Remanding tracts to tribes the right thing to do

Ahead of the 2023 White House Tribal Nations Summit and as part of the Cobell settlement the Interior Department's Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations, some three million acres in fifteen states are being returned to Tribal trust ownership.

So, a plan by the US Bureau of Reclamation to remand some 60,000 acres on the Wind River Reservation to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes is long overdue.
You know, the more you think about it, the more you think about this whole doctrine of discovery and what the federal government and attorneys have done to us – we've really got to stand up for ourselves, we have to protect what little we have. There should be no question that that land reverts back to the tribes. [Senior Wind River Conservation Associate Wes Martel]
The moves come as the Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service and US Forest Service announce partnerships with Sweetwater County, Wyoming to soothe Republicans who feel put upon by federal agencies despite handouts like grazing for pennies a head.
Oklahoma’s creation must be taught alongside all the grim and dark history of U.S. tribal relations prior to 1907. How it is taught, of course, varies by the students’ age. But no child is too young to receive an honest, if difficult to hear, recitation of our shared history. Our public educators must also have the freedom to teach it. [Chuck Hoskin, Jr.]
On 18 April Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced protections for 4,200 acres in New Mexico for lands sacred to the Santa Ana and San Felipe Pueblos. In Arizona she signed historic agreements with the Colorado River Indian Tribes and pledged $14.5 to the Navajo, Hopi and San Carlos Apache to electrify homes.

In Colorado, Senator John Hickenlooper took fire from Republicans opposed to the creation of the Dolores River National Monument.

Republicans in Arizona and Utah are challenging Pres. Biden's authority to limit grazing permits and uranium mining on Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni — Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument and on Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. 

In most cases President Joe Biden should simply find the money, buy out Republican welfare ranchers and remand the ground to the Nations like the Klamath Tribes have been able to do and rewild the West.


Wyoming judge sounds alarm on mounting violence

Ginned up by Donald Trump attacks against judges, poll workers, hospitals and public officials will increase in number and severity according to the US Marshals Service.
The agency, responsible for the protection of 2,700 federal judges and more than 30,000 federal prosecutors and other court personnel, has seen a sharp rise in threats related to the country’s bitter political divisions, Marshals Director Ronald Davis told Reuters in a recent interview. [Exclusive: Threats to US federal judges double since 2021, driven by politics]
In Wyoming and other western states Trump's followers are targeting Bureau of Land Management district offices as conservation gains equal ranking under the Federal Land Management Policy Act.
Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Kate Fox said that she's alarmed by the trends. She's working diligently to increase awareness, and security measures, in courthouses and communities across the Cowboy State. It's the trial court judges who have a lot more interaction and who tend to get a lot more threats of violence. [Wyoming Supreme Court Chief Justice speaks on the need for increased security as threats to judges spike]
It’s impossible to imagine a more committed insurrectionist than the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee who gleefully incites his disciples to render a bloodbath on his political enemies.


Extreme white wing of the Republican Party putting Idaho hospital in the crosshairs

A blastocyst is no more an unborn child than it is an unborn grandparent. Foetal development is undefined in US Constitutional law so if someone calls it a baby that's an opinion and not a legal definition. 

With some 22% of OB/GYNs leaving Idaho and the Trump-packed Supreme Court of the United States hearing arguments that the state's repeal of reproductive rights violates the US Constitution St. Luke's Health System is reporting a massive spike in airlifting patients to other states for medical procedures prohibited in the Gem State. Federal law states that the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act requires hospitals receiving Medicare funds to stabilize patients in an emergency and if it can't it must provide transport to facilities that can. 

After bankrupting Ammon Bundy and sending him into hiding Idaho's St. Luke's is bolstering security protocols amid threats from the state's Republican Attorney General and others in his party. Idaho is the third most lucrative state to practice medicine just behind Montana and South Dakota as doctors flee persecution from militants like Dorothy Moon, the Bircher who's Chair of the Republican Party there. 

Raúl Labrador is an Earth hater and Mormon who was born in Puerto Rico, elected to Congress in 2010 with support of the John Birch Society, was Chair of the IDGOP before becoming attorney general and says he believes a fertilized egg is an unborn child.
In July 2023, Idaho's abortion ban was amended to exclude ectopic and molar pregnancies, which if not terminated can only result in the death of both the mother and the fetus. But some doctors have said the text still conflicts with their duty of care and does not take into account the broad scope of severe medical complications women can face during pregnancy, including loss of fertility. [Idaho's biggest hospital says emergency flights for pregnant patients up sharply]
Sidearms for the pre-born

Learn more at NPR.


ITBC, Heinert move ten buffalo to Taos Pueblo

In 2012 Democrat Martin Heinrich defeated Republican Heather Wilson, his predecessor in Congress and today thanks to efforts led by Sen. Heinrich bison have become America's National Mammal.

Now, with cooperation from Democratic former South Dakota State Senator and Sicangu citizen, Troy Heinert more bison are coming home to the Nations. With Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland in attendance and in cooperation with Colorado State University the Rapid City-based InterTribal Buffalo Council just moved five yearling bulls and five heifers with Yellowstone genetics to the Taos Pueblo. 

