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After pushback, Noem alters Custer State Park expansion plan

The new proposal given out to state lawmakers is a drastic scaling back of the proposal initially made by Noem during her budget address last December.
The plan aims to bring in more tourists to Custer State Park, but there’s a rising concern...
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.
Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 2:41 PM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. - Governor Kristi Noem is altering her pitch for new campsites at Custer State Park after resounding pushback from lawmakers and constituents.

The newly proposed expansion would create 66 new campsites on 50 acres in the park. The original proposal created 176 campsites on 75 acres of the park, at a different site in the park all together.

Additionally, the price tag on the project drops from roughly $10 million dollars to about $5 million dollars.

In a pamphlet given out to lawmakers by the Governor’s office touting the new proposal, it is explained that this new proposal would not impede on any elk migration patterns, nor would it have any impact on the existing buffalo herds in the park.

However, some lawmakers still feel that the project needs to be scrapped all together.

“This change doesn’t address the primary concerns of the state competing with the private sector,” said State Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller (R-Rapid City). “The government should stay out of it because it can be handled there.”

The proposal in it’s current form, HB 1048, has not yet received an initial hearing date. The Governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the new proposal.

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