From South Dakota Public Radio:
A coalition of several water-focused organizations in the Black Hills wants the Rapid Creek watershed west of Rapid City designated as a National Recreation Area.
Justin Herreman, Spokesperson
Thank you for attending this press conference today. Welcome to the beautiful Rapid Creek on behalf of a new organization – Rapid Creek Watershed Action, which is a growing coalition of a variety of organizations.
Our purpose here today is to call on our federal representatives to legally designate the Rapid Creek watershed upstream from Rapid City as a recreation area. Outdoor recreation is the main activity and a major economic driver in that area, and it should be protected by a Congressional designation, as other similar areas are. Part of this designation should be the withdrawal of mineral claims in that part of the watershed, so that recreation, the economy, and natural resources – including Rapid City’s drinking water – are protected from mining.
According to the Outdoor Industry Association, sixty-nine percent of South Dakota residents enjoy outdoor recreation each year. And in our area, that means tens of thousands of local residents and tourists enjoy Pactola Reservoir and other parts of the Rapid Creek watershed in the Black Hills. Direct income from hunting alone in the Black Hills is about $89 million a year, and outdoor recreation supports 48,000 jobs in South Dakota.
In short, the well-being of our local economy depends on outdoor recreation and the protection of lands that Rapid Creek Watershed Action wants to see permanently designated as a recreation area by Congress. This isn’t just about recreation, though. Areas around Pe’ Sla, a special Lakota cultural site, would also be protected.
The well-being of our economy and communities also depends on plentiful, clean water. In April, the Rapid Creek watershed was designated as on of the most endangered rivers in America. This was due to the presence of gold exploration and the possibility of large-scale gold mining in Rapid City’s water supply, which would bring water contamination. Almost a quarter of the Rapid Creek watershed above Rapid City is currently subject to mining claims. The City of Rapid City has passed a resolution against gold exploration and mining in the watershed. The designation as a recreation area would protect our water supply, our economy, and recreation for the long haul.
We encourage members of the public to contact Senators Thune and Rounds and Representative Johnson and ask them to sponsor a bill to declare the Rapid Creek watershed west of Rapid City to be a recreation area, and to withdraw mineral claims in that area. Go to our website at rapidcreekwatershed.org or to our Facebook page – Rapid Creek Watershed Action – for more information. We also welcome additional organizations and businesses to join this effort,
Thank you for being here today.
PRESS CONFERENCE ON TUESDAY, JUNE 16, TO LAUNCH NEW ORGANIZATION
CONTACT: Rapid Creek Watershed Action 605-484-8840
A Press Conference on Tuesday, June 16, will launch Rapid Creek Watershed Action (RCWA), a new coalition whose goal is to create a federally-designated recreation area in the Rapid Creek watershed upstream from Rapid City in the Black Hills. The watershed includes Pactola Reservoir, Deerfield Reservoir, Rochford, Pe’ Sla, Mystic, Castle Creek, Johnson’s Siding, Dark Canyon, and points in between.
The Press Conference will be at 11:30 am in the northeast part of Sioux Park. Go to the junction of Rapid Creek and Canyon Lake Drive. Immediately to the west is the intersection of Dakota Drive and Canyon Lake Drive. At the intersection, go south into the parking lot. We will be on the east side of the parking lot, between the picnic shelter and the Creek. Members of the coalition will bring recreation equipment to symbolize the outdoor activities they enjoy in the future recreation area and will hold banners. A statement will be read, and there will be time for the press’s questions.
The Goal of Rapid Creek Watershed Action (RCWA) is to have the federally-controlled surface and subsurface lands within the Rapid Creek/Castle Creek watershed upstream from Rapid City designated as a national recreation area and subject to a mineral claim withdrawal.
Eight organizations are currently part of the RCWA coalition. Other organizations and businesses are welcome to become partners in this effort.