Spearfish Canyon State Park Idea Gets Lost in the Forest [OPINION]
The proposed land swap between the federal government and South Dakota to create Spearfish Canyon State Park has drawn opposition from the supervisor of the Black Hills National Forest and leadership of the U.S. Forest Service.
Governor Dennis Daugaard proposed the idea in January. To most of us the idea made sense. Citizens don't really care which level of government controls the public space we want to use. In South Dakota our state does a good job of both protecting our land, and offering access to it.
There is legislation in Congress to transfer the land. It is supported by Senator John Thune, Senator Mike Rounds, and Representative Kristi Noem. Opposition to the legislation from federal bureaucrats came up during testimony last week.
The Feds argue they have invested a lot of money in the area, specifically Bismarck Lake, and they are concerned the land swap would diminish their investment.
In my opinion, I don't see the logic. The state would not block access to the federal improvements, and the state would maintain them. A win for the public.
The South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Department sent out the following release speaking in favor of the proposal. Below is the statement, along with links to a map and frequently asked questions:
Today South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks released a list of frequently asked questions with answers to provide a better understanding of the proposed Spearfish Canyon State Park and Bismarck Lake areas in the Black Hills.
"This proposed trade is an important opportunity to preserve these important sites and allow more visitors to enjoy them. We want South Dakotans to have the best information about this proposal and the process as it moves forward,” said GFP Secretary Kelly Hepler.
In January 2016, Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced a plan to provide for the establishment of a new state park in Spearfish Canyon. Daugaard recognized the area’s significance to South Dakota’s heritage and saw the need and opportunity for future generations to have a memorable and quality experience in this part of the state.
His plan called for a land exchange with the Black Hills National Forest to pave the way for the creation of a 1,600-acre state park in the Little Spearfish Canyon area. In July, Senator John Thune introduced legislation in the United States Senate to facilitate the transfer with the support of Senator Michael Rounds and Representative Kristi Noem.
“Spearfish Canyon contains some of the most renowned natural, scenic and cultural resources in the country,” said Gov. Daugaard. “Our state’s Game, Fish and Parks agency has acquired, improved and preserved many resources in the canyon in the last decade when they were in peril from overuse and misdirected management. We have an opportunity to extend that same kind of responsible stewardship with the creation of Spearfish Canyon State Park.”