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This is PHAS  current alert on the Rapid City proposed shooting range
Immediate deadlines with respect to this alert on the shooting range:
Deadline – January 25th, Tuesday early morning  Contact SD Legislature House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and eventually perhaps also Appropriations Committee about 5 million dollar appropriation request of HB 1049
January 28th, 2022 , comment to <john.kanta@state.sd.us> about SDGFP using the National Guard to help build shooting range

Details on deadlines and how to comment are at the bottom
 

Rapid City Shooting Range – Please either oppose or ask for an EIS be done before building or funding it
Protect the water quality in the area from lead pollution.

 

You can write or call  Game, Fish and Parks Staff and/or Commission, your legislator (as GFP is asking the legislature for money to pay for this project.) or Meade County Commission, The USFWS staff in Denver is overseeing a NEPA analysis  (GFP is asking them to help pay for the project)
 
Please express concerns about the shooting range
 
 
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 fund the project. Thus folks can contact your SD Legislator with concerns.
SDGFP expects to break ground in spring. They are asking the SD National Guard to help them build it.  
The site is very rugged when 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?
 
SDGFP will be relying in part on Pittman Robertson funding given to them by the USFWS. FWS staff thus must sign off on a NEPA document, either an environmental assessment (EA) or an environmental impact statement (EIS). SD National Guard may need to cooperate on that. Folks should insist on an EIS as the project won’t comply with the EPA Best Management Practices for shooting ranges – it selected a site that does not match the site selection guidance.. 
EPA and DANR only regulate shooting ranges at closure, or during construction for storm water runoff. EPA provides guidance that is not enforceable, except we can request discussion of this non-compliance in the NEPA document and ask for an EIS. The EIS’s range of alternatives should offer an alternative site selection. Another request for the SD Legislature would be for Dept of Agriculture and Natural Resources (used to be DENR) to be given authority to regulate location, construction and operation of shooting ranges, for lead management concerns (it doesnt have that power now). 
 
 
Map of proposed GFP shooting range, it is off Elk Vale Road north of Elk Creek
 
 
 
 

John Kanta at SDGFP knows about the shooting range.  Some engineering plans have been drawn up.

 Money to help pay for the project is being sought under Pittman Robertson from the Denver USFWS office,  An “environmental assessment” is being written, . EA is supposed to be almost written, but we suspect scoping did not happen. 
  
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):
 
GFP sheet about firing range.
Plans/Drawings of proposed Range
 
Meade County Map showing area’s land parcels
 
TALKING POINTS:
 Some environmental issues associated with shooting ranges can be –
 
1) Lead contamination from bullets with impacts to ponds/creeks/ground water in area
2) Noise from gun fire with hundreds of shooting positions,
3) Disturbance to wildlife, livestock and homes/ranche
4) Bullets traveling to neighboring lands, including areas with high slope.
5.) Fire risk, 
6) Impacts  of traffic to about 3 miles of dirt road with noise, dust and wear and tear and expense to county
7) Supervision of the property and law enforcement costs
 
The pond/wetland immediately to the south of the property has excellent birding. This range will be about 2.5 miles from Sevey Lake, a popular birding spot. 
Lead pollution is a major issue, especially as the site does not meet the EPA criteria for siting of ranges (not-flat -too much slope).
EPA on BMP on managing lead at shooting ranges
 
 
We quote that document at page II-5:
 
“The most important site selection criteria to consider when selecting a new range
location include: topography; surface water flow patterns; and depth to groundwater. If
possible, ranges should be developed on flat terrain, as it facilitates reclamation and reduces
the chance of off-site migration due to surface water runoff as compared with highly sloped
terrain. When considering a prospective location for a range, ask yourself: What is the direction of
surface water runoff? Does the site drain to surface water (e.g., streams, rivers) on-site?
Off-site? Can the range design be modified to minimize potential runoff? Is reclaimation
equipment accessible to the area to clean the range?” (Emphasis added).
 
Fact sheet on Lead Pollution at Outdoor Firing Ranges:
 
 
.  There are several ponds/impoundments on or near edges of the property & several have some wetlands associated with them.  The range’s south boundary bisects or borders a pond on an unnamed tributary of Elk Creek.  GFP won’t have access to all or parts of the edge/boundary ponds, as they are on private land. The proposed shooting range is divided between Elk and Antelope Creek drainage basins, likely with at least some of the northeast-end of range  draining to Antelope Creek and the south-end will be draining to Elk Creek.   As the crow flies the range is closest to Elk Creek, but as water flows toward the two drainages, it is closer to Antelope Creek.  
 
 In the pink map below, the shooting range’s south boundary crosses the heart shaped pond just east of Elk Vale Rd, that sits on a tributary that flows southeast to Elk Creek – merging in several miles. It’s north boundary is near the slight bend in Elk Vale Rd at a mile and a quarter above that pond. The slight bend in road is on the ridge top.
 Property is a half mile wide and a mile and a quarter tall.
 
