Environment

Environmental issues

Citizens Join Porcupine Research at Devils Tower

Apr 5, 2016
Devils Tower National Monument

Prickly rodents are stealing the spotlight at Devils Tower National Monument as researchers and citizens look into the often forgotten lives of porcupines. There are about 12 porcupines who make their home at the Tower, and as you can imagine attaching a radio tracking device to one involves some effort.

Residents On Road To Rushmore Decry Quarry Expansion Plan

Apr 4, 2016

UPDATE:  Pennington County commissioners rejected the proposed expansion of this limestone quarry.
Attorney Tom Brady says the company is weighing its options.

Original story:

The proposed expansion of a rock quarry on a main road to Mount Rushmore has inflamed a dispute between the quarry operator and some local residents and business owners. The Pennington County Commission is holding a meeting on Tuesday the 5th to consider zoning of the quarry and a possible expansion. 

Venkataraman Gadhamshetty

Researchers from South Dakota School of Mines & Technology have successfully converted tomato waste into electricity, paving the way for an efficient low-cost new alternative energy source.

Dr. Scott Kenner, head of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at SD School of Mines and Technology and his Grad student Brian Freed join Innovation to discuss their research looking at the hydrologic response of watersheds to pine beetle infestation.

2015-2016 Winter 11th Warmest On Record In SD

Mar 17, 2016

The Equinox on Sunday the 20th marks the start of spring.   But many South Dakotan’s have already been enjoying some spring like weather.

Officials who track the climate in the state say the past winter was the 11th warmest out of the last 122 years of record.  That includes the timeframe from December 1, 2015 through February 29, 2016.  

Early Melt In Missouri River Basin

Mar 8, 2016
US Army Corps of Engineers

The Army Corps of Engineers say above normal temperatures have melted all of the plains snowpack in the Missouri River Basin. Officials say that means runoff is coming early this year and the region needs spring and summer rain to prevent drought.

Jody Farhat is with the Army Corps of Engineers. She says conditions in the Missouri River Basin look similar to last year. In 2015 the snowpack also melted early and drought was expected until heavy rains came in May. Farhat says similar conditions could occur this spring ... but lack of rain could cause drought.

CAFO Zoning Bill Advances

Feb 29, 2016
SDPB

A bill that changes the way county zoning is done for Confined Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs has cleared a State Senate committee.

Those backing House Bill 1140 say it keeps South Dakota agriculture competitive but stops red tape and frivolous delays for local approval.  

Opponents say the measure takes away local control and helps corporate farms to push large feedlots into areas where they are unwanted.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The Environmental Protection Agency has fined BNSF Railroad $600-thousand for violations including oil and diesel spills at its rail yards and along railways.  

One spill in 2010 affected Lake Oahe.

BNSF reached an agreement with the EPA to resolve the alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act across several states.

Dr. Robert “Bud” Grant teaches environmental theology, at St. Ambrose University.   He is an environmentalist, author, theologian, and Catholic priest.  He joins Dakota Midday to discuss his thoughts on the intersection of morality and climate change and Pope Francis’ encyclical "Laudato Si".

Courtesy Buffalo Field Campaign

The non-profit “Buffalo Field Campaign” is holding rallies near Yellowstone National Park this week. Their goal is to educate the public about Yellowstone’s buffalo herd and protest the long-standing practice of killing buffalo that wander out of the park into Montana. But some in Montana worry the buffalo could harm cattle.

The “Buffalo Field Campaign” was founded in 1997 by Lakota elder Rosalie Little Thunder and Mike Mease. Their goal was to stop the killing of buffalo that left Yellowstone National Park during the winter.

Northern Hills Mine Put On Hold

Jan 22, 2016
Charles Michael Ray

A proposed rare earth mine in the Bear Lodge Mountains of Wyoming is on hold.   

The Bear Lodge sit just north of the Black Hills near the state line.  The mining company Rare Element Resources is backing the project.  Mine officials say a deposit in the area contains a high volume of minerals needed in the production of batteries and computer components.

South Dakota Is Party To Multiple Lawsuits Against The EPA

Dec 17, 2015
Kealey Bultena / SDPB

South Dakota is now suing the EPA over implementation of the Clean Water Act.    

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says  federal officials are overstepping their authority in regulating how South Dakota uses its water.

This is one in a number of multi state lawsuits the state has currently signed on against the EPA.

While broadcasting live from the state capitol building in Pierre, Cara Hetland visited with Kelly Hepler, Secretary of the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department.  Hepler has been in his position since early this year after having spent most of his career in Alaska.  He discussed the pheasant habitat rehabilitation program among other issues.

Downtown Rapid City Green Space Wins Award

Dec 7, 2015
Ken Steinken / Trinity Eco Prayer Park

A small park in Downtown Rapid City has won the town’s 2015 Sustainability Award.

 The solar powered Trinity Eco Prayer Park collects and cleans storm water runoff before it enters Rapid Creek while providing a bit of green landscape in the middle of downtown.

Stuart Surma

Political leaders meeting at the COP21 U.N. Conference on Climate Change in Paris are now hashing out an agreement that could further reduce global carbon emissions.  

Dakota Midday: Solarize South Dakota

Nov 17, 2015
Charles Michael Ray

In this segment SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray speaks with Don Kelly an advocate for more home based renewable energy.  He’s one of those behind an effort called Solarize South Dakota that is backed by the group Dakota Rural Action.   Kelly lives in an all solar home that is off the grid in the Black Hills.

First W. SD Wind Farm Approved

Nov 13, 2015
Wind Quarry LLC

The first large scale wind farm in Western South Dakota has received approval to move forward.

 

Brothers Patrick and John O’Meara with the company Wind Quarry LLC are behind the Willow Creek Wind Energy farm. They may seem like an unlikely par to start up a large scale wind farm.   John O’Meara says they also have day jobs.

