Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Forest Service preparing for year-round wildfire season

Today in climate change:
Not so long ago the U.S. Forest Service considered it primarily a summer problem with a few regions breaking the trend in early spring and late fall. But climate change, according to most wildland fire experts, has turned fire season into a year-round issue. What used to slow down fire season was winter—a long and cold time of year with lots of snow that killed off many invasive or destructive pests and filled rivers and reservoirs with ample water to supply the needs of millions living in the West. Now winter is shorter and has far less snow accumulation in many areas. It will take years to slow and hopefully reverse the effects of climate change on our wildlands, but it’s not impossible — we just all have to pitch in. [US Forest Service]
The world's oldest trees are dying.

Hardwood forests and lighter-colored surfaces reflect sunlight and protect watersheds while the needles of conifers absorb heat creating faster snowmelt.
In summer, the eastern United States is the world’s major hot spot for volatile organic compounds (V.O.C.s) from trees. Chemical reactions involving tree V.O.C.s produce methane and ozone, two powerful greenhouse gases, and form particles that can affect the condensation of clouds. Research by my group at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and by other laboratories, suggests that changes in tree V.O.C.s affect the climate on a scale similar to changes in the earth’s surface color and carbon storage capacity. [Nadine Unger, New York Times.]
The Industrial Revolution and European settlement in the New World took hardwoods for charcoal then humans allowed fast-growing conifers to replace lost forests.

In the Mountain West vast tracts of land have been cleared by bark beetles where aquifers are being recharged: a practice well known to pre-Columbian cultures who burned forests to increase ungulate populations.

Department of Interior releases carbon findings:
Forests, grasslands and shrublands and other ecosystems in the West sequester nearly 100 million tons (90.9 million metric tons) of carbon each year, according to a Department of the Interior report released today.
Wildfire risk assessment proposed.
This non-native species was first introduced to the United Sates from Asia in packing material. Initially distributed along rail lines, it spread throughout many States including Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, and South Dakota.-- By Fabian Menalled MSU Extension Cropland Weeds Specialist
Christopher Joyce, NPR:
These cheatgrass fires are increasing partly because the climate is warmer and also because more people are living in cheatgrass country. There are some things that can be done though, like planting green borders of less flammable vegetation around cheatgrass as a fire break.
From the USGS Western Ecological Research Center:
There is significant concern that repeated burning at historically appropriate fire return intervals for ponderosa pine forest will benefit this invasive plant to the detriment of native species. There is additional concern that the high flammability of cheatgrass fuelbeds will lead to fire return intervals that are more frequent than occurred historically and that are prescribed in the agency fire management plans, potentially preventing recruitment of pine seedlings and leading to type conversion of native forests to alien grasslands.
Again, Christopher Joyce:
And there's a fungus that kills cheatgrass — it's called the black fingers of death — but introducing it could be biologically risky to other plants.
Grazing cheatgrass early in the season by native ungulates that deposit organic fertilizer helps restore native plants.

Uncanny that as this interested party called for the Sioux District of Custer National Forest to be remanded to local control a wildland fire of unknown origin began clearing cheatgrass there on the same day.

The entire proposed Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge will come under a Red Flag Warning today.

Mr. President: rewild the West.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Despite GOP entrenchment Amtrak commits to future in New Mexico

Talk of direct passenger rail service between the Empire Builder at Shelby, Montana and the Southwest Chief at Pueblo, Colorado through Denver continues.
Amtrak will stick with its existing route of the Southwest Chief passenger train that makes stops in the New Mexico towns of Raton, Las Vegas, Lamy and Albuquerque, a company spokesman said in an interview. In all, about 126,000 boardings and departures by Southwest Chief riders are made each year in New Mexico, Amtrak says. The company says it employs 57 residents of New Mexico, and that their total wages were about $5.2 million last year. [excerpt, Santa Fe New Mexican]
The Santa Fe Southern Railroad owns the Lamy depot and the 22-mile spur between the historic community and Santa Fe. Calling itself Train X and after moving the company's rail assets to Santa Fe, Las Vegas Railway Express got some experience operating a 'party train' over the line. The company quit operations of 3½-hour round trips that began in July and abruptly ended at the end of September announcing sale of the rights to an undisclosed company.

The Rail Runner between south of ABQ and Santa Fe goes through several pueblos and is well-supported with stops in each community: it has brought at least access to prosperity in an historically poor state.

New Mexico's GOP representative voted with the state's Democrats for final passage of the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015. South Dakota's At-large Representative Republican Kristi Noem voted for an amendment that would have ended federal funding for Amtrak as did Montana's GOP At-large representative, Ryan Zinke, even as they voted to continue subsidized air service.

Recall that former GOP South Dakota governor, Mike Rounds, squandered Amtrak money on an airplane for his personal use now Pierre continues to suffer subsidized Essential Air Service woes and low boarding numbers even while the legislature is in session.

