3/31/15

Thomas Daschle Elementary? Aberdeen choosing name for school

The Aberdeen American News is taking comments:
Aberdeen Public Schools could buy the old Coventry Building on Aberdeen’s east side for a new elementary school. What do you think the school should be named, and why?
President Obama is expected to visit South Dakota before the end of his term. He will be shown the sights by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

Tribes prevail against South Dakota in ICWA case

Pennington County's behavior has been called shocking. With state officials sitting in the audience and not on the dais, former US Senator James Abourezk urged the federal government to sue the State of South Dakota.
The court finds that Judge Davis, States Attorney Vargo, Secretary Valenti and Ms. Van Hunnick developed and implemented policies and procedures for the removal of Indian children from their parents’ custody in violation of the mandates of the Indian Child Welfare Act and in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. [ILPC Turtle Talk]
This blogger has direct knowledge of abuses visited upon families by employees of the state from 1994 to 2000 and is all too close to this story.

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.

Noem pretending to work in Congress

Save Medicare! Fire Noem. Get Your Free Sticker Today!

Kristi Noem's ALEC handlers are putting the screws to her.
The US House passed a budget resolution that could make major changes in how Medicare operates. South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem says the plan would expand means testing as a way of covering costs. Noem says the changes would not really take effect for some time. Senior citizens can sign up for Medicare when they turn 65, but starting in 2024, that would increase by two months a year, eventually moving up to age 67. In that same time, the plan would change into a voucher program, where seniors could buy coverage on a health insurance exchange. [WNAX]
Too funny.
Helping middle class families take advantage of the benefits of the health care law, like ensuring millions of seniors and people with disabilities have access to more affordable prescription medications and free preventive services through Medicare, should be a top priority for lawmakers in Washington. Yet instead of working to fix the law, Congresswoman Noem and her tea party friends have voted to repeal the health care law more than 40 times. They even shut down the government to prevent new benefits, like saving seniors money on prescription drugs and preventative services, from taking effect. [South Dakota Democratic Party]

3/30/15

Daschle would accompany Obama on SD visit

South Dakota remains the only state unvisited by President Obama after he goes to Utah. His aides say he is determined to visit all fifty states by the end of his term.
"We'd always love to have him," said former Sen. Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, who shared a stage with Obama in Massachusetts on Monday at the opening of an institute dedicated to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Noting Obama visited Mount Rushmore, located in South Dakota, as a candidate in 2008 --- but hasn't returned since --- Daschle said the demands of the President's schedule had likely prevented him from making a stop while in office, though he had some suggestions for potential venues. "I think it would be great if he could visit an Indian reservation. We have nine of them. I think he'd get a warm welcome, to say the least," Daschle said. Obama did visit an Indian reservation last year --- but it was in North Dakota, not South. Bill Clinton visited the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota's Badlands during the last year of his presidency. [KOTA]
Touting trade with Taiwan's economic and cultural contender, Daschle's former rival in the US Senate, now Ambassador to China, Max Baucus, just returned to the US speaking in Helena at the Montana Chamber of Commerce’s Manufacturing and International Trade Day banquet.
Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who started a public policy practice at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz last year, said he will register with the federal government as a lobbyist for the first time in his career.Daschle will work on behalf of Taiwan and plans to disclose the client later this month to the U.S. Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, he told The National Law Journal on Monday. Baker Donelson is the third law firm Daschle has worked with since leaving the Senate in 2005. He previously worked at DLA Piper and Alston & Bird, within their main law firm businesses. His practice at Baker Donelson, called The Daschle Group, is a wholly owned subsidiary that specializes in giving strategic advice. [Katelyn Polantz, Legal Times]
Baucus threw Daschle under the bus during a pre-confirmation quarrel in 2009. President Obama's pick for Health and Human Services Secretary, Daschle was widely expected to push Congress toward a Medicaid-for-all health care plan as Big Pharma-backed Baucus worked to pass the Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare. Daschle withdrew from nomination.

