1/31/22

Tribal resources in Sioux Ranger District remain at risk to grazing, uranium


In 2014 two national forests based in Montana, one named for the Swiss guy who helped convince President Thomas Jefferson to use an executive order to buy land from a country that didn’t even own it and one named for a war criminal were merged into a single administrative unit. 

Despite being sacred to the Apsáalooke the federal government has twice proposed the Awaxaawapìa Pìa or Crazy Woman Mountains sometimes called the Crazies as a location for a national park but half the land and every alternate section was owned by the Northern Pacific Railroad or was otherwise privately held. Today, most of the public land in the Crazies is shared by the Custer Gallatin and Lewis and Clark National Forests but even tribal access has been blocked by the descendants of European settlers. 

Now, Mary Erickson is the Forest Supervisor for the Custer Gallatin National Forest based in Bozeman and she just signed the record of decision (ROD) for the Custer Gallatin National Forest Land Management Plan. The Sioux Ranger District in northwestern South Dakota is part of her purview; it’s where radioactive waste in the Cave Hills area went for decades without remediation because the Board of Minerals and Environment is an arm of the South Dakota Republican Party. 

Not only is it some of the most spectacular landscape in sight and geology it’s also home to one of the largest populations of merlin falcons in North America in a district that’s heavily grazed and logged, most of it by none other than Neiman Enterprises. 
The Sioux Geographic Area contains the highest concentration and most varied of precontact sites in the Northern Great Plains. This is due in part to the environmental diversity, excellent natural site preservation, and complexity of the many plains cultures that occupied the area for thousands of years. The North Cave Hills have several national register sites, including Lightning Springs prehistoric site and 43 petroglyph sites. The proposed North Cave Hills Archaeological and Traditional Use District is considered a tribal cultural landscape to the Tribes and their use of the unit showed that it qualified as a traditional cultural landscape. The proposed district contains 365 recorded archaeological sites of which 232 are either already listed or are considered contributing resources. Cultural material within the district range in age from Late Paleoindian period through the Historic Period. Traditional cultural use of the district is represented at Ludlow Cave, the petroglyph sites, several graves, and by at least two stone features. [2020 Land Management Plan, Custer Gallatin National Forest
Today, land repatriation is the part of the roadmap to reconciliation and that Republican welfare ranchers are angry about rewilding means it's the right thing to do
Plan Components–Areas of Tribal Interest (TRIBAL) Desired Conditions (SX-DC-TRIBAL) 

01 The North Cave Hills retains the characteristics, physical integrity, setting, cultural, archaeological and traditional resource values that qualify it as a traditional use area, National Register District, and sacred site. 

02 The Chalk Buttes embody a tribal cultural landscape significant to ongoing traditional cultural, spiritual, ceremonial and religious practices of the Northern Cheyenne, Sioux, and Assiniboine Tribes. 

Goals (SX-GO-TRIBAL) 01 The Custer Gallatin National Forest protects and honors ongoing traditional use and practices and the tribal cultural landscape in the North Cave Hills through continued consultation with the associated tribes. 02 The Custer Gallatin National Forest protects and honors ongoing traditional use and practices and the tribal cultural landscape in the Chalk Buttes through continued consultation with the associated tribes. 

Guidelines (SX-GDL-TRIBAL) 01 For the purpose of protecting religious or cultural sites of high importance to the tribes where standard mitigation is not a feasible option, management activities should avoid disrupting these values within the North Cave Hills Archaeological and Traditional Use District or sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the Prehistoric Rock Art of the South Dakota Multiple Site Listing. 

02 New spring development in the Chalk Buttes should avoid springs used for traditional cultural purposes to minimize conflicts with traditional cultural practices. [Plan]
It's time to move the US Forest Service into the Department of the Interior, dissolve the Black Hills National Forest and make it a national monument co-managed by the Park Service and the tribal nations signatory to the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. Mato Paha (Bear Butte), the associated national grasslands and the Sioux Ranger District of the Custer Gallatin National Forest should be included in the move. 

Rewild it and rename it Paha Sapa National Monument eventually becoming part of the Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge connecting the CM Russell Wildlife Refuge in Montana along the Missouri River to Oacoma, South Dakota combined with corridors from Yellowstone National Park to the Yukon in the north and south to the Pecos River through Nebraska, eastern Colorado, western Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas. 

ip photo: Deer's Ears Butte in northwestern South Dakota.

1/30/22

As Lead suffers dust from Open Cut Ouray enjoys $5 million winter economy

In 1999 we were listening to an NPR story about an ice climbing park in Ouray, Colorado, a former mining town that has remade itself by farming ice when my daughters' mother turned to me and said, "wow, they should do that in the Open Cut." 

