Environmentalists are concerned that a proposed gold-mining project at the rim of Spearfish Canyon could threaten a population of 50 American dipper birds.
Valentine Mining Co. has proposed a 500 foot barrier between Deadwood Standard Mine operations and the canyon's rim.
But environmentalists fear that accidental liquid leaks from on-site ore processing facilities could filtrate through the porous limestone underneath and contaminate water sources at Spearfish Creek, harming the dipper.
Prairie Hills Audubon Society president Nancy Hilding says the bird is dependent on good water quality and cannot handle heavy sedimentation in the stream.
The remaining Black Hills dippers are clustered largely around Spearfish Creek, with a few near Whitewood Creek.
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