Daschle remains a popular figure among South Dakota Democrats, American Indians and veterans: some believe he is ready to help energize the state party.

At an odd intersection, Baker Donelson came up today in testimony of the condemnation trial to determine whether Missoula, Montana can condemn a water system owned by the Carlyle Group, a Baker client.

Lederman forced from legislature

I found myself looking at my own personal ledger. And what I found, was that I owe a debt for many things. I am so far in the red, I need to start paying that tremendous debt back. Because these are debts I owe to my family for their love and support over the years. [Dan Lederman]
Sleaze and crime is Dan's business. He spent $50,000 to buy a seat in the legislature flaunting the same class as he throws it away.

No doubt his name has come up in the federal Bendagate investigation linked with his ties to human trafficking.

Don't let the door hit you in the brain as you leave, Dan.

Daugaard lapses result in wildfire outbreak



Recall 2011 when South Dakota's current reactionary governor ignored threats of flooding in the Missouri River basin and in 2013 a forecast blizzard killed tens of thousands of livestock and how during the aftermath the red state executive blithely applied for federal disaster relief.
Fire officials say it could take four to five days to totally gain control of a fire burning in the West Short Pines area of Harding County. The Great Plains Fire Information office reports the Sheep Draw Fire has burned approximately 5,600 acres as of Sunday evening. Today, a Type 3 Incident team assumed command of the fire. Among the first priorities were to order two helicopters from the South Dakota National Guard to make water drops in areas of rugged terrain. [KBHB Radio]
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.

Prescriptive fires should have been set weeks ago but South Dakota, suffering repeated leadership lapses, now faces red flag conditions settling over the state.

Joe Lowe called Governor Dennis Daugaard incompetent and uninterested in governing.

South Dakota's current governor says he's a conservative; yet, he has begged for billions from the Obama administration. His predecessor's office where he was lieutenant governor as well as his current bureaucracy have trafficked Native kids, exploited the federal EB-5 green card scam, are quietly expanding a Medicaid safety net for, and giving raises to, those not yet voting for his party.

Lowe obviously believed that South Dakota's governor is not taking the ecological collapse taking place on the Black Hills seriously enough.
Wildland fire has been a major part of Bill Gabbert’s life for several decades. After growing up in the south, he migrated to southern California where he lived for 20 years, working as a wildland firefighter. Later he took his affinity for firefighting to Indiana and eventually the Black Hills of South Dakota where he was the Fire Management Officer for a group of seven national parks. Today he is the creator and owner of WildfireToday.com and Sagacity Wildfire Services and serves as an expert witness in wildland fire. 
Below we hear from Joe Lowe, a former Director of the South Dakota Division of Wildfire Suppression and Type 2 Incident Commander of Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team C. Currently Joe is the owner of the Reflections of South Dakota Gallery in Rapid City. [Wildfire Today]
Gabbert penned a vivid sketch of Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Joe Lowe. Here's a snip:
Governor Bill Janklow, always a hands-on governor, was bewildered and flabbergasted by the fires and in many ways interfered with the Incident Commanders (your’s truly included) which at times created serious safety problems. On the Jasper Fire the Type 1 Incident Commander placed a resource order for U.S. Marshals who stood by at the Incident Command Post ready to put a halt to any actions by state employees that put firefighters in danger, such as setting backfires and running dozers out ahead of the fire without coordinating with the Incident Commander or the Incident Management Team. The next year Governor Janklow created the Division of Wildland Fire Suppression and hired Mr. Lowe to run the agency.
Duh: added links are mine. Read it unadulterated here.

Having been defeated in the Democratic gubernatorial primary by state representative, Susan Wismer, Mr. Lowe is now vice-chair of the South Dakota Democratic Party.

Why South Dakota retains Jim Strain as a fire boss remains a mystery.

An honest At-large US Representative would be calling out such unscrupulous behavior by the state's executive.

