What do you love most about living in South Dakota?
Almost everybody I know would put easy access to the Black Hills at the top of that list. For me, the fact that I can paddle-board on Pactola on a summer evening after work tops the list. How lucky are we?
The Hills are a place of rest, adventure, spiritual groundedness, and fun for so many of us. So why don't we talk more about protecting them?
I recently wrote about how our state leaders could protect Pactola Reservoir if they had the political will. You can read that article in the South Dakota Standard here, or I've copied the text at the bottom of this email.
The research that I did preparing that essay confirmed what some of you already know: protecting the Black Hills is an extremely complicated endeavor - not least because it involves federal, state, county and tribal governments. I have a lot to learn about this topic, and I'm up for the challenge.
What I do know is that the Black Hills, and all of the natural resources we treasure in South Dakota, aren't going to protect themselves. Our population is growing, and so our water supplies will be strained. The US is looking for domestic sources of lithium, nickel and cobalt to make batteries, and companies are already exploring the Hills for these minerals.
I'm not totally opposed to all resource extraction in the Black Hills. But I believe it should be done with extreme caution, and overseen by leaders whose top priority is conserving our land and water for future generations. Our current state leaders seem to be willing to give a green-light to most mineral extraction without much thought of the environmental damage it might cause.
I appreciate your consideration of this issue, and your patience as I learn more. I'm thankful for your support of this campaign. Together, we will bring South Dakota back to the moderate middle ground.
I grew up knowing that the Black Hills are sacred to the Oceti Sakowin (the seven tribes of the Great Sioux Nation), but I only recently learned more about this significance. I recommend the
Heart of All Oral History Project podcast and the book "Zuya - Life's Journey" by Albert White Hat Senior if you want to learn more. (The Heart of All podcast is also a great testament to the abilities of young people and the power of public schools.)