Black Hills

Little Spearfish Creek in the northern Black Hills of South Dakota. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Saarchlight)

West River lawmakers want state cash to prevent East River-level pollution in Black Hills waters

BY: - February 22, 2024

PIERRE – Water quality advocates want lawmakers to pump $5 million into the creation of a Black Hills watershed program that would prevent its streams from turning out as polluted as those in eastern South Dakota. House Bill 1235 came from Rep. Scott Odenbach, R-Spearfish, and Sen. Red Dawn Foster, D-Pine Ridge. Its impetus is […]

An aerial May 2023 view of the Open Cut, an un-reclaimed mining pit in Lead. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight, via EcoFlight)

South Dakota was tardy with a gold tax. Can it afford to sleep on lithium?

BY: - February 16, 2024

When lawmakers convened in Pierre during the depths of the Great Depression in 1935, they faced a vote on “possibly the most widely advertised and discussed piece of legislation that has ever been brought before the South Dakota Legislature.” That’s how proponents of a tax on gold mining described their bill. Gold was famously discovered […]

A yellow box shows the area where Solitario Resources plans to conduct exploratory drilling for gold above Spearfish Canyon. (Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service)

Forest Service issues draft approval of drilling plan above Spearfish Canyon, with restrictions

BY: - December 13, 2023

A federal agency has provisionally approved a company’s plan to conduct exploratory drilling for gold above Spearfish Canyon. The company is Colorado-based Solitario Resources. Project maps show some of the proposed drill sites are less than a mile back from the canyon rim in the Black Hills National Forest, about 15 miles southwest of Spearfish. […]

Pine trees in the Black Hills National Forest. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

New supervisor hired for Black Hills National Forest

BY: - November 15, 2023

The Black Hills National Forest will soon have a new supervisor, its sixth different leader this year and 11th in the past seven years. The new supervisor, who’s been hired to take the job on a permanent basis, is Shawn Cochran. He’ll start Jan. 14 after departing his job as supervisor of the Monongahela National […]

The California fivespined ips. (Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service)

State monitoring timber transport project to keep unwanted bugs out of Black Hills

BY: - October 30, 2023

A South Dakota forest expert is leading an effort to ensure invasive tree bugs are not hitching rides on trains from other parts of the country to the Black Hills.  The trains are transporting logs from forests in other states to Black Hills sawmills in need of timber. It’s a pilot project operated by the […]

Utility task vehicles, better known as UTVs or side-by-sides, in the Black Hills. (Courtesy of Black Hills National Forest)

Forest Service floats fee increase as latest response to Black Hills UTV surge

BY: - October 29, 2023

There was a time years ago when Travis Bies didn’t worry as much about cattle escaping his Black Hills pastures. “Every Monday, you had to be there and check your gates to make sure they were closed,” Bies said. “Now, I’ve had to hire a full-time person to be there every day.” That’s because so […]

Ruth Esperance, left, and her attorney, Daniel Gebhardt, in front of the federal courthouse in Rapid City. (Courtesy of Daniel Gebhardt/Solomon Law Firm)

Jury awards $400,000 in Black Hills National Forest gender discrimination case

BY: - September 25, 2023

A jury awarded $400,000 in damages Saturday to a former Black Hills National Forest district ranger in her discrimination case against the federal government. The verdict came after a week-long trial in federal court at Rapid City. The jury found in favor of Ruth Esperance’s claim that she suffered gender discrimination. The jury also found […]

The Black Hills National Forest Advisory Board, comprised of 16 representatives from an array of interest groups, meets in October 2022 at the forest's Mystic Ranger District office in Rapid City. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

New approach needed as Forest Service fumbles on Black Hills leadership

BY: - September 18, 2023

When I reported back in May that the Black Hills National Forest was on its eighth supervisor in seven years, I made it sound like that was a lot of turnover. Since then, there have been two more supervisors. That brings the tally to 10 in the past seven years, and five this year alone. […]

SDO Services, a subsidiary of Midwest Lithium, plans to conduct exploratory drilling for lithium within the area outlined in red. The green lines are the city limits of Hill City. (Courtesy of Rapid Map/Pennington County)

Lithium exploration planned near Hill City

BY: - August 15, 2023

A company looking for lithium in the Black Hills is planning another drilling project, this time near the southern edge of Hill City.  The company is SDO Services, the South Dakota subsidiary of Swiss-based Midwest Lithium. Michael Schlumpberger works in Rapid City as Midwest Lithium’s chief operating officer. The company’s previously announced drilling plan, at […]

A May 2023 aerial view of the Wharf Mine near Lead. (Courtesy of EcoFlight)

State board gives blessing to Black Hills gold mine expansion

BY: - July 20, 2023

The state Board of Minerals and Environment unanimously endorsed the expansion of the Coeur Wharf Resources mine, just north of Terry Peak and west of Lead, during its Thursday meeting in Pierre. The action is contingent on the later submission of surety bonds and conditions that the mining company address and mitigate a surface water […]

(South Dakota Searchlight map via Datawrapper)

Company looking for lithium in Black Hills plans to drill 2 miles from Rushmore

BY: - July 19, 2023

A company’s plan to conduct exploratory drilling for lithium in the vicinity of Mount Rushmore has sparked criticism from an environmental group. The company is Midwest Lithium. Its South Dakota subsidiary, SDO Services, plans to drill up to 55 holes in an area that was historically mined for lithium about 2 miles northwest of Keystone […]

A May 2023 aerial view of the former Gilt Edge Mine, an EPA Superfund cleanup site near Lead. (Courtesy of EcoFlight)

Cleanup of abandoned Black Hills mine on hold for potential re-mining

BY: - July 17, 2023

Aspects of a two-decade-long cleanup at an abandoned Black Hills gold mine are pausing because a company might want to re-mine it. The Gilt Edge Mine was abandoned in 1999 when its operator, Brohm Mining, went bankrupt. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took over the site the next year. The EPA’s Joy Jenkins, of Denver, […]