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From: Nancy Hilding n.hilding@icloud.

Subject: Please Oppose SB 175 - a bill to partially fund the proposed Shooting Complex of GFP, at Elk Vale Rd near Elk Creek in
Meade County.
Date: March 6, 2022 at 7:24 PM
Kirk Chaffee,,,,,, Phil Jensen,,,,, Taffy Howard,,,,

Nancy Hilding
Prairie Hills Audubon Society
P.O. Box 788
Black Hawk, SD 57718
March 6th, 2022

To Members of the House,

Please Oppose SB 175 - a bill to partially fund the proposed Shooting Complex of GFP,at Elk Vale Rd
near Elk Creek in Meade County.

Short summary of our position:


We believe this state funding is premature. This is a controversial project involving a toxic pollutant (lead), lots
of adverse impacts to neighbors and adverse costs to Meade County not balanced by revenue enhancement
for the County. Like with the GFP wanting funding of new camp sites at Custer State Park -- the GFP needs
to finish its' public outreach and the public needs to see and understand the mitigations proposed, before
public money is allocated.

To help pay for this project, Game Fish and Parks (GFP) is asking for a grant from the United States Fish
and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Shooting ranges have lots of environmental impacts, including the risk of lead
pollution. USFWS won’t fund shooting ranges without National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review.
GFP has written a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) under the direction of the USFWS. This has been
released - as of Friday 2/18/2022 with a comment deadline 30 days later of 3/20/2022. A draft EA is
published on this web site:

This draft EA (written by GFP) is woefully inadequate and doesn’t comply with the requirements of NEPA
and does not identify all potential adverse impacts nor address all the publicly stated concerns, nor does it
adequately explore mitigations or alternatives. Discussion of the periodic reclamation of lead on the property
is just a sentence.

We don’t want any special state funding for the project happening before the NEPA document required by the
USFWS reviewed by all. After the 30 day public comment period, the public comments have to be responded
to. The USFWS will either remain satisfied with the final Environmental Assessment (EA) GFP will have
written and follow it with a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) or if after reading public comments, they
decide that a FONSI is unjustified, then an additional Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be ordered,
followed by a Record of Decision (ROD). This NEPA process is not finished. EISs can take a year to do.
Arguments about the EA's or EIS's’ adequacy and compliance with NEPA could occur in Federal Court.

Remember the USFWS could request more mitigation and increase the cost. The USFWS would stipulate to
GFP complying with its’ mitigations in a contract/agreement with GFP, and the grant withdrawn if GFP doesn’t
follow through.

We have concerns about the site location not being consistent with the EPA's Best Management Practices of
We have concerns about the site location not being consistent with the EPA's Best Management Practices of
lead at outdoor shooting ranges. We believe SDGFP made an unwise choice of location from the view of lead
management, especially after it added the north unit to the plan. We believe extensive & costly mitigations
will be needed. The environment and the finances of the state and GFP would be better off if the shooting
range near Rapid City were placed at a different and much flatter location. The SD National Guard failed to
rescue GFP from its’ unwise choices by agreeing to do (for free) the very expensive the dirt work that will be

We quote that EPA document at page II-5:

"The most important site selection criteria to consider when selecting a new range
location include: topography; surface water flow patterns; and depth to groundwater. If
possible, ranges should be developed on flat terrain, as it facilitates reclamation and reduces
the chance of off-site migration due to surface water runoff as compared with highly sloped
terrain. When considering a prospective location for a range, ask yourself: What is the direction of
surface water runoff? Does the site drain to surface water (e.g., streams, rivers) on-site?
Off-site? Can the range design be modified to minimize potential runoff? Is reclamation
equipment accessible to the area to clean the range?” (Emphasis added).


Apparently SD GFP has been telling legislators it will build the shooting range irrespective of whether the
legislature gives the project money or not. This was one of the reasons, House Appropriations killed the bill -
the belief that GFP doesn’t need help from the general fund. GFP finding funds without the legislature may
take more time, but as we argue above, this project is not yet ready to be funded or built. They can ask you
again next year, after they have gotten all their approvals, section line relocation, Meade County buy-in &
permits, if they actually get them.



Game, Fish and Parks has been unable to fund raise enough donations or grants to pay for building the
range and are asking the 2022 legislature for 2.5 million to fund the project and the authorization to take an
additional 2.5 million from their internal budget to fund the project. We have heard a total cost estimate of
11-12 million dollars.
The EPA recommends flat areas for shooting ranges but this is a very hilly and rugged site, especially at the
north unit, much of which is in a valley between two ridge systems. We assume major land sculpting & storm
water redirection and containment and has to happen. All that dirt moving will be very very expensive. What
other GFP projects for Wildlife or Parks Divisions could be afforded if a site, that better conformed with EPAs
location guidance, had been selected?

