SD Game, Fish and Parks proposed shooting range, in Meade County SD, just east of Elk Vale Road and north of Elk Creek. – Now called the proposed “South Dakota Shooting Sports Complex”, previously it was named after Rapid City, but the Meade County Commission objected to naming a facility in Meade County after Rapid City.
First below find list of actions to take,
Scroll below that to find a discussion of the issue and facts.
A. Immediate deadline – June 28th, 2022, Meade County
Meade County Commission Public Hearing on Section Line Relocation at GFP proposed shooting range at 1 pm on Tuesday June 28th,
Meade County Commission Public Hearing on Section Line Relocation at GFP proposed shooting range (near Elk Vale Road and Elk Creek) at 1 pm on Tuesday June 28th,
6/28 agenda likely won’t be posted till the Friday before the meeting, but you can go to the May 10th meeting agenda to – just before 10 am – and see various documents related to issue to download
Written comments can be uploaded here or submitted at an on-line comment portal https://gfp.sd.gov/forms/positions/ . If you want the Commission to read your comments before meetings, which are normally on Thursdays submit by midnight CT on Sunday before the meeting. Comments can be given to Commissioners directly as individuals, at each’s contact address/phone any time: https://gfp.sd.gov/commission/members/ https://gfp.sd.gov/commission/information/ Agenda will be posted here when close to the date : https://gfp.sd.gov/commission/information/ .If you check the agenda and attend the Commission meeting by Zoom you will hear updates on the Shooting Range.
June 2-3 formal Commission meeting– Game, Fish & Parks Commission – Aberdeen/Zoom
Written comments by Sunday May 29th at midnight CT. https://gfp.sd.gov/forms/positions/
PAST – March 3 & 4th, was a formal Commission meeting– Game, Fish & Parks Commission meeting in Pierre & Zoom. GFP Commission considered a resolution to purchase the property from the Foundation, who bought it in 2021 to hold for GFP while formal appraisal of the property was done. in 2021 GFP promised to buy the land & GFP bought it in 2022.
B. REASONS TO OPPOSE AT THIS TIME
Rapid City Shooting Range – Please either oppose or ask for an EIS to be done before building or funding it
Protect the water quality in the area from lead pollution.
You can write or call Meade County Commission, Game, Fish & Parks (GFP) staff and/or GFP Commission will make decisions. Read the draft EA & call up DANR staff reviewing the EA. The USFWS staff in Denver is overseeing a NEPA analysis but GFP and had released the EA for comment (comment period closed). (GFP is asking for the USFWS’s Pittman Robertson’s grant program to help pay for the project. Either the federal government or the USFWS policy requires NEPA for projects creating outdoor gun ranges. If FWS approves funding it will stipulate some requirements in a contract). You can write or call your legislator (as GFP was asking the legislature for money to pay for this project & failed to get it – scoll down)
Game, Fish and Parks has been unable to fund raise enough donations or grants to pay for building the range and are asking the 2022 legislature for millions to help fund the project & did not get the 2.5 million, perhaps they will try again next year . Thus folks can contact your SD Legislator with concerns.
SDGFP hopes to break ground in spring. They were asking the SD National Guard to help them build it – but the Guard said NO.
The site is hilly & especially rugged in north end. The EPA recommends flat areas for shooting ranges, thus we assume major land sculpting & storm water management has to happen. That will be expensive. What other GFP projects for wildlife or parks could be afforded if a site that better conformed with EPAs location guidance had been chosen?
C. Past/EXPIRED deadlines with respect to this alert
1. Release of an Environmental Assessment for public comment, comments due 3/20/24. (revised deadline). It is posted on USFWS website for the 30-day public comment period. This EA is seriously flawed. It does not provide sufficient information on management of storm water or lead on the site — it just claims it will comply with EPA’s “Best Management Practices for Lead at Outdoor Shooting Ranges”, without adequate details. It includes no indication of any baseline testing of surface or underground water, air or soil & does not provide for an alternative of selecting another site. Its’ conclusions about surface waters on & near the site & associated fish & wildlife are inadequate/wrong. It’s discussion on lead reclamation is just part of a sentence. It does not consider impacts to archeological resources from visitors to facility. Discussion of various impacts too cursory or missing. The EA is extremely inadequate and does not justify a FONSI (finding of no significant impact) or justify the Legislature supporting SB 175. PHAS comment letter to House Members on SB 175: https://www.scribd.com/document/563057586/Please-Oppose-SB-175-a-Bill-to-Partially-Fund-the-Proposed-Shooting-Complex-of-GFP-at-Elk-Vale-Rd-Near-Elk-Creek-in-Meade-County
Public comments will be accepted for a 30-day comment period, ending March 24, 2022, [revised deadline] and can be electronically submitted to: fw6_FAGrants@fws.gov Copies of the Draft EA, which include details of the proposed action and the alternatives considered, are available online at: https://fws.gov/library/collections/wsfr-rapid-city-south-dakota-proposed-shooting-range Those without internet access may request copies by calling the Services’ Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program at 303-236-8165. Comments will be accepted until March 24, 2022, and should be sent to: Chief, Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 25486, Denver, CO, 80225.