“We commonly refer to bison as buffalo due to historical and linguistic reasons. When European settlers first encountered the bison which resembled the buffalo they were familiar with from other parts of the world they began calling the bison buffalo. This term became widely used in the English language. Many of our tribes had their own names for bison in their respective languages. However as communication between our people and European settlers increased, the term buffalo became adopted more broadly. So, the term buffalo is deeply intertwined in our history as a symbol of cultural identity, spiritual connection, resilience, and the challenges faced by our people in the face of colonization and environmental change.”
Almost 37 years ago, Frank and Deborah Popper’s collaborative academic article was published in a small magazine for planning professionals. On March 27 the couple visited Montana State University in Bozeman for a public presentation and discussion about how things have changed since their article was first published. [Buffalo Commons authors look back at evolution of their Great Plains bison concept]
The Oakland Zoo just sent fourteen more buffalo for a total of 38 to the Blackfeet Nation. But, whether it's American Prairie's bison grazing on Bureau of Land Management ground in Montana, the US Department of Agriculture killing cattle on the Gila or feds shooting goats in the Tetons socialized grazing just isn't enough to keep some Republicans happy. 

It's time to rewild parts of the Mountain West by 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 Rio Grande through Nebraska, eastern Colorado, western Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.

Watch the ITBC video at their Faceberg page

ip image: buffalo graze at Wind Cave National Park in occupied South Dakota.


South Dakota still addicted to gambling

According to WalletHub, gambling has become a leading source of anguish and despair in my home state with a high suicide rate and few avenues for treatment. The state is tied for first in the number of casinos and machines and second in overall addiction to the poison.
It also has a high prevalence of gambling through lottery tickets, with the 10th highest lottery sales per resident age 18+. South Dakota has legalized betting on fantasy sports, regular sports and horse races, and it allows gambling machines to be put in stores. With so many different legal ways to gamble, it makes sense that many residents have a problem. The grip that gambling has on the Mount Rushmore State is evident in the fact that it has a high number of Gamblers Anonymous meetings per capita. [Most Gambling-Addicted States (2024)]
The reasoning is hardly mysterious. It’s all about the money video lootery, a too big to jail banking racket, a medical industry triopoly, prostitution, the Sturgis Rally, policing for profit, sex trafficking, hunting and subsidized grazing bring to the SDGOP destroying lives, depleting watersheds and smothering habitat under single-party rule.
Gamers visiting Deadwood in March dropped $127.2 million in machines, on tables, and sports betting for just over an eight percent increase compared to March 2023. Thus far this year, the collective handle in Deadwood is $358.3 million, up less than half a percent, compared to the same period in 2023. [Black Hills Pioneer]
When i was still playing Ricky Jacobsen, Chuck Baumann and Jeanette Fraser took their own lives after losing everything in Deadwood's poker games. No doubt there have been others.


Brookings listened: rainwater harvest encouraged

Yes, the Big Sioux River is a sewer of biblical proportions. 

For every 1” of rain and 1,000 square feet of surface (roof, driveway, etc), about 620 gallons of fresh water are generated. The graphic on the right is of snow water equivalent.

Not that those twenty gallon barrels are going to slow much stormwater but it's a start.
Starting Monday, April 22, 2024, City residents can register for and pick up a voucher at the Engineering Division office in Suite 140 of the Brookings City & County Government Center at 520 Third St. Vouchers are limited to one per residential property and are for City of Brookings residents only. A total of 40 vouchers will be available on a first-come, first-served basis until they are gone. [2024 Stormwater Incentive Program]
Let's see: Brookings owns a research park, the hospital, the liquor store, the water, the phone company, the power company, an entertainment venue, the golf course, it's home to South Dakota's largest public university and a federally subsidized cheese and dairy industry.


Expect a contested Republican convention

My working hypothesis means a floor fight at the Republican convention in Milwaukee between Nikki Haley and the other candidates since she has the second most delegates and Trump is toast

Kristi Noem knows it, too and is doing her utmost to trump Haley and win the nomination at a contested convention by winning a majority of the 2,284 delegates and keep an unaffiliated Liz Cheney out of the race as a spoiler.

So who’s the best Veep choice? My guess is Andy Biggs, a rabid Trumper and a Mormon from swing state, Arizona who could also bring Nevada with him. 

Devastating as it sounds there is gossip that Mrs. Noem could become Interior Secretary in a Haley cabinet.

What do y’all think?


Another mountain town turns to ice farming

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."
Lake City is an old silver-mining town — population 432 — tucked in a valley in the San Juan Mountains. The Lake City Ice Park was created by a motley crew of carpenters and raft guides who shared a passion for the sport. They began “farming,” or creating their own ice in the Lake City area in the late 1990s — a scheme fueled by a mischievous curiosity and thousands of feet of hose. In Ouray, the climbers can scale more than 150 named routes along the Uncompahgre River Gorge at what has become the world’s largest man-made ice-climbing park. During the winter of 2021-’22, the Ouray Ice Park pumped $18 million into Ouray County. [Can ice climbing bring life to an isolated Colorado town in the dead of winter?]


