Custer State Park to Host Event for Bison Center

May 16, 2022

CUSTER STATE PARK, S.D. – South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) will host a ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony for the new Custer State Park Bison Center on Friday, May 20 at 11:00 a.m. MT.

“Custer State Park has played a key role in bison conservation for over a century,” said Governor Noem. “This one-of-a-kind center will allow the park to tell its story and educate future generations on the importance of the bison, including the bison’s importance to our Native American tribes. I’m grateful to Walter Panzirer and the Helmsley Charitable Trust for their generosity and commitment to this project along with the many donors who have helped shape this vision for the Park, for South Dakota, and its visitors.”

The Center was made possible thanks to a $4 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, $500,000 allocated from the South Dakota Legislature and an additional $500,000 in private donations raised by the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation. The Bison Center will tell the story of Custer State Park’s bison herd and educate future generations on the importance of bison through engaging and dynamic interpretive displays.

The free roaming herd of nearly 1,400 bison at Custer State Park is one of the world’s largest publicly owned bison herds.


The Bison Center will be a landmark destination for visitors from across South Dakota and around the world to understand the North American bison’s rich history and learn about Custer State Park’s role in preserving this magnificent animal,” said Walter Panzirer, a Trustee for the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “It has been exciting to be part of the project since inception, and I am honored to see it come to fruition with the ribbon cutting and grand opening.”

Speakers at the event include Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden, Walter Panzirer, a Trustee for the Helmsley Charitable Trust, Cabinet Secretary of Game, Fish and Parks Kevin Robling, and Custer State Park Superintendent Matt Snyder.

This is an outdoor event, located at The Bison Center near the bison corral complex off Wildlife Loop Road.

About The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S. and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives. Since beginning active grantmaking in 2008, Helmsley has committed more than $3 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes. Helmsley’s Rural Healthcare Program funds innovative projects that use information technologies to connect rural patients to emergency medical care, bring the latest medical therapies to patients in remote areas, and provide state-of-the-art training for rural hospitals and EMS personnel. To date, this program has awarded more than $500 million to organizations and initiatives in the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Minnesota, Iowa, Nevada, and Montana. For more information on Helmsley and its programs, visit


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