It was if she had spoken with the Voice of God. The very next day I made an appointment then met with Homestake Mine General Manager Bruce Breid, an aerial photo of the pit displayed on the wall behind his desk. "What a brilliant idea, Mr. Kurtz, we have water here, here, and here," Mr. Breid said, pointing to locations at the rim near the Homestake Visitor Center. "Can you provide a legal instrument holding Homestake harmless?" Right. There was that.
Fans of ice climbing were not the only ones cheering at the Ouray Ice Festival last weekend. The state’s bosses of tourism and outdoor recreation were watching closely as thousands gathered in Ouray’s famed ice park, a rally supported by an unprecedented wave of grants designed to pull the community back from the pandemic. A 2018 study of the economic impact of the park showed park visitors and climbers contributing $3 million to Ouray’s $4.9 million winter economy. And early next month the park will host the UIAA North American Ice Climbing Championship, which will be live streamed around the world. It’s a tangled public-private-local-federal web that works in Ouray. [Ouray Ice Park’s rebound from rockfall is a test case for how Colorado can help tourism communities recover]
Fermilab boasts a $2 million annual economic impact and naming a dark matter lab 5000 feet below Lead after a lecherous, usurious billionaire from Sioux Falls sticks in plenty of craws in South Dakota yet real science is getting done there. The Homestake Mine represents 8000 feet closer to the geothermal potential capable of powering much of the region. But South Dakota is dumbing down requirements for math teachers because graduates flee the state where the SD Republican Party ridicules educated people and perennially threatens funding for public radio.
Fermilab officials discussed progress for the overall project to build the Long Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF), as well as ongoing efforts to mitigate the noise and contain the dust at a small meeting of residents, Tuesday. Ceasing operations during high winds and directly observing the dust, adjusting for winds that blow dust beyond the fence line, have had some impact. A tackifier that is applied to the rock before it is dumped into the Open Cut has also proven to be effective, but only in the places where the tackifier rock is dumped. A dust collector fan at the crusher building that was making a high-pitched noise, and causing significant disturbance, has also been outfitted with a muffler that dropped the noise by 12 decibels. [Fermilab hosts second public meeting for LBNF/DUNE project]
Spearditch actually made Outside Magazine's list of best mountain towns but was completely outstripped by Taos, Durango, Telluride and Bozeman.


Photo: dust from the Open Cut coats a park next to the pit.

1/27/22

Colorado seeks to reduce feral horse numbers as deer habitat crashes


Now that Tracy Stone-Manning is Director of the Bureau of Land Management within the Department of Interior after calling nearly every Trump era ruling illegal she is tasked with managing landscape outcomes on some 245 million acres mostly in the Mountain West where much of it is being ravaged by herds of feral horses.
“The BLM is committed to the safety of the wild horses and burros entrusted to our care. Our gather efforts, handling standards, and fertility control work are guided by our compassion for these animals and our desire to protect their well-being, as well as the health of our public lands.” The BLM says that if herds aren’t managed, they typically grow 20% annually, doubling in size every four years. It says its fertility control treatment goal for the year is nearly the double the record of 1,160 treatments of horses and burros, set last year. Callie Hendrickson, executive director of the White River and Douglas Creek Conservation Districts, said the district supports the BLM Piceance-East Douglas plan. ”I’ve been saying that this crash is coming, and I’m afraid we’re here,” she said. [BLM looks to remove 750 horses from area herd]
Just 3 percent of the Earth's surface remains untouched by human development and a sixth mass extinction is underway. Putting the country on the path of protecting at least 30 percent of its land and 30 percent of its ocean areas by 2030 (30x30) is imperative to preserving public lands. Moving the US Forest Service from the US Department of Agriculture into the Department of Interior, even merging the Forest Service and BLM would be just one step toward rewilding the West.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is seeking public comment on local mule deer and elk herd management plans that propose reduced population objectives for deer and reflect habitat changes over the years that include fire and persistent drought. “Like most mule deer herds in the western U.S., the Bookcliffs deer population has declined since then and stagnated at a much smaller size,” the draft plan says. The Bureau of Land Management last year removed more than 400 wild horses from the West Douglas wild horse area, which is in the Bookcliffs deer herd area. The Bureau of Land Management doesn’t consider West Douglas to be an appropriate area for wild horses due to range conditions and terrain factors. [Draft management plans reflect falling deer numbers]
States are scrambling to preserve habitat for bison, wapiti, bighorn sheep, pronghorns, deer, the greater sage grouse and all the other wildlife at risk to the GOP but how are public pastures for feral horses and burros either conservative or sustainable?

ip photo: the Kewa Pueblo has adopted some more BLM mustangs so I filled the water tank at the casita hoping to capture some images in the trail cam!

1/24/22

North Coast Hiawatha picks up new steam as Montana Rail Link ends BNSF lease

Seventeen Montana counties have signed on to adding more passenger rail after Democratic Senator Jon Tester sponsored funding for restoration of the North Coast Hiawatha in President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan. 

The effort is for a 'corridor train' and is not intended to compete with the Empire Builder which operates in the northernmost parts of Montana. Lewis and Clark County is home to the state capital and has yet to support the concept citing lack of service while Yellowstone County, the state's most populous, is holding out for more money. 

Missoula-based Montana Rail Link is ending its lease of BNSF Railway trackbed, news that signals hope to County Commissioner and Big Sky Rail Authority President Dave Strohmaier. 
“The more rural, sparsely populated counties are most enthusiastic about this because it provides them an opportunity to do commerce, to engage with the broader region that they just they just simply do not have now,” he said. “One hundred million dollars is estimated to accrue in economic benefits along this route per year during the startup phase,” said Stohmaier. The Amtrak study also backs that up, suggesting there is an economic net to be had for passenger rail, generating a safe and environmentally friendly travel option for the ever-growing number of visitors heading to Yellowstone National Park. As far as the changes with Montana Rail Link, federal law requires freight carriers to collaborate with Amtrak to provide passenger rail service. [KTVQ teevee]
On Thursday Strohmaier announced he was planning to seek re-election for the District 2 board seat.

It's not in President Biden's rail plan but if someday Amtrak, Colorado's Democratic congressional delegation and the Southwest Chief & Front Range Passenger Rail Commission connect the Chief at Pueblo or Trinidad to the Empire Builder at Shelby, Montana through Denver and Cheyenne, Wyoming it would intersect the North Coast Hiawatha at Laurel or Billings, Montana.

Learn more at the Billings Gazette.
 
ip photo: the New Mexico Rail Runner (right) and the engine of the Santa Fe Southern Railway idle in the Santa Fe Railyard.

1/22/22

Black Hills clearcut a concern for veteran foresters


ip photo from 2015: the Jasper Fire in 2000 created landscapes that more closely resemble the pre-settlement southern Black Hills.

