The Lawrence County Commission is seeking to update its comprehensive plan with the help of the Black Hills Council of Local Governments, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. Lawrence County’s last comprehensive plan was completed in 2005 based on information from 1997, according to Lawrence County Commissioner Brandon Flanagan.
Commissioners hope to place emphasis on resident engagement in this iteration of comprehensive planning. Ali DeMersseman, with the Black Hills Council of Local Governments, stated that involving residents is a key aspect of the process used by her organization. Community engagement for such a document includes surveys and stakeholder meetings.
Other areas of concern commissioners hoped to include in the upcoming document were retail trade information, the Highway 85 corridor, and taking comprehensive plans from cities within the county into consideration. The county hopes to begin the planning process in late 2019 with a completion time 12-18 months thereafter.
To read more news from Lawrence County, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
The U.S. Forest Service recently issued its 2017 Forest Health Survey for the Black Hills National Forest, reports KOTA News. Aerial surveys indicated that approximately 2,900 acres were impacted by mountain pine beetles last year—a slight uptick from 2,500 in 2016. However, as the species is native to the region some trees will continue to perish each year which is a natural process for the region.
Forest Service officials found it difficult to locate pine beedle brood at their five survey locations. The officials credited management practices such as thinning and sanitation with the reduction in mountain pine beetles.
To learn more about pine beetles, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
In 2017, the Western South Dakota Juvenile Services Center handled 51 cases of minors using methamphetamine, reports KOTA News. The center serves Butte, Custer, Fall River, Lawrence and Harding Counties. 2017 marks a substantial increase from 34 cases handled in 2015.
Western South Dakota Juvenile Services Center partners with Regional West for short-term treatment programs. However, Butte County State’s Attorney Cassie Wendt noted a need for long-term programs in western South Dakota, as the only program currently available is in Yankton. The great distance makes it difficult to transport clients and impedes potential support from friends and family members of those seeking treatment.
For more information on children and youth, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
Adult fees for bus tours of the Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood will be increasing from $1 to $2 this year, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. A fee increase was previously implemented for Mt. Moriah visitors who chose to visit the cemetery by foot in 2016. While the fee for adults is increasing by $1, children under the age of 13 can still tour Mt. Moriah for free. Although the fee increase was approved last year, it was not officially implemented until January 1, 2018.
Several tour bus companies expressed their disapproval of the fee increase. In anticipation of the fee increase, Boot Hill Tours increased their 2017 rates and received pushback from customers as a result. Alkali Ike Tours noted that their bottom line would be impacted by the rate hike, and suggested charging children under 13 $1 to take the tour in order for the city to raise more revenue. While alternative rate hikes were suggested during the city commission meeting, the original increase of $1 per adult remained, with Commissioner Gary Todd noting the additional revenue would be used to maintain the cemetery.
To read more news from Deadwood, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
The Keystone Wye Bridges on Highway 16 will soon receive an inspection by Stantec and Wood Research Development, reports KOTA News. The bridges will stay open during the inspection but lanes will be adjusted during daylight hours.
WRD will look for signs of decay using stress wave timing. The South Dakota Department of Transportation aims to prolong the service life of the bridges and must have a better understanding of their current conditions in order to do so.
For more information on Keystone, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.
On March 3, 1925, Congress passed legislation which granted authorization of the carving of Mount Rushmore. A similar state bill was passed in the South Dakota Legislature and signed by Governor Gunderson just two days there after. The legislation, known as the Mount Harney National Memorial bill, had been twice defeated before its narrow passage.
Gutzon Borglum had selected the location in the Black Hills as he felt its dimensions suited the scope of his project. However, the original idea for such a monument came from Doane Robinson, then the State Historian for South Dakota. Robinson had preferred carvings of heroic figures of the west, including Lewis and Clark, Sacagawea, or Buffalo Bill Cody. When Robinson invited Borglum to South Dakota to explore the idea, Borglum instead insisted that the carvings should be a “national monument commemorating America’s founders and builders.”