Cancellation of flights between Minneapolis and Pierre could boost passenger rail

Recall that in 1997 South Dakota got $23 million for going without Amtrak service so then-Gov. Bill Janklow funneled much of that money into the Governor's Club and in 2007 Republican Gov. Mike Rounds spent some of it on an airplane for his personal use. 

So, in a state that says it hates big government money essential air service into South Dakota's capital city has always looked like a bridge to nowhere. After the failure of Great Lakes Airlines to even board enough passengers to make subsidies work the corruption in Pierre continues. Water lines breaking, sinkholes, polyandry: just another day in the ditch, right?
Denver Air Connection and the Pierre Regional Airport gave flights to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport a try, but that’s coming to an end June 9, 2024. [Lack of use leads to quick end to flights from Pierre to Minneapolis-St. Paul]
My proposal for passenger rail from Minneapolis to Denver is a multi-modal route from the Twin Cities to Mankato on the right of way owned by the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad to Brookings, South Dakota and Pierre then to Rapid City and to Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway tracks at Alliance via Chadron, Nebraska then to Cheyenne and Denver. Service to Sioux Falls and Omaha could diverge at Florence, Minnesota.

A route in the I-90 median between Sioux Falls and Rapid City should also be explored.

South Dakota received nearly $27 million from the Federal Railroad Administration in both 2022 and 2023 through what’s known as federal Short-Time Compensation program. But Republicans in Montana and SD Department of Transportation Secretary Joel Jundt believe subsidized air service is what Republicans want because hey, why would they endure riding through the destruction they've caused when you can just fly over it?
Rail advocate Dan Bilka disputed that during the Wednesday meeting. The current study is meant to identify routes that would best serve both rural and urban transportation needs, enhance existing long-distance routes and “reflect public engagement” on passenger rail. “That’s why we might be actually a higher priority than some of these other ones that might overlap with state supported services,” Bilka said of the South Dakota proposals. [State transportation head doubts passenger rail service is a real possibility for South Dakota]
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, socialized water systems and now a socialized internet are all fine with Republicans in South Dakota but then they insist single-payer medical insurance is socialized medicine.


Earth hating Farm Bureau wants more socialism in farm bill

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

After the last farm bill was enacted in 2018 Trump era Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue gave away a pool of cash in the 2019 Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments aimed at buying off welfare farmers

Kristi Noem's cuckolded husband is an insurance peddler and so is her fellow Earth hater, Mike Rounds. Senator John Thune (Earth hater-SD) is already notorious for encouraging moral hazard and adding layers of government overreach to the farm bill

The American Farm Bureau Federation is notorious for conflicts of interest and denying the human effects on a warming climate while lobbying extensively for crop insurance in the federal farm bill and against Waters of the United States or WOTUS rules while ag bankers continue to enslave landowners.
“It’s time to get it passed, this year,” said Scott VanderWal, president of South Dakota Farm Bureau. “We didn’t really want to be in a presidential election year when we had to do this, but that’s where we’re at. We have to deal with it.” Tensions between ranchers and farmers sometimes arise when policies that favor crop subsidies encourage the conversion of grassland to cropland or reduce grazing areas for livestock. Thune told South Dakota Searchlight that balancing those interests can be achieved within the framework of the farm bill. [Cattlemen tell Thune: ‘More ranch’ needed in already overdue farm bill]
Yet, Republicans in red states are howling because the federal government and states are buying land to protect it from desertification.

So which part of ecocide don't Republicans understand?


After SCOTUS ruling American Rivers names New Mexico's waterways most imperiled

In 1979 the breach of a dam in New Mexico released some 94 million gallons of radioactive uranium waste into the Rio Puerco.

Until it closed in 1939 the Tererro Mine in the headwaters of the Pecos River took gold, lead and other metals then left piles of toxic waste rock in their place. After major flooding in 1991 when sulfuric acid, aluminum and zinc swept into the river miner Freeport-McMoRan was held responsible for the deaths of some 100,000 Rio Grande cutthroat trout and for the subsequent decades of acid mine drainage. 

Back in 2012 the Supreme Court of the United States began hearing arguments in Sackett v. US Environmental Protection Agency to determine the extent of federal authority over waters of the US or WOTUS. In 2015, the Gold King Mine spill caused by a contractor for EPA emptied three million gallons of contaminated wastewater into the Animas River turning it bright orange damaging New Mexico communities downstream. But, in 2023 the Trump-packed SCOTUS reversed environmental protection for a majority of American citizens and enabled the corporatocracy to pollute at will.
To address the gap in clean water protections left by the Supreme Court decision, New Mexico must secure durable funding to establish a state-led surface water permitting program to protect its rivers, streams, and wetlands. The state’s heritage, environment, people, and economy depend on it. [American Rivers]
Watersheds in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico provide between 50-75% of the water found in the Rio Grande but irrigators in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas take at least 80% of that from the 1,885 mile long river. At least fifteen native fish species and their aquatic habitat once found in the southern portion of the Rio Grande are now gone because the river dries up every year.

ip image: the Rio Grande meanders through the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.


Rounds, Republicans paved the way for Trump's Covid ethnic cleansing

Republican former South Dakota Governor now-US Senator Mike Rounds is an insurance salesman by trade and has wanted to deconstruct the Indian Health Service and Medicaid for most of his life. 