Blaine Cook and Dave Mertz are just two former Forest Service employees concerned about the 13,000 acre Bull Springs Timber Sale in Custer County.
Lori Walsh: We have reached out to Neiman Industries for further insight into timber harvests, overstory removal, and sustainable sales. We have not heard a response yet. 
Dave Mertz: The Bull Springs Timber Sale, I think it sold back in early fall. It involves, as far as timber harvesting, about 4,300 acres. Of that 4,300 acres, almost 3,000 acres of it is overstory removal. That involves, they go in and cut every tree larger than nine inches in diameter, and occasionally they leave a few large trees out there. They call those reserve trees. And the overstory removal is, obviously from a visual standpoint, pretty dramatic. [Bill Janklow's idea of public radio]
Hulett, Wyoming Republican Jim Neiman waited until Donald Trump was forced from the White House then shuttered his sawmill in Hill City, South Dakota and blamed the Forest Service but a Black Hills town named for a war criminal just burned a native insect in effigy to honor the Neimans. 



Dendroctonus ponderosae or mountain pine beetle predates by millions of years Pinus ponderosa in the Black Hills which only reached that region less than four thousand years ago. Native Douglas fir, limber and lodgepole pine have been mostly extirpated from He Sapa, The Heart of Everything That Is and after a century of destructive agricultural practices invasive grasses infest most of western South Dakota. The Island in the Plains has been broken for decades but the collapse of select Black Hills ecosystems has been evident since at least 2002.
 
As many readers are aware the first US Forest Service timber sale took place near Nemo but only after nearly all the old growth of every native tree species had already been cleared for mine timbers, railroad ties and construction. So, Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is correct when she said the Black Hills National Forest has been poorly managed. I maintain that has been happening since 1899 and Forest Service Case Number One.
I am Dave Mertz and I was the Natural Resource Staff Officer on the Black Hills National Forest (BHNF) from 2011 to 2017 when I retired. Prior to 2000, the BHNF was sitting fat, dumb and happy. There were plenty of trees, you could argue too many trees. There was certainly lots of sawmill capacity. The 1997 Forest Plan had set an Allowable Sale Quantity (ASQ) of 202,000 ccf. This was an achievable goal and would be met or exceeded many times over the next 20 years. Then the mountain pine beetle (MPB) came to the Forest with a vengeance. Along with that, a series of large fires including the Jasper Fire in 2000. Meanwhile, significant pushback from the timber industry and politicians continues. I took a look at the Jasper Fire from 2000 using Google Earth to see how much logging had occurred in the fire’s footprint prior to the fire. I was able to go back to 1986 and look year by year to see what logging had occurred there. Much of fire area had been thinned prior to the fire. This thinning did little to mitigate the fire’s impact. [Mertz: A Cautionary Tale – Too Much Sawmill Capacity, Too Little Trees]
The Black Hills hasn’t been a natural forest since 1863 when a nearly Hills-wide fire probably set by a band of Lakota hoping to clear pine opened grazing for distinct historic ungulates.

Since then the absence of prescribed burns and the persistence of cheatgrass on the Black Hills National Forest and on other federal and state ground are just more examples of the intense lobbying efforts of Neiman Enterprises and from welfare ranchers addicted to cheap grazing fees. Instead of allowing native aspen to be restored, stands of doghair ponderosa pine, ladder fuels that feed wildfires, cover much of upper Castle Creek

Overstory removal can work because conscientious land managers have learned that where fire is introduced after mechanical harvest emerging aspen and other hardwoods add biodiversity necessary to healthy ecosystems while sequestering carbon.
I worked on nine other Forests and I never saw where the timber industry had as much power over a Forest as the Black Hills. I think you listed some of the factors – low population State where the politicians can really focus on something, one Forest with a timber program, the timber industry highly dependent on Forest Service timber. [Mertz]
David Treuer was born of a Holocaust survivor and Ojibwe mother. He believes that most land held in America's national parks should be remanded to Indigenous peoples but it's my view that much of the land held in the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service should also be part of that trust.

It should have happened a long time ago but the merger of the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management could be named the Forest and Land Management Service in the Department of the Interior.

1/21/22

Wait, wait don't out me: Ratzinger aided, abetted child rapes

PETER SAGAL (Host): It is Pope Benedict XVI, yes. Italian perfumer Silvana Casoli creates perfumes for both Madonna and Sting. So it seemed natural that she would be the one chosen to create a fragrance for another famous gay icon. 
For decades, yea centuries, survivors of abuse from Roman Catholic clergy have been silenced by a sweeping conspiracy in the hierarchy.
A German law firm investigating the Catholic Church's handling of child sexual abuse cases says former Pope Benedict XVI failed to take action in four instances — including two that resulted in legal charges — while he was the archbishop of Munich and Freising. 60% of the victims were between the ages of 8-14. For much of the time in question, he was known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. [NPR]
The Roman Catholic Church is funneling money from parishes and paying settlements or hush money for the sins of predatory priests while the newest leader is cleaning house of pederastic predators but is taking heat from Republicans for his stance on curbing human-induced climate change and from progressives for his intent to canonize a colonizer accused of raping children. 

Ireland, Australia and France are leading calls to prosecute the cult's leaders and as lawsuits and the US Department of Justice swamp the Church of the Holy Roman Kiddie Diddlers the future of the religionist mob isn't looking very rosy. But under a not so secret agreement with President Biden's career criminal predecessor the international crime syndicate that is the Roman Catholic Church got some $3.5 billion tax free under the Paycheck Protection Program to continue paying down lawsuits for its ongoing sex abuse scandals despite assets of an estimated $30 billion. 

US Catholic voters were evenly split between President Biden and Herr Trump.