Shortly after Congress authorized Mt. Rushmore’s carving, the Mount Harney Memorial Association was established to raise funds for the project. The association also selected the monument’s figures—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln—as they best represented the expansion and preservation of the United States. Carving on the memorial would begin in 1927 alongside a formal dedication by President Coolidge on August 10 of that year.
On February 10, 1890, President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation affirming the March 2, 1889 Act passed by the United States Congress which reduced the Great Sioux Reservation by 9.2 million acres. The president’s affirmation also created the boundaries of the Cheyenne River, Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Standing Rock reservations.
The creation of the aforementioned reservations followed two additional and substantial land transactions. A Congressional Act passed on February 28, 1877 diminished the Great Sioux Reservation—which was established through the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty—from its original 60 million acres to approximately 22 million acres. In the passage of 30 years, the Lakota and Dakota tribes retained only 18.3% of the lands allocated to them through treaties and Acts of of Congress. Approximately 9 million acres outside of the reservation boundaries were then opened up for public purchase and homesteading.
In addition to noting the boundaries of each of the newly established reservations, President Harrison’s proclamation issued a warning to individuals who planned to settle upon the reservation lands. Individuals were also warned against “interfering with the occupancy” by tribal members on tribal lands. However, the proclamation did not prescribe any consequences for individuals who chose to violate these provisions.
Lakota and Dakota people have long disputed how the federal government opened treaty land to settlement, especially in the Black Hills region. The earliest cases against the government were brought up in the 1920s and continued until 1980, when the issue bubbled up to the U.S. Supreme Court. In United States vs. Sioux Nation of Indians, the Court ruled that the government had not adequately compensated the Lakota people in exchange for the land it had taken. The Court offered the value of the land in 1877 as well as 5% interest each year thereafter. A full return of the land instead of a monetary settlement was not offered.
Spearfish set a new record for building valuations in 2017 at $52 million, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. The previous record was set in 2014 at $49 million.
Commercial as well as residential building projects contributed to last year’s valuation. For residential permits, 79 new buildings as well as 21 manufactured homes were valued at $24,348,948. Several new commercial properties, including one currently under construction on Main Street and Jackson Boulevard, were valued at $14,952,317. Over 60 commercial alterations and additions were valued at $8,312,103.
To read more news from Spearfish, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
The U.S. Senate recently passed legislation that will add approximately 200 acres to the Black Hills National Cemetery, reports the Rapid City Journal. The land is currently held by the Bureau of Land Management.
Established in 1948, the cemetery occupies 107 acres of land. The 200 ares to be transferred is located northwest of the cemetery and is largely barren. Approximately 28,600 veterans from South Dakota and surrounding states have been buried in the cemetery.
Companion legislation was introduced and passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Kristi Noem last year. The legislation must be signed by President Trump before it is enacted into law.
To learn more about veterans affairs in the Black Hills region, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
The Legion Lake Fire in Custer State Park is now the third largest wildfire in the Black Hills, according to the Rapid City Journal and Black Hills National Forest records. Wildfire records for the area began in 1910.
The Legion Lake Fire began on December 11 and grew from 4,000 acres on December 12 to 35,000 acres by the morning of December 13 due to winds that swept across the region. By December 14, the fire had gone across 47,500 acres and was 10 percent contained.
The largest recorded fire in Black Hills was the Jasper Fire, located west of Custer, SD. The fire blazed across 83,510 acres in the year 2000. The second largest fire was Oil Creek Fire in 2012, occurring northwest of Newcastle, Wyoming.
To read more about wildfires in the Black Hills region, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
On December 1, 1945, Rapid City businessman Paul Bellamy traveled to London to lobby the United Nations preparatory committee to select the Black Hills as the organization’s world headquarters.If chosen, the international body’s headquarters would have been located in the valley that now holds Reptile Gardens.
Bellamy met with numerous foreign representatives to convince them that Rapid City and the Black Hills would be the best choice for the new UN Headquarters, touting the region as a region as a “tavern-free, prostitute-free, and tax-free” location without “big city problems.” Bellamy also noted the region’s central location within the United States as well as its abundance of building stone. Thanks to Bellamy’s efforts, Rapid City was one of five finalist locations in the United States.