So to nobody’s surprise, Rounds turned on American Indians when in the days after Donald Trump’s inauguration a career criminal commanded the US Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the Dakota Excess pipeline that violated tribal sovereignty, repeatedly cut funds for Indian education, moved to privatize Native trusts, cut foreign aid to countries with high Native populations and praised Brazil's extreme white wing autocrat who laid waste to Indigenous lands in the Amazon. 

Trump hates American Indians so deeply after losing a 1993 casino case under the 1988 Indian Gaming Act he deployed Covid as a biological weapon in 2020 to annihilate as many people as he could and so far he has gotten away with genocide. Contending tribal nations enjoy racial preference lawyers and political appointees in that administration attempted to deny Medicaid benefits to some three million Native Americans even after Republicans cut funding to the Indian Health Service

Under Trump's direction US Immigration and Customs Enforcement performed mass hysterectomies on Indigenous women, stripped funding for enforcement of the Violence Against Women Act and stonewalled investigations of missing and murdered Indigenous women or MMIW cases.

South Dakota's junior Republican US Senator even described the "unimaginable horrors" at the IHS after Republicans created those unimaginable horrors
Americans cannot afford to look back with rose-colored glasses to act as if Trump wasn’t so bad. Certainly, Indian Country cannot afford another four more years of Trump. [When Trump Said, “They Don’t Look Like Indians to Me”]
We all know South Dakota's current Republican governor is a racist so it comes as no surprise to anyone that she has been barred from four reservations and counting.


Saving the planet from Republican money no easy task

After the Soviet Union fell Republicans began their war on the environment substituting a new Green Scare for the old Red Scare. 

Today, the Center for Western Priorities found 92% of 10,000 comments encouraged the Interior Department to adopt the US Bureau of Land Management's Public Lands Rule as written or even strengthen its conservation measures

The US Environmental Protection Agency currently prices the social cost of carbon at $51 per ton.
With governments of the world facing a 2025 deadline for new and stronger plans to curb carbon pollution, nearly half of the world's populations voting in elections this year, and crucial global finance meetings later this month in Washington, United Nations executive climate secretary Simon Stiell said Wednesday he knows his warning may sound melodramatic. But he said action over the next two years is “essential.” If emissions of carbon dioxide and methane from burning of coal, oil and natural gas continue to rise or don't start a sharp decline, Stiell said it “will further entrench the gross inequalities between the world’s richest and poorest countries and communities" that are being worsened by climate change. And behind it all is money. [UN climate chief presses for faster action, says humans have 2 years left 'to save the world']
Margaret Byfield is the daughter of a couple with ties to the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion and in Nevada they grazed their cattle without permits on federal land. In 2022 her group, American Stewards of Liberty or ASL presented anti-Earth resolutions to a receptive Otero County Commission and the San Juan County Commission heard two resolutions dealing with land use issues after watching Byfield's dog and pony show. Her husband, Dan has been a lobbyist for the Texas Farm Bureau

Charging as much as $225 a head Mrs. Byfield recently spoke to the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association "alleging that environmentalists are atheists and casting conservation efforts as a plan by the federal government to take power from property owners."
Alfredo Herrera is kinder, and softer-spoken, a young rancher whose ancestors first homesteaded their family plot in northern New Mexico 100 years ago. All weekend long, there has been talk of “grassroots.” At the time, ASL’s website declares that 54 percent of its hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual revenue comes from small donors. (The vast majority of that money is spent on the couple’s salaries.) The group’s 990s tell a different story: “Service fees”—money that comes presumably from their county-level consulting and, lately, their summits—make up more than two-thirds of ASL’s revenue. Who do they want to own this country? If I squint a bit, this conference starts to look like a front on behalf of the oligarchs who pay the bills—the people who, if our public lands are ever privatized, will wind up the new owners. [This Land Is My Land: Inside the Growing Movement to Fight Conservation]
Learn more at the Wisconsin Examiner.


No significant impact? BHNF, Spearditch Canyon under attack

Under the General Mining Law of 1872 even foreign miners have carte blanche to rape the Black Hills, so they are

Land seized from the Great Sioux Nation had been remanded to the tribes under the Treaty of Fort Laramie but Congress broke the agreement to pay down Civil War debt then exploited the Custer Expedition's discovery of gold in the Black Hills.

In 2020 American Rivers released a report that named Rapid Creek the seventh most endangered waterway in America, identified mining as a major threat then 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." 

