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Groups Question South Dakota Governor’s $10M Campground Plan

Governor Kristi Noem’s plan to add almost $10 million worth of campsites at the Custer State Park (South Dakota) has raised concerns from various groups, citing potential disturbances to wildlife populations, vehicle traffic, and more.

According to a report, potential impacts to wildlife populations, vehicle traffic, and the private sector that could come with a 50% increase in the 71,000-acre park’s camping inventory were raised by former park officials, lawmakers, and other industry groups.

At the end of last year, the Office of the Governor and South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks revealed plans to make a 750-acre land along the Wildlife Loop Road known as Barnes Canyon in the west-central part of Custer State Park for camping.

The 175 proposed campsites will come with electricity and are connected by newly built paved roads and four shower and bathroom facilities, referred to as comfort stations. The entire project is estimated to be priced at $9.9 million and will produce as much as half a million per year once it’s fully operational.

However, private campground owners are rallying against the plan, and the former GFP Park officials and GFP employees are urging caution.

Earlier this month, the South Dakota Campground Owners Association has issued a statement opposing the expansion of the public-owned campground in the Black Hills. Several individual campgrounds owners spoke to the Argus Leader last week that they felt betrayed by Noem’s proposal.

Many have accused the governor of the hypocrisy of repeatedly championing free-market principles while pushing to increase the state government’s stake in the Black Hills campground market.

We just feel we can’t compete against the financial might of state government,’ said Bill Paterson, owner of the Big Pine Campground about a mile southwest of the city of Custer. “We always thought she was a governor who would be on the side of small business, but frankly, it’s standing on the throats of small business.”

Paterson said he’d like those dollars instead to be used for standing up the season with housing for workers that could assist private campgrounds located in the Black Hills.

The increase in overnight stays in the park may also put pressure on GFP in the near future to expand commercial services within the park. If traffic congestion worsens, GFP could be forced to expand roads or install traffic signals at high traffic points within the park, Rollie Noem, a former park director, warned.

If the project is approved, construction could begin as early as 2023, with the campground opening in 2024.

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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: Groups Question South Dakota Governor's M Campground Plan! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/usa/south-dakota/groups-question-south-dakota-governors-10m-campground-plan/