Noem voting against the final language and Zinke voting for it, a bill investing $8 billion in Amtrak's future was ultimately passed.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Brookings, Daktronics beneficiaries of Obamanomics

The Peoples Republic of Brookings is not just home to South Dakota's most obese GOP blogger.
The Minnesota Vikings and Minneapolis Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) on Friday selected Daktronics to design, manufacture and install 18 LED video displays featuring 13HD technology for the new stadium currently under construction in Minneapolis. The company says a total of more than 25,000 square feet of video displays will work together to brand the Vikings home-game atmosphere and build a fan experience unique to the state. [Brookings Register]
Real estate values in Brookings County are rebounding from the horrors of the Bush era.
It’s an article of history, almost of faith, that a rising economy benefits the president, his party and its White House ticket. And there’s plenty to brag about: The national jobs report for February was greeted with adjectives that ran the gamut from “strong” to “wow” to “barnburner.” “The United States of America’s coming back,” Obama said Wednesday in Cleveland, and that should be good news for the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. [POLITICO, Hey governors: you didn't build that]
Brookings and Pierre could see, smell, feel and hear a hundred trains a day if Genesee and Wyoming gets its way.
Some Brookings County residents have been contacting their commissioners about a new policy that extends marriage-based benefits to county employees and their same-sex spouses if they have been legally married in a jurisdiction that permits same-sex marriage. Commissioners created the policy without discussion Dec. 31 but brought it up Tuesday to say they had no choice in the matter. “If we had not acted on this, we would have set the county up for a huge liability, should a suit arise,” said Stephne Miller, commissioner. [County clarifies policy on same-sex marriage benefits, Brookings Register]
Daktronics is home to a thriving progressive technocracy while Brookings Utilities is a right wing mob: go figure.
Construction of the huge Bel Brands USA cheese plant and the city-built wastewater digester helped push the value of commercial construction in the community to $35.6 million. [Brookings Register]
Businesses should be allowed to ban obese people: airlines and taxi services should charge more for fat people. Scales and Body Mass Index stations should be outside stores where food is sold. Businesses with buffets should have scales at the door and anyone with a BMI over 23 will pay an additional $1.00 for every whole number above that.

Food stores should have scales at tills that add surcharges according to BMIs. Gas stations should have scales that determine price per gallon according to BMI unless you have documentation in your debit/credit card updated by your doctor that you're on a weight reduction regimen.

Just a reminder: former SOS Gant employee, Pat Powers fled his hometown, Pierre...at least twice...for the Peoples Republic of Brookings. Why? Because the state's capital is a shit hole.

Brookings: divest from coal and wean yourself from fossil fuels.

Friday, March 27, 2015

South Dakota wildlife killers want non-native fish in Missouri basin

There has been considerable flap over attempts by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to close the DC Booth Hatchery in Spearditch, especially when facility is well-supported by tourists and locals alike. But, it's hard to imagine the Service continuing to support the release of hybrid and non-native trout by South Dakota's Department of Game, Fish & Parking Lot Construction when native species are being threatened in the Missouri River basin.
The hatcheries were slated to receive 20,000 Atlantic salmon eggs apiece this year from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hatchery in New Hampshire. The first Atlantic salmon would have been reared at the hatchery for nearly a year before being stocked into Lake Oahe in 2016. They would take the place of roughly 40,000 of the Chinook salmon the GFP currently raises. That way there is no net increase of salmon in Lake Oahe, just a new species. [Pierre Capital Journal]
Chinook and Atlantic salmon are not native to the Missouri River, northern pike not indigenous to South Dakota's portion of the waterway.

It is said that trout are not native to the Hills: how that can be remains a mystery as cutthroat lived in the Platte to the south and Powder to the north. One explanation might be the concentrations of dissolved metals in the local hydrology.

There is no evidence of native trout in the Little Missouri flowing north out of the Wyoming sage steppe, either. As the Black Hills has never been glaciated, the continual use of fire on the Black Hills by human inhabitants for the last ten thousand years may have rendered ancient fisheries unable to sustain salmonids: perhaps those factors combined.
Mike Cummings believes anglers should have a wider variety of game fish to go after when fishing in Black Hills reservoirs — and one of the species he is pushing is the highly sought-after walleye. Cummings, owner of The Rooster bait and tackle shop in Rapid City, said a proposed 5-year South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department management plan for Black Hills reservoir fishing puts too much emphasis on management of trout. [Rapid City Journal]
Walleye was introduced to the Missouri River concurrent with the construction of the main stem dams.
Walleye was first reported in Wyoming in 1961 from Seminoe Reservoir in the upper North Platte River. The fish were swept downstream and are now established in a 450-km stretch of river (McMahon and Bennett 1996). The walleye was stocked illegally in Canyon Ferry Reservoir, Montana, and was found first circa 1991 (White, personal communication). More recently, the species also was illegally stocked in Noxon Reservoir on the Clark Fork of the Columbia River, Montana (McMahon and Bennett 1996). Illegal introductions seem to be a growing problem in western states (McMahon and Bennett 1996). [USGS, nonindigenous aquatic species]
Native fish like pallid sturgeon are in danger of extirpation in the dam-choked Missouri River.

It's the opinion of this interested party that USFWS should block releases of these fish into any part of the system but preventing the community to find a way to finance rearing for private ponds would be unthinkable.

