Sunday, November 1, 2015

Improvement Projects Begin at Good Earth State Park in South Dakota

PIERRE, S.D. – Improvement projects have officially begun at South Dakota’s newest state park, Good Earth State Park at Blood Run near Sioux Falls.

The first project got underway on Monday as crews prepped the site for a new entrance road and visitor center parking lot.

“It’s exciting to see the park taking shape,” said Doug Hofer, South Dakota State Parks director. “Organized efforts to recognize this important cultural site actually began over four decades ago. In 2013, the site was added to the state park system, and now with the development in full swing, the project is really moving forward.”

The park’s new entrance is located just south of the intersection of 269th Street and 480th Avenue on the western edge of the property. The roadway will connect to the planned visitor center, which is scheduled to start construction this winter.

The visitor center is central to the state’s plans to develop the park into a regional attraction and center for learning about the historical and cultural significance of the site. Good Earth is part of the Blood Run National Historic Landmark, which was an important gathering place and trading center for American Indians from 1350 to 1700 A.D. At one point, this site was home to the largest Oneota community known to exist. The visitor center will feature exhibits and programming focused on the history of the site and is expected to draw visitors and school groups from throughout the region and beyond.

“Many local, private, state, federal and tribal partners have worked to preserve and protect this site,” said Hofer. “The next step is to share its unique story. These improvements will help visitors enjoy the park, while remaining sensitive to the site’s cultural and natural resources.”

Hofer says the park’s seven miles of hiking trails will remain open during construction, though some minor reroutes may be necessary at times to avoid the construction activity.

Until the new entrance is open, visitors should continue to use the existing entrance road. A temporary parking lot will be established.

The entrance road grading project is expected to be completed in December. Construction of the visitor center will begin this winter with completion anticipated in fall 2016.  The entrance road will be surfaced early next summer.

Information on the Good Earth development plan can be found online at gfp.sd.gov.