Of course, in the end, the Black Hills were ultimately not the chosen location. The Rockerfeller family won out the bid and donated a parcel of land in New York City, which is the location of the UN headquarters today.
June 16 was later named United Nations and Reptile Gardens Location Remembrance Day by Rapid City Mayor Sam Kookier, commemorating Rapid City’s near-successful bid for the United Nations’ Headquarters in the 1940s, according to the Rapid City Journal.
Read more about Bellamy's United Nations' site bid on the Black Hills Knowledge Network historical archives.
Against all odds, a 78-foot-high Black Hills spruce tree arrived in Washington D.C. on November 28, 1970 to serve as the White House Christmas tree during the Richard Nixon administration. The tree was decorated with blue, yellow and green bulbs and featured a wire, tear-drop-shapped top ornament.
On its way to Washington, the tree had more than its fair share of difficulties. Not only did the train transporting the tree derail twice, but the tree had also been toppled over by gusting winds just days before the tree lighting ceremony. Several new branches were attached to the tree in order to fill out the gaps left by the damaged branches.
The tree’s troubles did not end once it reached the White House, however. Electrical sockets connected to the lights on the tree had been coated with liquid fireproofing spray, which caused the lower bulbs on the tree to explode.
The White House has put up a Christmas Tree since 1889. The First Christmas tree was placed in the Yellow Oval Room by the Benjamin Harrison administration. During Herbert Hoover’s presidency, First Lady Lou Henry Hoover started the custom of placing the “official” Christmas Tree in the Blue Room. Spruce trees have been the most popular White House Christmas trees, with a total of 48 used in Blue Room since 1961.
Physicians working in emergency rooms throughout the Black Hills have noted an increase in emergency visits as a result of illicit and illegal drug use, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. Methamphetamine, heroin and synthetic marijuana are among the most common drug overdoses seen in emergency rooms in the region. Some physicians have also seen heroin laced fentanyl, a powerful drug commonly used to abate pain following surgery.
Although methamphetamine still comprises a large number of drug-related hospital visits, area physicians indicated that more individuals are using heroin due to its affordability. The number of teenage patients admitted for drug overdoses has also risen in recent years.
To read more news about health and wellness in the Black Hills region, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
After nearly three years of work by a variety of groups, Sheridan Lake and its dam were officially dedicated for use by the public on October 20, 1940. Approximately 5,000 people attended the dedication ceremony.
Like nearby Pactola Lake, Sheridan was also flooded to become a lake after the fall of mining in the area. Once known as “The Golden City,” Sheridan was established in 1875 alongside the rush for gold. Numerous miners resided in Sheridan, which boasted several saloons, storefronts and churches. Sheridan was even the county seat for Pennington County for three years from 1875-1878. However, mining in the town eventually subsided as prospectors moved their endeavors toward Deadwood and Lead. By 1920, there were only ten residents of Sheridan.
Construction on the Sheridan Dam began on August 15, 1938 and was completed on November 1, 1940. Congressmen Theodore B. Werner and Francis Case helped draw media attention to the project between 1936 and 1937. Much of the construction of the dam was completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps and the WOrks Progress Administration.
Sheridan Lake was constructed to cover approximately 380 acres with seven miles of shoreline and an average depth of 35 feet. The dam itself is 126 feet high and 850 feet wide.
Just three years ago on September 11, 2014, Rapid City received its earliest snowfall since weather records in the region began in 1888. Prior to the September 2014 storm, the earliest snowfall was on September 13, 1970 when a scant seven-tenths of an inch was recorded in Rapid City.
While such an early winter storm is unusual for Rapid City, such an occurrence is more likely in the Black Hills. The 2014 storm dropped approximately eight inches of snow in Custer. Mount Rushmore reported seven inches of snow while Sundance, Wyoming also received a fair share with 4 recorded inches. Rapid City fared better than the surrounding area and escaped with a mere 1.6 inches of snow.
Residents of the Black Hills are more than accustomed to strange weather trends. While a large amount of snow fell in the hills, relatively few areas required plowing due to fast melt times. Rapid City schools didn’t miss a beat and normal hours were held. In Hill City—which received five inches of snow—the 1880 train operated on its traditional schedule albeit with a chainsaw aboard in the event the train encountered any downed trees across the tracks.