How a GOP-owned agency like SDGF&P is enabled instead of being sued by the US Fish and Wildlife Service remains a mystery.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Rapid City mayoral election referendum on race relations

Few dispute that Rapid City is divided by race and income.
On March 5, Mayor Sam Kooiker announced his intentions to seek re-election. When asked about his biggest challenge, regarding the Native American community, in the past four years as mayor, Kooiker says, “Making strides in race relations and having things happen which set things back.” The other example of efforts to involve minorities in city positions was the failed appointment of Elias Diaz; which Kooiker claims was conspired by members of city council. Diaz would have been the first Native American, or minority, in the position of police chief in Rapid City. [excerpt, Richie Richards, Native Sun News]
An analysis of the previous election from Joseph Budd appeared in the Native Sun News and was reposted at Indianz.com:
But in all, it would prove to be a close fight, as Hanks would win 12 precincts, out of 25 in the city to speak of. For the Native Americans within Rapid City, voting in specific areas tended to highlight this. The Lakota Homes subdivision, located within the Ward Four, Precinct Three, would have 193 votes for Hanks, while 285 votes would be counted for Kooiker. North Rapid, the section that Kooiker had mentioned regarding gerrymandering issues, would vote for Kooiker as well, with a 198-109 total. Overall, Kooiker’s win highlighted the division in Rapid City, between the well-to-do living in West side and Sheridan Lake Road areas and the middle-lower class living on the East and North Side, but it also highlighted that those traditionally living in North Rapid, are now spreading out to other parts of Rapid City. During Kooiker’s censure, several people were brought forth to defend his freedom of speech, including Robert Doody, Executive Director of American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota.
Former mayor Alan Hanks is a Roman Catholic. That sect is deeply rooted in the collective Native unconscious as the psychosexual predators that colluded with the US to abrogate the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.

Also a Catholic, Kevin Woster reported in the Rapid City Journal:
I pondered the question when I saw Kooiker Monday night during a Fourth of July celebration at the southwest Rapid City home of Qusi and Jamie Al-haj. Qusi is a former Republican Party leader in Pennington County and current West River director for U.S. Sen. John Thune. And when Qusi celebrates, he enjoys a little company. Last week, that included familiar Republicans such as Ken Davis and J.P. Duniphan. It also included the most devout of Democrats, Bill Walsh, who announced loudly that Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were the world's three greatest leaders.
The opulent west side Blessed Sacrament Church parking lot looks like a Lexus/Lincoln dealership every Sunday. Sam Kooiker is a white evangelical Protestant with ties to the sovereign movement, the radical anti-government secessionist wing of the Republican Party, that seeks to woo tribal members in other political races.

After 5-shooting an unarmed American Indian man a Pennington County deputy will face a wrongful-death lawsuit.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit last week upheld Chief U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Viken's decision concerning the lawsuit filed by Jerry and Jaylene Capps in 2012 on behalf of their Native-American son. The parents claim the deputy violated their son's constitutional rights and used excessive force. [Rapid City Journal]
Also announcing for the race race is a former police chief whose force was accused of being a 'bunch of racists' by a former member of the judiciary.

A civil trial is underway in Rapid City involving an American Indian man who claims Rapid City Regional Hospital employees intentionally carved the letters 'KKK' into his abdomen.
A Native American man scored a legal and symbolic court victory on Thursday in Rapid City with his acquittal on a charge of fishing without a license. James Swan, 53, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and a Rapid City resident, represented himself in 7th Circuit Magistrate Court at the Pennington County Courthouse. Will Williams, of the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office, was the prosecutor. [Seth Tupper]
No Democrat has announced for the Rapid City mayoral contest.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

South Dakota preparing air strikes on Montana

After the 1997 crash of an Ellsworth-based B1-B in Carter County, Montana a responding volunteer firefighter from Alzada told this interested party the multi-million dollar aircraft was brought down by a rancher with a .30-30 Winchester. Just miles away another multi-million dollar bomber augured in recently as did a private aircraft.

Expect it to happen even more often now.
Roger Meggers, who manages Eastern Montana’s Baker Municipal Airport, was in Washington on Tuesday meeting with lawmakers about the expansion. Meggers said the expanded airspace would cause significant delays at his small airport, and he said military aircraft traveling at high speeds are a serious safety concern for other aviators. “We’re disappointed and feel that the aircraft and public safety is at risk with the way it’s going forward,” he said. “It’s definitely a plus for South Dakota at the expense of Montana.” [Billings Gazette]
Hoka hey!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Six: bark beetles shape Mountain West water supplies

Update, 24 March, 0751 MDT: researchers trying to find a correlation between wildfires and beetle killed areas in lodgepole pine did not find one.
Distribution of aspen decline mapped during 2000–2010, the decline is shown in purple. Aspen’s climatic niche during 1961–1990 is shown in green. The dashed lines show regions of decline where demarcation is unclear. Many areas were not surveyed, so additional symptomatic areas exist that were not mapped. Credit James Worrall / U.S. Forest Service
Lodgepole tends to be logged for post, pole and oriented strand board (OSB); ponderosa pine, Douglas Fir and Engelmann Spruce tend to be logged for lumber.

Lodgepole pine and Douglas Fir have been extirpated from the Black Hills for nearly a century: the oldest aspen was virtually logged out during European settlement; yet, tiny stands of old-growth ponderosa pine can still be found in the Hills.

Ponderosa pine contains a much higher level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than many other cone-bearing trees and tends to be more explosive in wildfire conditions especially when under drought stress. Beetle-affected trees are pockmarked with 'pitchouts' that burst into flames during wildfires and torch more readily.



