Black Hills

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.

VA Continues Push For Move Out Of Hot Springs In Draft EIS

Oct 29, 2015
Nicole Griffith

The VA of the Black Hills has issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement on its proposal to move of many veterans services out of Hot Springs and to Rapid City.

The document known as an E-I-S lays out several alternatives.  The VA Black Hills preferred alternative is to move most services out of Hot Springs.    

Officials are now taking public comments on the draft and they’re planning a series of six public meetings around the area.

Prescribed Burns Planned In Black Hills

Oct 22, 2015
Black Hills National Forest

Officials with the Black Hills National Forest are planning a series of prescribed burns across the Hills in the coming months.   Fall weather can bring the right conditions for larger scale controlled burning.   

Chris Stover is an Assistant Fire Management Officer with the Forest Service on the Mystic Ranger District in the Black Hills.   
“The prime reason we like to burn is that fire is an ecologically necessary part of the environment in which we live here,” says Stover.  

Dakota Midday: Dakotadon Like Rhino Sized Horse With A Beak

Oct 15, 2015
Darrin Pagnac / SDSM&T

New research on a fossil discovered 40 years ago is adding to the understanding of a species of dinosaur that once roamed South Dakota.
The Dakotadon lakotaensis is a plant eating dinosaur that can be found in a layer of rock called the Lakota Formation.     If you live on the hogback ridge that circles the Black Hills, it’s likely you had them in your own yard between 110 and 130 million years ago. 

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.

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.

Observatory Turns 50, Star Party Ensues

Sep 10, 2015
Black Hills Astronomical Society

The Hidden Valley Observatory turns 50 this month.   The facility is located  near Saint Martins Monastery just outside of Rapid City.   The Black Hills Astronomical Society held a special star party.

SDPB's Charles Michael Ray spoke with the group's president Dr. George Gladfelter, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and spoke about the history of the observatory. 

Black Hills Lion Shot In Bluegrass State

Aug 25, 2015
Charles Michael Ray

The state of Kentucky is about 1200 miles from the Black Hills but that might not be too far for a mountain lion to roam.   A Black Hills mountain lion turned up in the Bluegrass State recently.

The 5 year old male was treed by a dog near the town of Paris, Kentucky and local officials shot the animal citing public safety concerns.  Later genetic testing showed the big cat is related to the Black Hills population.

Fallen Firefighter Remembered In Rapid City

Aug 9, 2015
Charles Michael Ray

A large crowd gathered to remember fallen firefighter Dave Ruhl.  

Rapid City residents lined the streets for a procession and filed into a memorial service at the Civic Center.

Ruhl, was a former member of the Coast Guard who became a Forest Service Firefighter in the Black Hills. 

He was on assignment firefighting in California when he was killed on the Frog Fire in the Modoc National Forest.

Black Hills Firefighter Memorial Set for Sunday And Monday

Aug 4, 2015
Black Hills National Forest

The memorial for fallen firefighter Dave Ruhl begins on Sunday with a 1:00 pm procession starting at the Our Lady Of Perpetual Help Cathedral. The procession moves down 5th street to a 2:00 pm visitation at the Rapid City Civic Center. Memorial services at the Civic Center begin at 3:00 pm.

A funeral at the Cathedral follows on Monday at 10:00 am. Ruhl is set to be interred at Black Hills National Cemetery.

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.

Black Hills Playhouse Celebrates 70 Years

Jul 9, 2015
Black Hills Playhouse

Alumni from across the country are reuniting in the Black Hills region to celebrate years of live theatre. The Black Hills Playhouse is in its 70th anniversary season.

At the Black Hills Playhouse in Custer State Park offer four summer productions. They include about 70 people from 22 states. Dan Workman is the artistic director. 

Rainbow Gathering Ends And Some Campers Stay To Clean

Jul 8, 2015
Chynna Lockett

 The Rainbow Family gathering brought over 1,500 campers to the Black Hills. The gathering officially ended July 7th. Now some campers are staying behind to ensure the forest is clean.

The once full parking lot of the Rainbow Family Gathering is now nearly empty.  Over 1,000 members of the group had been camping in the national forest for a week. Some locals are worried about the mess that was left behind. Rainbow member Katrina Wilson says the group has protocols for clean-up.  

Rainbow Family Gathering Comes To A Climax

Jul 6, 2015
Chynna Lockett

While people all across South Dakota were celebrating on the fourth of July things were quiet in the Rainbow Family campground. At its peak 1,700 gathered in the Black Hills. Saturday several hundred remained silent from sunrise until noon for their annual prayer event.

Rainbow Gathering Incites Argument But Campers Remain

Jun 26, 2015
Chynna Lockett

The arrival of the Rainbow Family to the Black Hills has caused some controversy in the community. The Lakota group United Urban Warriors Society is protesting the gathering taking place on treaty land. But, other Lakota people support the group.  Conflict erupted near the gathering campsite in the Central Black Hills.
A thunderstorm blew in as members of the Rainbow Family and Native Americans in support of their presence met up with members of the United Urban Warriors Society on the highway, near their campsite. The groups collided and argument soon broke out.

75th Sturgis Rally Could Approach One Million Bikers

Jun 23, 2015

Officials in the Black Hills say they expect 750,000 to one-million people at this year’s 75th annual Sturgis Rally.   Part of that total number depends on how you count.   Officials say they are seeing an increase in bikers before and after the rally that can increase the overall count.   The inflow of visitors means local residents have to deal with something they’re not always used to, traffic.

