Black Hills National Cemetery Boundary Expansion Act (S. 35) Bill to Double Size of Black Hills Veterans Cemetery

Black Hills National Cemetery

WASHINGTON— U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) issued the following statements after the U.S. House of Representatives passed their bill, the Black Hills National Cemetery Boundary Expansion Act (S. 35), legislation that will facilitate a permanent land transfer of approximately 200 acres of Bureau of Land Management land to expand the Black Hills National Cemetery outside of Sturgis, South Dakota. The bill, which the senators reintroduced during the first week of the 115th Congress, passed the Senate by voice vote in December 2017. Their bill now heads to the president for his signature.

“Our veterans deserve a resting place as majestic and solemn as the Black Hills National Cemetery, and I’m glad this important, years-long initiative that will help to continue honoring our heroes – now and for generations to come – is finally nearing the finish line,” said Thune. “It’s a small yet meaningful gesture for the men and women who gave far more than we’ll ever be able to repay.”

“It’s important that South Dakota’s veterans know there will be space for them to rest peacefully at the Black Hills National Cemetery,” said Rounds. “I am pleased that our commonsense legislation to expand the Black Hills National Cemetery passed the House today, and will now head to the president’s desk to be signed into law.”

“Wyoming is one of the few states without a VA National Cemetery, so I am glad that Congress was able to pass this legislation to ensure we are working to provide a resting place for Wyoming’s veterans,” said Enzi. “Veterans and their families deserve to know that there will always be a place where their families can honor their legacy for generations to come. I look forward to President Trump signing this legislation into law soon.”

Under current law, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act limits transfers like this one to a lifespan of 20 years. The Black Hills National Cemetery Boundary Expansion Act will make this particular transfer permanent.

Sustainable Light Industrial Campus (SLICe) To Hold Open House and “Ribbon Slicing”

Custer, SD – My team of partners and investors would like to extend a heartfelt thank
you to the Governor’s Office, SD Public and School Lands, the Governor’s Office of Economic
Development and the Custer Area Economic Development Corporation. Without their assistance and
information, we could not have completed this task.

We would like to announce that SLIC-e and the State have closed on the property, and SLIC-e’s
excitement to dig into the hard work ahead of us. To celebrate that, we are having an open house and
ribbon “slicing” on Friday, May 18 at 10 am. Tours and refreshments will be available on site (12279
Brady Dr, Custer, SD 57730).

As the changes to this property take place over the coming year, we believe that the Custer area
residents will be pleased with its low environmental impact, innovative technology, beauty and, most
importantly, the jobs created. This will be a low impact, highly sustainable, light industrial campus that
makes use of cutting-edge technology to introduce new industries to our area, while also providing
much-needed space for commercial and light industrial concerns in the community. This will take the
form of a leased-space business park for businesses and other projects in the start-up, growth, R&D, or
maintenance phases.

As we finalize leasing contracts with tenants, we will announce those new additions to the Southern
Hills. In the meantime, we need to roll up our sleeves and begin the next stages of our operation.

Once again, I’d like to thank everyone who made the previous stage possible. Thank you for all that you
have done up to this point, and all you will be doing over the next year. I’d also like to thank the
community for your undying support of local initiatives and businesses. You make all things possible
here in Custer

SLICe
Sustainable Light Industrial Campus
17 N 5th Street
Custer, SD 57730SLIC
Jared Carson, President
605-517-2049
605-673-3003

Rounds Statement on Meeting with Army Corps

 

WASHINGTON U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today issued the following statement after meeting with R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, regarding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ management of the Missouri River. The meeting comes more than two months after Rounds requested an in-person briefing.

Rounds and James meet in Rounds’ Washington, D.C., office on May 16, 2018

“I appreciate the opportunity to meet with Assistant Secretary James today to share my concerns about the Corps’ management of the Missouri River. We had a good exchange and I found his interest in working with us refreshing. We have agreed to continue work to address our concerns about the high water levels along the river, as well as make certain an appropriate monitoring system is in place. Flood control is priority number one. We also discussed issues in South Dakota regarding access to water in Corps-controlled land, so we can better use our water along the river system. We will continue to keep a close watch on the Corps’ management practices along the river to help avoid another flood and make certain South Dakotans’ concerns are adequately addressed.”

