Volunteers in Rapid City, South Dakota, regularly held signs during December and January to warn the public of modern mining’s threats to water supplies. This one was at Rushmore Civic Center during the Lakota Nation Invitational tournament. Photo courtesy Black Hills Clean Water Alliance

Native Sun News Today: Forest Service accepts comments on Black Hills gold prospecting

RAPID CITY – Under pressure from Native and other community members throughout the past year, the Black Hills National Forest administration responded January 6 with a 10-day advance notice of its highly anticipated scoping session on gold exploration planned upstream from this city’s Pactola drinking water reservoir.

The federal agency invited the public to take part in the 5 p.m. session at its Mystic Ranger District headquarters here on January 16. Personnel has decided to name the gold prospecting operation the F3 Jenny Gulch Exploration Drilling Project.

F3 Gold is the name of a private prospecting company owned by Minneapolis geologists Robert Bergmann and Brian Lentz. It has nearly 2,500 active mining claims located in the Black Hills counties of Lawrence, Pennington and Custer.

Their proposal, also known as the Silver City Project, calls for exploratory diamond drilling in up to 42 locations just north of Pactola Reservoir’s Rapid Creek inlet at Silver City, in Pennington County, according to the newly released scoping letter.

“Tell the Forest Service what you think about proposed gold exploration,” Black Hills Clean Water Alliance urged in a public announcement supporting the U.S. Forest Service invitation to participate in the first scoping session.

“Exploration leads to mining. Gold mining has a long history of polluting Black Hills water,” the local grassroots organization stated. “The Forest Service did not start tribal consultation early enough on this project,” it added. “Tribal consultation should come first,” it warned.

That obligation is spelled out in the National Historic Preservation Act and the National Environmental Protection Act, but various federal agencies’ failures to comply have ensnared tribes and taxpayers in costly ongoing litigation.

Adherents of Black Hills Clean Water Alliance presented Mystic District Ranger Nancy Veres with a petition on March 28, 2019, calling for government-to-government consultation with tribes on the gold prospecting plans.

“Tribal consultation is crucial,” the petition stated, adding, “Like much of the Black Hills, this area may contain loci of historical, spiritual, and cultural importance to Lakota and other indigenous peoples.”

A comment form is available at fs.usda.gov/project/?project=57428


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Contact Talli Nauman at talli.nauman@gmail.com

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