Man Accused In Beer Throwing Case To Stand Trial In Theater

Jun 17, 2015
Charles Michael Ray

A Phillip man who is accused of disorderly conduct after he allegedly threw beer and shouted racial slurs at Native American students during a hockey game in January is set to stand trial next month.
But Trace O’Connell won’t sit in front of a jury or in a courtroom.  Rather the trial, before a local magistrate, is set to take place in an auditorium at a local high school to accommodate the crowd that is expected to attend.

Some in the Native community aren’t happy with the misdemeanor charges and question if justice is being served.

Reptile Gardens

When the United Nations was born in November of 1945, it didn’t have a home. Rapid City businessman Paul Bellamy thought the Black Hills would be the ideal place for world delegates to deliberate in peace and quiet. He even flew to war-torn London to make his case for making the Black Hills the Capitol of the World.

Persistence Cave: Windy And Full Of Fossils

Jun 12, 2015

Wind Cave National Park is now home to more than one significant cave.

Persistence Cave discovered at the park in 2004 and kept secret for over a decade is now being explored for the first time.

An initial sample shows the soil near the cave’s entrance contains a trove of fossils, including at least 22 different species of animals dating back at least 11,000 years.   Paleontologists from various institutions including the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs have joined in the study.

National Park Service

Fire is one of the management tools used at Wind Cave National Park in the southern Black Hills to help maintain the health and natural balance of the grassland and forest. The park uses prescribed fires to achieve a more "natural" state by reducing accumulated fuel levels, reducing ponderosa pine encroachment on the grasslands, and eliminating exotic plants and increasing the diversity and health of native plant species.

Joe Tlustos SDPB

More than 26,000 years ago at the Mammoth Site,  large Columbian and woolly mammoths were trapped in a large sinkhole and died. Their remains were buried and undisturbed for centuries until bones were discovered during excavation for a subdivision in 1974. Since then, 61 mammoths have been identified – 58 Columbian and 3 woolly mammoths. Remains of giant, short-faced bear, camel, llama, prairie dog, wolf and fish have also been uncovered.

Pine Engraver Beetles Poised For Attack During Drought

Apr 15, 2015

Over the last decade Mountain Pine Beetles have changed the landscape of the Black Hills—they’ve killed thousands of acres of trees.
But they aren’t the only beetle that likes to attack ponderosa pines.  Officials warn this year the conditions are ripe for an increase in the Ips beetle also known as the Pine Engraver Beetle. 

In the summer of 1874, George Armstrong Custer led a military expedition into the Black Hills to choose a site for a new Army fort and investigate the area’s natural resources. The expedition’s discovery of gold attracted thousands of whites to the Black Hills in violation of the 1868 Laramie Treaty which protected Lakota ownership and hunting rights.

Temperatures are expected to reach into the 60s over most of South Dakota today. Wednesday could see highs creeping into the 70s in some spots. Current weather conditions have led to a very high fire danger in the Black Hills area. A Fire Weather Watch has been issued for Wednesday for areas south of I-90 and west of the Missouri River. South Dakota fire meteorologist Darren Clabo joined Dakota Midday and discussed the current fire danger across the state and what March conditions could mean for the summer fire season.

PUC Approves Half Of BHP Rate Increase Request

Mar 3, 2015

Residents in Rapid City and the surrounding area are about to see their electric bills go up.

But the rate increase may not be as high as the power company would like. The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission approved half of the 9.27 percent  increase Black Hills Power requested.

P.U.C. Commissioner Chris Nelson says rate increases are never easy.   Nelson says the factors the PUC can consider when company requests a rate increase are set by state law.  

Will Uranium Market Boom Or Fizzle?

Dec 16, 2014

The Chairman of Azarga Uranium says his company is poised to ride the uranium market to new highs. 

Azarga plans to mine uranium in the Black Hills near Edgemont. The company touts the proposed Dewey Burdock mine as its flagship project.

But critics question Azarga’s claims, both on the price of uranium and the company’s ability to safeguard local water supplies in the mining process.

You can click play below to hear more.

"Stubby" The Triceratops With Broken Horns

Dec 15, 2014
Black Hills Institute of Geological Research

If you want to know how many horns a Triceratops has just ask an average first grader—they will tell you, three.

But a nine foot long fossil skull of a Triceratops found in Montana is missing its third horn, normally found on the nose, and paleontologists at the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research are probing the mystery.

Dick Fort is an environmental activist who has been called the caretaker of Spearfish Canyon. He’s also a painter, sculptor composer, teacher, cross-country skier, fly fisherman, World War Two code breaker and winemaker. He was born in Mitchell in 1922 and was a professor of humanities at Chicago City college for 28 years. He is well known for his efforts to protect the beauty of the Black Hills as the founder of ACTion for the Environment.

Tower Restoration On State's Tallest Point

Oct 1, 2014

South Dakota is celebrating 125 years of statehood. SDPB honors that milestone with stories that explore the state’s identity and heritage through unique ideas, people and places.

Harney Peak sits at the core of the Black Hills uplift and has likely been the highest point in the hills for millions of years.   For Lakota the peak is a sacred place.   White settlers named it for William S. General Harney.  The lookout tower on top of Harney Peak was completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1939.  

Before miners and tourists came to western South Dakota, paleontologists were in the area digging up fossil remains of vanished creatures. In 1843 part of an ancient mammal's fossilized jawbone was found in the Badlands and the published paper on the find first started attracting the interest of paleontologists to the area.