Custer State Park Offers National Trails Day Hikes

 

CUSTER STATE PARK, S.D. – Custer State Park will offer three guided hikes on Saturday, June 2 in recognition of National Trails Day.  The hikes will take place in Custer State Park at various locations and times.

The Prairie Trail Hike will begin at 9:00 a.m. at the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center.  Participants will then travel to the Prairie Trail trailhead off the Wildlife Loop Road.  The Prairie Trail Hike is approximately three miles long and is considered a moderate hike.

The Little Devil’s Tower Hike will begin at 1:00 p.m. at the Sylvan Lake General Store Veranda.  This hike is approximately three miles long and is considered strenuous due to the steep incline and bouldering required to traverse to the peak.

The Badger Hole Historic Trail Hike will begin at 4:00 p.m. at the Badger Hole Historic Site.  This hike is approximately one mile in length and is considered an easy hike.  Participants in this hike are encouraged to come early to tour the Badger Hole Historic Site prior to the start of the hike.

There is no cost for the hikes; however, a park entrance license is required. Reservations are not required.  For more information please call 605-255-4464

NORWAY NATIONAL DAY

On behalf of the Government of the United States of America, I extend my warmest congratulations to all Norwegians on your 204th anniversary of Constitution Day.

Norway is one of the United States’ strongest partners and Allies. We admire your leadership in NATO, the UN, and in the Arctic Council. Your support across many fields, including energy development and coalition efforts to defeat ISIS, are invaluable. Millions of Americans can trace their roots back to Norway and the connections between our people continue to grow as over 4,000 Norwegians are alumni of U.S.-sponsored exchange programs. It is because of these ties that the United States and Norway continue to uphold a deep commitment to transatlantic unity and our shared democratic values.

To all Norwegians, Gratulerer med dagen. As you celebrate with children’s parades and wave your flags with pride this May 17th, I offer you my very best wishes on this Constitution Day and in the coming year.

Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State
Washington, DC

COMBAT RAIDER 18-2 SCHEDULED FOR MAY 15-17 2018

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. – Combat Raider, a large force exercise involving various military aircraft, is scheduled to begin May 15 in the Powder River Training Complex, and will conclude May 17, 2018.

These LFEs provide joint and coalition training under realistic scenarios that replicate combat operations against modern threats.

During this period, people living under the PRTC military operations areas can expect to see multiple types of aircraft utilizing the areas simultaneously.

There is also potential for loud noises associated with sonic booms. All B-1 supersonic activities will occur above 20,000 feet Mean Sea Level and all transient fighter supersonic activity will occur above 10,000 feet Above Ground Level. Residents living under the following PRTC military operations areas may be affected by these activities:

–       Powder River Two

–       Powder River Three

–       Gap B

A map of the airspace is attached for reference and can be found on the Ellsworth Air Force Base website at http://www.ellsworth.af.mil/Portals/146/documents/AFD-151103-009.pdf.

As a reminder, non-military aircraft should thoroughly review the Federal Aviation Administration’s Notices to Airmen, or NOTAMs, and review flight plans to avoid these areas and altitudes where aircraft will be participating. This can be done by calling

1-800-WXBRIEF, or online at https://sua.faa.gov/ and http://www.1800wxbrief.com.

The NOTAMs for the exercise are the final official notice and will be issued by the FAA 72 hours prior to its start.

Custer County Commission Meeting Minutes (Wednesday, May 9, 2018)

Members present:
Commissioners Travis Bies, Phil Lampert, Jesse Sorenson, Jim Lintz, Mark Hartman and State’s Attorney
Tracy Kelley.

A. Commission Meeting was called to order at 8:00 AM followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

B. Adopting of the agenda
Chairman Lampert called for any corrections to the agenda. With no corrections, the agenda will
stand as presented.

C. Consent Agenda

Motion by Lintz and seconded by Bies to approve the April 25, 2018 commission meeting minutes
and the April 25, 2018 County Board of Equalization minutes. Motion carried, unanimous. Motion
by Lintz and seconded by Bies to approve the following vouchers and travel requests. Motion
carried, unanimous.

