Hundreds of landowners in eastern South Dakota are watching closely to see where two proposed carbon-dioxide pipelines will be built between now and 2025. Landowners with prior experience with underground pipeline construction say the process is invasive to their land and their lives, can prevent future development of their land and carries the potential for leakage of a dangerous chemical.
A record level of new federal funding will help the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System expand and provide more drinking water to southeastern South Dakota. The expanded system will be better equipped to provide clean water from the Missouri River to the greater Sioux Falls region, even with continued population growth and extended drought conditions.
South Dakota’s native freshwater mussels clean the water in state rivers and streams, but agricultural pollution and habitat destruction appear to be reducing their numbers at the same time the invasive, non-native zebra mussels spreading throughout South Dakota are a new threat to aquatic populations. Experts wonder if state and federal wildlife and environmental protection agencies are doing enough to protect native freshwater mussels.
A former South Dakota wildlife official took a hard line against the Nest Predator Bounty Program during an online panel discussion this week, saying the program was ramrodded into existence by Gov. Kristi Noem and is not ethical or effective. Current state wildlife leaders on the panel disagreed, and said the program is protecting pheasants and getting more children engaged in the outdoors.
No scientific evidence exists to show that the controversial South Dakota Nest Predator Bounty Program is working to boost pheasant and duck populations. Yet some state officials insist the program, in which adults and children have been paid $1.2 million to trap and kill more than 134,000 animals, is helping wildlife and preserving trapping traditions.
In a win for wildlife management, North American elk are migrating from the Black Hills and expanding onto the prairies much farther east. But farmers and ranchers on the open prairie are pushing for a new elk hunting season because the large herbivores consume significant quantities of livestock feed and cause damage to fences and other property.
Whether it is hogs, cattle, chickens or turkeys, South Dakota farmers who operate concentrated animal feeding operations take pride in their work and feel good about the foods they produce. In this article, part of a two-week special report on the growth of concentrated animal feeding operations, South Dakota News Watch reporter Bart Pfankuch takes readers behind the barn walls for a tour of three South Dakota livestock operations and provides insight into the farmers who are part of a trend of expansion of large livestock farms.
Officials, including governor, say tax rebate program can encourage new economic development and add value to existing farms. But opponents say program unfairly pushes counties to approve large livestock projects.
As the majority of livestock production in America has moved to concentrated animal feeding operations, new and expanding research has increasingly shown a correlation to the farms and human health problems, environmental issues and possibly the rise of antibiotic-resistance illnesses.
PART 1 OF A 2-WEEK SERIES: South Dakota livestock production is undergoing a major transition with the expansion of concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, in which thousands and even millions of animals are raised in a confined space. The large livestock operations are efficient and profitable, but they can also harm human health and damage the environment. As opposition rises, state government is offering financial incentives to counties that approve new projects. Along the way, the farms are sowing heated division in many rural communities and stoking fears South Dakota may end up like CAFO-heavy Iowa, which has seen fish kills and waterway pollution.
THIS WEEK: Overview of CAFO growth in S.D.; Health concerns follow CAFOs; New state program provides financial incentives for CAFOs.
NEXT WEEK: A visit to three large S.D. livestock operations
Support Nonprofit Investigative Journalism in South Dakota
South Dakota News Watch is funded by contributions from readers like you. All content is shared, free of charge, with media outlets across the state. To support our public service journalism, please consider making a contribution today.