Last updated on 2013.01.09
Haycation? Try raycation.
USA Today features Edgemont's Sunrise Guest Ranch as a great place for a rural vacation. Country Living editor Jourdan Crouch mentions the organic dude ranch's trail rides, buffalo and turkey hunts, and the nice view of the Cheyenne River.
Crouch does not mention that dudes will want to take in that view from a distance:
In the western part of the state, nearer to past uranium mining sites, Angostura Reservoir shows high incidences of Thorium, a radioactive decay product of Uranium. In 2006, the SD Department of Environment and Natural Resources reported uranium exceeding the drinking water Maximum Contaminant Level was entering the Cheyenne River at the South Dakota - Wyoming border which would flow into the Angostura Reservoir. Although not used for drinking water purposes, the radioactivity can enter human bodies when swimming, boating, or also from breathing radon gas in the water, another decay product further down the chain from Thorium. Many old and current uranium mining sites are near the headwaters of the Cheyenne River in Wyoming ["Report of Radioactive Pollution in State's Water," Defenders of the Black Hills, 2011.03.20].
Also not mentioned in this travel report: Sunrise Ranch owner Mark Hollenbeck's intent to conduct in situ leach mining for more uranium in the southern Black Hills and thus further endanger the watershed. Hollenbeck's company Powertech successfully pushed legislation this winter that stripped South Dakota of regulatory authority over uranium mining. Hollenbeck and Powertech insist punching more holes in the Hills for radioactive minerals is safe; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission remains unconvinced.
I'm seeing a slight brand conflict here. When tourists consider a dude ranch trip, they want to come home with glowing from hard work and sunshine, not the boss cowman's uranium mine.
Bonus Xenonucleophobia: Powertech is one of several Canadian companies seeking to mine more American uranium. Foreign companies hauling away our glowing gold raise alarms among environmentalists, national security hawks, and the U.S. mining industry, which laments that America imports most of its nuclear reactor fuel.