Travel requests approved: Patty Caster, Julie Jenniges and Amanda Pierce to Vanguard User’s
meeting in Oacoma, SD, at a cost of $821.70; Mike Carter to Type 3 Team Deployment in Madison,
SD, at no cost; Jeremy Uphoff, Wanda Gramkow and Monica DeNardis to SDACO Deputy
Workshop in Pierre, SD, at a cost of $611.97; Gary Woodford to SDACHS 34th Annual Summer
Meeting in Pierre, SD, at a cost of $200; Cathy Carter to SDACHS Office Personnel Workshop in
Pierre, SD, at a cost of $250.
Vouchers approved as follows:

PAYROLL: Commissioner’s $1,681.28; Auditor $11,889.41; Treasurer $3,824.73; IST $1,693.92; State’s
Attorney $4,765.14; Courthouse Building $2,116.84; Director of Equalization $4,238.07; Register of
Deeds $5,307.95; Veterans Service $595.68; Human Resource $537.97; Sheriff $16,075.84; Nurse
$488.86; Library $3,641.56; Extension $701.29; Weed & Pest $1,128.18; Planning $2,756.73; Highway &
Bridge $16,730.94; Emergency Management $1,305.31; 24/7 $811.90; Communications/911 $7,153.38

GENERAL FUND: SD State Treasurer $7.63

COMMISSIONERS: Southern Hills Publishing $1,225.67; SDACO $4,024

CONTINGENCY: New York Life $126.00

COURT: Beesley Law $440; Skinner Law $296.91; Garland Goff $1,178.10; Angela Colbath $1,117.10

AUDITOR: SDACO $250; LCA Bank $78.29; Golden West $173.75; Ricoh $.06

TREASURER: A & B Business $1.87; SDACO $250; Golden West $173.73
IST: Golden West $69.50

STATE’S ATTORNEY: Bridgette Banks $62.40; Southern Hills Publishing $21.89;
First Western Insurance $50; Lexi Nexis $289; Secretary of State $30.00; Luke Yellow Robe $1,500; Heath
Waddell $338.56; Golden West $37; Culligan $37; Rapid City Police Dept. $37

COURTHOUSE BUILDING: Southern Hills Publishing $31; Custer True Value $88.35; Black Hills Industries
$238; Golden West $334.76

DIRECTOR OF EQUALIZATION: Custer True Value $17.98; Golden West $208.47; Vanguard Appraisals
$9,850

REGISTER OF DEEDS:A & B Business $20.12; SDACO $250; Golden West $138.99

VETERANS SERVICES: Golden West $34.76

PREDATORY ANIMAL: SD Dept of Game Fish & Parks $827.20

INFO TECHNOLOGY: Active Data Systems $3,066; Golden West Technologies $1,940; A & B Business
$1,403.26; Golden West Telecommunications $10; Ricoh $5.41

SHERIFF: Black Hills Energy $95.99; Defensive Edge Training $265; A & B Business $63.54; Innovative
Office Solutions $150.03; Sherry Weber $33; Golden West $351.44; Culligan $46.50; A to Z Shredding
$40; Great Western Tire $1,298.20 Axon Ent. $3,888

PRISONER CARE: Manlove Psychciatric $59.90; Innovative Office Solutions $140; Ann Allen $150;
Christine Peters $75; Rapid City Police $140

AIRPORT: QT POD $818.79; Custer Gas $256.71; Custer True Value $68.09; Jenner Equipment $647.79;
Rock Solid Enterprises $2,796; Golden West $198.85; MG Oil $3,281.90; Mark & Shannon Stites $3,000

LIBRARY: Dakota Business Center $1,122.32; Mt Rushmore Telephone $112.55; Golden West $281.10

CULTURE/RECREATION: Southern Hills Publishing $87; Custer True Value $8.49; Lynn’s Dakotamart
$30.72

EXTENSION: A & B Business $17.89; Golden West $220.56

WEED & PEST: A & B Business $8.11; Golden West $48.69; SD Association of County Weed & Pest $150