1/20/22

Environmental disasters, cannaphobia plaguing Nebraska, spurring water war

The Ogallala Aquifer, also called the Great Plains Aquifer, is being depleted at a far faster rate than its recharge flows and nearly all the groundwater sampled from it is contaminated with uranium and nitrates from industrial agriculture.

Nebraska's Republican cannaphobic governor is panicking and blaming Colorado.
In a statement Wednesday, Colorado Governor Jared Polis said the state "has not and is not" withholding water from Nebraska. Gov. Polis said the list pointed to by Gov. Ricketts is a group of recommendations from collaborative basin roundtables. Back in 1889, the idea of irrigating the land not only excited local farmers, it attracted financial assistance from both local farmers and eastern financiers. But that stream of money quickly dried up, leading to the abandonment of the canal project. Now, with more funds available, Nebraskans will see if the project can be revived – again. [Why Nebraska is Igniting a Western Water War with Colorado]
In 1998, when Kansas sued Nebraska over its groundwater use the Supreme Court of the United States didn't even mention the word "groundwater" and although it never appeared in the initial 1943 Republican River compact the Court ruled its use affects flows. 

Nebraska signed the South Platte River Compact with Colorado in 1923.
Nebraska did not start regulating groundwater use until 1996, according to a 2004 Nebraska Law Review analysis, and it was “loose” compared to Kansas and Colorado. Farmers only needed to send a well registration to the state, which had “no authority to deny a registration” the way Colorado and Kansas could deny permits, the analysis found. That kind of power was mostly left to local management districts. [History forces 'hard decisions' in Eastern Colorado's declining Republican River basin]
At a defunct AltEn ethanol plant just west of Omaha in eastern Nebraska 150 million gallons of water contaminated with 84,000 tons of pesticide residue have been determined to be too toxic to be spread on area farm ground. In February, 2021 two tanks at the facility burst releasing some 4 million gallons of polluted slurry downstream.

1/19/22

Colorado sues county clerk who hooked up with Trump pillow guy in South Dakota

It's important to remember theories are arguably provable while hypotheses are often mostly informed hunches so conspiracy theories are not theories at all — at best they're conjecture and at worst they’re malicious prevarications. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is just one agency looking into breaches and a Republican Colorado county clerk is probably going to jail after compromising election results and forcing polling machines to be discarded. 

A private plane carrying Tina Peters and other Trump operatives took them to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to attend a rally held by Mike Lindell. 
About the same time the Mesa County commissioners were voting to remove Clerk Tina Peters permanently as the top election official on Tuesday, the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office filed a new lawsuit seeking to do the same thing. But unlike that first lawsuit, this one not only calls for her to be removed from overseeing the June primaries, but also the fall general election, effectively removing her as the county’s lead election official during the remainder of her first term in office. [Grand Junction Sentinel]

1/18/22

Former Air Force radar site in South Dakota for sale

CMSgt Lawrence Eldridge Kurtz, USAF (Ret) left the Service in 1962 but retained base privileges until he died in 2010. As a dependent I had them until I turned 18. 

The commissary and base exchange at Offutt Air Force Base near Bellevue, Nebraska were preferred shopping spaces but occasionally we went over to Chandler Air Force Station in Murray County, Minnesota for tax-free supplies at a time when a gallon of gasoline was less than 20 cents, a box of Cheerios was 15 cents and a carton of cigarettes was a buck and a half. 

In 1942 the US Army Corps of Engineers built 830 concrete and steel all-risk bunkers at the Black Hills Army Depot south of Edgemont, South Dakota. In 1967 the military sold the property to the City of Edgemont who then sold it to local cattle ranchers until Del Mar, California-based Robert Vicino entered a 2017 agreement with S&S Land and Cattle Co., and its partner corporation, Fort Igloo Bunkers. Vicino bought much of the 18 square mile property and 575 bunkers in 2020 for nearly $2.5 million. 

Chandler and Gettysburg Air Force Station in Potter County, South Dakota were two of 28 radar installations built after the Korean War. Today, although the Federal Aviation Administration operates a radar site on the 42 acre property near Gettysburg another Californian sees value in South Dakota real estate.
Property owner Lev Goukassian, a retired businessman who said he ran a computer company, posted the property sale on Facebook marketplace recently with an asking price of just under $1 million. But by Friday, the asking price had jumped to $4.5 million. While photos of the property reveal buildings that are showing their age, Goukassian said the base buildings have strong walls and some unique features, including underground tunnels that connect them. [Former Air Force base in South Dakota with '50 beds, 15 baths' listed for sale]
Chandler was assigned to the 787th Radar Squadron until 1969 when it was shuttered. The military sold the site, the homes were removed but the developer was unable to find a buyer so the compound was demolished in 1993 after sitting derelict for decades.

1/16/22

Native Nations Cannabis wins off-reservation variances in Mitchell

According to white catholic state senator, Lee Schoenbeck, Republicans in South Dakota's depraved legislature will punt on legal cannabis for all adults on non-tribal properties during its session. 

Meanwhile, the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe is operating its therapeutic cannabis dispensary at full capacity but is limiting patients to an 1/8 of an ounce of flower to avoid running out of product. The Nation is constructing two additional cultivation facilities that will nearly triple its current production and tribal attorney, Seth Pearman says the pursuit of a compact with the state is ongoing. In May of 2021 the Isanti Dakota Oyate purchased a parcel in the heart of the commercial district in Sioux Falls.
Among the three dispensaries seeking variances, Native Nations Cannabis – a medical marijuana company based out of Flandreau – was the lone entity to receive its variances during Monday’s Planning Commission meeting. Native Nations Cannabis was required to receive two variances to operate at the 1620 S. Burr St. location due to the close proximity of Mitchell Technical College. [Mitchell Daily Republic]
Tribal sovereignty binds the hands of states competing for federal resources. Under the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act the Tohono O’odham Nation won its lawsuit with the State of Arizona and in 2017 it opened a casino in Glendale outside its established boundaries.

