A bill that has sparked more controversy than South Dakota lawmakers can remember has been struck down.
According to a report, the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee voted 9-3 Tuesday, Feb. 1, to defeat House Bill 1048, a proposed $4.8-million budget to build 66 campsites near Stockade Lake in Custer State Park.
The bill, sponsored by the Game, Fish, and Parks Department, was proposed to be a $10-million spend, expanding 176 campsites across the state park located in Central Black Hills.
However, after opposition from the public, GFP officials had shut down the proposal and even moved the proposed construction away from the tourist-friendly wildlife loop.
Although the amendments eased certain issues, the committee still voted against the plan. It cited a fervent public outcry from private campground owners, Custer County taxpayers, and even wildlife enthusiasts.
“I’ve had 1,500 emails, and none of them are in favor [of HB 1048],” said Rep. Trish Ladner, R-Hot Springs.
Game, Fish, and Parks Secretary Kevin Robling stumped for the revised program, citing family memories that are yet to be made and arguing the park was seeing a spike in interest.
However, opponents weren’t convinced by his image of expansion.
Representative Taffy Howard, R-Rapid City, compared the park unfavorably to over-populated national parks in the American West, such as Yellowstone and Yosemite.
“I believe Peter Norbeck would be rolling over in his grave if he could see what this generation is doing to Custer State Park,” Howard said.
To save the bill, Representative Tim Goodwin, R-Rapid City, proposed an amendment to further reduce the construction proposal by restricting it to only tent camping.
The measure, however, wasn’t met with much support.
Representative Dean Wink, R-Howes, said he has never seen as many emails during his time in the Legislature.
“I don’t think this [amendment] addresses the main situation I’m hearing in the emails,” Wink said.
The demise of the campground proposal is the second GFP project to face roadblocks within the Legislature this cycle.