South Dakota deserves better.

3/29/15

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.

Daugaard lapses forcing teacher exodus

“This has me worried,” Dr. Steve Willard, superintendent of the Belle Fourche School District said at the Belle Fourche School Board retreat Monday evening. “We have had 10 openings before, but the openings we have are more difficult to fill.” Willard said that although Gov. Dennis Daugaard appointed a Blue Ribbon Taskforce to examine issues with school funding and teacher shortages, he is concerned because at this time there are no teachers or school administrators serving on that force.
Read it here.

From the Huron Daily Plainsman:
A 2 percent boost in state aid to education gets the funding level back to where it was in 2010 prior to the cuts, so South Dakota school districts continue to struggle with teacher retention, Rep. Peggy Gibson, D-Huron, said. Vacancies are often being filled with people not certified to teach. “So that’s a real big problem in our district and throughout the whole state,” Gibson said at the Beadle County Democratic Forum on Thursday.
Read that here.

Patrick Anderson in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader:
South Dakota teachers have the lowest average salary in the country, and school districts across the state have reported candidate pools in the single digits and unfilled teaching jobs.
Here.
So, don’t hold your breath parents, teachers and employers. The “great teachers” Daugaard predicts for South Dakota probably won’t be flooding our school districts with applications. South Dakota Republican governors and legislators in the past 12 years haven’t solved the funding problem. T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Hollow Men” has a line for that kind of paralysis: “Gesture without motion.” [David Walder]

3/28/15

Omaha legislator defends ISIS metaphor

Nebraska state Senator Ernie Chambers struck some nerves after comments surfaced in which he compared police officers to a group of Middle East fighters created with help from the Bush43 Administration.
During a public hearing Friday about a bill involving concealed handguns, Chambers said residents of his north Omaha district were more in fear of police than of extremist groups such as the Islamic State. “My ISIS is the police. Nobody from ISIS ever terrorized us as a people as the police do us daily. And they get away with it,” the African-American senator said, using an acronym for the militant group. [Omaha World Herald]
Chambers is an outspoken opponent of capital punishment.

A Republican state representative in Colorado is “very proud” of South Dakota state Rep. Isaac Latterell, an anti-choice lawmaker who wrote a blog post last month comparing Planned Parenthood to the Islamic State. “I am discerning the spirit of God on this state rep from South Dakota,” Colorado state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt said in Tuesday’s edition of his online video series called “Pray in Jesus’ Name.” In his blog post, titled “Planned Parenthood Is Beheading Children and Lying about It,” Latterell, the South Dakota state lawmaker, wrote that “Planned Parenthood abortionists in Sioux Falls are similarly beheading unborn children during dismemberment abortions.” [Jason Salzman, Colorado Lawmaker ‘Very Proud’ of South Dakota Legislator Who Compared Planned Parenthood to ISIS]
A black man makes a comparison to the Islamic State and there is an outcry but when a white man does it, he gets an award.

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.


3/27/15

Thune moves to save Black Hills bat on 'Day of Votes That Don’t Count'

South Dakota's Republican blog hates the Rapid City Journal except when an editorial serves up a political dish it likes.
While it won't win any cutest animal contests, the northern long-eared bat deserves the same chance as any critter to continue to exist. We urge anyone who shares that concern to use the official commenting process. And if such a listing does occur — we certainly support trying to save the bats and preserve them as a species — we hope wildlife officials will use common sense while balancing the protection that would be offered against the potentially devastating economic impacts that could result. [editorial, Rapid City Journal, hyperlinks mine.]
In some caves in the Northeast, northern long-eared bat populations have declined by up to 99%.
Senator Dean Heller, Republican of Nevada, would allow open season on the sage grouse or, more specifically, development on the bird’s habitat, while Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, would like federal protection for the beleaguered northern long-eared bat. [Jonathan Weisman, In the Senate, a Day of Votes That Don’t Count]
Logging out the basin for the Grizzly Gulch Tailings Disposal Project above Pluma and Deadwood in 1977 helped to launch this blogger's love of the Black Hills. Homestake Mining Company that also operated the sawmill near Spearfish, hired a local contractor who gave a farm boy and School of Mines dropout a skidder job.