“I’m a chemist I work in the chemical management industry supporting manufacturing and Patrick is a family practice physician with a full time medical practice in Colorado,” says O’Meara.

U.S. Department of Energy

Dr. Bull Bennett is one of the lead authors of the Third National Climate Assessment and a PhD graduate from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.  Bennett now runs Kiksapa Consulting LLC based in North Dakota.

A member of the Mi'kmaq Tribe of Maine, Bennett recently spoke at the School of Mines and Technology about the impact climate change has on indigenous nations and water resources.

Jackley Joins Suit Against EPA Over CO2

Oct 26, 2015
Charles Michael Ray

South Dakota has signed on to a multiple state lawsuit against the EPA over attempts to limit CO2 emissions.

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says the EPA’s move hurts the state’s economy by increasing energy prices and reducing jobs.

But many scientists worry that industrialized nations need to go even further to reduce greenhouse gasses, they cite a disjunct between well-established research and policy.

Wind Cave Bison Culled For Relocation

Oct 22, 2015
Courtesy National Park Service

Nearly 300 bison were processed at Wind Cave National Park this week in preparation for shipping a portion of them to several ranches across the country. The labor-intensive task took 3 days and required dozens of park personnel and volunteers. SDPB’s Jim Kent attended the rather noisy event and filed this report.

Plan To Protect Rare Black Hills Plants And Research Areas

Oct 20, 2015
Chelsea Monks / Forest Service

The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management are planning to set aside a few natural and botanical areas in the Black Hills.   

The areas hold a scientific value and contain rare plants that grow in fragile environments.   The plan would prohibit mining and quarry operations on sites that are designated Research Natural Areas and Botanical Areas.
 

Spearfish Local Aims To Grow Business

Oct 14, 2015
BHSU

A program through Black Hills State University has landed $100 thousand dollar USDA grant to put more local food on the menu in Spearfish.  

The grant helps build a new business that can move fresh local fruits and vegetables from farmers to cafeterias at nearby schools, hospitals, and other facilities.

Efforts To Clean Spring Creek Move Forward

Oct 13, 2015
Charles Michael Ray

Spring Creek looks much like any other stream in the Black Hills, it meanders through serene meadows and drops into a steep walled canyon.
 
But Spring Creek is different.    Water quality monitoring in recent years shows levels of fecal coliform and E. coli bacteria above the EPA threshold for swimming.    The pollution may come from both human and animal waste entering the stream.

Badlands Calls For Comments On Bison Plan

Oct 8, 2015
Courtesy National Park Service

Badlands National Park is accepting public comments until October 30 on a Bison Preliminary Action Alternative for the park’s North Unit. SDPB’s Jim Kent spoke with Badlands personnel about the current bison management plan and what changes might lie in the future.

The North Unit Bison Resource Management Plan calls for expanding the area where the Badlands Park bison herd currently grazes. After a series of public scoping meetings on the topic in 2013, two plans have been presented.

Dakota Midday: Black Hills Metamorphosis

Oct 7, 2015

Tonight at 8:00 p.m. Central, SDPB-TV airs "Black Hills Metamorphosis."  The show looks at the explosion of Pine Beetles in the Black Hills and follows up on SDPB's 2010 production, "The Black Hills and the Mountain Pine Beetle."  SDPB-TV producer Brian Gevik and SDPB Radio news producer Charles Michael Ray visited with scientists and forestry experts for tonight's program.  They joined Dakota Midday guest host Joe Tlustos.

Sam Stukel / South Dakota Game Fish and Parks

Some environmental groups are blaming the EPA for not doing enough to control invasive species like zebra mussels.  

This week a coalition of groups won a ruling in the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that calls on the EPA to do more.    The lawsuit deals with regulations for ballast water in large ships that can transport invasive species.

Some invasives can decimate local fish populations, and do millions of dollars in damage to recreational and commercial fishing.  

New Protection Plan Keeps Sage Grouse Off Endangered List

Sep 22, 2015
U.S. Department of the Interior

The Greater Sage Grouse won’t make the Endangered Species List, but U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewel announced a broad new conservation plan that aims to preserve the habitat needed to keep the grouse from further decline.   The birds live across what’s called the Sagebrush Sea that covers 11 western states including parts of the Dakotas.  The new conservation plan has some impact on South Dakota.

Permitting Poop: Groups Want More Say In Feedlot Regulations

Sep 15, 2015
DENR

Feedlots and chicken farms can create tons of manure, literally.
 
Now some environmental and industry groups are crying foul over a state government permitting process that governs how large animal confinement operations deal with all that waste.
 
The South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources is reviewing its regulations for hog farms, dairies, feedlots, and chicken farms where thousands of animals can be grown in a single location.
 

Dakota Midday: Pollinator Habitat

Sep 9, 2015

Pete Berthelsen, Director of Habitat Partnerships for Pheasants Forever, joined Dakota Midday guest host Joe Tlustos to talk about the importance of pollinator habitat, changes happening to South Dakota's landscape and considerations for pollinator habitat within the context of wildlife habitat and farming practices.  Berthelsen, a wildlife biologist with more than 30 years of experience, brings his expertise and insight to South Dakota State University in a presentation tonight at 7:00 p.m. at the McFadden Biostress Lab.

The Mayor of Sioux Falls is hosting his 3rd annual Big Sioux River Water Summit Thursday. Conservationists, city officials, and agriculture specialists are discussing projects to improve the water quality near the Big Sioux River.

Jesse Neyens is an environmental analyst and water quality specialist with the city of Sioux Falls. He says this year the Mayor decided to host the summit in Brookings hoping to engage more people in the discussion of water quality.

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