Keystone is a tourist town near Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Photo: TravelingOtter
Environment | National

Native Sun News Today: Tourist town denies water to gold prospectors in Black Hills

Keystone denies water request to gold prospectors

By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News Today
Health and Environment Editor

KEYSTONE – At their bi-monthly meeting on April 18, the elected officials of this little tourist town in the Black Hills denied Canadian gold seekers’ request to buy bulk water from local wells.

Mineral Mountain Resources Ltd., which is prospecting for gold in nearby Rochford on a 7,500-acre block of claims adjacent to the Lakota trust land of Pe’ Sla, made the request by mail. The company is currently operating on a 1.8-million-gallon temporary permit from the state of South Dakota, which provides free Rapid Creek water for drilling.

“The reason we denied their request was because we ourselves are having issues with our water, and last year we had a shortage with our wells and could not supply our residents completely,” Keystone Board of Trustees President told the Native Sun News Today.

Drought caused some of the wells to go dry, she said, adding, “Many of our business owners and residents would take exception to selling water outside our community until they knew we were safe. We need to take care of our residents first.”

Keystone calls itself the “Home of Mt. Rushmore,” and as such, it hosts millions of summer vacationers visiting the monumental stone carving of four U.S. presidents, known as the Shrine of Democracy.

McLain said Keystone was on a list of five places the company is asking to sell it water. The sale of bulk water would be more lucrative than the income from residential and local business rate payers, she noted.

“Maybe other communities look at it as added sales tax. We look at is as what we need to provide our businesses and residents this summer,” she said. “Money isn’t everything to us. We are about the water and that we service the needs of our people that pay for it.”

Mineral Mountain Resources Ltd. has a four-month temporary water use permit from the South Dakota Chief Engineer for 1.8 million gallons of free water from Rapid Creek to conduct exploration beginning at the historic Standby Mine at Rochford.

The company has applied for another 1.8 million gallons exploration drilling the rest of the year after the current permit expires at the end of April.


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