In 2018 the Oglala Lakota Oyate bought fifty acres just off I-90 outside their Nation then legalized cannabis for all adults in 2020. According to the Lakota Times Oglala Lakota College has the equipment to test cannabis but so far the cost of constructing a lab in Pine Ridge has proved to be prohibitive.

I was wrong about John Thune leaving for the private sector so I’m probably wrong that South Dakota Republicans can’t write cannabis laws that Kristi Noem will sign.

1/14/22

Hoffman: destruction of whole ecosystems good for South Dakota

In red states like South Dakota freedom equals the right to pollute.

Charlie Hoffman is a representative from District 23 in South Dakota's extremist legislature. In 2018 while taking a shot at Senator John Thune (NAZI-SD) at Betty Olson's Faceberg page South Dakota earth hater, Hoffman implied Thune has been in DC for far too long. Once a principled conservative he and Thune both now favor government determining winners and losers. He sits on the board of the South Dakota Ag Land Trust and conspires with Republican organizations like the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association and South Dakota Farm Bureau who make sure the Prairie Pothole Region is one big eutrophic shit hole and nearly every waterway in the northern Plains states is impaired. 

In Iowa voluntary buffer strips and other conservation practices have simply failed desertifying parts of the state and causing the Raccoon River to be named one of the most endangered waterways in the United Snakes so Summit Carbon Solutions wants to dig a $4.5 billion pipeline that would rip up over 700 miles of unceded tribal lands where thousands of Indigenous Americans are buried. According to Iowa State University some land impacted by pipelines never recovers from the disturbance.

Nitrogen fertilizer is normally applied to subsidized corn grown for ethanol then ends up in the Gulf of Mexico where it kills whole ecosystems.
I fear failing to maintain a healthy ethanol industry would send a devastating ripple effect through South Dakota and even across the United States. Make no mistake, we are being forced by a federal mandate at all costs to lower carbon dioxide emissions to as close to zero as we can get. [Hoffman, Watertown Public Opinion]
Republican welfare farmers are the real ecoterrorists who hate subsidies unless they benefit from them. How dredging a 700 mile long pipeline doesn't release more carbon than it intends to sequester remains a mystery.

The Waters of the United States (WOTUS) legislation seeks to give authority to the US Environmental Protection Agency to use some teeth to enforce the rights of people downstream to have clean water even from some sources that the US Geological Survey has already identified as impaired. Despite a judge's ruling EPA moved forward with a new federal rule protecting small streams, tributaries and wetlands.
The idea that biofuels are good for the environment rests on the assumption that they are inherently carbon neutral – meaning that the CO2 emitted when biofuels are burned is fully offset by the CO2 that feedstocks like corn and soybeans absorb as they grow. But subsequent research has shown that biofuels are not actually carbon neutral. Correcting this mistake by evaluating real-world changes in cropland carbon uptake reveals that biofuel use has increased CO2 emissions. As harvests are diverted from feeding humans and livestock to produce fuel, additional farmland is needed to compensate. That means forests are cut down and prairies are plowed up to carve out new acres, triggering very large CO2 releases. [John DeCicco, University of Michigan Energy Institute]
Yes, socialized agriculture, socialized dairies, socialized cheese, socialized livestock production, a socialized timber industry, socialized air service, socialized freight rail, a socialized nursing home industry and now a socialized internet are all fine with Republicans in South Dakota but then they insist single-payer medical insurance is socialized medicine.

1/13/22

Ganje: three Republicans control the sun in South Dakota

Utilities are not your friends. 

In 2021 a study at Michigan Technological University revealed that far more work is needed to ensure the owners of self-generated electricity systems are not unjustly subsidizing electric utilities. 

Albuquerque enjoys an annual average of 310 days of sunshine while Rapid City in my home state of South Dakota gets about 230 days of sun. Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) pays .0025¢ (1/4 cent) per kilowatt hour for renewable energy certificates (RECs) generated by home photovoltaic or wind turbine systems. The net-metering rate is set by the Public Regulation Commission or PRC.

According to the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD), the Solar Market Development Tax Credit provides a tax credit of 10% for small solar systems, including on-grid and off-grid PV systems and solar thermal systems. The tax credit runs through December 31, 2027. There is a cap of $8 million in tax credits to be issued every year on a first-come, first-served basis. A check on their dashboard shows a total credit amount approved so far in 2021 of $4,266,127. [Albuquerque Journal]

In South Dakota the three elected Republicans on the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) have taken a position opposed to net metering and the state's Koch-soaked legislature has considered but declined to pass legislation on the issue. No corporate taxes, a compliant regulator, a dearth of environmental protection and cheap labor make South Dakota the perfect dumping ground for earth killers like coal and eyesores like wind farms. But according to Republican Commissioner Chris Nelson the amount of wind power generation may have reached its plateau. In a 2019 interview with WNAX Radio Nelson said he believes there will be rapid development of solar power production facilities instead.

David Ganje is an attorney based in Rapid City where he practices environmental law.

South Dakota is one of two states which do not set utility rates using a general net metering protocol. Under the current system when a solar collection system is operated by a customer, the customer sells back excess generation to utility companies at a lower-than-market rate. Customers in the state pay approximately 10-13 cents per kilowatt hour and receive from an investor-owned utility approximately 1.5-2.5 cents per kilowatt hour for the unused excess of generated energy. [GANJE: Where the sun don’t shine]

Learn more from Michigan Tech.

