Thursday, June 11, 2015

Black Hills Seminar - Grasslands and Grazing

Thursday, June 11

On our last day of our Black Hills seminar, we gathered at the Black Hills National Forest Service Office.  Physical resource staff member, Ralph Adam, shared about how the 1.5 million acre Black Hills Forest got established in 1897. Without the staff doing the greatest good for the greatest number, we would not have the forest and grasslands to provide recreation and habitat for the fish and wildlife.

A panel consisting of four ranchers and Mark Vedder, a rangeland management specialist, discussed different federal land permits.The panel discussed how the coordination with state agencies, grazing permitees, timber industries and other revelant parties can be helpful in the overall management plan.

Roger Gates with SDSU research spoke on the importance of grassland management and grazing livestock in diverse environment conditions.The practice of good land stewardship also includes replenishing the earth. 

Sandy Osterman and Corey Johannsen, Reporters

Day 3 - Custer State Park

On Wednesday morning we were greeted with rain showers in Custer State Park, making the next part of our seminar with Paul Person, Forest Supervisor, and Ben Wudke of Black Hills Forest Association, a bit more challenging. On a mission to out run the rain, we left Custer State Park and  went to the location where the Jasper Fire of 2000 started. We viewed the regrowth of the forest area that occcured in the past 15 years and discussed the cycles that will develop over the next century to rebuild this once forested area. We then also were informed on the Mountain Pine Beetle and the damage that it has caused the forest. We learned about the life cycle of the beetle and actually got to see trees that were infected. Fortunately, the forest industry, government agencies, loggers, and the public have come together to combat this insect and the destruction that it causes.

Two representatives from the logging industry explained the challenges and victories in the battle with the pine beetle.

Ben is showing the participants a dead pine beetle that was stuck in the bark of the tree.

In the afternoon, the Team Building segment of the seminar began. Phase one was the Chili Cook-off and phase two was a group presentation of an assigned current hot topic in agriculture such as emerging technologies and feeding the growing population. We were all split into smaller groups at the very end of the last seminar and given this assignment.  This exercise required us as a group to develop a theme for our chili cookoff  and research an assigned ag-related topic and present a 15 minute informative presentation.This was a judged event and prizes were awarded.

The winning chili team gave their group presentation on emerging technologies in agriculture.

Will adds to the discussion on population growth and food consumption.

Corey Johannsen and Sandy Osterman, Reporters

Chili Cook-off teams:

Day 2 - Black Hills

The morning began with a tour of Blair Brothers Angus Ranch northeast of Sturgis.  Ed Blair, along with his brother, Rich; son, Chad; and nephew, Britton, operate a commercial angus herd that is a total AI operation, synchronizing 1200 to 1400 cows and yearling heifers a year.
The family markets 400 angus bulls by private treaty a year with customers from North Dakota to Texas.  The operation also offers to buy back customer calves with some going to feedyards in Kansas, while others are backgrounded in North Dakota, local feeders or at home.  Finished cattle are sold on US Premium Beef’s high quality grid.
The class received a tour of the pens where the bulls are fed, along with a tour of the Blairs’ cattle working facilities.  Chad and Britton also AI bred a few heifers,  a very interesting process for those not familiar with artificial insemination.   
The class was also treated to a delicious BBQ beef lunch provided by the Blair family.
Britton Blair discusses the ranch's AI program to the group.
The next stop on the agenda was the Belle Joli’ Winery located south of Sturgis.  Jackson Vineyards is a family owned vineyard started in 2000 with a small acreage of grapes where two rivers join to form the Belle Fourche River.  Belle Joli’ Winery is unique from other South Dakota wineries because it is home to South Dakota’s only enologist, Matthew Jackson.  Matthew received his enology degree from California State University, Fresno.  He has begun the task of nurturing the vines and growing the grapes that make for a great wine. 
 SDARL participants learn about growing grapes in South Dakota from the owner of Belle Joli'.
The class also had the opportunity to sample some of the wines produced by Belle Joli’ Winery.
The last major agenda item for the day was a tour of the Wharf Gold Mine, which was started in 1983.  The mine is an open pit heap leach operation near Lead, South Dakota.  Jake Thaler, our tour guide, gave the group an overview of the necessary permits, exploration procedures, operations, and reclamation requirements of the mine.  All in all a very interesting tour.
Looking into the Wharf Mine pit highlighted the pit tour.
The day concluded at Custer State Park Game Lodge with discussion of the day’s activities and socializing around a campfire.

Joel Erickson, Reporter

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

June 8 - Rapid City to Sturgis

SDARL Class VIII has made it to the Black Hills!  Monday morning we made our way here coming from all directions.  It was good to see everyone in the group! Two months have passed by since we met last, but the number of acres that have been planted and cows that have calved and worked since then makes it seem longer. 

The Outdoor Campus was our first destination.  It is a facility operated by the Wildlife Division of Game, Fish, and Parks.  The facility exists to educate the public about ecosystems and wildlife, including fish or bird identification and how to “kill it, clean it, and eat it.”  We received a tour of the facility which sits on 32 acres in Rapid City.  At the facility, an average of 14,000 adults and children take a course through the facility and almost 100,000 visit the facility a year. 

After lunch we headed to the University Center of Rapid City for a joint meeting with SDARL Alumni.  Our speaker was Bruce Vincent, a third generation logger from Libby, Montana.  Bruce shared the struggle that the logging industry went through as they battled activist groups and public perception of their industry.  Responsible logging is key to proper forest management, though the activist conservation groups and celebrities who have effectively driven the logging companies to move over seas, have painted the industry as destroyers of the forests.  Bruce shared the mistakes that the industry made when engaging with activists in the pasts, as well as the lessons they learned about how to effectively share your message with the public.  It was an excellent presentation, with a profound message. 

In the evening we held a banquet with class members, alumni, and guests.  Several from the class spoke about their experiences thus far with SDARL.
~Jared Knock, reporter

The Outdoor Campus offers activities for children of all ages to learn about wildlife and the environmental stewardship.

Eric and Amy enjoyed the tour of the 32-acre Outdoor Campus.

Wildlife habitat exhibits highlight this section of the campus.

Bruce Vincent from Libby, Montana, offered suggestions in taking a leadership role in our industry, reminding us that "the world is run by those who show up."