The topography at the north end is much more hilly, with the north entrance at a ridge top. The smaller shooting bays in the north, are in a descending valley. The whole property is descending from the ridge towards the pond.  This site does not meet the EPAs guidance for siting shooting ranges: the EPA wants them on flat sites.  Soil has clay in it. It is harder for reclamation machines to recover lead from clay soil and the machines need flat surfaces.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

 
CUMULATIVE NOISE

 
See map below. Each of the smaller shooting bays may have 5 -10 shooting lanes/each. There are 29  such bays, 12 are in the south . The 200-400 ft bays may have 20 shooting position/each, 2 are in the south unit. The extra long bays may have 40 positions, 2 are in the south unit. The shooting clays have 12 positions/each.    The south-end range may be used for local shooters. The north-end range may be used for competitions or training activities and some bays are called “action bays” without assigned lanes.
Decibels from each gun fire are significant 150dB-163.2 dB  ; https://earinc.com/gunfire-noise-level-reference-chart/.  The north end is in a more steep and rugged location, it has a small flat area at the top, but descends into valleys and rugged territory.. 
 
 
 
FIVE FUTURE  DEADLINES

1. Send letters ASAP to Legislature –  January 25th, Tuesday early morning  Contact SD Legislature House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and eventually perhaps also Appropriations Committee about 5 million dollar appropriation request of HB 1049
 
HB 1049 sent comments to House Appropriations 
– bill asks for 5 million dollars  – no Hearing scheduled yet  as of 1/18/22
 
For Text of the bill

Groups or individuals wanting to testify before the committee via remote means or submit a digital handout or written testimony may submit their request and/or materials 24 hours in advance to houseapprops@sdlegislature.gov
 
Instructions on how to participate remotely in Legislative hearings
 
2.   Deadline – January 28th, 2022 – letters to John Kanta
Rapid City Shooting Range  –  Comment To SDGFP
 is 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.

If you don’t object by the deadline you waive the right to object.

 
A public notice says: “This project can’t be completed in it’s entirety without assistance 
from the National Guard
 
2. Send letters ASAP to Legislature –  January 25th, Tuesday early morning  Contact SD Legislature House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and eventually perhaps also Appropriations Committee about 5 million dollar appropriation request of HB 1049
 
HB 1049 sent comments to House Appropriations 
– bill asks for 5 million dollars  – no Hearing scheduled yet  as of 1/18/22
 
For Text of the bill

Groups or individuals wanting to testify before the committee via remote means or submit a digital handout or written testimony may submit their request and/or materials 24 hours in advance to houseapprops@sdlegislature.gov
 
Instructions on how to participate remotely in Legislative hearings
 

3.   Meade County – Upcoming Deadline ???Date unknown?, 

Please express concerns about the shooting range to Meade County
You can write or call Meade County Commission, Game, Fish and Parks Commission and your legislator (as GFP is asking the legislature for money to pay for this project.) 
The USFWS staff in Denver is participating in NEPA analysis 
  
On 12/21/21 the Meade County Commission (MCC) discussed a draft letter to Gov. Noem, about Meade County’s concerns about the costs to Meade County from the
 proposed shooting range off Elk Vale Rd, just north of Elk Creek, but came to no conclusions except to talk to SDGFP some more. 
Go to the Meade County’s BoardDoc page for agenda of the meeting  Shooting range discussion was expected after 10 am on 12/21/21
To submit written comments on-line:
1300 Sherman Street, Suite 212, Sturgis, SD 57785, 605.720.1625 | Fax: 605.720.1633
 

MCC could send that or another letter to the governor . Meade County does not have zoning but state law allows counties to create ordinances about shooting ranges that address construction and location (SDCL 21-10-32 offers authority and 21-10- 28 limits it )
Draft letter:
.Meade County may be asked to vacate a section line running east-west through south shooting bay area – there is reservation of 66 feet
 along the section line for public access – this reservation might influence design/management .
 
4. USFWS or SDGFP – Comment on EA Upcoming Deadline ???Date unknown?,
5.  Game, Fish & Parks Commission
        Another Deadline – March 3-4 SD Game, Fish & Parks Commission meeting in Pierre/Zoom, proposed resolution we be considered –  to approve purchase of land     from the Foundation that bought it for GFP

PAST DEADLINES/EVENTS –  for Shooting Range
December 21st, Tuesday –  Meade County Commission Meeting discussed project
January 4th, Tuesday was discussed at the  SDGFP Commission Meeting
 
 
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116894_FSPLT3_5694355Deadline December 22nd, 2021 – BHNF Timbersale, Comment Deadline is extended to  Wednesday, January 5th, 2021
The Black Hills NF issued a scoping notice for the “Woods Project” on the Bearlodge Ranger District in Wyoming.
 
