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GFP News - November 9, 2015

George S. Mickelson Trail - Mount Rushmore National Memorial Connector Trail Project Moves Forward

PIERRE, S.D. - The highly-anticipated project to create a connector trail from the George S. Mickelson Trail to Mount Rushmore National Memorial is taking a big step forward.

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) and project partners have commissioned an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for the project, which will solicit public involvement and assess any potential impacts the proposed route may have on the environment.

"The EIS is really the first official step towards this project becoming a reality," said Al Nedved, assistant director for GFP. "It will hopefully clear the way to construct the connector trail in the near future, a vision over eight years in the making and shared by many."

Funding partners for the study are the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation and the Mount Rushmore Society. The U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service contribute to the project as land management partners.

The Mickelson Trail runs 114 miles through the heart of the Black Hills. It has earned recognition as a must-visit attraction from national travel websites and publications. The trail takes visitors from Edgemont to Deadwood, featuring seven trailheads in area towns, several bridges and rock tunnels, views of Crazy Horse Memorial and a connector trail into Custer State Park. Last year trail users purchased nearly 20,000 annual and daily passes to bike and walk the Mickelson Trail.

A connector trail to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the state’s biggest tourist attraction, is expected to be hugely popular. The proposed 15-mile connector trail would start south of Hill City and take visitors to the parking lot vicinity of the memorial.

The majority of the funding for the EIS is provided for as one of the Heritage Projects proposed by Gov. Daugaard and approved by the 2013 Legislature.

The other two Heritage projects - the creation and enhancement of Good Earth State Park and the construction of a new visitor center at Custer State Park - are well underway. Good Earth became a state park in 2013 with trails established and native prairies restored over the past two years. Work on a new entrance road and a visitor center began this fall. The state-of-the-art visitor center at Custer is currently under construction and is expected to open next spring.

"It’s great to see the progress these projects have made since the Governor first proposed them," said Nedved. "They offer so much in terms of education, recreation and quality of life. The Mickelson Trail - Mount Rushmore connector trail will be a special opportunity for the people of South Dakota and our visitors."

HDR Engineering is consultant on the EIS and will coordinate with the U.S Forest Service, which is the lead federal agency. The project will include working with the land management partners and offering opportunities for public input.

The final issuance of the EIS is expected in 2017.


Many Furbearer Seasons Underway

PIERRE, S.D. - As of Nov. 7, many of the furbearer seasons across the state began. The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department (GFP) wants to remind individuals to leave trapping equipment or furbearers in traps undisturbed. Tampering with either one is a violation.

"Trapping is a recreational opportunity enjoyed by sportsmen and women across the state," said Keith Fisk, GFP wildlife damage program administrator. "Our agency is reminding individuals who come across trapping equipment or furbearers in traps to not disturb the animals and equipment as the trapper will be checking the traps in accordance with state regulations."

Traps (including snares) are designed to humanely hold furbearers. When individuals voluntarily shoot a furbearer in a trap thinking they are assisting the trapper; they oftentimes destroy valuable pelts which can lead to conflicts.

"Dispatching furbearers in traps is best left to the individual operating the devices," said Fisk.

In 2014, 3,577 sportsmen and women pursued the renewable natural resource of wild fur as a recreational outdoor activity. Trapping is an important component of wildlife management and serves as a critical role in managing South Dakota’s furbearer populations.

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Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve to Host Christmas Celebration

NORTH SIOUX CITY, S.D. - Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve near McCook Lake invites visitors to get in the holiday spirit and step back in time by attending the annual Christmas at the Homestead on Saturday, Nov. 14, from noon to 4 p.m. CST.

The free family event allows participants to tour the Stavenger Church, Shay/Adams House and Lamont Country School which will be decorated for the Christmas season. Adams Homestead volunteers and area businesses will display their talents in each of the homestead buildings.

Visitors can enjoy refreshments in the Visitor Center, make children’s crafts in the school and hear Christmas music in the church throughout the day.

"Vendors will be displaying their talents, and visitors will get a chance to do a little shopping while enjoying homemade goodies and the warmth of a fireplace," said park manager Jody Moats. "Santa Claus will also be handing out goodies and taking pictures in the visitor center."

For more information, call Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve at 605.232.0873. Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve near McCook Lake is located one mile west and one-half mile south of Interstate 29, Exit 4.




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