Link to Draft Environmental assessment
Links to Appendix
Link to Press release
2 Meade County Commission (MCC) is being asked to take actions related to this project, but has not yet done so. Game, Fish & Parks made a presentation to the Meade County Commission on the morning of Tuesday 2/8/2022. They have sent a letter to the Meade County Commission (MCC)which was discussed at the Feb 22nd meeting of the Meade County Commission, stating intent to ask for relocation of a section line and offering a future proposal about road maintenance – link to letter: https://go.boarddocs.com/sd/meade/Board.nsf/files/CBRQES68F69D/$file/SDGFPLETTER.pdf SD GFP while seeking funding from the legislature, wants to be able to say they have worked out issues with the Meade County Commission. The Meade County Commission does not want Meade County to bear the cost of the maintaining 3 miles of gravel road, that the traffic from Rapid City and from other counties, will travel across to the range. The Commission has suggested it be paved. SDGFP needs to get a section line vacated or relocated and they have to ask the Meade Commission to do that.
Meade County Commission could adopt an ordinance about location and construction of shooting ranges, but has not yet chosen to do that, and if they don’t before construction starts this range would be grandfathered in. Visit Meade’s Board docs to see agenda for 2/22/2022. The Meade County Commission took no action on 2/22/22. Just listened to report of staff on communications with GFP.
MCC will still be asked to take action on this project. To contact Commission visit link: https://www.meadecounty.org/commission
Sturgis City Council considered a draft letter on 2/22/22/ stating approval for the proposed Shooting Range, but took no action (Sturgis remained neutral).
3. PAST (- Bills killed). Look up votes and thank those who voted against SB 175
Oppose SB 175 – https://sdlegislature.gov/Session/Bill/23361/231510 – about 5 million dollar appropriation request. This was in Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday 2/10/2022. It was referred first to Joint Appropriations, Then to Senate Appropriations – for a hearing on 2/17/22. It passed both committees with 2 votes against in each committee. It went to Senate floor and was scheduled for Tuesday 2/22nd, 2022 and had to be voted on by Wednesday. They needed two thirds of senate to vote for it, due to emergency clause & it passed with 5 votes against it. It went back to the House & the House sent it to House Appropriations Committee. – in Committee 3/2/22 in afternoon 3 pm or 15 minutes after session. Hyperlinks to our testimony against this bill in Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources and Senate Appropriations are posted to our legislature web page. This was killed in House Appropriations Committee, but it was “smoked out” for a vote on Monday 3/7/22. A majority vote was needed to put it on the calendar and then 2/3rds must vote to approve it. PHAS comment letter to House Members: https://www.scribd.com/document/563057586/Please-Oppose-SB-175-a-Bill-to-Partially-Fund-the-Proposed-Shooting-Complex-of-GFP-at-Elk-Vale-Rd-Near-Elk-Creek-in-Meade-County The bill failed to pass the House – vote : YEAS 39, NAYS 30, The Reconsideration motion failed – vote : YEAS 35, NAYS 34.
MORE RECENT ACTIONS – LAST DITCH EFFORT
There was an attempt to put SB 175 into HB 1166 at aConference Committee Meeting on that HB 1166 on 3/9/22. at 11:30 pm CT. All 6 people on the Committee voted for SB 175 on the floor – one is the bill sponsor David Johnson. The conference committee could not agree on what to do and thus we believe HB 1166 and the attempt to amend it is dead. Link to info on Conference Committee: https://www.sdlegislature.gov/Session/ConferenceCommittees/64 Link to the proposed amended version of HB 1166: https://mylrc.sdlegislature.gov/api/Documents/236283.pdfTh
4. March 3 & 4th, was a formal Commission meeting- Game, Fish & Parks Commission meeting in Pierre & Zoom. GFP Commission considered a resolution to purchase the property from the Foundation, who bought it to hold for GFP while formal appraisal of the property was done.
Results – Commission approved the land purchase. You can still write in opposition to it, but at this point, need to ask for strict environmental protections or to use the land for some other purpose – such as a park.
Written comments in opposition to the land purchase or the shooting range can be uploaded here or submitted at an on-line comment portal https://gfp.sd.gov/forms/positions/ .
SD Game, Fish and Parks Commission meetings – Evening of 2/21/22, 5:30 – 7:30 pm CT, informal – one-on-one meeting opportunity at Arrowwood Resort, Oacoma, RSVP by 2/16/22, Rachel.Comes@state.sd.us,
along the section line for public access – without the move, this reservation might influence Range design/management .Meade County wants 3 miles of gravel on Elk Vale road paved, but GFP is proposing to share maintenance costs. Meade County wants 3 miles of gravel on Elk Vale road paved, but GFP is proposing to share maintenance costs.
