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Feds Say Rapid City Shooting Range Won’t Impact Environment

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded that South Dakota Game Fish and Parks’ and Governor Kristi Noem‘s proposed shooting range northeast of Rapid City on Elk Vale Road would have no significant impact on the environment. The Fish and Wildlife Service published its finding on August 19, making final the no-impact conclusions it published in its draft assessment in February.

The impact analysis, prepared by FWS in collaboration with GF&P, says expressions of support from “Area shooting enthusiasts, members of the public and the City of Rapid City and surrounding areas” for “a greatly needed, safe, controlled, patrolled, and accessible site for a variety of shooting disciplines.” The report continues to confabulate wants with needs, and it does not mention the vigorous local opposition that led the Legislature to reject four attempts to fund the project.

The analysis notes that two residences lie within 1.5 miles of the center of the proposed range and fourteen lie within 2.5 miles:

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and S.D. Game Fish and Parks, "Final Environmental Assessment: Rapid City Shooting Range Complex, published 2022.08.19, p. 5.
Rectangle: shooting range site. Inner circle: 1.5 miles from center of range. Outer circle: 2.5 miles from center of range. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and S.D. Game Fish and Parks, “Final Environmental Assessment: Rapid City Shooting Range Complex,” published 2022.08.19, p. 5.

The report notes that range shooters will fire toward the east and northeast, away from the marked residences. GF&P will design 12-foot-high side berms and 20-foot-high end berms to “control the flow of surface water so lead particles will remain within each shooting bay.” Any lead that escapes the bays shouldn’t get far, as GF&P will level the shooting bays and install dams, dikes, and swales to  slow water runoff and “further settle out lead within the footprint of the shooting range.” All that earthwork will require moving nearly 780,000 cubic yards of dirt. GF&P will also routinely measure lead levels in the soil and hire a lead recycler to remove lead.

FWS found no instances of “birds of conservation concern”—bald eagles, lesser yellowlegs, and redheaded woodpeckers—at the shooting range site, no sustainable fishery, and no endangered, rare, or threatened species. The handful of human rock markings suggesting Indian activity “possess little integrity and offer limited research potential….”

The analysis says noise won’t be a major problem, as shooting will be directed eastward and berms and overhead shade structures will absorb and fair amount of the racket. GF&P will monitor noise around the range and “adjust noise mitigation strategies as needed.”

In return for such negligible negative impacts, FWS endorses Elevate Rapid City’s claim that the shooting range may create 55 more jobs, $1.87 million in worker earnings, and $376K in additional tax revenue.

The Fish and Wildlife Service thus concludes that the project does not require an environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. The feds will thus not stand in the way of the Rapid City shooting range.


  1. Loren 2022-08-30 08:22

    Another “needed expenditure” for folks like John Thune who are terrified of prairie dogs. Hone those skills! You can never be too careful, ya know. ;-)

  2. cibvet 2022-08-30 09:18

    I suppose these fools would also claim in a study that the motorcycles at the rally do not increase noise or polluted air.

  3. Jake 2022-08-30 09:55

    Sadly, also, many of those who will take their macho weapon of choice to go “bang bang” at an envisioned target-said target could easily have a “libbie” image (preparing for the comin’ civil war ya know!).
    And yes, cibvet, ‘direction’ of the shot doesn’t control sound waves much, does it?i

    And, I thought highly of Elevate RC until I read this horse-puckey about creating 55 jobs! That will be the day!
    minimal if scant staffing will be more like it….
    Neighbors be damned-; this is what happens when government doesn’t impose regulations on commercial (even if it IS state-owned and run) entities that can harm the neighborhood.

  4. larry kurtz 2022-08-30 10:02

    $20 says the Service made a deal to pass Mrs. Noem’s jihadi training center if the state agrees not to sue when other threatened and endangered species are announced.

  5. All Mammal 2022-08-30 10:13

    This makes the government not only that much bigger and more powerful, but also competing with private business. If there is a need in the area for a mega-shooting-largo, then why don’t investors pull their funds and start one? We had five youth shootings in one weekend in RC. The RCPD will be too busy being pulled in the opposite direction of where we need them. Encouraging guns is not what our area needs by far. Now they’ll have to hire more out of state po-pos. Great. And rich peoples’ votes are more valuable than non donors’ votes. Exactly what they claim they are against.

  6. jerry 2022-08-30 10:43

    The great deplorable fear, prairie dogs, nailed it Loren.

  7. 96Tears 2022-08-30 10:53

    The breathless rapture of the report’s opening statement transforms what could only be by-the-seat-of-your-pants assumptions into articles of faith. “Area shooting enthusiasts, members of the public and the City of Rapid City and surrounding areas, have all expressed support for a shooting range facility as a greatly needed, safe, controlled, patrolled, and accessible site for a variety of shooting disciplines.”

    Really? All? It sounds like the support is ubiquitous. It is not, unless there was a secret poll taken.

