Rapid Creek | Photo by Carla Marshall

South Dakota’s Rapid Creek, also known as Mniluzahan to the Lakota Tribe, is a world-class trout fishery and drinking water source for more than 89,000 people. It feeds the area’s aquifers and flows clean and free from the Black Hills National Forest onto the Great Plains. Unfortunately, the Creek is critically threatened by gold exploration and the potential for toxic mining in the central Black Hills.

The Black Hills are sacred to the Lakota people, who are linked to the Hills by treaty, history and culture, making mining and water pollution in the Rapid Creek watershed important environmental justice issues. Furthermore, using the sole water source for both Rapid City -- South Dakota’s second largest city -- and Ellsworth Air Force Base for gold mining does not make sense; there are simply no water supply alternatives for area communities and wildlife. Toxic mining spills could also destroy the area’s tourism economy, which focuses on outdoor recreation and Mount Rushmore. The U.S. Forest Service plays a key role in the area and is being asked to permit more gold exploration. The good news is that they are early in the permitting process.

Please join us in urging the Black Hills National Forest to make all information on gold exploration projects in the central Black Hills public immediately and to fully consider potential exploration and mining impacts in thorough Environmental Impact Statements.

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Deputy Director
Black Hills National Forest