PHAS Events

silhouette photo of three person near tall trees
PHAS web site had some problems in late June-July, with the web site. All problems have been solved and the web page is fully operational again.. Thanks to our volunteer Bonnie who is the head manager of the web page.  We use Word Press web site software.

We will co-sponsor a legislative cracker barrel on Saturday February 17th, at 1:30 – 4 pm MT in Piedmont, SD for Districts 29 and 33

This will be at the Piedmont Valley American Legion Post 311 and hybrid, so there is a Zoom option. 

Link to PHAS Facebook announcement of Cracker Barrel

Link to PHAS web site announcement of Cracker Barrel

Visit our 2024 statewide cracker barrel list for details of other cracker barrels:.  To learn about the legislature so you know questions to ask,  visit our legislative web page at  or  bill tracking web page:


Reminder of Audubon’s  Great Back Yard Bird Count  – February 16th-February 19th

Every year in mid February you have the opportunity to bird during a weekend and submit data on-line.

Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event 

and report their sightings online.  Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from beginning 

bird watchers to experts, and you can participate from your backyard, or anywhere in the world. For more details:

PHAS tries to have members meetings in the last week of the month.

We will have a members meeting towards the end of February > (Monday 2/26/24)   by Zoom. This will  be National Audubon Society staff talking about their projects in SD, ND & NE. For details visit this link:

We hope to have a members meeting towards the end of March >  Tuesday, March  26th, 2024 by Zoom on American dippers & osprey in the Black Hills, with SDGFP asking for our help & birding skills to help inventory both species.  Watch the  PHAS events calendar for details.


During January-February we urge folks to participate in Climate Watch a National Audubon Society  community science project that is discussed on our web page on community science –

Christmas Bird Count (CBC) Season was from December 14th, 2023 – January 5th, 2024.  Our summary of this year’s regional CBCs can be found at 

To find details on a Christmas bird count near you on Audubon’s interactive map:


PHAS was not planning a regular member’s meeting in December due to all the Christmas Bird Counts & holidays. Our member’s meetings are often in the last week of the month – that is what we strive for, but alternating weeks, sometimes due to speaker’s conflicts with the last week. We anticipate member’s meeting again after new year starts. 


PHAS may have  conservation discussion meeting(s) by Zoom some time in December or early January.  Such meetings are not formal presentations, but rather discussions by concerned members/friends about current issues/projects. One meeting might discuss  environmental bills in the pending legislature. Contact Nancy 605-7876466 (landline) or for details, however date(s) will be published here once planned.


PHAS will have a board meeting by Zoom  at 6 pm MT, on Friday, December 15th, 2023.  Prairie Hills Audubon Society members are welcome at PHAS board meetings, contact Nancy 605-7876466 (landline) or for details. 


The National Audubon Society will release chapter grant opportunities, likely after February, 2024.  PHAS can apply for these. They can award grants as large as $10,000.  We may have discussion meeting(s) by Zoom on grants. Dates will be published here, once known, if we do have such. Contact Nancy about these also. 



The November Members Meeting –  was on raccoons with two speakers (Katherine McGill & Nancy Hilding), the last week in November,- Wednesday the 29th, at 6 pm MT  For announcements with Zoom details: visit our Facebook Page{“event_action_history”:[{“mechanism”:”search_results”,”surface”:”bookmark_search”}],”ref_notif_type”:null}

 or our Web Site Calendar page

The meeting was recorded – so go to our recordings web page (under Resources) to find the link to the recording


PHAS attempted to have  a board meeting by Zoom in on Wednesday November 8th, 2023.  We did not have a quorum, 

Prairie Hills Audubon Society members are welcome at PHAS board meetings, contact Nancy 605-7876466 (landline) or for details. Dates will be published here, once known.