Now, that sawmill is owned by Neiman Enterprises of Hulett, Wyoming.
South Dakota U.S. Sen. John Thune recently introduced a bill to prevent the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) from listing the northern long-eared bat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In 2011, the FWS reached a secret sue-and-settle agreement with two radical environmental groups to require listing determinations on more than 250 species across the United States, including the northern long-eared bat. On October 14, 2014, Thune sent a letter to the FWS with Rep. Kristi Noem encouraging the agency to withdraw its proposed listing of the northern long-eared bat as endangered and to refocus its attention on combating white-nose syndrome. [KCSR]
GOP donors being subsidized by the federal government to log in the Black Hills are putting pressure on the state's congressional delegation to resist habitat protection for the black-backed woodpecker, too.
In response to the rapid and severe decline of the northern long-eared bat – a species important for crop pest control – the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing a special rule under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that would provide the maximum benefit to the species while limiting the regulatory burden on the public. If finalized, the rule, under section 4(d) of the ESA, would apply only in the event the Service lists the bat as “threatened.” The Service’s proposal will appear in the Federal Register Jan. 16, 2015, opening a 60-day public comment period. “White-nose syndrome is having a devastating effect on the nation’s bat populations, which play a vital role in sustaining a healthy environment and save billions of dollars by controlling forest and agricultural pests,” said Service Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius. “Although a final listing decision has not yet been made, we believe we can best serve the American people by proposing and seeking comment on a potential 4(d) rule now, so if we determine listing as threatened with a 4(d) rule is appropriate, the rule can be implemented immediately.” [press release]
The Neiman family is a top GOP campaign contributor who has given generously to Thune and Noem.

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

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

Watersheds are recovering due to the efforts of the mountain pine beetle to reduce ponderosa pine infestation even as state agencies quietly remediate human-caused contamination in the Waters of the US.

Hawks: Bendagate exposes lack of oversight

Representative Paula Hawks is an advocate for clean sustainable energy in South Dakota's legislature.
For more than a year the legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee has been looking into the accusations surrounding former Tourism and State Development Secretary Richard Benda. Just this month lawmakers passed a bill they hope will prevent similar situations. If an employee thinks there is a potential conflict he or she has to report it to a supervisor. Those contracts are also reviewed every year by the legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee. "It’s great policy it's just a little too late," Rep. Paula Hawks (D) Sioux Falls said. Hawks voted for the legislation which had broad support from Democrats and Republicans. Hawks wishes the state would have had similar laws on the books to bring clarity to the Benda situation. "I see it as a positive step in the right direction. I see us moving away from being reactive and being more proactive about keeping an eye on things that we should be keeping an eye on - things we should have oversight of," Hawks said. [KELO]
Hawks' legislature entry linked here, Ballotpedia entry linked here.
Hawks came away from the election with an eight-vote advantage in District Nine over former Rep. Bob Deelstra, a Republican who was making a bid to recapture the seat he lost in 2012. Monday's recount confirmed Hawks' victory over Deelstra, 2,662 to 2,654. Hawks said she looks forward to the next legislative session, and she plans to introduce bills dealing with public safety and education. She will be one of only a dozen Democrats in the next legislative session, down from 18 in the current Legislature. "We're small but we're mighty, and we'll make our voices heard as best as we can," she said. [Jonathan Ellis, Sioux Falls Argus Leader]

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.

