Check out what our chapters have been up to for the past couple months…
BLACK HILLS CHAPTER
The Black Hills Chapter continues to actively oppose Powertech’s proposed uranium mining. Before the second week of the Large Scale Mine permit hearings, the hearing Chair, Rex Hagg, made a public announcement of their decision to postpone the hearings and not make a decision until all of the other permitting agencies either granted/denied their permits. The hearings for Powertech’s water and groundwater discharge plan have also been postponed.
In the mean time, we’ve continued working with our allies to grow opposition and power, gather signatures on our petitions, and follow the unfolding of this extensive process to help secure the future of clean water. On the note of allies, the South Dakota Medical Association signed onto a petition the chapter has specifically for medical professionals opposing ISL uranium mining for it’s inherent health risks – and that says quite a lot.
The chapter has also decided to bring focus to Ag Land Preservation in the Black Hills as Spearfish Valley (historically some of the richest farmland in West River), is fighting against annexation. There will be a public vote on December 10th for Spearfish city and valley residents to overturn the Council’s vote to annex. After the vote and moving into 2014, members plan to develop a new agricultural land preservation campaign to help secure land for the future of local food production.
BROOKINGS COUNTY CHAPTER
Members from the Brookings County Chapter recently attended a City Council Study Session regarding backyard chickens. Representatives were able to give a presentation to the council members which included information about how to raise backyard birds, benefits of owning a small flock in town, and specific requests from the chapter. The request include rules like a limit of 6 hens, no rooster, a 25 foot buffer zone between coops and neighboring homes, and no chickens roaming at large to name a few. The Brookings Sustainability Council and the Brookings Planning and Zoning Committee also gave recommendations and the Study Session. The Sustainability Committee’s recommendation was very similar to that of the DRA chapter, while Planning and Zoning recommended keeping the ordinance as it is.
The City Council plans on adding the issue to a future meeting, possibly on January 14, to take public comment and decide how to move forward. There was some indication that they would then draft a new ordinance and hold the first reading at a second meeting.
The Chapter also held a viewing of Mad City Chickens, a documentary focusing on backyard hens. The viewing had great attendance and included a wonderful discussion. The chapter is considering hosting a second viewing in the City Building, if possible, and will encourage City Council Members to attend.
HOMEGROWN SIOUX FALLS
Homegrown Sioux Falls met on Nov. 14 to discuss their Big Sioux River clean-up campaign. Dana Loseke from the Sierra Club was in attendance and gave a presentation on how Sierra Club is also focusing on river clean-up and is seeking input and collaboration from other groups in order to build a coalition that will work with the city on clean-up organizing. The chapter decided to join forces and will be meeting with some of the leadership from Sierra Club at the next meeting. DRA has been registered as a Water Summit Stakeholder with the City of Sioux Falls and plans to be involved in working with the City on their short and long-term planning for river clean-up. Chapter members decided their first action is to ask the City to place signs up around the river stating that the river is not rated as immersible and that being in the water is hazardous to health. Sioux Falls DRA members are encouraged to attend the chapter’s next meeting.