EPA and DANR normally only regulate shooting ranges at closure, or during construction for commercial
storm water runoff. However given all the earth re-sculpting, water containment ponds, water redirecting that
will happen, GFP could be creating point sources and needing NPDES permits. Will the project adequately
protect the water qualify in Elk Creek downstream and any people drinking from shallow wells along the
Creek? Will downstream children be poisoned by lead and does SD DANR have enough monitoring planned
to protect them. As far as we can tell no base line monitoring of soil, surface and ground water, air quality and
sound scape has been done and none is planned for the future.

Some times proponents say that “the law won’t permit lead to leave the site”. This is untrue. In this area Elk
Creek and Antelope Creek are not monitored for compliance with water quality standards. Neither are the
ponds on the property and immediately adjacent to or transected by the property boundaries. No ambient air
anywhere in SD is monitored for lead. Lead would only be forbidden to be released into the water, if the local
water already exceeded the state’s lead standard, but local water is not monitored by DANR, so DARN has
no idea if the lead levels currently exceed standards. Same with air quality. Long term costs of monitoring by
DANR need to be factored in. What monitoring does GFP think it will be required to done - will USFWS
agree? Has GFP included DANR's long term monitoring costs in their estimate?

EPA provides guidance in its’ BMP - but that is guidance & not enforceable. Another consideration for the SD
Legislature would be to be give authority to the Dept of Agriculture and Natural Resources (used to be DENR)
to regulate the location, construction and operation of shooting ranges, for lead management concerns during
operation (DANR & EPA don’t appear to have that power now). Other considerations would be for DANR to
operation (DANR & EPA don’t appear to have that power now). Other considerations would be for DANR to
designate this as an industrial site, due to regular mining (reclamation) of lead and require an industrial storm
water permit, or examine water quality law, to see if with all the earth moving and drainage manipulations
GFP will create point source(s) and thus NPDES permit(s) will be needed.

Proponents may be saying GFP has worked out issues with Meade County Commission. To our knowledge
GFP has made some offers for mitigations for some of the County’s concerns and the County is listening, but
no agreements have been made. We believe Meade County wants 3 miles of road paved, which GFP has
not agreed to do. The County has not agreed to relocate the section line to a proposed new location south of
the project, on the edge of a pond/wetlands and thus in mud. Does SDGFP 10-11 million estimate include the
cost of paving 3 miles of gravel road?

Map of proposed GFP shooting range, it is off Elk Vale Road north of Elk Creek

Some SD based hyper-links about the project:

SDGFP Commission's Resolution about land purchase using South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation
as a temporary intermediary to hold the land, can be found at link (The range will be in Meade not
Pennington County).
This resolution was adopted in Jan 2021 after about a 30 minute presentation to the Commission.
It commits the Commission to buying the property from the Foundation at a fixed cost for property - that was
not yet appraised and for a site not yet reviewed by the public. The appraisal was less than what they
promised to pay. They paid 2,220 per acre and we heard it was appraised at 1,400 per acre. This action
violated at least 4 sections of the SDGFP Land Acquisition Priorities and Guidance - link to that document.

GFP sheet about firing range:$file/RapidCityFirearmRange_On$file/RapidCityFirearmRange_On

Plans/Drawings of proposed Range:$file/RapidCityFirearmRange_01.

Meade County Map showing area's land parcels:$file/Rapid City Range

Nationwide links:

Fact sheet on Lead Pollution at Outdoor Firing Ranges:

EPA’s Best Management Practices (BMP) For Lead at Outdoor Shooting Ranges, EPA-902-B-01-001, 2005

Environmental issues associated with the shooting range will include:

1) Lead contamination from bullets with impacts to ponds/creeks and ground water in area - this is a pollution
risk to fish, waterfowl and people. Do folks living along Elk Creek have wells into a water table that is
influenced by Elk Creek?
2) Noise of gun fire from hundreds of shooting positions,
3) Disturbance to waterfowl wildlife, livestock and homes/ranches from noise and activity of people.
Whooping crane, a federally endangered species, have been seen on the pond just to the south of the
4) Bullets traveling to neighboring lands, including over areas with slopes, with possible impacts to livestock,
5.) Fire risk,
6) Impacts of traffic to about 3 miles of dirt road resulting in noise, dust and wear and tear and cost of
maintenance to Meade
county. Will GFP pay to finish paving Elk Vale Rd, as the County requests?
7) Supervision of the property and law enforcement costs - What new security costs will be assumed by
Meade County vs. GFP?