    I would expect drivel like this to come from a Chamber of Commerce or the Black Hills tourism association, but not from a science-based federal agency like the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Or from the state tourism hacks or Team Noem’s hacks. But the feds? Isn’t tourism in a red state like South Dakota a bit outside their purview?

    I don’t have strong feelings about this range, other than it’s a ridiculously expensive boondoggle and there had been no hue and cry for its construction until Team Noem decided it wanted to burn up guv’mint revenues to pander to ammosexuals in the Hills region. And as you report, Cory, it’s detested by the people who lived closest to the range and has failed four times to get legislative support in a legislature that’s 91 percent Republican. Buy a clue?

    I understand how desperate Team Noem is. She’s a delusional jet-setter who has zero accomplishments as a governor in an easily-managed, low population state and who thinks that makes her qualified to be POTUS. Just watch that sickening string of lies spewing out of Larry Rhoden’s mouth in her recent re-election ad. He invents threats and claims credit for saving our state from them. That’s downright desperate, sad and ugly.

    All those years in Congress and one term as Governor, and still no accomplishments for Kristi Noem. Yep, a gun range next to I-90 in Meade County is just what we need! The slogan for the 2023 Sturgis Rally will be “Welcome to South Dakota – and bring yer guns!”

    What’s a number 6?

  8. Matthew k 2022-08-30 12:39

    Even the gfp has said one full time and two part time jobs. Elevate sure does elevate numbers well. If rapid wants this so bad put it in there county so they can pay all of the bills for road, police, ambulance !!! Meade co shouldn’t pay a dime for the income Rapid city will jet from this. Well maybe the lawsuit against Noem for stealing the plans and a section line issue will still get it shut down!

  9. leslie 2022-08-30 13:18

    Thune and his “shot down like a dead dog”!

    That actually came from a movie I think :)

    Give a guy a soapbox and he is liable to say anything. JFC

  10. Edwin Arndt 2022-08-30 14:50

    When they shot him down on the highway,
    down like a dog on the highway, The Highwayman, by Alfred Noys


  11. mike from iowa 2022-08-30 15:53

    Being surrounded by wind turbines here in NW iowa is not too noiseome unless the wind is in the right direction, then it is noticeable. Be funny if Rapid gets inundated with calls about gunfire all night long, since no one is supposed to notice them.

  12. P. Aitch 2022-08-30 19:19

    For grudznichts and his BFF John OverHillOver Dale. Definition of Deep State is lifelong federal employees who keep their jobs when the political party they don’t support is in power. Apparently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is sittin’ pretty deep in state, boys.

  13. grudznick 2022-08-30 20:09

    Ms. PH, why are you dragging the good name of grudznick into this blogging? Although I do love a blogging about the Deep State. And when my close, personal friend, Mr. Dale, who I have a deep, manly affection for, talks about the Deep State, I listen. Not sure he or I care much about shooting ranges that annoy a small number of people, though. But eh. Shooting is fun enough. It may persist.

  14. All Mammal 2022-08-30 23:50

    Not only is this an unwanted project, it doesn’t take a titular survey to be able to conclude it will negatively impact the environment. I am especially concerned about the summer camp organization for young boys that has been near the site for decades. Those boys need the safety of the vast landscape and serenity of birdsong and frogs to heal.
    Additionally, last year alone we had several spates of days with sustained winds at 60 mph, 70 mph, even 80 mph. Strong winds clip through that very breezeway dang near every day and I didn’t see any consideration for meteorology/weather mentioned in particular, the negative effects that environment could have on the para militia shooting range. I can already picture all the Hitler haircuts this place is going to attract. The tax revenue they claim they will draw from this is most likely bs as well.
    I know a way to get this popsicle stand scrapped: make promotional posters for the shooting range.. not with facts and the Patriot Front, Ripple Effect boys merrily wasting FJB targets and Gov Puss in Boots holding the no no. Make promotional posters with jacked up Black Panthers recruiting and training with their hand cannons, decked to the nines with their berets and leather and attitude. The eels pushing this project will poop their pants and we won’t hear about it again. Trust me. Gun laws will be on the books so fast once we start seeing non-whites open carry in all the places we nauseatingly see mini hitlers strut around with their ARs.
    Or we could pull A Christmas Story poster with Ralph’s mom and teacher chanting, “You’ll shoot your eye out! You’ll shoot your eye out!”

  15. Retired 2022-08-31 15:45

    Is there potential for development down range? High powered rifles are dangerous several miles down range. Accidental and intentional vandalism shots are not headed into the intended backstop and will be dangerous down range. It will devalue properties down range.

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-08-31 16:06

    Retired, I don’t think there’s much development potential in specific area. It seems there’s lots of land closer to town and the Interstate to be developed first, and those spots are already having trouble getting enough water. So building this shooting range and rendering the downrange land completely unsuitable for development may not decrease economic prospects all that much.

  17. leslie 2022-09-03 10:45

    socialism builds gun range for unnecessary guns.

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