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Concerns raised over proposed campground’s effect on wildlife

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 5:47 PM CST
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CUSTER STATE PARK, S.D. (KOTA) - There’s growing debate about a campground plan proposed by Governor Kristi Noem. The plan aims to bring in more tourists to Custer State Park, but there’s a rising concern about what that could mean for wildlife in the area.

A $10 million investment to bring in more tourists to the Black Hills. That’s what Governor Kristi Noem is proposing with a new campground that would be located near the Wildlife Loop in the park.

Noem’s communications director Ian Fury tells us in a statement that the new campground would help to “continue to connect people and families to the outdoors and showcase the natural beauty that we all love.”

However, there are organizations concerned about more than just the tourism aspect.

The Black Hills Sportsman Club penned a letter to state officials expressing their opposition to the proposal, claiming it will displace the elk herds in that area.

The organization says, “This would cause a large disturbance not only in the footprint of the campground but also miles around it.”

But state lawmakers have faith that the proper studies of how this could impact wildlife will be conducted.

“I’m confident that our Department of Game, Fish, and Parks will do what’s necessary as they’re looking into where the expansions will go where the appropriate spots are,” says House Majority Leader Kent Peterson. “They do that already, so I’m confident that will be part of the process as this comes to fruition.”

If approved, the campground would begin construction by 2023.

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