Visitors drive into Badlands National Park on Oct. 1, 2013, near Wall. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

How a looming government shutdown could hit national parks

BY: - September 26, 2023

National parks and nearby communities could forgo millions of dollars per day during a partial government shutdown that could start this weekend. Would-be visitors will likely see restrictions on park access, though the extent of those restrictions was still unclear just days before a potential lapse in federal appropriations set to begin Sunday. Parks would […]

Mike Hamsa, a fishing guide from Yutan, Nebraska, holds a walleye he caught while fishing on Lewis and Clark Lake State Recreation Area in Knox County. (Eric Fowler/NEBRASKAland Magazine, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission)

Biologists search for clues on why fish population has declined in Lewis & Clark Lake after 2011 flood

BY: - July 11, 2023

LINCOLN, Nebraska — Nebraska and South Dakota fisheries biologists are studying why fish populations have declined in popular Lewis & Clark Lake since the flooding of 2011. Populations of emerald shiners — the primary forage fish in the Missouri River reservoir — haven’t recovered, and neither have walleye, despite more than 100 million fry and […]

View of the Black Hills from Black Elk Peak trail. (Makenzie Huber, South Dakota Searchlight)

Recreational rock climbing on federal lands would be regulated under bill in Congress

BY: - June 27, 2023

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan bill that would establish standards for recreational rock climbing on federal lands is one step closer to becoming law. The Protecting America’s Rock Climbing Act was approved by the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources in late June, giving a boost to the millions of climbing advocates working to safeguard the […]

A volunteer from the town of Interior rescues a dog in the Badlands in 2019. (Courtesy of Interior Fire Department)

Solutions needed as societal changes strain wilderness rescue teams

BY: - June 20, 2023

When I was leading groups into the Wyoming wilderness in the 1990s, once we left a trailhead we were on own. If somebody got hurt, we could walk or carry the injured person out or send runners to the road to call for support. In the case of a life- or limb-threatening emergency, we could […]

Gov. Kristi Noem testifies June 15, 2023, to the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources in Washington, D.C. (Committee livestream)

At congressional hearing, Noem calls conservation leases ‘dangerous’

BY: - June 15, 2023

U.S. House Republicans and GOP Govs. Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Mark Gordon of Wyoming teamed up Thursday to rail against the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed rule to allow conservation leases on federal lands. Noem and Gordon joined the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee for about half of a 4 1/2 hour hearing […]

Bear Butte, as seen in 2020 from a vantage point within the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Fort Meade Recreation Area near Sturgis. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

Public Lands Rule would benefit wildlife and sporting traditions

BY: - June 14, 2023

As a sportsman who enjoys getting out on public lands and waters, I was heartened when the U.S. Bureau of Land Management recently released a proposed Public Lands Rule that elevates conservation as one of the multiple uses on federal land. Not surprising, however, was South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s decision to fly off to […]

A climber at The Grotto, a popular rock-climbing area in California. (Casey Batchelder/Bureau of Reclamation, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

Wilderness areas need restraint, not climbing hardware

BY: - June 12, 2023

We humans want the most out of life, so why shouldn’t we push to get more of what we want?  That’s what some rock climbers must be thinking. They want to enter designated wilderness areas in order to drill permanent anchors into wilderness rock faces, turning these wild places into sport-climbing walls.  When the Wilderness […]

A human-made beaver dam in the Black Hills National Forest, which the Forest Service calls a “beaver dam analog.” (Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service)

Leave it to beavers to help restore streams in the Black Hills

BY: - June 11, 2023

Beavers may not realize it, but they’re at the heart of a project in the Black Hills National Forest to restore areas adjacent to creeks.  These spaces, called riparian zones, are crucial in maintaining water quality, preventing erosion, regulating water flow and providing habitat for aquatic and land animals.  Black Hills National Forest officials say […]

A portion of the Big Hole River area in Montana managed by the Bureau of Land Management. (Bob Wick/Bureau of Land Management, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Western lands fight erupts over Bureau of Land Management’s conservation proposal

BY: - May 29, 2023

One thing opponents and proponents of a recently proposed U.S. Bureau of Land Management rule agree on: It would be a major shift in how the agency manages nearly 250 million acres of federal lands. The rule would allow for conservation leases, similar to how the agency auctions off parcels of land for mining, livestock […]

Prairie potholes in the Upper Midwest. (Courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)

Feds propose drainage rules to protect wetlands in SD and nearby states

BY: - May 26, 2023

A government agency wants to keep water-draining equipment used by farmers away from federally protected wetlands in several states. Drain tiles are underground perforated pipes buried in farmers’ fields. They are used to drain unwanted water – including some wetlands – allowing for more room to plant crops. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is […]

Ducks become flashpoint in growing debate over resident vs. nonresident hunting

BY: - May 24, 2023

HECLA — Alex Russo never intended to start a hunting lodge and guiding service. But he was honorably discharged from the Marines about a decade ago after serving overseas and suffering knee and back injuries. “Honestly, what I want to be doing is over there, serving with my brothers,” Russo said.  Russo always had a […]

A South Dakota hunter walks the tall grass with his dog.

Commission approves more out-of-state duck hunting licenses, despite opposition

BY: - May 4, 2023

Some South Dakota duck hunters are upset over the Game, Fish and Parks Commission’s Thursday decision to increase the number of duck hunting licenses available to hunters from outside the state.  The approved proposal allows for 100 more nonresident licenses, to be used on private land only, in two areas of the northeastern corner of […]