PLANNING: Golden West $138.99

COUNTY ROAD & BRIDGE: Bierschbach Equipment $470; Black Hills Energy $192.74; Butler Machinery
$936; Custer Do It Best $13.40; Southern Hills Publishing $32.40; Custer True Value $82.51; Eddie’s Truck
Sales $913.35; French Creek Loggers $54.89; Fastenal $12.61; Dakota Supply $28.23; Interstate Batteries
$116.95; Lynn’s Dakotamart $15.96; Mt Rushmore Telephone $114.65; Ranchers Feed & Seed $18; S & B
Motor Parts $464.78; SD Assoc County Comm $75; SD Dept of Transportation $432.96; Kieffer Sanitation
$152.79; Servall Towel & Linen $101.44; Town of Buffalo Gap $54; Snap on Tools $256.75; Southern Hills
Rock & Gravel $16,750; Golden West $272.69; Lyle Signs $606.92; Culligan $40; Matco Tools $291.65;
MG Oil $186.82; Great Western Tire $4,957.60; Forward Distributing $45.15; CBH Cooperative
$1,621.72; Anderson Auto Sales $32

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT (HOMELAND SECURITY GRANT): Richard Smith $116.80; James Strain
$183.60; Robert Rendon $50.40

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Southern Hills Publishing $170; Custer True Value $29.98; Lynn’s
Dakotamart $371.92; SD Emergency Management $95; Kathy Glines $232.92; Sam Smolnisky $94.72;
Golden West $104.25

BUILDING: Custer City $199.39; Custer True Value $77.62; Sander Sanitation $334.94; Adtech $4,638.98

ROD MODERNIZATION & PRESERVATION: Microfilm Imaging Systems $822.25

EMERGENCY LINE: Jonathan Mosely $1000; Rushmore Communication $294; A & B Business $16.02;
Innovative Office Solutions $105.65; Golden West $1,375.99; Culligan $33.50; RT Communications
$23.07D. Conflict of Interest Declarations – Phil Lampert stated a conflict of interest with the public hearing
to vacate Plat of Tatanka Spirit Subdivision & Tatanka Spirit Subdivision, Phase II

E. Highway

1. Motion by Bies and seconded by Lintz to approve and authorize the chairman to sign the
Agreement to Provide for the Striping and Continuing Maintenance of County Roads within
Custer County. Motion carried, unanimous.
2. Motion by Hartman and seconded by Sorenson to approve the Application for Occupancy on the
Right of Way of County Highways from Fall River Water User’s District for a pipeline crossing on
Highway Number 719 in Section 6, Township 5, Range 8, Custer County, South Dakota. Motion
carried, unanimous.
3. Gary Woodford, Highway Superintendent gave an annual report. Woodford explained how
monies had been spent the previous year and reported that the county received three grants
this year for bridges. Two of the grants are for bridge preservation and the third grant is for a
bridge replacement. The new motor grader that was purchased is scheduled to be delivered on
Thursday, May 10th
.
4. Woodford informed the commission that Mark Jurrens has been hired as an Equipment
Operator and will begin employment with the county on May 14, 2018.
5. Caley Buckert, Weed Supervisor, gave an update on the weed department. Buckert has sent out
a letter to all land owners in Custer County advising the land owner’s responsibility to control
weeds on their property. There will be a landowner workshop at Argyle on Friday, May 18,
2018 starting at 9 a.m. and lunch will be provided. Buckert also stated there is a grant to help
cover costs of chemicals used to spray weeds. Land owners need to turn in receipts to Buckert
to receive the 50% reimbursement through the grant.

F. Public Hearing
– Vacate Plat of Tatanka Spirit Subdivision & Tatanka Spirit Subdivision
Chairman Lampert turned the meeting over to Vice Chairman Lintz. The public hearing was opened
and there was no attendance to oppose the vacation of the plat. Motion by Hartman and seconded
by Bies to approve Resolution 2018-08. Motion carried, Lampert abstained.
RESOLUTION 2018-08
A RESOLUTION BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY
COMMISSIONERS OF CUSTER COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA, TO
VACATE THE PLATS OF
TATANKA SPIRIT SUBDIVISION & TATANKA SPIRIT SUBDIVISION, PHASE II

WHEREAS, a petition has been filed with Custer County requesting vacation of the following
described plats, to-wit:

TATANKA SPIRIT SUBDIVISION & TATANKA SPIRIT SUBDIVISION, PHASE II
Located in Sections 1, 12, & 13, Township 6 South, Range 6 East, BHM, Custer County
recorded in the Office of the Register of Deeds for Custer County, South Dakota in Book 12 of
Plats, pages 314 and 390.

