National Guard finishes construction project at Bear Butte

MEADE COUNTY, S.D. — From April 24 to May 2, soldiers with the South Dakota National Guard 842nd Engineer Company partnered with South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks to refurbished the observation deck near the summit of Bear Butte as part of an Innovative Readiness Training project.

Bear Butte was established as a state park in 1961 and attracts thousands of visitors each year. Also known as Mato Paha or “Bear Mountain,” the geological laccolith formation is an important landmark and religious site for the Lakota and other Native American tribes.

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About 15 soldiers from the unit’s vertical construction platoon worked on the project as part of their two-week annual training. They replaced the deck boards on the foundation of the 30-by-16 foot structure, installed new railings, and installed about 40 feet of stairs leading up to the platform.

“With facilitation from Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Shay, our partnership with GFP has been seamless,” said Capt. Nate Livermont, 842nd commander. “Several factors contributed to the success of this mission; we were blessed with beautiful weather, thoroughly engaged partners from GFP, and consummate professionals from the 1-189th Aviation.”

One of the unique challenges of the project was Bear Butte’s elevation and rugged, steep terrain. The trail has a vertical climb of nearly 1,000 feet from the base to the summit and is nearly two miles long. In order to deliver the lumber, equipment, and supplies safely and efficiently, the SDNG’s Company C, 1-189th Aviation Regiment provided assistance with a HH-60 Black Hawk helicopter to sling load in the heavy materials.

In addition to providing skills training for the unit’s carpenters and other job specialties, the project also helped the soldiers work through problem solving and project management.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News