Regulations are protections but as the war on the West escalates South Dakota has given up on environmental protection and self-reliance and yielded to moral hazard. Add the very high number of private inholdings within the Black Hills National Forest that make the wildland urban interface (WUI) very large to one of the highest road densities in the entire national forest system and Region 2 to lots of logging, hardrock mining and pesticides then understand why over a hundred species in South Dakota alone are at risk to the Republican Party

Solitario Resources is combing 580 mining claims and wants to drill 25 holes on some 33,000 public and private acres in the Spearditch Canyon watershed in Lawrence County. Solitario's predecessor parent, Crown, is notorious for violating laws in Washington State over 3000 times.
There were 383 formal objections from the public, and the Forest Service determined that 122 objections were “eligible for review.” However, no objection resolution meeting was held, as is typical with this process. Instead, the Forest Service will move directly to a decision. Its draft decision was that there would be “no significant impact” and to let the drilling go forward. Like 382 others – and like hundreds more in other phases of the project — Black Hills Clean Water Alliance put time and effort into this process. To see the Forest Service brush off our concerns with its repeated assertions that they did the minimum necessary is insulting. [GOLDEN CREST GOLD DRILLING PROJECT: BLACK HILLS NATIONAL FOREST ISSUED A “RESPONSE” TO PUBLIC OBJECTIONS]
While exploratory drilling wastes millions of gallons of water it tends to have minimal impact on the Forest itself but the drillers usually sell their data to bigger miners like Barrick, a Canadian earth raper.


Snowflake Neiman announces layoffs at Spearditch sawmill, blames Forest Service

After a century of fire suppression, a decades-long moratorium on prescribed burns, a lack of environmental litigators and GOP retrenchment the Black Hills National Forest has been broken for decades. The collapse of the Black Hills hydrologic region was forecast in 2002 even as the mountain pine beetle raced to save Paha Sapa water supplies. 

So, in 2018 after the Trump Organization gutted the National Environmental Policy Act then was thrown from the White House Hulett, Wyoming-based Neiman Enterprises closed their Hill City, South Dakota sawmill and is threatening to shutter another in Spearditch announcing layoffs and production cutbacks while blaming the US Forest Service. Lumber prices are depressed as wildfire salvage floods mills.

Responses range from relief among those who love the Black Hills to outrage and threats of violence from Republicans. Spearditch Republican, Randy Deibert calls the move, "sad news for our community" and his wife, Lori said, "the risk of forest fires and pine beetle infestation will be greater!" During the 2024 South Dakota lawmakers rejected some $20 million in federal pandemic aid for the timber giant.

At his Faceberg page Ogden Driskill, Republican from Wyoming Senate District #1 wrote, "Unnatural disaster—-No thanks to the United States Forest Service. We will be facing increased fires and bug epidemics. We will then have the same short sighted people blame it on 'climate change.' SAD." His family has milked the US Park Service for three generations with a campground at the mal-named Devils Tower National Monument.

Neiman bought the former Homestake mill in Spearditch in 2008 logging most of the Black Hills National Forest into the dirt. The downsizing comes despite successful operations in blue states while enjoying the fruits of socialism as Republicans found a way to funnel taxpayer dollars to the Black Hills timber mogul under a partnership between the US Forest Service and the National Wild Turkey Federation.

In 1998 this interested party opened the account for Sysco at the newly-built Neiman-owned Golf Club at Devils Tower in Hulett.

The Black Hills National Forest is accepting comments on the North Sand Management Project in the Bearlodge Ranger District in Crook County, Wyoming. 


Corps advances Spring Pulse in upper MO basin

On the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountain Front Spring runoff allows endangered pallid sturgeon in Yellowstone tributaries like the Powder and Tongue Rivers to spawn but the Corps canceled the Spring Pulse below Lewis and Clark Lake in 2022 due to inadequate runoff into the Missouri River. 

So today, dry winter and low mountain snowpacks are driving the Corps to release storage in the Missouri River mainstem dams hoping to prop up the navigation season at the risk of providing less water for hydroelectric generation. Pallid sturgeon are living dinosaurs but when the Missouri River dams were built it sealed the fate of the ancient species. Scientists and the US Army Corps of Engineers have learned that unless newly hatched pallid sturgeon have several hundred miles of unimpeded waters they cannot survive.
“Even with the lower than average runoff forecast the hydrologic conditions are sufficient to conduct a flow test from Fort Peck Dam,” said John Remus, chief of the Corps’ Missouri River Basin Water Management Division, in a news release. The goal is to boost flows from Fort Peck by 1,700 cfs each day until the peak flow at the Wolf Point gauge reaches 16,000 cfs. [Fort Peck Reservoir water releases planned for pallid sturgeon research]
During heavy Spring runoff Fort Peck Dam partially failed in 1938 then was tested by flood waters again in 2011 when this interested party was living in Montana.

Under President Joe Biden and pressure from the US Fish and Wildlife Service the Corps boosted releases from the Fort Peck Dam in 2021 for spawning pallid sturgeon after it was suspended during the horrors of the previous administration.


Managing the managers won't be enough to save the BHNF

From the Latin, manus means hand: "MANAGE implies direct handling and manipulating or maneuvering toward a desired result."