__October 30th, Monday, 6 pm MT PHAS monthly meeting, topic – protecting French Creek from water pollution, hybrid meeting (Zoom and face-to-face meeting) at Outdoor Campus West. Go to events page calendar for details

Oct 16th, annual forestry basics field trip. For the past 2 years the NGOs of Prairie Hills Audubon Society, The Norbeck Society and the Black Hills Group of the Sierra Club  will jointly sponsor a “Forestry Basics” field trip in the fall on October 16th.   Dave Mertz a retired forester from the Black Hills National Forest leads a morning field trip in the Custer area to learn about how the National Forest plans and executes timber sales – we visit various sites to see how timber cutting is implemented in various ways.  Go to events page calendar for details Nancy for questions – or 605-787-6466 


PHAS is  had an annual meeting at 6 pm August 31st, Thursday.  Erik Molvar was the  speaker on the greater sage grouse, followed by the business meeting w/ election of board members. This meeting was a hybrid, with Zoom access and face-to-face meeting at the Piedmont American Legion Post 311, Piedmont, SD.  Folks wishing to serve on the Board this next year,  contact any of the current Board members:  Nancy Hilding – President, Jim Petersen – Vice-President, Doris Respects Nothing – Secretary,   Helen McGinnis – Treasurer, Jedediah Beadle – Board members (& field trip chair), Tonia Stands – Board member.  For more details on the Annual meeting visit our calendar page: 


The board meeting in August 2023 was held on Tuesday August 15th at 6:00 pm.  PHAS members are welcome at Board meetings that are held on Zoom. Nowadays they tend to be mid-month in evening.  – Contact Nancy for details – or 605-787-6466 


 ~PHAS had a Zoom conservation networking/discussion/strategy meeting Wednesday August 2nd,  4 pm – 6 pm MT. Topics will be: Wyoming and South Dakota lion hunting season 2023 proposals and maybe, time permitting, SD Nest Predator Bounty Program and beaver conservation or other topics.  Contact Nancy for details – or 605-787-6466 for details on how to attend. We don’t post on-line Zoom links or the meeting records, when campaign strategy is discussed, as we reserve attendance to PHAS members and other folk with support for conservation & environmental/biodiversity protection.

~We had a board meeting on Wednesday July 13th, 2023,Members are welcome at Board meetings. They are held by Zoom, – ask Nancy Hilding for an invite – 605-787-6466

~ We had a conservation action strategy networking meeting Sunday night June 4th by ZoomContact Nancy Hilding to be invited. 605-787-6466.  This is where we discuss our conservation campaigns. Go to the events/deadlines calendar for details.

~ We had Zoom members meeting on Monday June 5th – on Mining threat in Black Hills w/ Lilias Jarding as speaker. Go to the events/deadlines calendar for details.

~ We had a Board meeting for Monday,June 12th,, Members are welcome at Board meetings. They are held by Zoom, – ask Nancy Hilding for an invite – 605-787-6466

~We co-sponsored (with other groups) the annual Endangered Species Day Celebration on the evening of May 19th

~We co-sponsored with the Sierra Club a field trip to La Creek National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday May 13th. Go to the events/deadlines calendar for details.
~We had a PHAS Board meeting on May 11th, at 6 pm by Zoom. Members wanting to come should contact Nancy Hilding – 605-787-6466 (LL) or 

~We had a “working meeting” in late April on Sunday, April 30th at 6 pm, to discuss actions needed to move our various conservation campaigns forward. This was by Zoom. Go to events calendar page for details.
~Our previous meeting was Tuesday, April 4th by Zoom and will be on Black Hills National Forest Issues. Mary Zimmerman and Dave Mertz will talk on their mid-March trip to DC to lobby on Forest Issues. We normally meet in the last week of the month, but due to speaker availability, we moved forward in time by a week. Go to events page for details & contact Nancy for a link to the recording.

~We had a Zoom meeting at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, February 28th. Meghan Carter from the National Audubon Society office in Fargo, ND talked to us about Audubon’s staff’s activities & programs in the Dakotas. Details was posted to the events page and meeting was recorded and link to recording was posted to recordings page.

~PHAS co-sponsored the Piedmont (Foothills Area) Legislative Cracker Barrel on the afternoon of Saturday 2/18/23 at the Piedmont American Legion Post. See events page for details:
~PHAS sponsored 2 Christmas Bird Counts in Dec./Jan.. See list of Christmas Bird Counts in Nature Study drop down menu.

Saturday, October 29, 9:30 – 1:00      Forestry Basics Field Trip – back by popular demand!