1/12/22

Santa Fe cleric: nuclear arms race "a vicious spiral"

On January 11 Archbishop of the Santa Fe Diocese John C. Wester offered a pastoral letter he calls “Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace: A Conversation Toward Nuclear Disarmament.” 
“We need to sustain a serious conversation in New Mexico and across the nation about universal, verifiable nuclear disarmament. In the face of increasing threats from Russia, China, and elsewhere, I point out that a nuclear arms race is inherently self-perpetuating, a vicious spiral that prompts progressively destabilizing actions and reactions by all parties, including our own country. We need nuclear arms control, not an escalating nuclear arms race.” [Los Alamos Reporter]
New Mexico endures multitudinous symbols of conquest, genocide and colonization. Spanish settlers held the first recorded Christmas in New Mexico in 1598 at a newly built church on what is now called Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo and celebrated a midnight Mass to celebrate Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) and Navidad (Christmas Day). The Royal Road of the Interior that extended 1600 miles from Mexico City to Santa Fe was established some 400 years ago by Spanish Conquistador Juan de Oñate, infamous for the 1599 Acoma Massacre

On orders from President Franklin Roosevelt one of the largest concentration camps in the United States was built in Santa Fe in 1942 and imprisoned some 4,555 people of Japanese heritage. During World War II National Guard units from New Mexico became trapped on the Bataan peninsula where they experienced torture at the hands of soldiers of the Empire of Japan. 

Four Los Alamos scientists armed the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and killed over 200,000 children, women and men.

In 2011 Fresh Air's Terry Gross interviewed Annie Jacobsen who described the events leading up to the creation of Area 51. Jacobsen had done numerous interviews of her own including one with an eyewitness to the extraction of the deceased preteen pilots who had been surgically altered by Stalin hire, Josef Mengele to look like extraterrestrials after a vectored thrust aircraft crashed near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947.

Cannon Air Force Base near Clovis is home to the plane that dropped a Massive Ordnance Air Blast or 'Mother of all Bombs' on Afghanistan.

Tritium, a naturally occurring radioactive isotope of hydrogen that can cause birth defects and spontaneous abortions, has been found in groundwater near Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The US Department of Energy has set a goal of producing 80 new plutonium pits a year by 2035, enough to fully replace the triggers in every existing thermonuclear warhead by 2105. 
Los Alamos National Laboratory, the organization that grew out of the Manhattan Project to design and equip the nuclear arsenal of the Cold War, is advancing towards its goal of manufacturing 30 new plutonium pits to go inside nuclear bomb cores by 2026. At present, the United States has about 5,600 nuclear warheads, of which roughly 1,750 are deployed either on intercontinental missiles or at bomber bases. [Popular Science]
Another waste dump for radioactive materials would make southeast New Mexico a sacrifice zone that amounts to “nuclear colonialism," according to Leona Morgan, a Dine woman and organizer with the Nuclear Issues Study Group.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas has been investigating predator priests and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe was forced to file for bankruptcy because of the high number of lawsuits.

1/9/22

Igloo preppers facing tax scrutiny

In 1942 the US Army Corps of Engineers built 830 concrete and steel all-risk bunkers at the Black Hills Army Depot south of Edgemont, South Dakota. 

In 1967 the military sold the property to the City of Edgemont who then sold it to local cattle ranchers until Del Mar, California-based Robert Vicino entered a 2017 agreement with S&S Land and Cattle Co., and its partner corporation, Fort Igloo Bunkers. Vicino bought much of the 18 square mile property and 575 bunkers in 2020 for nearly $2.5 million. 

Today, starting at $35,000 and boasting remote off-grid survivable spaces with two deep wells the Vivos xPoint bunkers are being marketed and leased to doomsday preppers.
While most residential structures in Fall River County have known tax rates that are being applied to such properties, bunkers being leased at the Vivos xPoint property near Provo are apparently in a state of flux when it comes to their tax value. Teresa Pullen, County Treasurer, stated that her office requested the issuance of distress warrants in 2020 for 19 bunkers on the property, which were served by the Fall River County Sheriff’s Office. In August of 2020, Vivos paid 2018 taxes payable in 2019 in the amount of $2,536.56. County Attorney Lance Russell when contacted on the matter, shared that remodeled units have been assessed and taxes have been raised. He added that rates will continue to rise as the units are developed. According to Russell, the majority of units have not been modified and sit on parcels that cattle are run on. [Fall River County Herald Star, How are Igloo Bunkers taxed?]
Recall the mother of former legislator, former State's Attorney now Republican Fall River County Attorney Lance Russell sold property to the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) where minor girls have been trafficked and raped. In 2011 Russell was censured by the state's judiciary for leaking grand jury testimony. 

Last year at the courthouse in a South Dakota county named for a war criminal members of the splinter group bought the 140 acre compound for $750,000 despite its $9 million valuation. The cult was not delinquent on property taxes but the acreage was sold at a sheriff's auction to settle a $2.1 million judgment against the FLDS, the towns of Hildale, Utah and Arizona City, Colorado. It's believed some twenty adults lived on the parcel but were expected to leave before close of escrow according to buyer Patrick Pipkin, manager of Blue Mountain Ranch of Colorado — a summer camp for at risk adolescents, no less.

1/8/22

Deadwood hosting Turner bison sale today



Ted Turner’s one million acres in New Mexico makes him the state’s largest private landowner and his 141,357 acre Bad River Ranches earns him the top private landowner spot in my home state of South Dakota, too.