Bark Beetles Are Decimating Our Forests. That Might Actually Be a Good Thing.

h/t jerry.
On Friday, in the online journal “Forests,” University of Montana pine-beetle biologist Diana Six and two University of California-Berkeley policy experts published a review of the scientific evidence to date on whether forest manipulation is effective at preventing pine-beetle outbreaks. The answer is generally “No.” The paper concludes that weakening environmental laws to combat beetle outbreaks is unjustified given the high financial cost of continual treatment, the negative impacts such treatment can have on other values of the forest, and the possibility that trying to control beetles now could hurt forests as they try to survive climate change in the future. [Laura Lundquist, Research survey does not support logging as beetle outbreak remedy, Bozeman Daily Chronicle]
Montana's history of failed forest policy is legion.

As South Dakota's wildlife management bureaupublicans release disease-prone bighorn sheep onto federal lands, ostensibly to knock down a cheatgrass infestation created by the failure of Black Hills forest policy, the GOP-owned agency wants to kill more mountain goats.
“By our estimates (the population) was well below 100 animals,” said John Kanta, regional wildlife manager for the GF&P. “We were down around 60-70 mountain goats just prior to closing the [2007] season.” The cause of population decline was and remains largely unknown; however, there are some suspected causes. The first comes from a loss of habitat.
Kanta said that in 2007 the rapid increase in pine beetle infestation killed thousands of acres of trees leading to a more open canopy and better habitat for the animals.[Mark Watson]
Let's see: beetles bad but beetles good. Got it.
From Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 30, 2013, Lawrence County cut 48,000 non-commercial trees on Black Hills National Forest land. Meade County cut 6,214 trees on federal land while Pennington County cut 3,217 during that same period. According to the report criticizing Meade County’s management of the cut and chunk project, John Ball, a South Dakota State University Extension forestry specialist, claims the majority of the trees marked and cut were not infested, meaning within treated stands the crews caused more tree mortality than the beetles. Commissioner Alan Aker, who supervised the Meade County cut and chunk program, says the state ag department’s report is false. Aker, who also owns Aker Woods Company that was contracted to mark and cut infested trees, says that less than three percent of trees cut had no sign of infestation. According to Aker, those trees were cut to ensure worker safety. South Dakota spent $1.9 million in fiscal year 2012 in the ongoing fight against mountain pine beetles. An additional $2.4 million was spent in fiscal year 2013. The governor’s office anticipates appropriating $3.7 million, in fiscal year 2014. [Francie Ganje, KBHB Radio]
A university extension specialist working for the state questioning a Republican former legislator about contracts to remove dead trees on federal ground: priceless.
Sen. John Thune and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem’s offices announced this week that $1.5 million will be added to the Black Hills National Forest’s 2014 budget. The Forest Service said the money will be used to remove additional bug-infested trees. A recent report by the South Dakota state forester alleged that loggers were cutting healthy trees along with the bug-infested ones. [Meredith Colias, Rapid City Journal]
Remove the predators, expect pine beetle outbreaks. Pine needles absorb heat and shed snowmelt, aspen leaves reflect sunlight in summer and hold snowpacks.
The moisture in the Black Hills snowpack is not only better than last year, it beats the 30-year average according to the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service. When compared to the 30-year moisture average, all but one of the course readings are anywhere from 107 percent to 193 percent. [Jack Siebold, KOTA teevee]
150 years ago Populus tremuloides was the predominant deciduous tree species on the Black Hills and the Rocky Mountain Complex. Aspen, the most widely distributed deciduous tree species on Earth, is critical to the survival of the Black Hills’ unique ecotones.

Beaver communities rely on aspen to slow runoff and store water supplies. Aspen shoots are favorite browse for elk and bison.

Paha Sapa ("hills that are black" may have been a reference to burnt timber instead of the accepted, "seen from a distance") hasn’t been a natural forest since 1863 when a nearly Hills-wide fire (possibly set by humans hoping to clear pine), opened grazing for distinct historic ungulates.

Brown and Sieg have noted at least 77 instances of human-induced wildfire on the pre-settlement Hills.

You just can't make up this crap.

Wyoming-based land rapers job creators, Neiman Sawmills has bought off marshaled forces to grease assist LawCo politicos with at least 50,000 simoleans in their efforts to fool voters stem the imagined pine beetle epidemic.
In 2012, the company donated $50,000 cash and an additional $50,000 for in-kind services to the Lawrence County program. Neiman says the company will continue in-kind services, though it's not yet been determined how much for 2013. [KELO teevee]
Or what: get sued into bankruptcy for moving the insects in timber more efficiently with logging trucks along public highways and Forest Service roads to the mill for the last 50+ years? Now 3 mills that i know of, operate a virtual monopoly and lobby heavily in Pierre to pump the handle(s).

Fuck these people...too! The bug is removing one of the biggest threats to the Black Hills water supply by killing one remnant of anthropogenic interference in former bison and wapiti habitat: Ponderosa pine infestation.

Preserve the legacy pine by saving them from the Neimans, clear cut without building new roads especially where doghair chokes aspen, birch or hazelnut, convert it to biodiesel, and burn, baby, burn.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Commutation for Peltier more likely after Obama statements

There is little doubt that South Dakota's attorney general, Marty Jackley, is grasping at the straws propping up the Janklow legacy after the Wounded Knee standoff that made Leonard Peltier a prisoner of war.