Dave Mertz is a retired natural resource officer for the Black Hills National Forest who attended a roundtable discussion in Spearditch hosted by South Dakota's Republican US Representative Dusty Johnson when Johnson sicced two fellow Republican congress members on Regional Forester Frank Beum and BHNF Supervisor Shawn Cochran. Johnson has since sputtered a response to Mertz's comments about the BHNF's General Technical Report in a column written by the forest expert at South Dakota Searchlight.
My real education came as chief of staff to then-Governor Dennis Daugaard during the mountain pine needle epidemic, when I spent a lot of time focusing on state efforts. And so I think part of the question is, what do you want to manage to? Do you want to manage to 20% off the all-time peak, or do you want to manage to a different number? And Dave can say, “Oh, it’s just not out there.” That’s not what the GTR says. The GTR doesn’t say that the annual harvest target should be zero or 5,000 or 20,000 CCF. [Q&A: Johnson calls criticism of his forestry hearing ‘absurd’]
Wildland fire expert Joe Lowe even called Dusty Johnson's former boss, Denny Daugaard, incompetent and uninterested in governing. Lowe obviously believes that Daugaard didn't take the ecological collapse taking place on the Black Hills seriously enough. And, after a century of fire suppression, a decades-long moratorium on prescribed burns, a lack of environmental litigators and GOP retrenchment the Black Hills National Forest and surrounding grasslands remain at risk to more blazes like the Legion Lake Fire

Mertz returned fire at the Searchlight's Faceberg page.
Well, I don’t think it’s absurd to think that Rep. Johnson and Senators Thune and Rounds have pressured the Forest Service to continually raise the timber cut off of the Black Hills NF. We have copies of numerous letters from them to the Forest Service to prove it. If Rep. Johnson thinks that Custer State Park knows how to better manage a forest, he needs to know they have not had a timber sale since 2018, when the salvage was done on the Legion Lake Fire. The reason the Black Hills NF continues to have timber targets of 120,000 ccf is due to the pressure that he and others put on the Washington Office and the Regional Office. That’s how it works. It has not been based on what the Forest can provide. I agree there needs to be constructive dialogue. I am going to contact his Rapid City office and see if he will meet with me. In addition, I would like to actually take him to the Forest so he can see what is going on out there. Maybe Seth Tupper could tag along. [Dave Mertz, Faceberg comment]
John Wrede studied Park Management and Wildlife Management at South Dakota State University, had a long career with SD Game, Fish and Park and lives in the occupied Black Hills. He has called what South Dakota Republicans have done to habitat, "managerially inexcusable" and also commented on Johnson's lack of forest acumen.
The man hasn't got an ecological bone in his body. And his so called forestry experience is rooted in political thinking and rhetoric no differently that his colleagues he brought to the Black Hills to strong arm the Forest Service. This wouldn't be an issue at all if business wasn't squealing and he understood ecological sustainability and the differences between even age and uneven age stand management. He uses the false equivalent of Norbeck and Black Elk to glorify CSP mangement that is completely different in legal mandate. No where does he mention Daschles work or the Burns Carter Memorandum law suit that now governs how Norbeck is to be managed nor does he acknowledge the federal agreement to treat The Forest, that portion of Custer State Park in The Needles and Mt Rushmore to protect the old growth and aesthetics in that region from Pine Beetle damage. The only thing that guy understands is money and the [weird] notion that the government has a duty to abuse public resources in subsidy to private enterprise. He isnt a student of Gifford Pinchot and neither are his colleagues in congress. [John Wrede, Faceberg comment]
Citing management responsibilities the BHNF wants to conduct fuel treatments in a portion of the Wyoming Black Hills.
The Forest Service is proposing to treat up to 8,000 acres of National Forest land four miles south of Beulah, WY, 13 miles east of Sundance, WY, and nine miles west of Spearfish, SD through mechanical and manual fuel reduction, prescribed fire, management of oak shrubs, and tree planting. The area includes lower Grand Canyon/Sand Creek, Dugout Gulch, and Boundary Gulch. Adjacent developments include historic Ranch A, Red Canyon subdivision, and the Sand Creek Country Club. The Forest Service is partnering with the Wyoming State Forestry Division, Crook County Natural Resource District, and Bureau of Land Management in an all-lands approach to managing forests in and adjacent to the project area. [Public Comments Sought for North Sand Project on Bearlodge Ranger District]
Using the word, "manage" thirteen times a Republican Lawrence County commissioner offered his two cents about the BHNF in the Black Hills Pioneer.

There aren't enough litigators to sue the Forest Service allowing Republicans to infiltrate management of the Black Hills National Forest and there is no evidence to support the claim that logging is effective insect control. Some imaginary war with the bark beetle on the BHNF is really more a fight for clean water because after all dead trees don't suck aquifers dry

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


Freedom means driving drunk in South Dakota

Will Lantis was a Republican politician who died drunk at the wheel in 2006 in a single vehicle crash near Spearditch. 

And today, South Dakota's Trump-drunk Republican governor has been selling the state as one of the freest in the United States but continual sobriety checkpoints have done little to discourage inebriated drivers from operating motor vehicles in Mrs. Noem's state according to Forbes

Yes, pollution, crashes, blackouts, anthrax, Legionella, shigella, bovine TB, suicides, flooding, wildfires, hail, ecocide, crime, corruption, disease, drought, destruction, distrust and dependence: these are the Noem years.