~Field trip with retired BHNF Natural Resource Staff Officer, Dave Mertz 

Prairie Hills Audubon Society again worked jointly with The Norbeck Society  and the Sierra Club to sponsor a field trip to learn about Forestry. Terminology and concepts that guide forest management will be illustrated with real life examples on our forest. Think beyond the confines of your own lifetime!   We met at 9:30 am at the gravel parking lot along Hwy 385 immediately south of the admissions gate to Crazy Horse. We caravanned from there and visit approximately 4 or 5 stops. 

———We didn’t have Zoom member’s meeting(s) planned for the last week October, November and we never due Zoom meetings during holiday weekend.

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PHAS August Members Meeting August 28. 2022 at 1:00 pm ~Tour the Black Hills Raptor Center.Special Prairie Hills Audubon Monthly Meeting – Sunday August 28,2022 1:00 PM  Private tour of Black Hills Raptor Center for our Chapter – See the birds up close and personal!  Address: 15256 East Highway 44 – 4 miles past Rapid City Regional Airport, north side of highway.,The Black Hills Raptor Center (BHRC) is a five-acre nature preserve, currently involved in a multi-million-dollar campus building program in support of their program to rescue, rehabilitate, and release injured raptors. For over a decade they have done thousands of environmental education presentations in the region using their “raptor ambassadors”, birds that have disabilities that preclude them from being released to the wild. Prairie Hills Audubon is proud to support the work of BHRC in protecting these magnificent birds.  Take this opportunity to get a rare inside look at the inter-workings of this excellent organization, and see if you might like to get involved with the collaboration between our two operations!/PHAS July Members Meeting -Thursday, July 28th, 6:30 pm-9 pmlikely W~Zoom  July meeting on BHNF Forest Plan Revision Assessments will be held from 6:30 pm to 9 pm, with Lou Conroy of the BHNF as speaker. The Norbeck Society and the Black Hills Group of the Sierra Club will co-sponsor the Zoom meeting with PHAS (Prairie Hills Audubon Society)..\  For information on BHNF Forest Plan Revision Assessments – use the same Zoom codes every month at our monthly  meetings, which are normally held within the last 7 days of the month. lTopic: PHAS monthly meetingsThe recording of this meeting can be found on the Recordings page under Resources menu item.


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. 

In late August the USFWS released a Final EA and FONSI – link to that.

First below find list of actions to take, 

Scroll below that to find a discussion of the issue and facts.


There is a new opportunity to comment to the USFWS  on the shooting range- a new draft EA has been released.  the deadline Thursday Oct 26th

In the first week of June 2023, the SDGFP approved a bid for some of the dirt work.

GFP failed in its’ plan for a late Feb 2023  plans were to be Released for Bid

John Kanta (SDGFP) announced at the January 12th SDGFP Commission meeting that they expected to have the final designs done & submitted for bids by late February 2023. We don’t think this happened as they did not get final approval till 3/28/23

3/28/23 MEADE COUNTY HEARING for Final approval of Range

In December 2023, Meade County adopted a shooting range ordinance. The terms of that ordinance required SDGFP to submit an application and also to make some changes to  the design of the facility.  On March 28th  the Meade County the Meade County Commission approved the application  in a 4 to 1 vote, and this is the last hurdle of approvals.

Go to Board Docs to find the Commission Agenda for 3/28/23 –



Section Line Relocation Hearing 

December 20th, 2022 was the Meade County Commission public hearing on SDGFP proposed relocation of the section line in the middle of the property to the south end of the property. The Commission approved the section line relocation. The Commission included a requirement that SDGFP build the road along north edge of the pond (south side of property)  until road was past  the pond & it’s inlet. 

 Nov 22nd, Meade County Commission Hearing – Shooting Range Ordinance

Public hearing on a  proposed shooting range ordinance for Meade County – second reading before the Commission was:

10 am on Tuesday, November 22nd,  2nd Floor of the Erskine Office Building, 1300 Sherman Street, Sturgis, SD 57785

The County passed the Ordinance & SDGFP must comply with it. It will have to do some redesign work to do so, as Ordinance does not let them shoot over section lines..