3/26/15

Roundup® carcinogenic; soils, waterways, even rain contaminated

Monsanto's flagship product, Roundup® has recently been cited as containing a compound that is incompatible with life.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer recently re-classified glyphosate as a carcinogen. The National Corn Grower’s Association is disappointed with that decision. NCGA Board member and South Dakota Corn Grower’s President Keith Alverson says IARC ignored the findings of more than four decades of credible scientific research and needs to reconsider studies that back the products safety. Alverson says glyphosate has been an important tool for producers who’ve been trying to do the right thing with their control of weeds, especially those corn and soybean growers who use no till or limited tillage in their operations. [WNAX]
Virtually every ag producer in South Dakota uses glyphosate, now the compound inculcates every point in the water cycle including in falling rainwater.
Roundup, or the same glyphosate herbicide now available from a host of other brands other than Monsanto, is used on most acres farmed in South Dakota every year, Sharon Clay, a professor of weed science at South Dakota State University in Brookings, told the Capital Journal on Friday. In the past two years or so in South Dakota, farmers are seeing kochia and ragweed and other weeds that can't be killed by glyphosates, she said. [Pierre Capital Journal]
In 2010, after another GOP governor gutted environmental protection in South Dakota, the Big Sioux River was named the thirteenth most polluted river in the US and nearly every waterway in the state suffers impairment.

Dr. Vandana Shiva is the author of Ecofeminism and Stolen Harvest. The internationally known advocate for sustainable agriculture and opponent of genetically engineered crops brought her message to South Dakota State University's Harding Lecture Series.

The university's chair sits on the board of Monsanto.

South Dakota deserves a US Representative who would stand up to a chief executive who cares more about the state's residents than about his out of state campaign donors like his party's congressional comrades are.

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.


BHNF PR 'Moon Walks' always well-attended

Young South Dakotans continue to struggle with obesity. American kids are under “house arrest’ often spending only four to seven minutes a day outside: WBUR.

The Black Hills National Forest has announced its schedule of public relations 'Moon Walks' for 2015:
“Over 14,000 visitors have attended the 135 Moon Walk programs since 1996. Consistently an average of 100 people attends each program, although, we have seen as many as 385 people attend one program a couple years ago,” said Amy Ballard, Moon Walk Coordinator. “Over the past 20 years, I hope that these programs have fostered an understanding and appreciation for the cultural and natural resources of the Black Hills and inspired participants to be stewards of the land.” Moon Walks are held on a Saturday night close to the official full moon and begin at 7:00 p.m. Most programs last for 1-2 hours and visitors walk an average of 1 mile round trip.
May 2 – Celebrate Wildfire Awareness Week
This walk is located in the central Black Hills. Forest Service prescribed fire personnel will walk participants through the Prairie prescribed burn area while discussing the ecological need and benefits of fire in a ponderosa pine ecosystem.
June 27 – Botany
This walk is located in the northern Black Hills. Join forest botanists as they discuss the lesser known tree species growing in the Black Hills and their important contributions in providing habitat diversity in this ponderosa pine dominated ecosystem. This program is in memory of Andrew Korth, USFS botanist, 2008-2010
July 25 – Custer’s Expedition in 1874
This walk is located in the western Black Hills. Hike with the Forest Service to one of the photo points used by Custer’s photographer W. H. Illingworth and learn about the Custer Expedition through the soldier’s diary entries and newspaper stories.
August 29 – Geologic Slides a Mile Wide
This walk is located in the northwest corner of the Black Hills National Forest in the Bearlodge Mountains of Wyoming. Join a Forest Service geologist to learn about interesting and unique geologic features of the area including the North Redwater drainage slide area.
September 26 – Fire Lookout Towers and Their Keepers
This walk is located in the southern Black Hills. Be inspired at one of the most beautiful scenic overlooks in the Black Hills as a Forest Ranger from the past describes a day in the life of a fire lookout at a Forest Service fire tower and cabin.
Climate change is causing stress on the Forest and precipitation is far behind average and lapses in leadership by South Dakota'a executive has put the state at risk.