The opening of cell doors for some people convicted under federal law came up in an interview with Huffington Post.
President Barack Obama plans to grant clemency to federal offenders "more aggressively" during the remainder of his presidency, he said in a sit-down interview with The Huffington Post on Friday. "If we can get some action done at the federal level, that will make a difference in terms of how, I think, more and more states recognize it doesn't make sense for us to treat nonviolent drug offenses the way we do," Obama said. Commutations grant federal prisoners early release. [excerpt, Obama: I'll Use Clemency Power 'More Aggressively']
Calls of executive clemency for Peltier have been getting louder and a plea for his release sits at the tip of President Obama's pen.
Through 6 former Presidents and President Obama's 1st term in Office, Millions of Individuals world-wide (including Judges, Attorneys, Statesmen & Dignitaries) have rallied in support of Clemency for Wrongly Incarcerated Native American Human Rights/Environmental Rights Activist Leonard Peltier. [petition]
Only one American Indian was pardoned under the Bush regime. ProPublica's Dafna Linzer and Jennifer LaFleur reveal mostly unsurprising results (to me) of a study co-published in the Washington Post. Here is an excerpt from the first of two articles:
Blacks have had the poorest chance of receiving the president's ultimate act of mercy, according to an analysis of previously unreleased records and related data. Current and former officials at the White House and Justice Department said they were surprised and dismayed by the racial disparities, which persist even when factors such as the type of crime and sentence are considered. Obama officials believed changes in the pardon system could be made by executive order.
A GOP South Dakota legislator, Rep. Steve Hickey of Sioux Falls has given voice to executive clemency for Peltier.

Leonard Peltier should be pardoned this year, Mr. President.

Occupied Rapid City is the setting for a weekend summit of the North American Indigenous Peoples' Caucus.

Photo: Last Real Indians.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Comments on Black Elk Peak sought

Harney Peak is not South Dakota's highest natural point, Odakota Mountain is. It is not the highest US point east of the Rocky Mountains, either: Guadalupe Peak in Texas is.
Written comments on a proposal to change the name of Harney Peak to Black Elk Peak are being taken until May 1 by the South Dakota Board on Geographic Names. Comments should be submitted to: SD Board on Geographic Names, Department of Tribal Relations, 302 East Dakota, Pierre, SD 57501. Comments can be faxed to 773-6592, or emailed to David.Reiss@state.sd.us. [Rapid City Journal]
The tower erected on top of a mal-named feature in The Hills That Are Black making it the state's tallest geomorph was just more scorn heaped on the Lakota People.
A Native American man says the name of South Dakota’s tallest mountain is offensive and should be changed. Basil Brave Heart, who is from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and describes himself as an Oglala Lakota elder, wants the name Harney Peak changed to Black Elk Peak. Brave Heart’s motivation is Harney’s role in the 1855 Battle of Ash Hollow, also known as the Battle of Blue Water Creek, which occurred in present-day Nebraska during a period called the First Sioux War. 
A force of 600 soldiers under Harney’s command attacked 250 Sioux and killed 86 of them, including some women and children. The same Lt. Warren who later named South Dakota’s highest point for Gen. Harney wrote about the battle in a journal. “The sight on the top of the hill was heart rending — wounded women and children crying and moaning, horribly mangled by the bullets,” Warren wrote, in part. “Wars carry a shadow,” Brave Heart said, “and the U.S. is carrying a shadow for all the atrocities it committed.” Jay Vogt, a member of the board and the director of the South Dakota State Historical Society, said any interested party could formally apply to change the name of Harney Peak. [excerpt, from Seth Tupper, Rapid City Journal]
This blog has hammered on the absence of Lakota in South Dakota high schools and on language equivalents for geographical features on SDDoT highway maps. If they had had any balls, Black Hills Badlands and Lakes would have listened to me in 2005 and co-name every geographical feature on its hand-out map with its Lakota equivalent.
Journals, expeditionary reports, and newspaper accounts from Harney‟s exploration
of the Hills in 1857, Raynold‟s in 1859, Custer‟s in 1874, and Jenney‟s in 1875 not only contain Lakota names for places now widely regarded as sacred, but some of them also include specific references to the spiritual activity connected with these places. [National Park Service]
Democratic state representative, Kevin Killer, led efforts to change an offensive county name. Killer was recently named a Bush Fellow.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Right-to-take lawsuit pits city against corporate raiders

In March of 2011 just before flooding overtook the stories Rob Chaney of the Missoulian was covering, two huge and related issues were circulating in Montana news.

The Smurfit-Stone sale replete with copious water rights going to somebody calling themselves Ralston Investments was trending concurrently with news that the Carlyle Group will buy Missoula-based Mountain Water.

In 2014 Carlyle announced it would sell the utility to a Canadian company.
Barring a negotiated resolution, [Missoula mayor, John] Engen said the city could resort to further litigation to stop Carlyle’s sale of Mountain Water to Algonquin. [Missoula Independent]
Now Missoula's right to force the sale of Mountain Water is in court.
This condemnation trial is unusual in at least one way, said Joe Conner, who gave opening statements on behalf of Mountain Water Co. He said the city has named 29 witnesses, and it's a long list of people. "I've tried several right-to-take cases, your honor. I've never seen as many witnesses," Connor said. To win, the city of Missoula must prove public use of the asset by the municipality is "more necessary" than use by the private company, he said. He said the bar is high because the water company already serves a public use. [Keila Szpaller]
This blogger believes the Mountain Water story and Montana's history of failed forest policy are inextricably linked.

Before European settlement the lodgepole and ponderosa pine stands that transpire trillions of gallons of water each year on public lands didn't exist because they were cleared by indigenous cultures for millennia. The fire resistant aspen and other hardwoods whose leaves reflect sunlight and hold snowpacks were logged out allowing the ingrowth of conifers whose needles absorb heat and accelerate snow melt.