SD GFP proposes to build a large shooting range at Elk Vale Road near Elk Creek in Meade County. PHAS is concerned as shooting ranges are de-facto

lead mines.  Lead bullets are deposited from guns and  ater reclaimed, but a shooting range does not have the protective environmental regulation that an actual lead mine does.

Lead is a toxic substance with threat to the environment and human health. 

SDGFP did a very inadequate environmental assessment with very unclear disclosure of mitigations and totally inadequate

response to comments.

The County is finally going to adopt ordinances to govern the location and construction of such facilities (This is permitted by SDCL 21-10-32. )

This gives the public an opportunity for better  oversight of any shooting ranges build in Meade County.  The County Conmmission approved the first reading of Ordinance with no changes, 

but indicated they would think about comments they heard & might make changes at second reading

Link to proposed ordinance:$file/Proposed Shooting Range Ordinance.pdf

First reading of ordinance – version 1$file/Ord 56 first read.pdf

Marked up version (red highlights for public comment)
Second reading’s version

For more information on the shooting range  contact Nancy 605-787-6466,   

 It needs better oversight of the water quality concerns & needs to consider impacts to Native American sacred, cultural or historic sites

Please remember Meade County has Bear Butte.   See talking points below. 

Written comments for the Meade County Commission can be posted on:
A list of Commissioner contacts is also on this web page, there are 5 of them:
 Todd Seaman <>, 
Rod Bradley  <>, 
 Doreen Creed <>
Staff person in charge who can be sent a letter and ask her to share with all of them: – Rhea Crane – <>,
To see Agenda of the meeting go to Board doc for meeting on 11/22/22
Please add these points to the Draft Ordinance:
Proponents shall design range so it’s  design  insures it can comply with EPA’s “Best Management Practices for Lead at Outdoor Shooting Ranges” – EPA-902-B-01-001, Revised June 2005, Region 2. The County shall consider if the suggested location complies with EPA’s guidance on proper locations.  Failure to offer a  design that complies with the EPA’s BMP may be a reason to deny the application.  See 
Design of storm water management systems for use after construction and during operation will be disclosed.   If there are man made ditches/pipes and/or retaining ponds to be used to collect storm water run off, proponent shall disclose design of system, including  the location of components and holding capacity of components. They shall disclose the intensity of storm event they are designed to contain. Distance of the site from flood plains shall be disclosed.  Proponents will discuss if lead contaminated stormwater will flow to SD waters and how storm water runoff will be monitored for lead. Failure to design credible long term storm water management may cause denial of application.
The shooting range shall provide copies of DANR water quality monitoring done in all perrennial and intermittent ponds/lakes and streams of the state who are immediately down stream of the proposed site. Such monitoring must at least include monitoring for lead and Ph. If there is no monitoring being done & no base line data exists, proponents shall hire an accredited entity approved by DANR to do such monitoring for lead, Ph, TSS, & TSD to establish base line values &  provide a copy of data to Meade County. 
Design of range shall insure that bullets shall not be shot into surface waters.
Lead recycling plans and equipment to be used shall be discussed.  If recycled lead and/or soil that has been contaminated with lead & later collected will be stored on site, such storage will be discussed and location of storage & the lead mitigations discussed. Proponent shall discuss any incentives offered for use of lead free bullets.
The shooting range shall provide a soils map for the range and a base line Ph test for the soils where bullets land or lead contaminated storm water runs across or sits.
The shooting range shall do base line air quality monitoring at the site for dust and lead, if such has not been done by DANR or an entity approved by DANR.
The shooting range shall estimate attendance at range  & impacts to County roads of vechicle traffic going to the range.  Planned mitigations to  the road impacts shall be discussed
Design of range shall insure that bullets that bullets shall not fly over highways& that they  do not leave the site.
The shooting range proponents shall consult with SHPO and THPO about historic & cultural sites that are on or near enough to the site to be impacted and provide a copy of their request(s) for consultation,. They will disclose who  were letters sent to & any reply they received.  County may require impacts to cultural, historical sites to be mitigated and if County judges mitigation inadequate, then the site may be rejected. Meade County shall not allow shooting ranges so close to Bear Butte, so that quiet at the Butte & Native American use of the Butte is disturbed. Noise impacts  to cemeteries & public parks should be considered & constrained.
The shooting range proponents shall consult with SD GFP about impacts to biodiversity & provide a copy of GFP response. Adverse impacts to habitat or individuals of rare species may cause denial of the application or require mitigation.
Distance from barns, corrals or other places where livestock are concentrated and their movement is restricted shall be discussed. Noise shall not disturb livestock in contained locations, nor shall bullets come near them.
Fire control & fire mitigation shall be discussed  & additional mitigation may be required by County.

