Legislators hearing “outcry” of opposition for Custer State Park campsite bill

Although the topic is set to be debated next week, those in favor and against have voiced their feelings. In other words, feedback is mounting.

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Legislators in the Custer area haven’t had any shortage of feedback in regards to a campsite expansion by Governor Kristi Noem in Custer State Park.

In her budget address, Governor Noem asked lawmakers to allocate about $10 million to build over 130 campsites in Custer State Park near Wildlife Loop Road, the help with the state’s tourism industry.

Although the topic is set to be debated next week, those in favor and against have voiced their feelings. In other words, feedback is mounting.

“It’s an outcry like nobody’s heard,” said District 30 Representative Tim Goodwin.

South Dakota lawmakers are now set to hear House Bill 1048, which will be presented at the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee next week in Pierre.

Those who oppose the bill are asking legislators to preserve the area in and around Wildlife Loop Road, which is often a highlight for tourism.

Many of those concerns have been heard by Rep. Goodwin, who says he originally supported the bill when it was first announced by Governor Noem in December of last year.

However, that support among Rep. Goodwin and many other legislators has faded. They say that the way the bill is currently written, it’s sure to be ‘dead on arrival.’

“I think it’s unfair to do that, but I had such overwhelming outcry and I’m, my title is Representative,” Goodwin said. “That means I represent the constituents in my district and when you start having over 1,000 emails telling you not to do it, I just finally said, ‘OK, I’ll vote no’.”

A portion of the feedback has come from campground owners, who say that with the bill, the state is interfering with private sector business. However, as Goodwin says, legislators are tasked with hearing both sides before coming to a decision.

“Another thing they come up with, maybe downsizing or lots that wouldn’t be in competition with private sector, and it would be a, you know, a lot less money,” Rep. Goodwin said. “You know, we listen to it. I mean, yeah, I’ll listen to it, but yeah, I think that’s what we need is compromised, is to say no before we see it. I think the series is possible.”

Later on Wednesday, NewsCenter1 learned from legislators that the Governor’s Office floated a scaled back proposal, which would ask for $5 million in tax payer funds as opposed to $10 million.

Csp Campground 7

The new proposal would also utilize 50 acres, near Stockade Lake away from Wildlife Loop Road and would create 66 campsites instead of over 175.

According to Representative Trish Ladner, legislators received a “flyer” that said the new location isn’t in the area of any endangered species and won’t impact the buffalo or elk herds on Wildlife Loop Road. She also said that the new campsites will serve more as a replacement to campsites lost at Stockade Lake and not an expansion.

Rep. Ladner says that she’s received more than a few hundred emails on the subject.

NewsCenter1 will bring you the latest information and reaction with the proposal as we learn more.

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