The Black Hills Chapter of Dakota Rural Action (DRA) voted unanimously to oppose the proposed Spearfish Canyon and Bismarck Lake Land Exchange. One concern is this is a test case for transferring Federal lands to states or private corporations.
In 2015, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard began exploring legislative options to swap land between the Black Hills National Forest and South Dakota State Parks. The land exchange would include 1,468-acres of Spearfish Canyon and Little Spearfish Canyon in Lawrence County, as well as the 525-acre Bismarck Lake and Camp Bob Marshall site adjacent to Custer State Park.
In addition, South Dakota’s Congressional delegation has introduced federal legislation directing the land exchange.
Many Black Hills residents have made it very clear they oppose this issue. However, Gov. Daugaard continues to push the land exchange. Recently, Senate Bill 114 was introduced in the South Dakota Legislature. This bill appropriates $2.5 million to acquire the property and declares an emergency. The bill will be heard in front of the Joint Committee on Appropriations soon.
This land exchange has happened with little public input and in a secretive manner. Members of the Black Hills Chapter of Dakota Rural Action feel the US Forest Service has done an outstanding job over the decades in maintaining and improving these two very popular recreational sites using a management philosophy strikingly different than that of the South Dakota state park system. These are National resources should be equally available to all of our citizens, and should be managed with that National scope in mind.
The Black Hills Chapter of DRA would like to encourage everyone to call and write your South Dakota Legislators and Gov. Daugaard. Let them know you oppose this land swap and SB 114.
The Black Hills Chapter of Dakota Rural Action is the local organization of DRA which is a 30-year statewide grassroots organization helping to organize South Dakotans in protecting our natural resources and promoting conservation in the state of South Dakota.