2. South Dakota

South Dakota’s score: 98.78 out of 100

  • South Dakota has the highest number of DUI arrests per 100,000 licensed drivers (879.12), ranking the state second among the worst states for drunk driving.
  • More than one-third (35.14%) of traffic deaths are caused by drunk drivers in South Dakota, the 11th highest percentage in our study.
  • South Dakota has the eighth-highest rate of drunk drivers under age 21 involved in fatal crashes (0.57 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • According to our study, South Dakota has the ninth-highest percentage of traffic deaths caused by drivers with a relatively low blood alcohol concentration of 0.01 to 0.07 (6.76%).
  • The Mount Rushmore State has the 11th-highest rate of people killed in crashes involving a drunk driver (4.66 per 100,000 state residents).


RFK, Jr. gunning for Trump voters

The night in 1983 before Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. was popped for heroin possession at Rapid City Regional Airport he was partying with us at Durty Nelly's in the basement of the Franklin Hotel in Deadwood. But since then, Kennedy, who's just a couple months older than this interested party but suffers from spasmodic dysphonia, has worn many hats including one as an environmental activist.

And today after convincing one of his wives to take her own life and decades of womanizing Kennedy is just fucking nuts.
In a statement Friday seeking to clarify his position on the Capitol attack, Kennedy questioned whether the riot qualified as an “insurrection”; echoed Trump’s claims that the prosecution of its participants was politically motivated; and said he was “disturbed by the weaponization of government” against the former president. This is part of a pattern for Kennedy. [RFK Jr. parrots Trump on ‘weaponization’ over Jan. 6 prosecutions]
As recently as 2023 former New Mexico governor and presidential candidate, Gary Johnson said he'd support Bobby if he ran as a Libertarian. 

Misanthrope Kennedy, who's just a shadow of his father, is much like Donald Trump who would kill 'em all and let White Jesus sort 'em out and enjoys a strong following among anarchists, anti-vaxxers and those opposed to abortion rights making his candidacy far more destructive to career criminal Trump than to President Joe Biden.


Noem losing her grip on reality?

As Kristi Noem auditions for a role as second diddle at Trump World her versions of reality are becoming even more phantasmagorical. 

Pundits in her own party have even dubbed Mrs. Noem's unbridled whoppery as desperate or too eager to please and refer to her as South Dakota's COVID queen who trails the other Earth haters lurking for a Veep spot on a criminal's presidential ticket.

South Dakota is at full employment now but according to Creighton University economics guru, Ernie Goss that trend is unlikely to last as midwestern Trump states flounder, lackluster sales create an inventory glut and business conditions indices slump in the eight red states he tracks.

WalletHub sez South Dakota has dropped to 49th in financial literacy and 50th in financial knowledge and education despite Mrs. Noem's pathological Pollyannaism. The state is the 43rd best economy in the US, 51st in percentage of businesses owned by women and 50th in innovation potential. Because of talent flight and brain drain in 2023 South Dakota was among the least innovative states, ranked 50th in venture capital spending per capita, 47th in R&D spending and 51st in share of tech companies. 

Quizzically known as the Land of Infinite Variety the state is 40th in overall innovation, 45th in innovation environment, 50th in share of technology companies and is still 47th in R&D spending per capita. South Dakota is 24th of states where workers are fleeing their jobs, 35th in women's health and safety and 47th in road and bridge infrastructure.

So, Kristi’s Trump Republicans just want to kill ‘em all and let White Jesus sort ‘em out, right?

Not to put too fine a point on it but the grassland fire danger index will reach the extreme category again Friday and Saturday for much of South Dakota as the Noem fan sprays even more shit all over the body politic.

Read Mid-America Manufacturing Weak: Higher Inflation and Fewer New Hires linked here.


Spearditch Republican concerned about poisoned waterways

Back in 2010 veteran journalist Kevin Woster shared his understanding of how anthropogenic activity affects the ecology of South Dakota when lotic science took him wading right out into the middle of Spearditch Creek. It provoked a fascinating exchange among real scientists at his now-deleted Take it Outside blog about the effects of the sediment propagated by stream disturbances on wildlife and geology. 

This blog has covered waterway impairment in South Dakota ever since watching contamination from mining, industrial agriculture and livestock pollution steadily worsen across the entire state in nearly every stream and lake. Because of ag chemicals South Dakota led the US in breast cancer rates in 2016 now Iowa has taken the lead in that infamous development.

To add insult to infamy South Dakota's current Republican governor merged the state's Department of Agriculture with Environment and Natural Resources in 2021 eliminating the word environment because she hates the Earth. Even the US Environmental Protection Agency is frustrated with South Dakota's lackadaisical response to and even the combative rejection of Waters of the United States or WOTUS.

So, a couple weeks ago State Representative Scott Odenbach (R-Spearditch) shared several graphics at his Faceberg page from the state's 2022 report of impaired waterways in South Dakota with concerns that Spearditch Creek might look like the Big Sioux River one day. With a hundred or more septic systems and acid mine drainage in that watershed leaching into the creek that scenario is not impossible.

Researchers at the South Dakota School of Mines already know most, if not all, the mercury in the state's lakes has precipitated from emissions released from coal fired power plants in North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. 