Imagine a time when Carlyle builds a pipeline and sells Montana water to a parched Colorado River basin.

Montana is the water tower of the West. Carlyle's power play should scare the shit out of everyone who uses water.

A California blogger sees a pattern west of the Divide. Read more at Forests to Faucets.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Biblical christians make case for legal cannabis

It has just recently struck me why the Right is resisting parts of the Common Core standards: they stress human influence on climate change, genocide of indigenous by colonizers, gender equality and social justice.
Iowa Christian leader and former Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats on Wednesday said that he supports a deal to allow the growing and harvesting of cannabis for limited medicinal use. [Washington Post]
Cannabis is the fastest growing industry in the US: Houston Chronicle.
“I don’t believe that when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix,” wrote state Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, in a column in the Tribune on Monday. The Republican-led HB 2165 repeals dozens of marijuana statutes in Texas, which has some of the most notorious marijuana penalties in the nation. Last year, a teen faced life in prison for making brownies with a marijuana extract. Rep. Simpson wants to decriminalize cannabis Texas-style — without all the layers of government regulation and red tape. HB 2165 would simply treat cannabis like a crop, similar to tomatoes or coffee. The conservative lawmaker states that cannabis prohibition runs counter to Republican values and it runs counter to Christian beliefs. “Is there a place for prohibition? Yes, a prohibition of aggression (Romans 13). Our laws should prohibit and penalize violent acts … harm to one’s neighbor. Civil government should value everything God made and leave people alone unless they meddle with their neighbor.” [David Downs]
A friend flying to Houston from Quito, Ecuador engaged a teacher who had also just visited the Galapagos: in Texas they teach adaptation, not evolution.

Chris Christian is director of the Wyoming chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
Zephaniah Thompson flips through his Bible. He is a Christian Naturalist. "I believe that everything that god put upon this earth that is seeded and fertile is here for our use and our purposes," said Thompson. Thompson was recently charged with possession of marijuana and he says he shouldn't be due to his religious beliefs. ["]What that means is a law that applies to everybody, somebody saying because of my religion that law doesn't apply to me," said David Patton, Thompson's attorney. ["]This is a free exercise of religion case plain and simple," said Patton. [Robyn Estabrook, KOTA teevee]

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Grant moves Standing Rock college off grid

Ice storms routinely knock out electric power on reservations sometimes resulting in lost lives.
A college on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation will receive about $1 million in federal funding for a $2 million renewable energy project. The grant will be used to help install 636 kilowatts of solar power at five buildings at Sitting Bull College. Officials say the project should decrease short-term energy costs by 20 percent, saving about $74,000 a year. Standing Rock is one of 11 tribal communities slated to split up nearly $6 million in federal money for clean energy projects. The 3,600-square-mile reservation straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border. [Associated Press]
Microgrid technologies are destined to enhance tribal sovereignty and free communities from electric monopolies.

After a century of exploitation Black Hills Corporation has announced a $70 million dollar cathedral to capitalism in occupied Rapid City.

Several utilities are based in South Dakota because of the state's regressive tax structure. Meanwhile, the state just raised taxes on those least pay to pay them...again.

Getting off the grid now has never been easier and net-metering only gives control to corporatists: just do it.

Monday, March 16, 2015

North American indigenous conference scheduled for Rapid City; Adelstein exposes his racism

Update, 0920 MDT: Eighth Circuit Holds Suit against South Dakota Police Officer for Shooting Indian Suspect in the Back May Proceed: ILPC Turtle Talk.

Tomorrow, 17 March, Counting Coup on Philip - A Response to Injustice.


As racism grips Rapid City and organizers seek to move the Lakota Nation Invitational the struggling community is scheduled to host indigenous peoples from North America.
The North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus meeting will be held on March 20-22, 2015 in Rapid City, SD. The purpose of the meeting is to develop the North American region’s strategy and input to the 14th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues scheduled for April 20-May 1, 2015, as well as other international fora. The meeting is graciously hosted by the Defenders of the Black Hills, and other supporting Indigenous Nations, Peoples and organizations (TBD). The meeting will be held at the United Tribes Technical College, Black Hills Center, Lecture Theatre, 321 Kansas City Street, Rapid City, SD. Opening and evening events will be held at the Mother Butler Center Hall, 221 Knollwood Dr., Rapid City, SD.
Attendees would do well not to read comments left at the Rapid City Journal under this article: it's where a former state senator exposes himself as a classic racist.

A year into South Dakota Statehood, the United States Army massacred hundreds of children, women and men in the southwest part of the state.

Do you remember it being taught? It was not until college that this student learned it represented the most heinous event in South Dakota history:
At daybreak on December 29, 1890, Col. Forsyth ordered the surrender of weapons and the immediate removal and transportation of the Indians from the "zone of military operations" to awaiting trains. Specific details of what triggered the fight are debated. According to some accounts, a medicine man named Yellow Bird began to perform the Ghost Dance, reiterating his assertion to the Lakota that the ghost shirts were bulletproof. As tension mounted, Black Coyote refused to give up his rifle; he was deaf and had not understood the order.
The narrative that follows that passage is too horrifying to appear here.

When Fidel Castro took the reins in Cuba he dissolved the previous constitution with all its treaties, wrote a new manual, and ruled by decree.

