.5 percent royalty and other fees on hardrock mining. In his 2013 budget, President Obama included a royalty rate of 5 percent for new mining operations.
The SDGOP-owned Department of Ecocide and Natural Ruination has come under the eye of another state enterprise:
A report [pdf] submitted by state officials to the EPA cites 166 lakes and streams in South Dakota as polluted or impaired. The bodies of water fail to meet government standards for clean water. Most of the polluted waters in South Dakota are due to non-point sources such as livestock waste. [Charles Michael Ray, Bill Janklow's idea of public radio]


Martinez next Palin? Radioactive waste could be buried in SD shale

A former New Mexico US Representative, now South Dakota college president, ran a political campaign for a Southwest Republican governor now reeling from the Albuquerque Police Department scandal.
Petty. Vindictive. Weak on policy. And yet she's being hailed as the Republican Party's great new hope. The question on everyone's mind is this: Can Susana Martinez overcome all these shortfalls should 2016 come calling? There's still time for her to harness the charisma and keen strategic instincts that won over both juries and voters, and to curb her worst impulses and rid herself of the advisers who have indulged them. Can Martinez follow the path of Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, two governors who rose from provincial acclaim to national stature—or will her ascent end more like Palin's? [Andy Kroll, Mother Jones]
Posted at Slate:
The most troubling revelations in Kroll's piece are about Martinez's lack of knowledge. In one leaked email, Martinez expresses ignorance of the controversy over the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, a nuclear waste storage site that is highly controversial in New Mexico and has been for years. Kroll also has a recording of a 2010 campaign conference call about the state's Commission on the Status of Women that shows that Martinez doesn't feel she needs to know anything about an office to know she's against it. [Amanda Marcotte, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez Has a Foul Mouth and Isn't Big on Facts. She Could Be President.]
Steve Terrell writes in the Santa Fe New Mexican:
Jay McCleskey, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s political adviser, is probably the best known political consultant in the state. So it might not be surprising that, according to the most recent batch of campaign finance reports filed this week, he’s also the best paid consultant in New Mexico’s gubernatorial race this year. [Terrell, Governor’s adviser McCleskey is top-paid consultant in race]
The Albuquerque Journal reports that the Martinez campaign staff includes at least one member of the scrum Heather Wilson used in her failed US Senate bid. Wilson is now President of South Dakota School of Mines. She wants to bury radioactive waste in South Dakota:
The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology announced Thursday a partnership with RESPEC, a local mining and energy company, to conduct experiments in the Pierre shale formation east of Rapid City to better understand how the rock formation behaves during mining. The research would examine how the formation might work for storage of energy products and disposal of waste. The waste disposal could be used for byproducts of fracking operations like flowback water or slurries from drilling, which can pick up radioactive elements that are naturally occurring in the ground, said Lance Roberts, RESPEC senior vice president. He said it could also be used for radioactive waste like from nuclear energy operations. School of Mines President Heather Wilson said the next step is to begin developing initial experiments as well as working to leverage the investment from the state to increase funding from other sources, like the federal government and private industry. [Jennifer Naylor Gesick, Rapid City Journal]
In other ecocide news:
The NRC has issued a final source and byproduct materials licence for Powertech's Dewey-Burdock uranium recovery facility. The ISL uranium project still requires approval from the US Environmental Protection Agency and from relevant state authorities before construction activities can begin.
"Relevant state authorities:" bwahahahahaha!


ICTM continues probe of Rounds/Daugaard ICWA crimes

Pennington County's behavior has been called shocking.
For 17 months, Stephen Pevar had been on a quiet but determined mission to end what he saw as the wholesale removal of Indian children from their homes without due process in South Dakota. Since October 2011, he and the legal team working on behalf of tribes in the area had devoted hundreds of hours to researching, consulting with experts and piecing together their facts in a very broad and complex case that was growing larger by the day. Officials from South Dakota, who all declined to be interviewed for this story, immediately filed a Motion to Dismiss the case with Judge Jeffrey Viken, the Chief Judge for the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota. [Suzette Brewer, Swept Away, Part 3: The Battle for South Dakota’s Native Children Begins, Indian Country Today Media]


Chaco culture enchants

When the people of the Chaco Wash were building in what is now northwestern New Mexico the ancestors of the Lakota were living in post-archaic North Carolina.
The cultural flowering of the Chacoan people began in the mid 800s and lasted more than 300 years. We can see it clearly in the grand scale of the architecture. Using masonry techniques unique for their time, they constructed massive stone buildings (Great Houses) of multiple stories containing hundreds of rooms much larger than any they had previously built. The buildings were planned from the start, in contrast to the usual practiced of adding rooms to existing structures as needed. Constructions on some of these buildings spanned decades and even centuries. Although each is unique, all great houses share architectural features that make them recognizable as Chacoan.