Now, the crippled agency that monitors over 97,500 miles of waterways and 213,000 acres of lakes and reservoirs in South Dakota has released its 2024 report as required under the federal Clean Water Act.
The report also covers the state’s 577 lakes and reservoirs, of which 180 have been assessed. Eighty percent of tested lakes were too polluted to support all of their assigned beneficial uses, and the report primarily blames mercury detected in fish. Agriculture also contributes to lake pollution, according to the report: “These lakes have sizeable watersheds of nutrient-rich glacial soils that are extensively developed for agriculture. Runoff carrying sediment and nutrients from agricultural land is the most significant source of nonpoint pollution.” The EPA praised the state for finishing the report but suggested making the data easier to understand. [80% of tested surface water in South Dakota fails to meet state standards]
Because of the failures of South Dakota's Republican governors and legislature to control pollution some $172 million has been set aside for pipelines and drinking water improvements including in this interested party’s home town of Elkton where dairies and nitrates have ruined wells.

The 2022 EPA Toxics Release Inventory for South Dakota linked here.


Prayers for violence splitting Republican Party

Just say it: radical christianic terrorism; but now it’s time to add stochastic to that tagline, too.

In the late 19th and early 20th Century the Ku Klux Klan and those on the losing side believed John Wilkes Booth was a patriot who took out the US President that started the American Civil War directed by a Marxist Illuminati. Then after World War I the Klan grew to some 4 million members, got involved in education and its leader, Hiram Evans complained that the control of school textbooks had been taken away by "un-American forces." 

In 1940, the Scottish immigrant who founded the magazine, Forbes started circulating the notion that public school students were being indoctrinated by the forces of Communism and the American Legion agreed then began lobbing that grenade with prejudice. 

Fast forward to the Red Scare, Brown v. Board of Education and to 1958 when the John Birch Society was founded then to President Eisenhower and to the 1960s when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was passed to relieve some of the effects of poverty and segregation despite Section 604 which forbade federal control of education. 

In 2010 Fresh Air's Terry Gross interviewed Jane Mayer after The New Yorker outed David and Charles Koch as members of JBS. In 2011 Bill Clinton's Labor Secretary, Robert Reich appeared as a panelist at a super secret Bircher-inflenced, Koch-hosted retreat in Palm Springs. In 2012 a normally routine meeting of the Missoula City Council erupted as members of JBS began a protest of payments to the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, or ICLEI. Republican Utah Senator Mitt Romney's mentor was a rabid Bircher. 

Add it all up: Rupert Murdoch, a not-so-closeted racist himself, the Kochs, JBS, the TEA party, the Council for National Policy, the National Rifle Association, Fox News, Tucker Carlson, their attacks on public education and their fear of the "Great Replacement." The Trump Organization was simply the latest obstacle to public education because it hates people of color and social equity, too.

Recall the Birch Society billboards along I-90 across South Dakota that urged voters to get US out of the United Nations, pray to end abortion and how close travelers are to Wall Drug.

But how to dismantle the administrative state?

Enter the Freedom Caucus.
When a Republican colleague threatened to read aloud from a 2-foot stack of books — including a biblical guide to leadership and a tome by anti-tax activist Grover Norquist — to protest inaction on his bills last week, Missouri state Sen. Rick Brattin quickly took up the cause. “It’s hard to do stuff even when everybody’s acting in good faith,” said Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, a Republican. But the Freedom Caucuses formed because some Republicans saw the rest of their party as not conservative enough. That has led to intraparty conflict in many GOP-dominated state capitols. In Arizona, Freedom Caucus members, led by chair Sen. Jake Hoffman, spearheaded a drive that resulted in the state Board of Education delaying until next year a proposed new handbook governing how parents use state-funded educational savings accounts to send their kids to private schools. [Freedom Caucuses push for conservative state laws, but getting attention is their big success]
Nothing says freedom like driving women out of state for medical care, praying for martial law so you can kill anyone you want, burning textbooks and denying the protections of the First, Fourth and Ninth Amendments to people who enjoy cannabis, right? 

Montana, South Dakota and Idaho are the most profitable states for doctors and hospitals. Grover Norquist's obesity is the flag of entitlement. The compulsion of the extreme white wing to consume is mitochondrial so the corpulent capitalists use their fat stores to enable their behaviors that seek to destroy the security of any weak state. Their lack of exercise drives compulsive resource hoarding and props up their religious absolutism.

To little surprise Forbes is still rousing rabble, too.


South Dakota's medical industry triopoly ensures doctors stay rich

So, if Avera, Sanford and Monument are monopolies in their markets like utilities are why isn't there a public commission to regulate pricing?

2. South Dakota

South Dakota’s score: 93.41 out of 100

South Dakota is the second most-expensive state for healthcare. It has these key statistics:

  • South Dakota ranks fourth highest for its percentage of children whose families struggled to pay for their child’s medical bills in the past 12 months (11.9%).
  • It also has the fourth highest average deductible for residents with single health insurance coverage through an employer ($2,433 annually).
  • South Dakota features the fifth highest average deductible for residents with family health insurance coverage through an employer ($4,330.67 annually).
  • The state also has the sixth highest average premium for residents with plus-one health insurance coverage through an employer ($4,599.33 annually).
  • Additionally, South Dakota has the sixth highest health insurance premium for those with silver plans in the Affordable Care Act marketplace ($596.67 annually).