ip photo: beaver dam in upper Rapid Creek
On Tuesday, American Rivers released a report that named Rapid Creek in South Dakota the seventh most endangered waterway in America, identified mining as a major threat, called on the US Forest Service to go beyond regulation outlined in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and "do more thorough environmental impact statements on proposed projects and potential impacts, including formal consultation with 16 tribal nations."
The Forest Service is often powerless to stop the extractive industry from permanently altering sensitive watersheds because of the General Mining Law of 1872. In 2018 the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe passed resolutions condemning what they say are abuses of the 1872 law passed to pay Civil War debt leading to the Custer Expedition's discovery of gold in the Black Hills.
In 2015 researchers found shiga, a dangerous toxin often associated with E. coli, in the waters of Rapid Creek near Canyon Lake and below the water treatment plant in west Rapid City. A tributary, the Victoria Lake area above Rapid City, is contaminated with lead and is a Superfund site in the making. Rapid Creek pours into the Cheyenne/Belle Fourche system, a tributary to the Missouri River: named second most endangered waterway in America.
Read the American Rivers report on Rapid Creek linked here.