WHEREAS, the Board of County Commissioners (Board) has the authority to approve the
vacation of any recorded plat that lies outside a municipality, either in whole or in part, in
accordance with SDCL 11-3-21.1; and

WHEREAS, Rogers-Scull LLC, a South Dakota limited liability company is the record owner of
the properties contained within said plats sought to be vacated; and

WHEREAS, the publication of legal notice has been satisfied according to SDCL11-3-22.1; and

WHEREAS, the platted subdivisions do not lie within the corporate limits of any
incorporated municipality within Custer County; and

WHEREAS, it has been proven to the satisfaction of the Board that all property taxes have been
paid on such plats as required by SDCL 11-3-23.1; and

WHEREAS, the Board, in accordance with SDCL 11-3-23.1, has determined that vacating the
plats will not abridge or destroy any of the rights and privileges of other proprietors of such plats
and will not authorize the closing or obstruction of any public highway laid out according to law
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
OF CUSTER COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA: That the plat(s) of Tatanka Spirit Subdivision and
Tatanka Spirit Subdivision, Phase II recorded in Book 12 of Plats at pages 314 and 390, in the
Office of the Register of Deeds for Custer County, South Dakota are hereby vacated.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:
That that portion of Tatanka Spirit Road and Stampede Trail
that lie within the boundaries of the platted property, which rights-of-way are not located within
a section line, shall no longer be deemed public right-of-way.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That all other easements and agreements granted in or upon
such properties by virtue of separate written document shall remain in full force and effect unless
otherwise modified or terminated subsequent hereto.

APPROVED BY THE COMMISSION this 9th day of May, 2018.
________________________________
Jim Lintz
Vice-Chairman, Custer Co. Board of Commission
ATTEST:
_________________________________
Teresa Cornelison
Custer County Auditor
The meeting was turned back over to Chairman Lampert.

G. Emergency Management
1. Motion by Bies and seconded by Hartman to approve and authorize the chairman to sign the
SLA 2nd Quarter Report – FY 2018. Motion carried, unanimous.
H. Planning
1. Motion by Hartman and seconded by Lintz to approve the plat of Tract 29 Revised of Battle
Mountain Subdivision Revised and Waynick Tract, formerly Tract 29 of Battle Mountain
Subdivision Revised and the SE4SW4NE4 of Section 25, T6S, R5E, BHM, Custer County, South
Dakota. Motion carried, unanimous.
2. Motion by Sorenson and seconded by Lintz to approve the Wireless Communication Tower
Modification from Verizon Wireless by Cobb Wireless Group II on Homestead Subdivision, Tract
Matt (part of Government Lot 16), Section 24, T3S, R4E, BHM, Custer County, South Dakota.
Motion carried, unanimous.
I. Sheriff
1. Motion by Hartman and seconded by Sorenson to approve the hire of Carl Maude as Deputy
Sheriff effective May 16, 2018. Motion carried, unanimous.
J. Commission
1. The commission reviewed the application for Isolated Tract Easement from Bang McCullen Law
Firm on behalf of Richard and Barbara Drew. One letter of opposition was received for the
application from DeMersseman Jensen Tellinghuisen & Huffman LLP on behalf of Dale Russell
and Ellen Ballard. The commission set Wednesday, May 23, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. as the time for
viewing of the property.
K. Equalization
1. Motion by Bies and seconded by Lintz to approve Abatement 1809 in the amount of $156.12.
Motion carried, unanimous.
2. Motion by Hartman and seconded by Sorenson to approve Revised Resolution 2015-06. Motion
carried, unanimous.
Revised Resolution 2015-6