That's essentially what happened to tribes: treaties that served as constitutions for American indigenous were broken and are still being rewritten for political expediency. American Indians are subject to at least four overlapping jurisdictions making tribes the most regulated people in the US without representatives serving in Congress.
Lise Balk King is a Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She was previously co-publisher and executive editor of The Native Voice newspaper.
She brought readers up to speed at Indian Country Today on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as it turns its focus to the American Genocide :
The most important human rights milestone in our collective history is arguably the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was taken up on the heels of the atrocities of World War II at the first session of the UN General Assembly in 1946. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Prof. James Anaya, provides a simple formula: “Use the declaration for engagement with governments, with Congress, with the courts. Tribes need to use it with the outside world and within their communities…to build healthy relationships on all levels.” Now is the time to insist that the standards originally put forth by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights be carried out by the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Let’s aspire that results won’t be 60 years in the making.
One of the first jobs we kids learned after moving to the farm in the Spring of '64 was picking rock. I was almost ten, sister Lynn was eight. We learned to drive taking turns at the wheel of that old tractor and wagon moving at a half a mile an hour while Dad did most of the real work.

Finding stone hammers was our reward for clearing glacial till from those fields not knowing that they had been left there by the ancestors of those killed at Wounded Knee. Blood from our oft-smashed fingers is still on some of those rocks.

Clay Jenkinson is author of nine books, Theodore Roosevelt Center scholar at Dickinson State University, Distinguished Scholar of the Humanities at Bismarck State College, a Lewis and Clark historian and creator of public radio's Thomas Jefferson Hour. He writes a Sunday column in the Bismarck Tribune. Here are a few grafs lifted from a past piece:
Welcome to North Dakota, Mr. President. The fact that you intend to do this at all has great historical significance. As you know, sitting presidents don't tend to visit Indian reservations. The last one to do so was President Bill Clinton in 1999 — Wounded Knee and Pine Ridge in South Dakota. And the one before that was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936 — the Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina.
The bloated entourage of the modern Imperial Presidency is hard on any welcoming community, but in view of the sad history of federal troop presence in Indian Country, the sudden arrival of such stern and obsessive federal firepower is likely to create some discomfort and misunderstanding. And all the instantaneous gawking (by national media reps, presidential advisers and the usual presidential camp followers) may upset the people who actually make their lives on the reservation.
But I am especially eager for you to read Thurston Clarke's "The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days that Inspired America." It's a day-by-day account of the last three months of Robert Kennedy's life, before he was assassinated in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968. It turns out that RFK spent a significant amount of time during that pell mell campaign on Indian reservations — much to the bewilderment and (eventually) rage of his campaign staff.
Just weeks before the crucial California primary, he chose to fly to the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, where he spent a whole day talking with an Oglala child named Christopher Pretty Boy in the family's modest cabin. His staff members were tearing their hair out, of course, arguing that there was no political gain in spending time with American Indians. But RFK had moral courage and a great passion for justice. Within a year, both Kennedy and Pretty Boy were dead. [Jenkinson, An open letter to President Obama from Indian Country]
Jenkinson's column on his state's 125 year anniversary linked here.

Former Lee reporter for Indian Country, Jodi Rave covered President Clinton's visit to Pine Ridge in 1999 and the United Nations passage of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She followed lead plaintiff Elouise Cobell, keeping Indian Country apprised of the litigation, ratification process, and settlement of the lawsuit bearing her name and is now writing a book about it. Her investigative work contributed to the passage of the Violence Against Women Act.

After 125 years of genocide and ecocide in just two states, could a constitutional convention reconcile and correct crimes against tribes?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

SDGFP lauds beetle for improvement in mountain goat habitat, wants to kill more goats

As South Dakota's wildlife management bureaupublicans release disease-prone bighorn sheep onto federal lands, ostensibly to knock down a cheatgrass infestation created by the failure of Black Hills forest policy, the GOP-owned agency wants to kill more mountain goats.
“By our estimates (the population) was well below 100 animals,” said John Kanta, regional wildlife manager for the GF&P. “We were down around 60-70 mountain goats just prior to closing the [2007] season.” The cause of population decline was and remains largely unknown; however, there are some suspected causes. The first comes from a loss of habitat. “Up until we transplanted goats from Colorado, our goats came from six that came from Alberta, Canada in the early 1920s,” he said. “They escaped a zoo-type facility in Custer State Park, so all the goats we had originated from those six.
Kanta said that in 2007 the rapid increase in pine beetle infestation killed thousands of acres of trees leading to a more open canopy and better habitat for the animals. The GF&P Commission’s proposal calls for two hunting licenses to be issued and areas would include the portions of Pennington and Custer counties west of Highway 79; excluding Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Jewel Cave National Monument and the fenced portions of Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park. [Mark Watson]
Let's see: beetles bad but beetles good. Got it.

The reasoning is hardly mysterious: it's all about the money hunting funnels into a region smothering under single-party rule.

Cross-posted at The Dakota Progressive.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Poll results: O'Connell will do no jail time

According to readers of interested party Trace O'Connell will serve no sentence, will not be incarcerated in the Pennington County jail or languish in friendly surroundings at the Haakon County jail.

Where will Trace O'Connell serve his jail sentence?