Missouri River at risk to main stem dams, GOP

Travis Gulbrandson writes in the Yankton Daily Press and Dakotan:
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, sediment management is the surest way to extend the life of Lewis & Clark Lake and the benefits provided by the Gavins Point Dam and reservoir. Tim Cowman, director of the Missouri River Institute (MRI), discussed the phenomenon and its impacts at the annual MRI Research Symposium, which was held Thursday at USD. The increased amount of sediment in the delta also is affecting plantlife. “What happened in the flood of 2011 was that because we had such high levels of water going through Gavins Point Dam was that, basically, the delta sediments got pushed further up into the wake. So even though a lot of it still is invisible ... it’s now much shallower,” he said. Cowman said it was like being in a science fiction film. [A Growing Problem: Sediment Continues To Threaten L&C Lake]
Across the Missouri River basin, March set a new SWE [snow water equivalent] record for April 1 thanks to 173 percent of average snowfall, although it hasn’t topped the total record set in 2011. Overall it is at 160 percent of normal, 168 percent of last year and up 14 percent from last month, the report states. [Zach Benoit, Montana snowpack through March near 2011 levels]

Despite the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ forecast that the risk of flooding along the upper Missouri River Basin is minimal this spring, some groups want stepped up releases through Garrison Dam begin as soon as possible. Jody Farhat, water management chief for the corps, said plans are to step up releases through Garrison Dam from the current 18,000 cubic feet per second to 24,000 cfs by April 15 and 25,000 cfs by the end of the month. She said that would mean a 2-3 foot increase in the level of the Missouri River through Bismarck and Mandan. Farhat said based on the corps’ models, Lake Sakakawea will rise to an elevation of 1,839 feet under its lower model, 1,847.9 feet under its basic model and to 1,852 feet under its upper model. Sakakawea is now at an elevation of about 1,836 feet. Lake Oahe, was is at a current elevation of 1,605 feet and could rise 10 feet under the high model. [Brian Gehring, Bismarck Tribune]
David Rookhuyzen writes in the Pierre Capital Journal:
Joel Knofczynski, the acting reservoir regulation team leader, said half of all runoff coming into the reservoir system comes from melting mountain snowpack, while 25 percent comes from rainstorms and another 25 percent comes from the Plains snowpack. That last component is minimal this year, he said. The Corps expects to have normal to above normal elevations and releases for irrigation and recreation purposes. There should also be steady to rising levels on the Missouri’s three largest reservoirs – Fort Peck, Garrison and Oahe – during the prey fish spawning season. [Rookhuyzen, Corps of Engineers: Missouri runoff higher than average, but not concerning]
President Obama: tear down these dams.


'Plowed under:' freight rail accelerating watershed, grassland decimation

From a long piece by Jocelyn C. Zuckerman in the American Prospect:
The region’s game birds are in serious trouble. Driving across South Dakota the following afternoon with the radio on, I learned that Governor Dennis Daugaard had just announced an emergency pheasant-habitat summit. Last summer, the state’s Department of Game, Fish and Parks recorded a 64 percent decline in the number of pheasant broods from the already record low levels of 2012. Though a rainy nesting season and an early fall blizzard hadn’t helped matters, the region’s problems involve more than inclement weatherand extend far beyond the birds. Unfortunately, once the prairies—composed of some 200 types of grasses, forbs, and sedges—have been destroyed, they are virtually impossible to bring back. [Zuckerman, Plowed Under]
Bryan Horwath writes in the Aberdeen American News:
Representatives from rail giants BNSF and Canadian Pacific, both of which move products in South Dakota, have said the backlog for agribusiness-related shipments has less to do with a competition between energy and ag interests and more to do with a harsh winter and general congestion along rail lines, including a big backup in Chicago. A farm manager in Pierre, Pat Tracy reported during the news conference that about 11 million bushels of grain are backlogged in his area. [Horwath, Area growers: Railroads favor oil over ag]

Nick Smith from the Bismarck Tribune:
Some western North Dakota Democrats think the oil patch region may be approaching a tipping point in which they could make inroads into the Legislature. LuAnn Casler said the state should have spaced out the pace of drilling in the oil patch from the onset for infrastructure to keep pace with record oil production and build out of the communities in the region. The current balance has approximately 75 percent of gross production tax money going back to the state and 25 percent to the oil patch counties. [Smith, West reaching tipping point]


Turbiville resigns economic development post ahead of Bendagate lawsuit

A Republican former state lawmaker is fleeing a Deadwood post ahead of a lawsuit seeking information about likely criminal activity committed in the Rounds administration.
Citing the demands of serving as mayor for the past year, Chuck Turbiville announced Monday his resignation as executive director of the Deadwood-Lead Economic Development Corp. "Over that period of time we have assisted over 75 businesses to start up, to operate and to continue to grow,” he said. “We’ve loaned out several million dollars, and we have made a lasting impression on the cities of Lead, Deadwood and Central City.” [Tom Griffith, Rapid City Journal]
Black Hills Pioneer story here.

