Mt. Rushmore Wastewater Treatment System Team Receives Treatment Operation and Maintenance Award

KEYSTONE, SD – Mount Rushmore National Memorial wastewater treatment system team is the recipient of the 2017 Operation and Maintenance Wastewater Treatment Award presented by the South Dakota Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, DENR. 

The 2017 Operation and Maintenance Wastewater Treatment Award is for outstanding operation of the wastewater system and environmental compliance with its state surface water discharge permit during the year.  The award was presented during the 2018 South Dakota Water and Wastewater Association Wastewater Operations Seminar held April 11th and 12th at the Clubhouse Hotel & Suites in Pierre.

“Wastewater treatment is vitally important to our quality of life because it removes harmful pollutants that can spread disease and provides safe drinking water for use by all those downstream,” said DENR Secretary Steve Pirner.  “The winners of DENR’s Surface Water Discharge Permit Awards are to be thanked because they collect, treat, and maintain their wastewater treatment systems at the highest levels.”

Superintendent Cheryl Schreier noted, “We are pleased to have the outstanding work of our wastewater treatment crew recognized by the state.  Utility Team Members: Bruce McClure, Rod Hart, Courtney Leising, Clif Esper, Jim Strang, and Facilities Supervisor Doug Livermore consistently make the extra effort to ensure safe operation of the water and wastewater facilities while protecting our natural resources.”

Qualifications for the Operations and Maintenance Wastewater Treatment Award are based on a system’s compliance with state environmental requirements, the quality of the treated and discharged wastewater, monitoring reports, state inspections, and proper operation and maintenance of the wastewater treatment facility.

For additional park information, please visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial’s official website at


Report shows visitor spending supports 1,111 jobs in local economy

Interior, SD – A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that the combined 1,198,040 visitors to Badlands National Park and Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in 2017 spent $76.4 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,111 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $93.7 million.

“Badlands National Park and Minuteman Missile National Historic Site welcomes visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Superintendent Mike Pflaum. “We are delighted to share the story of these places and the experiences they provide. We also feature the parks as a way to introduce our visitors to this part of the country and all that it offers. National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service, and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.”

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service.  The report shows $18.2 billion of direct spending by more than 330 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 306,000 jobs nationally; 255,900 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $35.8 billion.

The lodging sector received the highest direct contributions with $5.5 billion in economic output to local gateway economies and 49,000 jobs. The restaurants sector received the next greatest direct contributions with $3.7 billion in economic output to local gateway economies and 60,500 jobs.

According to the 2017 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging/camping (32.9 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.5 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (10.1 percent), admissions and fees (10.0 percent), and local transportation (7.5 percent).

Report authors also produce an interactive tool that enables users to explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage:

To learn more about national parks in South Dakota and how the National Park Service works with South Dakota communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to

Nicaragua: Travel Advisory Remains Level 3 – Reconsider Travel –

On April 23, 2018, the U.S. government ordered the departure of U.S. government family members and authorized the departure of U.S. government personnel.

Political rallies and demonstrations are occurring daily, often with little notice or predictability. Some protests result in injuries and deaths. Demonstrations typically elicit a strong response that has in the past included includes the use of tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and live ammunition against participants and occasionally have devolved into looting, vandalism, and acts of arson.” . Ability to purchase food and fuel may be limited, and access to the Sandino airport in Managua may be blocked. Both the Government of Nicaragua and the U.S. Embassy in Managua are limited in the assistance they can provide.

Violent crime, such as sexual assault and armed robbery, is common. Police presence and emergency response are extremely limited outside of major urban areas. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from using public buses and mototaxis and from entering the Oriental Market in Managua and gentlemen’s clubs throughout the country due to crime. U.S. government personnel require special authorization to travel to the Northern and Southern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Regions due to crime and transportation safety concerns.

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Nicaragua:

  • Avoid demonstrations.
  • Restrict travel except in an emergency or to depart the country.
  • Shelter in place if your surrounding area is affected by demonstrations or move to a safer location if your current location is unsafe.
  • Consider arrangements to depart the country if you feel unsafe in Nicaragua.
  • Maintain adequate supplies of food, potable water, and fuel if sheltering in place.
  • Use caution when walking or driving at night.
  • Keep a low profile.
  • Do not display signs of wealth such as expensive watches or jewelry.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for Nicaragua.
  • S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist

Construction Work to Limit Parking at South Dakota Minuteman Missile National Historic Site’s Delta-01 and Delta-09 Sites


Cactus Flat, SD –  Work begins this month on a project to construct modern parking lots and restroom facilities a short distance away from both the Delta-01 Launch Control Facility and the Delta-09 missile silo. When completed at the end of the summer, these facilities will better allow access to the two sites for the visiting public with ample parking for buses and RVs.

At each location the new facilities will include a parking lot with car, bus and RV spaces, a comfort station, interpretive shelter, and pedestrian pathway connecting to the historic sites. These new facilities will be situated a respectful distance away from each site in order to preserve the historic landscape.

Visitors are advised that parking will be severely limited and large vehicle turnarounds will be difficult at both sites during this time. At Delta-01 visitors may park in four paved parking spaces. At Delta-09, parking will be limited to the driveway to the silo.

“These two facilities were built by the Air Force for a nuclear deterrence mission, and never intended for the public to see. This work is necessary to ensure that the historic sites are both better preserved and easier to access by the visiting public,” said Superintendent Eric Leonard, “We regret the inconvenience to the visiting public during the summer season.” To stay informed about this work and other news about Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, the public can visit our Facebook page or the park website for more information.