To read more about Rapid City, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.
In August 1924, South Dakota Department of History Superintendent Doane Robinson invited Gutzon Borglum to the Black Hills to discuss a “heroic sculpture of unusual character.” In a letter to Borglum, Robinson indicated that there were a wide variety of opportunities for large sculptures in the vicinity of present-day Black Elk Peak in Custer State Park.
It didn’t take Borglum long to respond to Robinson’s request. In his response, Borglum told Robinson that he was ahead of schedule in his current work in the South and would travel to the Black Hills in September.
Holding true to his word, Borglum toured Custer State Park where he climbed what was then known as Harney Peak and stayed the night at Sylvan Lake. His initial visit brought widespread attention to the idea of creating enormous sculptures in the Black Hills. Borglum visited the Black Hills again in 1925 when he discovered Mount Rushmore. From that point on, Robinson played an instrumental role in ensuring that Borglum’s vision for the mountain became a reality.
To learn more about Mount Rushmore, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s digital history archive. The South Dakota State Historical Society hosts an extensive collection of Doane Robinson’s correspondence and manuscripts on their website.
The Mystic Ranger District Office, located at 8221 Mount Rushmore Road in Rapid City will remain open ahead of a fee increase slated for the Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass, according to KOTA News. The Senior Lifetime Pass is set to increase from $10 to $80 after August 27th.
The Mystic Office will remain open this weekend from 9-3pm for those interested in purchasing the senior passes for $10 ahead of the increase. The price of the pass is increasing as the U.S. Congress approved the National Park Service Centennial Act last December, which increases fees in order to improve visitor experiences in national parks as well as providing more opportunities for volunteers.
To read more about issues related to the environment and conservation, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
Once thought to be extinct, the discovery of a small colony of black-footed ferrets in Wyoming allowed the species to be repopulated and reintroduced across the country. On August 18th, 1994, the species made its grand re-entry into Badlands National Park.
Reduction in the prairie dog population was a large contributing factor for the demise of the black-footed ferret. Black-footed ferrets are heavily reliant on prairie dogs for their survival—the ferrets prey upon prairie dogs and also use their burrows as shelter. When prairie dogs were ravaged by excessive plowing of the plains, disease and poisoning, black-footed ferrets fell victim as well.
A small colony of black-footed ferrets were discovered in Meeteetse, Wyoming in 1981 by a ranch dog. Eight of those ferrets were captured and successfully bred in captivity. The original colony also helped to reintroduce over 1,000 ferrets across 19 sites in the west, including Badlands National Park.
In the Conata Basin—just south of Badlands National Park—a bout of sylvatic plague decimated both the prairie dog and ferret populations in 2008. The disease killed approximately 100 of the 290 ferrets in the basin, as well as nearly all of the prairie dogs. While much work remains to be done to ensure the health and proliferation of the black-footed ferret, numerous efforts are currently in place to protect the population well into the future.
To read more about environment and conservation issues in the Black Hills, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
The Rapid City Public Works Committee discussed waiving requirements by the developer for a plot of land, reports the Rapid City Journal. The Rapid City Area Schools requested the waiver to forgo building a sidewalk before transferring the land to the City of Rapid City. The lot is a drainage lot complete with a detention pond that will not be granted a building permit according to Dale Tech, Public Works Director.
The request for variance was denied by the committee, but will go to a formal vote at the Rapid City Council meeting on August 21st. The lot will cost the city money in the long run once acquired.
Fewer South Dakotans are requesting concealed carry permits, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. According to the South Dakota Secretary of State’s office, while there were 5,833 applications for concealed carry permits in February 2017, there were just 1,331 in July. As of July 2017, there was a combined total of over 95,000 concealed pistol permits, enhanced permits, and Gold Cards.
An enhanced permit allows the gun owner to also carry in five reciprocating states and requires classroom and gun range training. Traditional concealed carry permits are valid for five years.
To read more about government and citizenship issues, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.