Next Upcoming Deadline – Maybe December 13th, please verify date


Likely upcoming hearing date of Dec 13th, 2022 on Section Line Relocation – date to be confirmed on 11/22/22.
On Nov 22nd Meade County Commission will consider a request to set public hearing date to hear the petition to relocate a portion of the section line right-of-way, Vacation commencing 33′ East of the Section Corner Common to sections 33 and 34 of T. 4N., R. 8 E and Sections 3 and 4 of T. 3N., R.8E., All of the B.H.M., Meade County, South Dakota. 

A petition was submitted to the Auditors office by SD Game, Fish and Parks, and 7 O Ranch LLC to Relocate a portion of a section line.  The Auditor requests that the public hearing date be set for December 13th, 2022 at 10am, to allow time for the required newspaper publications to be made. 
Petition to relocate the section line
Map of relocated section line
Map 2 of relocated section line – rotate
Aerial  photo overview of relocated section line
Aerial photo  showing a large area overview
Aerial photo overview w/ neighboring landowners ID
Aerial photo overview w/section numbers


 A. Recent past deadline – June 28th, 2022, Meade County, 1 pm

UPDATE 6/28 results – On 6/28/22 Meade County Commission unanimously denied SDGFP section line relocation request, but GFP was expected to submit a new revised relocation proposal.  The USFWS approved a FONSI without the section line relocation being completed. We believe this violates NEPA.

Meade County Commission Public Hearing on Section Line Relocation at GFP proposed shooting range  (near Elk Vale Road and Elk Creek) was at 1 pm on Tuesday June 28th. The meeting will have begun at 9 am. There is a recording of the meeting on the Meade County Facebook page – scroll down to June 28th .

Game, Fish and Parks still intends to submit a petition to relocate the section line along the south edge of their property. . They intend to build a road along the south edge of property as they got the message that a road across the high water mark of the pond and across the inlet would be expensive and problematic for ranchers to do alone.

County Building is located at 1300 Sherman Street STE 212 | Sturgis, SD 57785,

Go to Board docs for details and agenda of the Commission meeting, using this link.

The 6/28 agenda is  posted & you can go to the June 28th meeting agenda to – and see various documents related to issue to download

Petition to relocate section line
3. Topo  Maps
2 Aerial Maps
Meade County Commission,  1300 Sherman Street STE 212 | Sturgis, SD 57785, staff contact is Jerry Derr,, 605-720-1625, You can look up Commissioners and send them a message at:
Leaving the section line in current place (with 66 foot right-of-way), would bi-sect the shooting range and shorten or relocate at least the long ranges. Relocating the section line to the southern edge of SDGFP property would drop the new section line into the high water line of a pond and bisect a dug-out – making it’s use as path or road extremely difficult. GFP now propose a curvey alternate section line relocation.
Specific reasons to oppose Section Line Relocation – 
1) Local opposition by adjacent landowner. Landowners living to east of Elk Vale and wanting to build a road to develop their land will have more difficulty, expense and more permitting hassle building a road crossing  and running through the overflow area of inlet  leading into the pond and the steep side slopes to that drainage. Length of future road is increased. Cattle would be driven over side slope of drainages.
2) SDGFP failed to provide a range of action Alternatives in the draft Environmental Assessment (EA). In March GFP knew of objections to the section lion relocation. The Draft  EA just offered one action alternative – the preferred design in March had the section line relocated into the high-water area of the pond (thus insuring access/future road building across high water area of pond and bi-secting the dug-out)..  GFP now offers a new design/layout for section line relocations, trying to avoid the pond –a  new layout that was not explained in the Draft EA in March.  The Meade County Commission should continue this hearing until SDGFP publishes the final Environmental Assessment (expected out in July). Hopefully GFP will comply with NEPA and provide at least 2 action alternatives – showing us a range design with the new section line relocation and one without any section line relocation.  The March version of the range design is included below (scroll down). 
Also the draft EA in March was severely inadequate and many questions about pollution mitigation were unanswered. Meade County should continue the hearing until the Final EA is available for review. 
B.Late August Event — USFWS – Final EA
The USFWS released a final EA .They had promised another  thirty day comment period….but in the end, chose not to offer that.  Please read the final EA –
C. Iterative deadlines -SDGFPP Commission Meets
  Contact the SDGFP Commission
You can still write in concern about or opposition to proposed shooting range, but at this point, we suggest that you ask for stricter environmental protections, reduced footprint or to use the land for some other purpose – such as a park, as they have bought the land 