January 28th, was the deadline to comment to John Kanta of SD GFP if you object to the National Guard assisting with construction of the shooting range proposal. “john.kanta-state.sd.us” <firstname.lastname@example.org> .If you don’t object by the deadline you waive the right to object. A public notice says:
7. January 25th , 2022 House Agriculture & NaturalResources killed HB 1049, that would have appropriated 5 million for the shooting range. Senator David Johnson responded with a similar bill – SB 175 in the Senate, which has passed the Senate sent back to the House. Killed in Appropriations, Smoked out on floor, up on March 7th on floor. Killed on House floor. Attempt to insert funding text to another bill about funding roads near Palisades State Park – HB 1166, in conference committee. That failed also.
8 . January 4th, Tuesday, 2022 – range was discussed at the SDGFP Commission Meeting
9. December 21st, 2021 Tuesday – Meade County Commission Meeting discussed project and listened to to GFP and public proponents, and to opponents but took no action on the proposed letter about the shooting range.
South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission” Leaheld their monthly meeting at the Matthews Training Center in Pierre, . https://gfp.sd.gov/forms/positions/This meeting was held via Zoom/conference call and livestream. The meeting began Tuesday, Jan 4 at 1 p.m. CT The livestream could have been found at https://www.sd.net.SDGFP Commission’s Resolution about land purchase using South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation as a temporary intermediary to hold the land, can be found at link (The range will be in Meade not Pennington County) There was no public hearing for this January meeting but the open forum began shortly after 2 p.m. CDT. To provide comments at “open Forum or public hearings, individuals dial in via conference call or joined online via Zoom. To conduct the open forum as efficiently as possible GFP asks those wishing to testify to register by 1:00 p.m. CDT by email to Rachel.email@example.com. Testifiers should provide their full names, whom they are representing, city of residence, and which proposed topic they will be addressing. This is typical for GFP Commission meetings Link for more details about the meeting: https://gfp.sd.gov/commission/information/ ====================================2022 ============================================================================================-================================================================================================October 22, 2021 Comments were Due – Jenny Gulch Gold Exploration Drilling Project (Project).
The Draft EA is now available for the proposed Jenny Gulch Gold Exploration Drilling Project (Project). The Draft EA is currently available for a 30-day agency and public review period, with all Project materials located on the Black Hills National Forest website at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=57428. During this time, comments on the Draft EA may be submitted via US Mail to:
Jim Gubbels at 8221 Mount Rushmore Rd, Rapid City, SD 57702
via email (Commentsfirstname.lastname@example.org) with “F3 Jenny Gulch Gold Exploration Project” as the subject;
or by fax (605-343-7134).
Comments were due by Oct 22. Comments submitted are public information. This project is subject to 36 CFR 218 objection process.
Please Act Today to ask for an extension of time, so that we can do a thorough review of the document, and so everyone who wants to make comments gets the opportunity to make comments. Please use your own words about your concerns. Some possible talking points :
- The draft Environmental Assessment is vague and incomplete. An Environmental Impact Statement should be done.
- Tribal consultation and protection of cultural resources are incomplete.
- Raptor nests and a bighorn sheep birthing area and migration route would be negatively impacted.
- The Forest Service must analyze all potential impacts of the project. This has not been done.
Wednesday September 1st (afternoon) – Thursday September 2nd (morning) was a past SD Game, Fish & Parks Commission Meeting in Rapid City at Outdoor Campus West with virtual & teleconference options
More meeting details were posted by GFP on this website just before the meeting and after the meeting: https://gfp.sd.gov/commission/information/
UPDATE – RESULTS OF THE SEPTEMBER COMMISSION MEETING
Update, the Commission passed both proposed rules on mountain lions with no changes from proposals. The Commission passed the rule on spring turkey with no changes from proposal. The only rule to which there was a change, was on blow guns used for fishing; they decided not to allow blow guns for fishing. Future action to protect mountain lions will be to contact federal and state land management agencies and ask them to prohibit hound hunting of mountain lions on their properties. Please watch for updates on that future campaign
BEAVER – They planned to have a report or proposal on beaver trapping/hunting in the Black Hills at the November meeting. (Actually had at December meeting & no rule change was suggested.They need $30,000 to fund study to inventory the Black Hills beaver. Commissioners may bring the Black Hills beaver issue up again in March). People should spend the next few months, writing or contacting SDGFP staff or commissioners, asking for a moratorium on beaver hunting/trapping in the Black Hills Fire Protection District and also ask SDGFP to reduce the months of beaver hunting/trapping from all other public land in SD, when the public land has a multiple use or wildlife management objective. Currently trapping/hunting is allowed 365 days of the year statewide on private and public land except on Black Hills National Forest land and a subset of private land in the Black Hills. Folks should ask for 5 months of beaver trapping statewide (not 12 months) on private & public land. SD has a law that allows folks with “conflict beaver” to call up SDGFP who will then allow them to kill the beaver. SDGFP staff will also come and kill beaver on request. Folks should ask SDGFP to create a beaver management plan, so SDGFP can address the importance of beavers as creators of habitat, and protectors of surface and ground water values and provide options for non-lethal management of conflict beaver. The legislature is considering a bill (SB 73) that would allow night hunting of beaver using night vision glasses.