There are several ponds/impoundments on or near edges of the property & one has some wetlands
associated with it. The range's south boundary intersects a pond on an unnamed tributary of Elk Creek. That
pond/wetland is immediately to the south of the property and has excellent birding and has an associated
fresh water emergent wetland. It is man-made pond, improved via the Partners For Fish and Wildlife
Program. The pond improvement project was funded by federal 1121 funds & SDGF&P back in 2010 the 10
year agreement with a previous landowner ended in 2020. Waterfowl will be disturbed and fish and waterfowl
potentially poisoned with lead. There is one smaller pond located fully on the proposed Range - we have
heard GFP may intend to flatten that pond. There are intermittent streams running along the valley bottoms
right next to the shooting bays. It is established in case law, that shooting clay targets with shotguns over
WOTUS (waters of the US) , creates a point source and thus mandates NPDES permitting. This range will
also be about 2.5 miles from Sevey Lake, another popular birding spot located to the SW.

GFP won’t have access to all or parts of the edge/boundary ponds, as they are on private land - if lead gets
in them how does GFP monitor or dredge them? The proposed shooting range is divided between Elk and
Antelope Creek drainage basins, with at least most of the northeast-end of range draining to Antelope Creek
and the south-end will be draining to Elk Creek. As the crow flies the range is closest to Elk Creek, but as
water flows toward the two drainages, it is closer to Antelope Creek.

In the pink map below, the shooting range's south boundary crosses the heart shaped pond just east of Elk
Vale Rd (section 3) , that sits on a tributary that flows southeast to Elk Creek - merging in several miles. It's
north boundary is near the slight bend in Elk Vale Rd at a mile and a quarter above that pond. The slight bend
in road is on the ridge top. The property is a half mile wide and a mile and a quarter tall.
A public notice about the National Guard helping with construction of the project says: "This project can’t be
completed in it’s entirety without assistance from the National Guard” We question if the 11 or 12 million
dollar cost estimate includes the cost of the National Guard's time and resources. The National Guard said
- NO. We wonder if GFPs wanted the Guard to be doing the earth moving needed to create multiple terraces
and berms in the valley in the rugged northern part. (Likely 17 terraces with tall ridge rising above terraces)

The topography at the north end is much more hilly, with the north entrance at a ridge top. The smaller
shooting bays in the north, are in a descending valley. The whole property is descending from the ridge in the
north towards 2 ponds (one above Antelope Creek and one above Elk Creek). This site does not meet the
EPA’s guidance for siting shooting ranges: the EPA wants them on flat sites. Soil has clay in it. It is harder for
reclamation machines to recover lead from clay soil - water may be needed for rinsing when recovering lead
from clay soils. The reclamation machines need flat surfaces.

Here is a map from the National Wetlands Inventory that shows water flow on the property and ponds. It
shows the complex topography.
Here is another excerpt of a contour map from the USGS


See range design below. Each of the smaller shooting bays may have 5 -10 shooting lanes/each. There are
29 such bays, 12 are in the south . The 200-400 ft bays may have 20 shooting position/each, 2 are in the
south unit. The extra long bays may have 40 positions and are in the south unit. The shooting clays have 12
positions/each. The south-end range may be used for local shooters. The south unit has 180 shooting
positions (180 people can be shooting at one time). The north-end range may be used for competitions or
training activities and most bays are called “action bays” without assigned lanes. It has 17 of those. The
sporting clay unit has 12 shooting positions. .

Decibels from each gun fire are significant 150dB-163.2 dB;
chart/. The north end is in a more steep and rugged location, it has a small flat area at the top, but descends
into valleys and rugged territory. Sporting clay area would dispense shotgun pellets onto neighbor’s land and
into steep valleys too steep for lead reclaiming machine to handle.
This is a beautiful property, with nice views at the top ridge and would make a nice park or game, production
area, but not a shooting range.


Nancy Hilding
Prairie Hills Audubon Society

Nancy Hilding
6300 West Elm, Black Hawk, SD 57718
Prairie Hills Audubon Society
P.O. Box 788, Black Hawk, SD 57718
605-787-6779, does not have voice mail
605-787-6466, has voice mail
605-787-2806, cell (rarely used)
Skype phone & name -605-787-1248, nancy.hilding

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