'S.D. Board Decision Endangers Bald Eagles And Archaeologic Sites' - Tribe Emphasizes Recycling
P. O. Box 2003
Rapid City, SD 57709
Phone: (605) 399 -1868
Submitted by Kathy Helms
Nov. 20, 2008 - Pierre, SD - A decision made by the South Dakota Board of Minerals and Environment ignored recommendations by the SD Game, Fish, and Parks Department [GF&P] to protect a bald eagle nest, and the SD Archaeologist to study five possible cultural resource sites in an area slated to become a uranium processing plant.
Even though the recommendations were given to the Board in an information packet from the SD Department of Environment and Natural Resources [DENR] at a hearing on Nov. 19, 2008, and Defenders of the Black Hills used the recommendations as a part of the grounds for denial of a permit to drill 30 more uranium exploratory wells, the Board granted the permit. Powertech (USA) Inc., a Canadian uranium mining company, wants to build a uranium processing plant on the site in question.
The GF&P letter dated Oct. 17, 2008, stated that the no exploration activity should be conducted on the land in question for 7 months per year, between Feb. 1 and Aug. 31, “to avoid disruption of bald eagle activity at the nest” and also a nearby redtail hawk nest. Defenders of the Black Hills further asked about compliance with other federal laws, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Bald and Gold Eagle Act which would protect the bald eagles. The Board did not respond.
Mike Fosha, the Assistant State Archaeologist for the SD State Historical Society who gave testimony at the hearing, also talked about several sites that still needed to be studied. In a letter dated Oct. 15, 2008, to the DENR, Fosha said “Before any recommendation on these sites can be made, a report outlining their avoidance or their archaeological potential from a cultural resources perspective must be reviewed by this office…Five sites have not been evaluated and require additional archaeological investigation before any recommendation can be made concerning their eligibility for nomination to the NRHP.” [National Register of Historic Places]
Defenders again stated that the Board of Minerals must deny the permit as the State Archaeologist did not have time to conduct a review or make a recommendation. Without such a review and recommendation, irreplaceable archaeological and historic sites could be destroyed. Defenders also questioned Powertech’s comments that a Cultural Resources evaluation was conducted as it did not state the date or who conducted the evaluation.
Gary Heckenliable, from ACTion for the Environment, had a statement presented which further questioned the financial viability of the Canadian company to reclaim the land after the mining operation ceases. Heckenliable asked the Board to consider the financial capabilities for a reclamation bond when Powertech’s shares are currently at 22 cents per share. His statement reminded the Board of their previous permit to Brohm Mining Company, another Canadian company, who mined gold and left an abandoned mine whose cleanup is now being paid by South Dakota taxpayers.
Garvard Good Plume Jr., in his individual testimony, quoted a study from the South Dakota School of Mines regarding the old abandoned uranium mines in the area contaminating ground water. He stated: “No more uranium exploratory wells should be drilled until all the aquifers are cleaned up, safe, and protected.”
According to state law, SDCL 45-6D-29., the Board may deny a permit for any of the following reasons:
(1) The application is incomplete or the surety has not been posted;
(2) The applicant has not paid the required fee;
(3) The adverse effects of the proposed uranium exploration operation on the historic, archaeologic, geologic, scientific, or recreational aspects of affected or surrounding land outweigh the benefits of the proposed uranium exploration operation;
(4) The proposed uranium exploration operation will result in the loss or reduction of long-range productivity of watershed lands, public and domestic water wells, aquifer recharge areas, or significant agricultural areas; or
(5) The proposed uranium exploration operation will adversely affect threatened or endangered wildlife indigenous to the area.
The next step in the process is an appeal of the Board of Minerals decision in state court.
For more information call Charmaine White Face, Coordinator at 605-399-1868.
TRIBE EMPHASIZES RECYCLING
Submitted by Native Workplace
BY PATRICIA ECKER
Sun Staff Writer
In an effort to minimize their impact on landfills, members of the Planning Department of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe have asked the Tribal Operations departments to stop using plastic foam cups.
During a community health fair in October, Craig Graveratte, environmental response program specialist for the Tribe, asked employees to sign a pledge that they would no longer use the disposable cups.
"Right now, we're educating the departments that we missed when we started the recycling effort three years ago," Graveratte said. "We handed out the old style mugs, that were ceramic, and the departments we missed have been given glass mugs.
"It originally began when we did it for Mother Earth week."
Graveratte said Tribal Operations and the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort have had a recycling program for about four years.
"The casino and resort were using more that a million cups a year," Graveratte said. "Some departments, like table games, take four or five breaks a day."
(The casino and resort) were using 20,000 styrofoam cups a week. They now provide reusable plastic cups and coffee mugs for employees.
"In 2005, the Tribe started recycling at the annual powwow.
"The Tribal community has curbside pick up by Isabella County Recycling Center," Graveratte said. "We are trying to encourage recycling, and we would like to create a compost somewhere."
In 2007, the Tribe was selected by the Michigan Recycling Coalition, as an outstanding recycling program.
"The Tribe implemented a phased approach to recycling at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Aug. 2004," Environmental Specialist Sally Kniffen said. "Under the watchful eyes of Craig Graveratte, over 259 tons of cardboard and paper was diverted from local landfills in 2005.
"In June of 2005, phase two of the recycling plan was implemented to include glass, plastic and aluminum," she said.
This saved 18 additional tons of trash from going into landfills.
"In phase three, the food and beverage department declared a ban on foam cups in the employee dining room," Kniffen said.
Graveratte said he recently received an e-mail from Hunter Genia, administrator for the Tribe's Behavioral Health Department.
"He said that they have stopped ordering bottled water, and they are confident in using the municipal water the Tribe provides," Graveratte said.
"We encourage people to use the municipal water.”
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