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South Dakota Spiritual Center Recognized for Environmental Work

June 19, 2008

Deerfield, SD - A first-ever national report that highlights the strong connection between religious faith and environmental initiatives is being released today by the Sierra Club. "Faith in Action" recognizes the roles that faith-based groups play in conservation and sustainability.

In South Dakota, the report features the Borderlands Education and Spiritual Center, an interfaith facility near Deerfield. Center Director, the Reverend Linda Kramer, says her group has worked hard to preserve and protect vulnerable land from development in the rolling terrain of the Reynolds Prairie. That part of the Black Hills, she explains, is important because it's one of the few remaining areas where development has yet to encroach.

"It is also one of the five major Lakota pilgrimage sites in the Black Hills. We are interested in trying to protect and preserve as much as we can, such as taking another 120 acres off the market. We're also seeking ways now to retire the debt on the land, so that we can just protect it."

According to the Sierra Club report, 67 percent of Americans say they care about the environment "because it's God's creation." Kramer says in this part of the state, the land preservation issue is particularly important for people of faith.

"I am a priest, and I consider it part of my sacred vows to preserve and protect anyplace where people have prayed for many, many years; where people have done worship ceremonies, whoever they are. It's a real way we can take a step toward reconciliation of the major cultures here in South Dakota."

Kramer believes it's important to claim open space for future generations and, at an elevation of 6,000 feet, the Reynolds Prairie is, as she puts it, one of the few places left where you can still hear silence and see the stars at night.

The report is available online at www.sierraclub.org.

David Law/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - SD