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South Dakota Climate Challenge Conference – Money, Weeds and Wildlife

September 14, 2007

Sioux Falls SD – Scientists are sounding the alarm that South Dakota is already experiencing the effects of climate change –- and that it will only get worse if steps aren't taken to slow it down. The issue will be addressed later this month at the "South Dakota Climate Challenge Conference" in Sioux Falls.

Organizer Sterling Miller, with the National Wildlife Federation, says his group has joined the South Dakota Wildlife Federation, Game Fish and Parks Department, and other sponsors of the event, to raise concerns that climate change will impact tourism, farming, wildlife, and recreation in South Dakota. Miller believes climate change is an overarching issue for wildlife preservation in the U.S. today.

"With a three or four degree centigrade rise in temperature, which is well within the range of predictions, 30 percent of the species that exist within the United States will be threatened with extinction. So anything other than addressing climate change issues, relative to wildlife, is sort of fiddling while Rome burns."

Miller predicts every South Dakota citizen will feel the effects of climate change, but perhaps no one more keenly than farmers and ranchers.

"It's likely that the climate will become warmer and drier. There will be less water available for agriculture, and this will affect the crops they grow. It's likely there will be more weeds. There will be a big impact on people who are close to the land, because the land will change."

Jim Margadant, of the South Dakota Sierra Club, says it's vital that South Dakota residents gain an appreciation of what climate change could mean to the state.

"To successfully manage the public lands and agricultural lands in our state is going to require that we adopt a new management strategy, and that's going to be dependent on climate change and what happens here."

The conference will be held at the Travelodge in Sioux Falls, September 28-30. For registration details, visit

David Law/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - SD