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site’s headquarters and visitor center is located off of exit 131, Interstate 90. The park consists of three sites along a fifteen mile stretch of Interstate 90 in Western South Dakota. Authorized by Congress in 1999, Minuteman Missile National Historic Site preserves components of the Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile system, interpreting the deterrent value of the land-based portion of America’s nuclear defense during the Cold War era and commemorating the people and events associated with this recent period of American history. The park is open daily 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. More information about the park can be found on the internet at or by phone at: 605-433-5552. Visit us on Facebook at and Twitter at


Buffalo tours at Custer State Park. Photo: Herb Ryan Photography – 2017


PIERRE, S.D. – In 2017, visitor spending in South Dakota reached $3.85 billion, resulting in $2.59 billion in GDP and more than $290 million in state and local tax revenue. It was the eighth straight year of record growth in the state. A recent analysis shows that more than half of the counties in South Dakota saw an increase in visitor spending over 2016.

The detailed analysis, done by Tourism Economics, indicates a majority of visitor activity took place in Minnehaha, Pennington, Lawrence, Brown and Custer counties, making up 66 percent of all visitor spending. While these five counties received the majority of spending from visitors in 2017, more than half of the counties in South Dakota saw an increase over 2016. The counties that experienced the largest year-over-year growth were Sully (8.7 percent), Lincoln (5.9 percent), Hutchinson (5.2 percent), Lake (5.1 percent), and Aurora (4.8 percent).

“The impact these visitors have on communities across our state is significant. These visitors come to enjoy the beauty of our open prairies, fish our pristine lakes and abundant rivers, hunt our bountiful fields and stand in awe at our monuments. These visitors support the diners, marinas, hotels and attractions in communities large and small. Tourism is and always will be an incredibly important part of the South Dakota economy,” said James Hagen, Secretary of the Department of Tourism.

Along with other industries, the tourism industry felt the indirect effects of a struggling agriculture economy across the Midwest and the decreased discretionary income of households in the region.

“Despite local and regional challenges, our visitors return year after year to experience our well-known hospitality and diverse tourism offerings,” said Hagen. “Hospitality workers and residents all go out of their way to welcome visitors, and that’s what sets us apart from our competition,” continued Hagen.


Pre-tourist season, a great time to mosey around the Black Hills without very much traffic. All images taken Monday, April 16, 2018 in the early afternoon. Actually, tourist are coming into the area–Spoke to a few Czechoslovakian tourist near Mt.Rushmore and a few Canadians down by Sylvan Lake.


The boys at Mt. Rushmore are none the worst for our South Dakota winter weather.


Hoodoos near Mt. Rushmore…..


Android cell phone shot on Palmer Gulch Creek Road. Black Elk Peak tower is way out there near the snow mass.


Black Elk Peak Tower shot around the corner from picture above with my long lense. B&W because exposure was way off, bright sunny day with lots of haze around the peak…


Progress continues on the arm of the Crazy Horse Sculpture in Custer, SD.

Celebrate National Park Week at Badlands NP April 21 – 29, 2018

Photo: Xavier Cohen


Interior, SD – Badlands National Park will celebrate National Park Week with free entrance on Saturday, April 21, 2018.  This year’s theme is “Park Stars,” celebrating everything from starry skies to superstar volunteers, park features, and resources. Parks, programs, and partners nationwide invite people everywhere to explore stories, experiences, and sites that brighten the National Park System and public lands.

Throughout the week, Badlands staff will share the stories of parks within a day’s drive during a National Park Film Festival.  Each day at 1:00 p.m. a different park film will be featured in the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. From Homestead of America National Monument to Fort Laramie National Historic Site to Pipestone National Monument, learn how these Shared Stories overlap with the stories of Badlands National Park.  National Park Week is a time to explore amazing places, discover stories of history and culture, help out, and find your park!

The Ben Reifel Visitor Center is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Visit for more information on programs at Badlands National Park or call the Ben Reifel Visitor Center at 605-433-5361.


This is the first calf I have seen this year on the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park. Hope it does well with the upcoming storm.
All Images: Herb Ryan Photography, Custer, SD.

Buffalo calf and cow behind brush on the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park Wednesday, April 11, 2018. Photo: Herb Ryan Photography


Moved the jeep to a better vantage point. These are wild animals and I take all precautions especially when a calf is present. Photo: Herb Ryan Photography


And along came a not so itsy bitsy log skidder that made the group of 15 to 20 Buffalo move in a hurry. Photo: Herb Ryan Photography


This little “Cinnamon Baby” got off the feed bag pretty quick and ran for the hills. Photo: Herb Ryan Photography


View of Legion Lake Fire from Red Valley Road in Custer State Park. Notice the “Green” fighting it’s way back in. Herb Ryan Photography



PIERRE, S.D. – The deadline is fast approaching to apply for summer employment with the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP).

The department offers a variety of summer employment opportunities across the state.

State park positions include general maintenance, entrance station attendant, maintenance worker, campground attendant, law enforcement, heavy equipment operator, and naturalist/programmer positions.

Positions with the Division of Wildlife include habitat technician, habitat aide, fisheries technician, wildlife technician, conservation crew leader, naturalist/programmer, and wildlife damage technician. Most listings have multiple positions available.

All applicants must be 17 years of age and available to work mid-May through Labor Day. Applications received after the Feb. 16 deadline will only be considered for any remaining positions.

Applications must be submitted online or postmarked no later than Feb. 16. A complete list of seasonal jobs is available at

Internships with GFP are available through Executive Intern Program positions. To qualify for an internship, applicants must be full-time students of at least sophomore standing and currently be enrolled at a college, university or vocational-technical institute.

For the complete internship listing and to apply, visit