3/25/15

BHSU to host 3000 for American Indian arts education week

Boasting the highest American Indian enrollment among the regental institutions Black Hills State University will host notable American Indian speakers during a week of celebration.
Drums, dancing and discussion converge on Black Hills State University’s campus during a week-long celebration of Native American culture April 12-19 with this year’s theme “Draw from the Past, Design the Future” with an emphasis on examining new and emergent Native art. [BHSU Communications]

BHSU is making "strategic changes" in efforts to address a revenue shortfall.
“Our first priority continues to be our students. The budget adjustments are designed to have minimal impact on students,” BHSU President Tom Jackson, Jr., said. “Across the nation, higher education institutions are being challenged to shift the way we operate to meet budgetary limitations while continuing to provide exceptional educational experiences. By taking a proactive and strategic approach, BHSU is meeting that challenge.” [BHSU Communications]
Dr. Jackson's comment comes after repeated calls to move the LNI after numerous racially-charged episodes at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City.

After the President of the Oglala Lakota Nation came under intense pressure to urge organizers of the Lakota Nation Invitational to move the event, planners have elected to allow Rapid City to host it one more year.

The University of South Dakota’s Tiospaye Student Council organization will host its annual Wacipi pow-wow this Saturday and Sunday at the DakotaDome in Vermillion.
Tucker Volesky of Huron has been selected to attend the George Washington University’s Semester in Washington Politics. He was accepted in the Native American Political Leadership Program for this summer. Volesky, the son of Ron and Tara Volesky, is a junior at the University of South Dakota. [Huron Plainsman]

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!

Threatened Black Hills ecosystems at risk to GOP delegation

Update, 1110 MDT:
Media and the public are invited to attend a free meeting and field trips about South Dakota water issues on April 15 and 16 in Rapid City. [press release, USGS]
...............

Denying research that proves climate change is adversely affecting the Mountain West, South Dakota's GOPers are moving to protect their donor base.
South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem today introduced legislation to prevent the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from listing the long-eared bat as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. South Dakota Senator John Thune introduced the language in the Senate earlier this year. “It’s widely understood that the long-eared bat’s depopulation is not due to habitat changes, but white-nose syndrome,” said Noem. [KCSR Radio]
Thune and Noem are either ignorant or corrupt.

Which is it, GOP?


3/23/15

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.



..................

Surprise!

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.


MN lawmaker urges prosecution of Cliven Bundy

A Minnesota lawmaker believes a Nevada perpetrator should be prosecuted.
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) pressed BLM Director Neil Kornze on what the government has done to deter illegal grazing on public lands and to protect agency employees who have been threatened by anti-government violence. "Mr. Bundy and his band of armed thugs are dangerous. They have committed acts that are criminal by threatening federal employees," McCollum told Kornze during a hearing this morning of the House Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee on BLM's $1.2 billion fiscal 2016 budget request. "They should be held accountable. They should be prosecuted." [Lawmaker calls Bundy supporters 'thugs,' urges BLM to seek justice]
Reading reports from District 28's Republican senator Betty Olson can be a bit of a trip. One has to suspend some disbelief when reading lines like these:
I got HCR 1003 urging the federal government to abolish the US Department of Education passed in the Senate on Thursday. Pres. Carter inflicted the Dept. of Education on us in 1979 so the feds could dictate to the states how we educate our children. If the Dept. of Ed. was abolished, it would save between $30 and $50 billion that could go toward the $18 trillion national debt and allow the states to control education. [Communities, Rapid City Journal]
Olson, a GOP state legislator who calls human influence on climate "mythical," is 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.
icymi:
President Jimmy Carter spoke March 6, 2015 in Minneapolis at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum sponsored by Augsburg College. His book is titled, "A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power." [Minnesota Public Radio]
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]
Cliven Bundy's eldest son was arrested after another incident with law enforcement. The elder Nevada rancher is still at large after standoffs with federal officials over whether he should pay to graze on public lands.