Environment

Environmental issues

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.

Providing food, water and energy for people around the world who lack these resources is an ongoing challenge. Amid population growth, drought and increased urbanization, understanding food, energy and water availability is increasingly important.

SDSU Extension

Dr. David Graper is professor of horticulture at South Dakota State University in Brookings. He’s also the SDSU Extension interim Coordinator of the South Dakota Master Gardener Program and former director of McCrory Gardens and the South Dakota Arboretum. He joined Dakota Midday and answered listener questions about ridding crabgrass from lawns; transplanting peonies; plum trees; and planting new bulb gardens.

SDSU Extension

One of the strongest El Ninos in recorded history could be on its way. That’s according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. While a strong El Nino event could bring much-needed rain to California, it could also disrupt weather patterns across the globe and boost temperatures in some areas.

El Nino is a climate phenomenon that occurs every two to seven years in the tropical Pacific and sets off a chain weather patterns.

CO Mine Wastewater Spill Highlights SD Cleanup Plan

Aug 13, 2015
Amy Varland

A recent spill of 3 million gallons of mine wastewater from an EPA Superfund Site in the Rocky Mountains turned Colorado’s Animus River orange.

South Dakota and other states across the west are dotted with abandoned mines that are now being cleaned up by government regulators.

Currently the Gilt-Edge Superfund Site in the Northern Black Hills has 68 million gallons of mine wastewater stored in holding ponds.     

But EPA and state officials are undertaking a $50 million project to reduce the annual cost of water treatment.

Caribou Productions for SDPB

Over the past several years, the Izaak Walton League has helped organize Missouri River clean-ups in the cities of Pierre, Ft. Pierre and Yankton. Since the first river clean-up in 2009, volunteers have picked up an average of 2.5 tons of garbage each year. They've found everything from bowling balls to pop bottles.

Thanks to a $10,000 grant from the South Dakota Community Foundation, the conservation group is starting a pilot program to help prevent trash from getting into the river in the first place.

Charles Michael Ray SDPB

Norm Evers is the owner of Norm's Greenhouse and Nursery in Aurora. He’s also instructor emeritus of horticulture at South Dakota State University and the former manager of McCrory Gardens in Brookings. He joined Dakota Midday and discussed moss in the lawn, fertilizing, heirloom tomatoes, and transplanted weigela.

Nate Wek SDPB

The bald eagle is the national bird of the United States, but by the middle of the 20th century populations of the bird of prey were decimated. In 1963, there were only 487 nesting pairs in the contiguous states. However new regulations and the banning of the pesticide DDT helped the bald eagle population recover. 

Karl Gehrke SDPB

Norm Evers is the owner of Norm's Greenhouse and Nursery in Aurora. He’s also instructor emeritus of horticulture at South Dakota State University and the former manager of McCrory Gardens in Brookings. He joined Dakota Midday and discussed the care of trees, transplanting Virginia creeper, establishing hydrangeas, and planting grass in sparse areas.

SDSU

Over a 35 year period, the length of forest fire seasons worldwide increased by nearly nineteen percent. That’s according to a study co-authored by South Dakota State University professor and wildfire expert Mark Cochrane. He was part of a team that researched weather data from 1979 to 2013 to determine the impact changing climate has had on forest ecosystems.

Rapid City Skyline Changing As Power Plant Dismantled

Jul 20, 2015
Charles Michael Ray

A part of the skyline in West Rapid City is changing as Black Hills Power is beginning work on dismantling a coal fired power plant.  
 
The Ben French Plant located on Deadwood Avenue supplied electricity to Rapid City and parts of the Black Hills for about 50 years.    But in efforts to comply with federal guidelines to reduce carbon emissions Black Hills power is switching to a new cleaner natural gas fired power plant located in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
 

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