COMMERCIAL / INDUSTRIAL DISCRETIONARY FORMULA

WHEREAS, the Commissioners of Custer County have considered the impact of a discretionary tax
formula to encourage development of certain commercial and industrial property per SDCL 10-6-35.2
within the boundaries of Custer County; and
WHEREAS, the codified laws of the State of South Dakota empower the Commissioners to adopt any
formula for assessed value of certain commercial and industrial property (SDCL 10-6-35-.2); now
therefore
IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED that the following discretionary tax formula for property classified pursuant
to SDCL 10-6-35.2 is hereby adopted:
1. That property meeting the requirements of SDCL 10-6-35.2 shall be assessed at the following
rates: 0% – First Year; 0% – Second Year; 0% – Third Year; 0% – Fourth Year; 0% – Fifth Year
2. That the Custer County Commissioners shall be solely responsible for determining the
classification of certain real property as defined by SDCL 10-6-35.2.
3. That this Resolution shall become effective on May 9th, 2018 and shall remain in effect until
further action of the Custer County Board of Commissioners.
Dated this 9th Day of May, 2018.
3. Michael Houdyshell, Director of Property Tax, appeared before the board to review the non
agricultural values in the county. Houdyshell provided the commission with an analysis of the
county sales and factors for a five year period (2014 – 2018). The level of assessment on the
non agricultural values in the county has declined over the past five years. The 2018 level of
assessment on non agricultural property is at 84.1% which is below the 85% required by SDCL
10-6-33.8. Houdyshell informed the commission that the Department of Revenue will work
with the Director of Equalization Office to remedy the situation.

L. Treasurer
1. The commission acknowledged the resignation of Diane Ruggiero as Deputy Treasurer.

M. Auditor
1. Motion by Hartman and seconded by Bies to approve and authorize the chairman to sign the
Sub recipient Agreement 19SC090076 between the South Dakota Department of Health and
Custer County. Motion carried, unanimous.
2. Motion by Lintz and seconded by Sorenson to change the dates of the county commission
meetings in June to Wednesday, June 6th and Wednesday, June 20th. Motion carried,
unanimous.

N. SDSU Extension Service
1. Motion by Bies and seconded by Lintz to post pone the job description for the
Extension/Conservation Office until the next commission meeting on Wednesday, May 23,
2018. Motion carried, unanimous.

O. Public Comment – Tim Holland commented on the Custer area’s economy and what has happened
in the last ten years. Holland stated, he noticed when values are lower the taxes do not go down,
but when values increase, the taxes increase.

P. Commission
1. Mail call – a letter was received from the Lawrence County Commission regarding BH Resilient
Landscape Project Draft D.E.I.S; a letter was received from the Federal Aviation Administration
regarding the close out of grant #3-46-0011-012-2016; an invitation was received from the
Hermosa Arts and History Association Museum for event to honor the life of Johannes (Jack)
Zasadil
2. Meeting Schedule – The Black Hills Association of County Officials will hold a meeting in Isabel,
SD, on Friday, May 11, 2018 at noon; there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony at the former
STAR Academy property on May 18, 2018, at 10 a.m.
3. Meeting Reports – Lintz reported he had attended a Fair Board meeting and the board is looking
at building an extension off the large building on the fairgrounds. The board is in the process of
getting bids and the National Guard has offered to donate the labor for the project and the
board would need to provide the materials. Bies will attend a Southern Hills Waste
Management meeting on Thursday, May 10, 2018 in Hot Springs, SD. Sorenson will attend a
Conservation meeting on Friday, May 11, 2018.

Q. Executive Session
1. Motion by Bies and seconded by Lintz to go into Executive Session pursuant to SDCL 1-25-2(1)
and SDCL 1-25-2(3). Motion carried, unanimous. Executive Session began at 9:55 a.m. to
discuss personnel and contract negotiations and concluded at 11:25 a.m. with no action taken.
R. Adjourn

Motion by Bies and seconded by Hartman to adjourn the meeting at 11:37 a.m. The next meeting
will be at 8 a.m. May 23, 2018 in the Commissioner’s Room in the Custer County Courthouse

NEW PLAN AIMS TO REVERSE MONARCH BUTTERFLY DECLINE

 

File Photo

The Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (MAFWA) welcomes public comments through May 31 on a draft conservation plan that provides a blueprint for reversing the decline of the eastern monarch butterfly population.

