With this week’s column I am going to continue the Joint Appropriations summer tour. Last week I wrote on the Human Services Center in Yankton. This week I am going to write on our committee’s visit to South Dakota’s newest state park in over 40 years, Good Earth State Park at Blood Run. Good Earth State Park is South Dakota’s 13th state park and will be dedicated on July 19th at 11am. This the first state park in the nation that will be a state park within two states (South Dakota and Iowa) and is divided by the Big Sioux River. The dedication ceremony will include both Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota and Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa.
Good Earth State Park is located just south east of Sioux Falls and can be accessed by heading east from the I-29 exit at Tea for just short of 10 miles. The acquisition of just over 650 acres on the South Dakota side totaled $4,282,030. This was funded with Game Fish Parks “Other Funds” of $633,559, federal funds of $1,594,617 derived from the Forest Legacy Grant & Land and Water Conservation Fund Grant, and $2,053,854 from the SD Parks and Wildlife Foundation. The federal grants were focused on preserving the vast beautiful oak forest on the property. The acquisition of the property at just over $6,500 an acre is really a bargain in today’s real estate market especially considering its proximity to the largest population development area in the state. Sellers of the property certainly were interested in preserving the beauty of the area and even more importantly the historical significance.
South Dakota hopes to be able to acquire additional property in the future to bring South Dakota’s side of the park to around 800 acres. Currently Iowa has just over 200 acres on their side of the river and they have plans to acquire an additional 1,000 acres making the entire park in excess of 2,000 acres. The long range plan includes two hiking and biking bridges to be constructed across the river to allow visitors to access both states and also add camping sites as currently there are none. The park is a beautiful series of hiking trails that allow the visitors to experience the history of the area along with some spectacular views.
The 2013 Legislature approved the establishment of the Good Earth State Park along with the authorization of $5 million to construct the Good Earth State Park Visitor Center. The $5 million is funded with $2 million from the 2014 state fiscal year general fund budget and $1 million from the GFP Parks & Recreation Funds and $2 million from the SD Parks & Wildlife Foundation.
The area is rich in history. One might think that the name Blood Run would suggest it was the site of a great battle; however, it was named by European explorers because of the iron in the water that gives it a reddish coloration. Archaeologists believe the site of Blood Run was used as early as 6500 B.C. but the main occupation by the Oneota came around 1500 A.D. and was very active around the end of the 17th century. In its peak there were as many 10,000 people who may have been on site at various times of the year. Descendants of these people are known today as the Omaha, Onca, Ioway, and Otoe. The area was believed to have been the main trade area for the soft red stone known as catlinite which came from nearby quarries at Pipestone and were used by the Native Americans for ceremonial items including pipes. In 1714, the Dakota Sioux took control of the area and pipestone trade. There are many burial mounds and evidence of Native American camp sites within the park area.
I encourage everyone to take time and visit the park as it is truly a treasure for both states. Thank you for your interest in state government. You may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling me at 350-1371.