Attorneys for Darley Commercial have requested about every document imaginable in connection with 11 South Dakota EB-5 projects, including Northern Beef Packers, a Deadwood casino, a Day County wind farm and a Huron turkey plant. [Scott Waltman, Aberdeen American News]
Overheard at a drunken music video shoot:
This is the last goddamned check I'm going to write to you assholes!
--Big Kenny Alphin, handing a check for $5M to Mike Gustafson.

Construction is reportedly obscenely over budget.

Jaci Conrad Pearson writes in the Black Hills Pioneer:
For the second month in a row, Deadwood gaming numbers are up over prior year, with November seeing a nearly 7 percent increase in gross revenues and nearly a 10 percent increase in the handle. This year's total year to date handle is $1,011,187,788 as compared to $1,057,862,061 for the same period in 2010. Sen. Tom Nelson, president of the Deadwood Gaming Association is cautiously optimistic about the “up.”
Hey, Tom: how many hen houses have you been hired to guard anyway?

Everybody smokes in Hell.


Retired Montana FWP biologist: rewild the West

Theodore Roosevelt, who was hunting and ranching near Medora, North Dakota, wrote in 1885: “A ranchman who ... made a journey of a thousand miles across northern Montana, along the Milk River, during the whole distance he was never out of sight of a dead buffalo, and never in sight of a live one.” One witness to the shameful wildlife slaughter in the Judith Basin was a 16-year-old youth from Missouri who like Stuart arrived there in 1880 — Charles M. Russell. Charlie saw a good part of it go and then said: “The West is dead! You may lose a sweetheart, but you won’t forget her.” Among the images he blessed us with was a masterpiece that pictured buffalo crossing the Missouri and climbing out on the “breaks.” He called it “When the Land Belonged to God.” Today, we observe the 150th anniversary of both Charlie’s birth, and Montana’s birth as a Territory. Today, nothing prevents us from finishing the saga of wildlife restoration — except the cultural will to just simply do it. What Charlie put on canvas we now are capable of putting out on the landscape. It is time to return buffalo to the wild and to do it with pride and with dignity. [Jim Posewitz, Time to return buffalo to wild, Montana Standard]
Here's more:
Efforts by Utah Rep. Rob Bishop to undermine the 1906 Antiquities Act (pdf) and by the Utah Legislature to take control of federal lands in the state are “symptoms” of a larger national issue, says Jonathan Jarvis, director of the National Park Service. Jarvis points out the act “has been used by both Democratic and Republican presidents since its inception. We have used it with this president to expand the national park system to represent contributions of minorities. [Billings Gazette]

The ninth annual New Horizons Oil & Gas Conference will focus on oil and gas activities in the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, especially as they affect the Williston, Powder River and Denver-Julesburg producing basins. Geology and geological engineering professor emeritus Alvis Lisenbee says the Black Hills are an ideal location for the petroleum conference. He says rock layers, which produce oil in the surrounding areas, are at the surface, and geologists can walk up to an outcrop and see the material. [KOTA teevee]
The South Dakota Department of Transportation has announced its schedule to rebuild I-90 east of Wall again at taxpayer expense. Why? Because the Pierre Shale that breaks up the interstate every year makes the Keystone pipeline untenable.

Ellsworth Air Force Base plans to downsize personnel this year as part of a nationwide shift in Air Force funding priorities. Offers of voluntary separation or early retirement have been extended to airmen across the country. [KDLT teevee]

Stock growers in the Paradise Valley say the proposal would give ranchers in the greater Yellowstone area valuable tools to manage elk, which carry the bacteria the causes brucellosis, and limit the possibility elk could transmit the costly disease to domestic cattle. Brucellosis has been mostly eradicated in the United States, but the bacteria continue to exist in wild bison and elk populations in and around Yellowstone National Park. Management of Yellowstone bison is governed by the state/federal Interagency Bison Management Plan and is designed to prevent the spread of brucellosis from wild bison to domestic cattle. Critics raised concerns about the impacts wildlife-proof fencing would have on native wildlife species — from antelope to elk — and the potential for ranchers in the Paradise Valley to essentially “privatize” wild game. “Cattle are the source of the problem and asking FWP to build fences on private land to control the elk with fees derived from hunters is an asinine suggestion,” wrote Mark Potter of Polson. Steve Kelley, director of the Montana Ecosystems Defense Council, said the plan recommendations would cause “significant adverse environmental impacts to Montana wildlife and habitat, in violation of state and federal statutes. [John S. Adams, Elk plan in cross hairs, Great Falls Tribune]

President Obama: rewild the West.
President Barack Obama’s request for the 2015 fiscal year calls for an increase of $2.8 million in funding for the agency’s wild horse and burro program, and would allow it to continue studies to develop more effective contraceptive drugs and techniques. The budget also seeks to maintain funding for the BLM’s initiative to conserve sage grouse habitat across the West to avoid the bird’s listing as an endangered or threatened species. [AP, Billings Gazette]