The Forest Service is proposing logging across 3,179 acres (~5 square miles) spread across a wide area which will include:
839 acres of thinning of mature trees only
588 acres of thinning of mature trees and smaller trees
1,340 acres of thinning of smaller trees only
412 acres of thinning in stands with uneven spacing
The project will require the use of approximately 35.5 miles of existing Forest Service roads that are closed to general public motorized use and 9.5 miles of roads that are part of the designated motorized trail system. Up to 7 miles of road would require reconstruction due to drainage problems or damage. No construction of new, permanent roads would occur.
 
The Forest Service proposes to approve the project via a categorical exclusion, so there will be no environmental analysis subject to public comment.
 
The public may submit comments on the 1.5 page scoping notice through Dec. 20.
The project webpage is here.
 
 

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January 4-5
 South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission

will hold their monthly meeting at the Matthews Training Center in Pierre,  . 

This meeting will be held via Zoom/conference call and livestream. The meeting will begin Tuesday, Jan 4 at 1 p.m. CT The livestream can be found at https://www.sd.net.
 
There is no public hearing for this meeting and the open forum will begin shortly after 2 p.m. CDT. To provide comments, individuals can dial in via conference call or join online via Zoom. To conduct the open forum as efficiently as possible we ask those wishing to testify to register by 1:00 p.m. CDT by email to Rachel.comes@state.sd.us. Testifiers should provide their full names, whom they are representing, city of residence, and which proposed topic they will be addressing.
 
Click on the link below to join the Zoom Meeting. Depending on the application you use, you may be required to enter the meeting ID and password. Remember to mute your microphone when you are not speaking to keep background noise at a minimum. 
 
or join via conference call
Dial 1 669 900 9128
Meeting ID: 978 5661 7225
Password: 030115
 
or join via conference call
Dial 1 669 900 9128
Meeting ID: 991 2492 1708
Password: 793943
 
For more details about the meeting

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October 22, 2021 Comments 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 (Comments-rocky-mountain-black-hills-mystic@usda.gov) with “F3 Jenny Gulch Gold Exploration Project” as the subject;

or by fax (605-343-7134).

Comments are 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.

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Wednesday September 1st (afternoon) – Thursday September 2nd  (morning) is the next SD Game, Fish & Parks Commission Meeting in Rapid City at Outdoor Campus West with virtual & teleconference options

More meeting details will be posted by GFP on this website just before the meeting and after the meeting: https://gfp.sd.gov/commission/information/ 

UPDATE – RESULTS OF THE 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 plan to have a report or proposal on beaver trapping/hunting in the Black Hills at the November meeting.  Thus , if a rule change is offered it would likely be voted on in January. 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.

Mountain lion hunting season will be 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

Terrestrial:

  1. Spring Turkey- reducing area available for hunting,
  2. Setting Mountain Lion Hunting Season in the state for another two years,
  3. Cougar hunting restrictions eroded to allow hound hunting in the prairie unit onto more public lands ,

Aquatic:

  1. Changing fish limits in Iowa/SD Boundary waters,
  2. Allowing blow guns for fishing & setting limits on it,
  3. Hoop Nets and Setlines: adding floatlines to rule and setting fees and various limits on floatlines,nets & traps,
  4. Reducing various regulations on bait,
  5. Reducing regulations on fish hatcheries.
  6. Expanding ages within youth class at fish tournaments,
  7. 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:
https://www.scribd.com/document/522625630/Mountain-Lion-Comment-LetterF?secret_password=EUwQZb1IK9yVyf3B5FY5

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. :

https://gfp.sd.gov/UserDocs/nav/PublicComments1.pdf https://gfp.sd.gov/UserDocs/nav/PublicCommission2.pdf

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.

Written comments can be submitted at https://gfp.sd.gov/forms/positions/ or at https://rules.sd.gov/Comments.aspx?Id=669

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SD has some Native American reservations with mountain lions with proof of breeding that are not covered by SDGFP regulations as their tribal lands are in alternate jurisdictions.

Prairie Hills Audubon Society had a Zoom meeting on Regional Mountain Lions on August 16th.  This has much info. on SD cougars.                                                                                                 The meeting is recorded to the on Zoom cloud (The cloud location is only temporary)

https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/-YO-I-X4aOvglkZW7MZb3vmnrlIyj-HQv9Q2-srPUlRrguUYC4VSNt8t2uh1B6M.TvIpASLembReeBp5          Passcode: 7Nar+g9n                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Recording also is on Vimeo for the long term . Link to recording on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/590257448

The Mountain Lion Foundation has an alert

https://mountainlion.org/2021/08/24/action-required-stop-the-south-dakota-petition-to-expand-hound-hunting/

October 22, 2021 Comments 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 (Comments-rocky-mountain-black-hills-mystic@usda.gov) with “F3 Jenny Gulch Gold Exploration Project” as the subject; or by facsimile (605-343-7134). Comments are due 30 days following the publication of the legal notice in the Rapid City Journal on September 22, 2021. 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.