Pennington County Jail
0 (0%)
Haakon County Jail
0 (0%)
14 (100%)
0 (0%)
Simon Lewis and Mark Maslin, British geographers writing in Nature, have proposed that a massive die-off of Indigenous Peoples in the Americas has left enough permanent global evidence to define a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. In this seminal study, they examine the Industrial Revolution and the detonation of atomic bombs as potential geological markers. [Indian Country Today]
Rapid City is ground zero today for red flag warnings in the proposed Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge.

Area businesses are shitting all over themselves trying to extinguish the wildfire of anger over entrenched racism as organizers of the Lakota Nation Invitational seek alternative locations for the annual event. Sioux Falls, Bismarck and Spearfish are being considered.

Montana is getting national attention for her gains in American Indian education.
In 1972, Montana added language to its constitution pledging to use education to preserve the unique cultural heritage of Native Americans. A small number of states, including South Dakota and Wisconsin, have policies emphasizing the need to teach tribal history in schools -- but no other state has a constitutional mandate about it, said Denise Juneau, the Montana superintendent of public instruction. [Indian Country Today]
So, how is Rapid City reconciling its history with the descendants of the original inhabitants?

A former member of the very law enforcement industry perpetuating the hatred of non-whites is mulling a run for mayor. The Rapid City Police Department has been called 'a bunch of racists' by a former member of the judiciary.

Friday, March 13, 2015

ABQ to host cannabis summit; groups sue to stop Chaco encroachment

The inaugural Tribal Hemp and Cannabis Summit is scheduled for April 23 at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“With this summit, we plan to provide tribes with impartial information that will assist them in their decision making process. Both hemp and cannabis hold a lot of promise, and the opportunities range from manufacturing of supply chain products to full grow operations” said Cristala Mussato-Allen, a member of the Caddo Nation who serves as the executive director of Native Workplace, a co-organizer of the conference along with Kurple Magazine. [indianz]
New Mexico's legislature has been debating decriminalization.
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would relax penalties for possessing certain amounts of marijuana possession Monday night by a wide 7-3 margin. The bill that now goes before the full Senate could turn out to be yet another symbolic vote on marijuana reform in New Mexico. [Joey Peters, Santa Fe Reporter]
Santa Fe-based Wild Earth Guardians has joined other interested parties in suing the US Bureau of Land Management to stop oil and gas encroachment on Chaco Culture National Historic Park. Rapid City-based Black Hills Exploration and Production is one company exploiting the San Juan and Mancos basins.
“The Bureau of Land Management is not taking serious consideration of the sacredness of the greater Chaco region and the impacts on surrounding Diné communities as they continue to approve more drilling and fracking,” said Colleen Cooley with Dine Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment. Diné is the Navajo word for “the people.” The lawsuit argues that the San Juan Basin, which stretches into southern Colorado, encompasses dozens prehistoric Native American great houses connected by hundreds of miles of ancient ceremonial roads. The lawsuit filed Wednesday specifically challenges BLM’s approval of at least 130 drilling applications, citing violations of the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act. [Susan Montoya Bryan, Santa Fe New Mexican]
A New Mexico worker just died in an oilfield incident while North Dakota's oil patch is shifting to a bust economy.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Graham lawyer seeking restraining order for Jackley speaking tour

Here's an interesting intersection as the South Dakota Legislature considers a bill that protects Russell Means' legacy:
Mr. Jackley's speaking tour is unprofessional, and many of his accusations are false and defamatory. We asked Judge Piersol for an order to stop Mr. Jackley's tour. - Paul Wolf [comment, interested party]

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

New poll: where will the first Type I incident management team be deployed?

As critical fire weather spreads across the proposed Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge South Dakota-based Wildfire Today is hosting a contest asking readers when the first Type I incident management team will be deployed.

This blog asks where.

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.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Public lands debate fuels red state failure

A supposed 'gaffe' has set Montana politics alight.

Democratic Senator Jon Tester said hyperbolically that every logging sale in the state is under litigation as his frustration with a century of failed forest policy plagues The Last Best Place.

Only wildfires clearcut with impunity.

Dense Douglas fir, spruce, lodgepole, ponderosa pine stands prevent aspen restoration and hardwood release while opposition to mechanical harvest rages on in the environmental community. No longer natural after a century of fire suppression Montana's forests are building fuels in most habitats where indigenous cultures cleared for millennia.

Montana's Department of Livestock slaughters wild bison that leave Yellowstone National Park to find shelter on national forest lands during deep winter snows yet in both Montana and Wyoming the Bureau of Land Management adopts out, seeks private pastures for, and feeds wild horses. The US Park Service feeds the elk most responsible for infecting domestic cattle with brucellosis. Montana and Wyoming legislatures entertained bills that would remand federal lands to the states so grazing, mining and logging could take place without bound.

As the cheatgrass cycle begins anew on the sage steppe perpetuated by the cattle industry many meteorologists are predicting another active wildfire season in the upper Missouri River basin. Some wildlife agencies have begun reintroducing bighorn sheep to control cheatgrass on public lands where fuels have amassed but they need many acres of open land to thrive.

President Obama has voiced frustration about salmon being managed under overlapping jurisdictions.

Trees growing on public land are not agriculture any more than wild salmon are aquaculture. One part of a solution to forest management woes is to move the US Forest Service from the US Department of Agriculture into Interior where American Indian nations could more easily assume additional responsibilities for stewardship on public land.

If enviros succeed in driving from office the only Democrats who can preserve public lands and leave Republicans to their devices we are truly fucked.