 Written comments can be uploaded here or submitted at an on-line comment portal . 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:  , Agenda will be posted here when close to the date :  If you check the agenda and  attend the Commission meeting by Zoom you will usually hear updates on the Shooting Range.


Written comments by Sunday July 3rd, 2022 at midnight CT. 

 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.



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  (first comment period is 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 in 2022 – scoll down)


 Game, Fish and Parks has been unable to fund raise enough donations or grants to pay for building the range and were 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 hoped to break ground in spring 2022. 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? 

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).  Folks should insist on an EIS as the project won’t comply with the EPA Best Management Practices for shooting ranges – GFP 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 (Best Management Practices)  but that guidance 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,  A totally inadequate draft “environmental assessment” has been written, Public scoping for the EA did not happen.  Comments were due March 24th.
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 below link (The range will be in Meade not Pennington County)
This resolution was adopted in Jan 2021 after about a 30 minute presentation to the Commission.
 It commits the Commission to buying the property from the Foundation at a fixed cost for property – that in January 2021 was not yet appraised and for a site not yet reviewed by the public. The appraisal was less than what they promised to pay. They paid 2,220 per acre and we heard it was appraised at 1,400 per acre.  This hasty action violated at least 4 sections of the SDGFP Land Acquisition Priorities and Guidance – link to that document.
GFP sheet about firing range.
Plans/Drawings of proposed Range
Meade County Map showing area’s land parcels
 Some environmental issues associated with shooting ranges can be –
1) Lead contamination from bullets with impacts to ponds/creeks and ground water in area – this is a pollution risk to fish, waterfowl and people. Do folks living along Elk Creek have wells into a water table that is influenced by Elk Creek?
2) Noise of gun fire from hundreds of shooting positions,
3) Disturbance to waterfowl wildlife, livestock and homes/ranches from noise and activity of people. Whooping crane, a federally endangered species, have been seen on the pond just to the south of the project.
4) Bullets traveling to neighboring lands, including over areas with slopes/valleys, with possible impacts to livestock,
5.) Fire risk, 
6) Impacts of traffic to about 3 miles of dirt road resulting in noise, dust and wear and tear and cost of maintenance to Meade
county. Will GFP pay to finish paving Elk Vale Rd, as the County requests?
7)  Supervision of the property and law enforcement costs – What new security costs will be assumed by Meade County vs. GFP? What increase in crime to the neighborhood?
8) Section line relocation could be put too close to wetlands, pond high-water mark & dugout in pond’s inlet
9) Potential impacts to tribal archaeological resources
The pond/wetland immediately to the south of the property has excellent birding. Whooping cranes have been seen on it.  This range will be about 2.5 miles from Sevey Lake, a popular birding spot.  Impacts to wildlife and fish are not just those on the property, but those nearby who would be impacted by the noise and disturbance or water pollution downstream. 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).
Fact sheet on Lead Pollution at Outdoor Firing Ranges:
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).
.  There are several ponds/impoundments  near edges of the property, inside the property & one has some wetlands associated with it.  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 2 edge/boundary ponds, as they are on private land. The proposed shooting range is divided between Elk and Antelope Creek drainage basins, with at least most 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 and 3/4 mile north of Elk Creek, that sits on a tributary that flows southeast to Elk Creek – merging with Elk Creek 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 – carved into the western slope.  Some of the southern shooting bays are placed in side drainages. 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.
Reclamation lead bullets/fragments from clay may require washing. It will likely require removal or burning of grass cover, which vegetation 
concentrate lead.
Survey of the site has identified cultural properties, but has not yet done Section 106 consultation with tribes.