The draft plan, called the Mid-America Monarch Conservation Strategy, builds on existing efforts of state, federal, and local agencies and private organizations and individuals. It covers a 16-state region stretching from Texas to the Upper Midwest that encompasses the primary production and migratory habitat areas for eastern monarchs (see map). Other eastern monarch states are also collaborating with the plan.

The draft plan identifies conservation goals and strategies for improving habitats in various sectors or categories of land use such as natural areas, agricultural lands, urban lands, and rights of way. State wildlife agencies and partners will be working to add milkweed plants where lacking and to ensure diverse, nectar-plant-rich landscapes with blooming species during seasons when monarchs are present.

“In addition to their beauty, pollinators such as butterflies, bees, and other species provide important pollination services critical to our food supplies and economies,” said Terry Steinwand, MAFWA President. “This is the first phase of a long-term strategy that will require increased commitment of people and resources to support enhanced monarch and pollinator conservation and monitoring efforts by many partners over the next 20 years.”

Eastern monarchs, those found east of the Rocky Mountains, have declined by more than 80 percent over the past 20 years primarily due to habitat loss, including reduced milkweed required for reproduction and fewer nectar plants. In 2014 the monarch was petitioned for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act, and a decision on whether listing is warranted is expected in 2019.

Monarchs produce multiple generations each year and undertake a lengthy fall migration from the U.S. and southern Canada to the forested mountains of central Mexico where they overwinter. The goal of the strategy is to coordinate state and partner efforts to restore and enhance habitat to support an average overwintering population in Mexico occupying about 15 acres (6 hectares), consistent with international goals.

The plan primarily focuses on voluntary and incentive-based habitat restoration and enhancement efforts, but also includes priority education and outreach, research, and monitoring needs related to monarch conservation.

For more information, a copy of the draft strategy, and how to submit comments, please visit the MAFWA website at Mid-America Monarch Conservation Strategy.

ON THE OCCASION OF RAMADAN 2018 – TO BEGIN ON THURSDAY, MAY 17, 2018

On behalf of the United States Department of State, I offer best wishes to Muslims around the world for a peaceful and blessed Ramadan.

For those observing this month, it is a time of reverence, generosity, and spiritual introspection. Ramadan is also a cherished time of community, often spent reconnecting with family and friends. It calls Muslims to come together to give charitably to the less fortunate.

Muslims in the United States and around the world make valuable contributions to their societies every day, and millions will honor this month in a special way with acts of service and giving back to their neighbors. In recognition of this, every year many of our embassies and consulates around the world host Ramadan activities bringing together Muslims and people of other faiths who are committed to our shared goal of fostering peace, stability, and prosperity. These conversations and collaborations are one of the core strengths of our diplomacy, paving the way for stronger communities through partnerships and respect for diversity.

As the holy month begins, I wish all those celebrating a very happy and prosperous Ramadan Kareem.

Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
May 15, 2018

Thune Greets South Dakota Veterans at D.C. War Memorials

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today greeted veterans from across the Midwest, including 45 South Dakotans, who were in Washington, D.C., to visit war memorials honoring their service and sacrifice to the nation. The Midwest Honor Flight program coordinated today’s visit to Washington.

“It’s an opportunity for us to be able to say ‘thank you’ to all of these veterans from so many generations for their service and sacrifice on behalf of our country,” said Thune. “They answered the call to duty at that critical moment in history when it was important that people be willing to defend our freedoms, so when these groups come out here – the chance to be able to come down here and express on behalf of a grateful nation our gratitude to them is a really neat opportunity and an honor.

“It’s really special. I have a lot of family connections to service and our country – and my dad, of course, he’s 98 years old, a World War II veteran and still going strong. I remember when we had the chance to bring him out here a few years ago and let him see the World War II Memorial that honors those who served from his generation and sacrificed from that great conflict. So any time we have the chance to recognize our veterans, to say ‘thank you’ to our veterans, we as a society, I believe, owe them a great debt of gratitude, and it’s important for us to do that.”