On Saturday at 6PM MST Jud Seaman of Quality Auction Services, Inc. will sell forty bred cows, twenty unbred heifers and twelve bulls from purebred Yellowstone stock at the annual Turner Bison Exchange Prairie Performance Bison Auction for this year in The Lodge at Deadwood. Bison from Turner's ranches in New Mexico, Kansas and Nebraska will be featured.
The event will be live streamed with online bidding capabilities. First time registered in-person bidders must provide a letter of credit from your financial institution. First time registered online bidders must provide credit card information.
Terms: Payment for animals must be made on auction day, Saturday, January 8, 2022. Cash, personal, or business checks accepted with proper identification. Wire transfer information is available. Wire transfer payments are required to be received by close of business on Monday, January 10, 2022. Animals will not be shipped until payment is made in full. First time buyers must present an irrevocable bank letter of credit guaranteeing payment of any check. Yardage fees after January 18, 2022 will be charged at $20/head/day for the first 30 days. Yardage fees beyond 30 days will be charged at $100/head/day. All yardage fees must be paid prior to shipment of animals. [Turner Bison Exchange]
Last July, Turner Enterprises, Inc. and Turner Ranches announced the launch of the Turner Institute of Ecoagriculture, Inc. a 501(c)(3) public charity and agricultural research organization, will share a formal agreement, facilities and staff with the Center of Excellence for Bison Studies at South Dakota State University. 

ip photo: bison graze Wind Cave National Park in occupied South Dakota.

1/5/22

Stone-Manning: "We don't manage culture, we manage landscape outcomes."


In 2002 Tracy Stone-Manning lectured on the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act or NREPA at the University of Montana where she earned her Masters of Science in Environmental Studies. In 2007 she became an aide to Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) then ran the state’s Department of Environmental Quality and in 2014 she became chief of staff for Montana Governor Steve Bullock. As Director of the Clark Fork Coalition she guided dam removal and river cleanup and has been co-chair of Missoula's Open Space, Rivers and Farmland. 

Today, Stone-Manning is Director of the Bureau of Land Management within the Department of Interior after calling nearly every Trump era ruling "illegal." Herr Trump's first Interior secretary blamed wildfires in the West on those he called “radical environmentalists” despite most acres burned in 2021 on private ranch land in Republican counties. On the final day of Trump’s presidency his last Interior secretary even restored a grazing permit to the Hammond Ranch whose prescriptive burn escaped onto federal land. 

Only a tiny fraction of public lands offered by the Trump Organization to the extractive industries were even leased yet Republicans see the Biden White House as hostile to their causes especially after the Hammonds' grazing permits were again rescinded.

Director Stone-Manning recently spoke to David McCumber with Lee Newspapers of Montana.
"The other day I was standing next to a BLM guy at an oil rig outside Farmington in New Mexico. He was an enforcement guy, not law enforcement but on the regulatory side. He said to me, 'Tracy, the day before you were confirmed, everybody above me in the chain of command was in an acting position.' We have a huge job ahead of us in stabilizing and growing this organization. Again, people are hungry for that and excited that it is happening." Q. What about the American Prairie Reserve and the idea of a buffalo commons along the Missouri? What is BLM going to do to enable or inhibit that vision? A. I think you know the request is pending with the state BLM office in Montana on livestock leases and enabling the Prairie Reserve to run bison with its leases. We expect that decision early in the year. Our job is to manage for the health of landscape and implement the law. We’re certainly aware of the sensitivities of that cultural question. But that’s what it is, a cultural question. We don't manage culture, we manage landscape outcomes." [Montana's Tracy Stone-Manning: BLM director has lots of acres and a big to-do list]
That Republican welfare ranchers are angry about rewilding means it's the right thing to do. 

Just 3 percent of the Earth's surface remains untouched by human development and a sixth mass extinction is underway. Putting the country on the path of protecting at least 30 percent of its land and 30 percent of its ocean areas by 2030 (30x30) is imperative to preserving public lands. Moving the US Forest Service from the US Department of Agriculture into the Department of Interior, even merging the Forest Service and BLM would be just one step toward rewilding the West.

But utilities are not your friends so how is generating electricity on BLM lands for greedy corporations good for America?
Public land in southern New Mexico was offered for developing solar power by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management as part of a multi-state initiative intended to build utility-scale installations in the American West. In total, the BLM called for proposals for such developments on 90,000 acres of federal public land in New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada – touting the call as the largest solar energy solicitation in the agency’s history. BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning said the project announced Dec. 20 was intended to expand solar power production in the U.S. and follow the priorities of the federal administration to combat pollution through renewable energy. Earlier this year during the 2021 Legislative Session, New Mexico state lawmakers passed, and [Governor] Lujan Grisham signed into law the Community Solar Act, requiring the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) to adopt a rulemaking that would create a community solar program. The purpose of the program was to allow low-income or rental residents, who either cannot afford or are unable to install rooftop panels, to still have access to solar energy and energy credits associated with solar energy added to the power grid. [Feds seek proposals for 29,000 acres in southern New Mexico for solar power, grow industry]
Hydraulic fracturing can waste up to 16 million gallons of water per well so here in New Mexico that’s often too high a price to pay not to keep fossil fuels in the ground. In the Second Congressional District alone the oil and gas industry left hundreds of orphan wells but because New Mexico is flush with cash operators just walk away from them leaving the state and feds to do the work to cap them. The BLM wants to hold the industry accountable.

As it moves personnel and operations back to DC from Colorado the BLM wants to sell some land the law enforcement industry has contaminated with lead to a local community college.

ip photo: the Kewa Pueblo has adopted some more BLM mustangs so I filled the water tank at the casita hoping to capture some images in the trail cam!

1/4/22

As white people gush into South Dakota Albuquerque and Rapid City nearly tied for job growth

It's not always easy to find similarities with New Mexico and my home state of South Dakota but one correlation stands out: the growth in the Latino population is surging. In the Midwest the Latino community has grown 28 percent in the last decade and in the Southwest it's grown nearly 20 percent.

But, white Republicans are leaving states hit hardest by the Trump Virus for states like Vermont and South Dakota to be closer to their families according to United Van Lines, a company that's part of Republican campaign donor Unigroup. Apartheid in South Dakota hides American Indians in concentration camps out of sight and out of mind. Another Republican secretary of state is purging voter rolls and the resident electorate is withering under overwhelming disgust and hopelessness. 

