SD seeks input on state park expansion

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

GARRETSON, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota officials are seeking public input to direct the layout and use of a project to expand Palisades State Park near Sioux Falls.

The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks met with Garretson residents and local officials Wednesday about their concerns and opinions on the expansion plan near the town, the Argus Leader reported . The department wants to double the 157-acre (64-hectare) park’s footprint, as well as add 70 campgrounds, new amenities and recreational uses.

Palisades State Park, just 20 miles northeast of Sioux Falls, is one of the smallest but busiest state parks, with more than 90,000 visitors each year.

“This is an opportunity for the entire state of South Dakota and visitors who come here to really benefit from it,” said Jeff Van-Meeteren, a regional park supervisor for the department. “It’s such a small park. We desperately needed new space.”

The park features cliffs and rock formations, attracting campers, hikers, rock climbers, kayakers and canoers to the destination.

Some residents at the recent public input meeting suggested a bike trail running through the park, connecting to Garretson.

Shannon Nordstrom, the town’s school board president, said the trail could bring Garretson residents to the park and visitors to the town.

“When you’ve got these two places so close as a community, you want to make sure you tie them together,” Nordstrom said.

The park’s current entrance runs along the south side of Garretson, but the department is considering moving the entrance since there’s a housing development underway nearby.

VanMeeteren said the department is open to all ideas on how to layout the park, such as designating a new entrance and exit or having two entrances.

“I’m very grateful for people willing to work with us,” VanMeeteren said. “They all caught the vision we want to do.”

The department plans to solidify its expansion plans next year.

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