Mountain lion hunting season was among the rule proposals
Saturday 8/28/21 at midnight MT was the written comment deadline. Late comments go to the next month public record, but folks can give oral testimony in person or virtually at the hearing on 9/1/21. Written comments can be submitted at https://gfp.sd.gov/forms/positions/ or at https://rules.sd.gov/Comments.aspx?Id=669 The only necessary written action on cougars that we suggest (besides filling in your contact info.) is to check that you oppose the two proposed rules on Mountain Lion hunting in SD. But scroll down for more explanation of issues and to have some text to add on if you wish.
Rule change proposals up for a vote on Wednesday include other topics, which we list below
- Spring Turkey- reducing area available for hunting,
- Setting Mountain Lion Hunting Season in the state for another two years,
- Cougar hunting restrictions eroded to allow hound hunting in the prairie unit onto more public lands
- Changing fish limits in Iowa/SD Boundary waters,
- Allowing blow guns for fishing & setting limits on it,
- Hoop Nets and Setlines: adding floatlines to rule and setting fees and various limits on floatlines,nets & traps,
- Reducing various regulations on bait,
- Reducing regulations on fish hatcheries.
- Expanding ages within youth class at fish tournaments,
- Aquatic invasive species: increasing exemptions to rules about.
To see exact text of the proposed rule changes go to the LRC site – visit: https://rules.sd.gov/agency.aspx?agency=GFP%20%20Game,%20Fish%20And%20Parks
Alert On Mountain Lion Seasons Rule Changes
Here is a link to the letter that Prairie Hills Audubon Society submitted to SD GFP:
If you go to these two links you can see what other individuals and NGOs – such as HSUS, MLF, Cougar Fund, SD-FACT wrote. The long formal letters are at the end of the PDF files, the shorter letters at the beginning. :
In the mean time, we suggest folks oppose both proposed rules changes for mountain lion hunting.
SD Mt. lion hunting is divided into the Black Hills Fire Protection District and every where else (Prairie unit). In the Prairie Unit there is 365 day hunting with no harvest limit and hound hunting is allowed on private land (with land owner/lessor permission) and moving from private land to BLM and State School Lands. Hound hunting is allowed in Custer State Park in two week time segments alternating with two weeks of “boot hunting” (boot = no hounds used). The first two week session is given to hound hunting and thus for many years the boot hunters are out-competed and have not gotten any lions.
The hunting season on the Black Hills Unit is too aggressive and will result in decreasing populations, perhaps dropping below the population below the population goals that SDGFP wants. We suggest at least lowering the female lion harvest limit in the Black Hills unit.
We suggest people object to hound hunting of lions, which occurs on Custer State Park (a sub-set of Black Hills unit) and in the Prairie unit. You can object due to 1. animal cruelty to both dogs and lions, 2. not fair chase, 3. provides huge advantage of success for hound hunters vs boot hunters 4. creates trespass risk, 5. disturbs non-target wildlife, livestock and other human users. However they are making a specific change to increase hound hunting..by increasing the area of public land in the Prairie Unit where hound hunters can travel from private land to hunt on public land, to include all of public lands unless public land manager specifically objects. Previously public land hound hunting in the Prairie unit was limited to expanding onto BLM and State School lands. . You can object specifically to that proposed increase in hound hunting area on the Prairie Unit.
We suggest allowing the boot hunters the first two week session in Custer State Park, for sake of boot hunters, lions & dogs.
The rule change to allow hound hunting on the prairie unit on public land unless the land management agency specifically objects passed the Commission. We thus need to contact public land managers and ask them to object to hound hunting of lions on their property.
UPDATE ON LIONS – SD Legislature has HB 1296 – would treat cougars (which by statute are a big game species in SD ) as if they were a “predator/varmint in the prairie unit and allow hunting without a license 365 days of a year. This would take away from the GFP Commission the option to reduce the days in the hunting season for the prairie. Cougar advocates wanting to reduce prairie unit hunting from year round would have to go lobby the legislature. Folks would not pay the license fee, which is $28 dollars . This bill was killed in committee (dead).
.Meade County wants 3 miles of gravel on Elk Vale road paved, but GFP is proposing to share maintenance costs