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. There are 180 shooting positions there.  The north-end range may be used for competitions or training activities and some bays are called “action bays” without assigned lanes. There are 12 positions at the sporting clays.
Decibels from each gun fire are significant 150dB-163.2 dB  ;  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.. 
 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 

C. Past/EXPIRED deadlines with respect to this alert 

  1.   Release of an Environmental Assessment for public comment, comments were 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: 


Public comments were accepted for a 30-day  comment period, ending March 24, 2022, [revised deadline] and could be electronically submitted to:  Copies of the Draft EA, which include details of the proposed action and the alternatives considered, are available online at:  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:$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:

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 – – 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:    The bill failed to pass the House – vote YEAS 39, NAYS 30, The Reconsideration motion failed – vote    : YEAS 35, NAYS 34.


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:    Link to the proposed amended version of HB 1166:

Thursday and Friday are the last 2 days of the legislature. We don’t think any more attempts to try to insert amendments to funding bills in conference committees were planned.


 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 .  

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,,

 .   Meade County –  Past Deadline 2/8/2022 – A letter from SDGFP  was discussed February  22nd
Please express concerns about the shooting range to Meade County
5. 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 is asked by SDGFP to relocate a section line running east-west down to the south edge shooting bay area. SD law reserves 66 feet

 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.

No formal section line relocation request has been submitted yet. Commission & GFP have not agreed on any road proposals — only ideas have been explored in discussions by GFP with Meade’s transportation staff.

6.   Deadline – January 28th, 2022 – letters to John Kanta Rapid City Shooting Range  –  Comment To SDGFP 
  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.” <> .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 its’ entirety without assistance from the National Guard” However the National Guard said no to helping with the project – how will SDGFP afford the entire project without National Guard help at earth moving?


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..Meade County wants 3 miles of gravel on Elk Vale road paved, but GFP is proposing to share maintenance costs

 by SDGPlease remember Meade County has Bear Butte. M


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PHAS August Members Meeting August 28. 2022 at 1:00 pm

Tour the Black Hills Raptor Center.

Special Prairie Hills Audubon Monthly Meeting

Sunday August 28,2022 1:00 PM

Private tour of Black Hills Raptor Center for our Chapter

See the birds up close and personal!

Address: 15256 East Highway 44

4 miles past Rapid City Regional Airport, north side of highway.

Call Jim Petersen at (605) 939-4995 for more information.

Chapter members can bring guests!

The Black Hills Raptor Center (BHRC) is a five-acre nature preserve, currently involved in a multi-million-dollar campus building program in support of their program to rescue, rehabilitate, and release injured raptors. For over a decade they have done thousands of environmental education presentations in the region using their “raptor ambassadors”, birds that have disabilities that preclude them from being released to the wild. Prairie Hills Audubon is proud to support the work of BHRC in protecting these magnificent birds.  Take this opportunity to get a rare inside look at the inter-workings of this excellent organization, and see if you might like to get involved with the collaboration between our two operations!


PHAS July Members Meeting -Thursday, July 28th, 6:30 pm-9 pm

Zoom  July meeting on BHNF Forest Plan Revision Assessments will be held from 6:30 pm to 9 pm, with Lou Conroy of the BHNF as speaker. The Norbeck Society and the Black Hills Group of the Sierra Club will co-sponsor the Zoom meeting with PHAS (Prairie Hills Audubon Society).

For information on BHNF Forest Plan Revision Assessments –

We use the same Zoom codes every month at our monthly  meetings, which are normally held within the last 7 days of the month.
Topic: PHAS monthly meetings
The recording of this meeting can be found on the Recordings page under Resources menu item

The roc

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