WalletHub sez jobs are still hard to find in Albuquerque and Rapid City but less difficult in Sioux Falls even as New Mexico and my home state see negative growth in gross domestic product. Albuquerque and Las Cruces are among the nation's neediest cities but South Dakota is among the most dangerous states during the pandemic while New Mexico is far safer. 

My college buddy, Kim said on the phone Sunday that he's seeing more vehicles with South Dakota license plates this winter in Pinal and Pima Counties in Arizona. He builds and maintains the bike trail system for the Town of Marana. Despite Arizona's water crisis Scottsdale, Tempe and Chandler are booming and among the best cities in the US to find jobs.

This is at least as much about the flight of young people and Democrats from South Dakota than anything else. White retirees from Minnesota, Colorado and California, even Arizona parachute into South Dakota hoping to isolate themselves from fair taxation and cultural diversity then tap into the state's culture of federal dependence. 

It's obvious this phenomenon is no accident: it has been manufactured to make the state a corporatist tax haven for an exclusive set of Republicans while some $4 TRILLION languishes in South Dakota banks and trusts.

Learn more at WalletHub.

1/3/22

Hess latest reporter to flee media desert Pierre

We all know this: Pierre was made the capital of South Dakota to be a media desert by design

There is an exodus of journalists leaving the profession for public relations jobs as the media lurch to drive the message to the extreme right. Bill Janklow’s idea of public broadcasting can’t cover Pierre effectively because its funding is reliant on the South Dakota Republican Party, the Associated Press can’t do it because they’ve been neutered so has the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. 

South Dakota’s teevee stations are bound to Republican advertisers and nobody reads college publications. I quit following the South Dakota Newspaper Association on twitter because its feed reads like a bulletin from the South Dakota Republican Party. The Pierre Capital Journal is a joke so are the radio stations based in the capital city. Reservation border towns like Pierre have always been influenced by the Klan, John Birch Society, the TEA movement and now by the extreme white wing of the Republican Party.

In 2015 the Center for Public Integrity gave the state an 'F' for its culture of corruption and it just keeps getting worse
For the past six years I’ve been writing about the South Dakota Legislature. Well, enough is enough. I just couldn’t take the crazy any longer. I couldn’t take the effort wasted on legislation that’s designed to bully and hurt. I couldn’t muster the vigor it takes to write objectively about resolutions that are good for nothing more than political posturing. Six years of watching these people and I could never tell who was asking them what they think. In journalism circles in South Dakota, we often bemoan the fact that there are fewer and fewer reporters writing about the Legislature. Now there’s one less and I feel bad about that. But not bad enough to force myself back into the press box and try to write objectively about legislation and resolutions that I know are by turns silly, symbolic, wrong-headed and cruel. [DANA HESS: Confessions of a former legislative reporter]

1/1/22

Weaponized wildfire not ruled out in Colorado's Marshall Fire


Colorado remains the only state without a state fire marshal so the causes of some of the state's largest wildfires remain unknown.

The 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire was Colorado's costliest at nearly half a billion dollars until the Black Forest Fire the next year surpassed that. Were they accidents, pyroterrorism, or a lone psychopath deploying weaponized wildfire
A comparison to other states also indicates that Colorado’s investigative failures are likely missing dozens of arson fires each year. Just two percent of the state’s fires are determined to be arson, meaning that someone started a fire intentionally, rather than by accident. The number of human wildfires with undetermined cause is a big problem with a simple solution. “I've watched things change,” said Mike Morgan, director of the Colorado Division Fire Prevention and Control, who has spent 35 years in fire fighting in the state. “What the risks are and what we're asking our firefighters to do, what they're up against, you know, in this. I think it's time for change.” [Colorado Public Radio]
In October, 2020 the East Troublesome Fire incinerated nearly 200,000 acres of mixed timber and grass becoming the second largest wildfire ever recorded in Colorado.
The rapid growth of the East Troublesome Fire shocked firefighters and scientists, redefining how quickly Colorado wildfires can grow in an era of rapid climate change. Only now are scientists beginning to understand the forces behind the firestorm. Their insights could help inform a new set of tools to prevent and predict the most severe wildfires, but their overall assessment is bleak. As Colorado warms and dries, expect more events like the East Troublesome. [Colorado Public Radio]
It was believed early downed powerlines caused the Marshall Fire in Boulder County, now the state's most destructive blaze. That firestorm forced the evacuation of tens of thousands and evaporated probably a thousand homes but Xcel Energy insists that isn't the case. Damage is expected to be at least a billion dollars.
Michael Smith, the incident commander, said the priority at the start was getting people evacuated. “We didn’t actively fight the fire for the first few hours,” Smith said. “It was about life safety.” [Boulder Daily Camera]
Self-reliance or moral hazard? Montana has the highest number in the US of residences in the wildland urban interface or WUI so that state's Department of Natural Resources and Conservation offers wildfire assessments and structure protection programs
Finally, communities and landowners will have to reconsider how and where development takes place in high-risk areas. The idea that people can build wherever they want isn’t realistic, and landowners will have to seriously rethink the reflex to rebuild once burned areas have cooled. [The Conversation]
But even government can't always protect you from your own stupidity. Rooftop solar is the future while burying vulnerable power lines is so last century. Utilities, insurers, county commissions, lenders and developers need to be held accountable for building tinder boxes packed so closely together that homeowners can see into each others bathrooms. 

Counties should be able to fine property owners who fail to create defensible space or clear dry fuels. Well-funded local and volunteer fire departments could conduct prescribed fires and burn road ditches to create buffers where contract fire specialists don’t exist.