Historic Blood Run on verge of becoming South Dakota state parkSIOUX FALLS, S.D. — After years of private fundraising and piecing together property parcels that for centuries were home to thousands of Native Americans, South Dakota officials are ready to make the picturesque acreage along the Big Sioux River a state destination.
By: Associated Press, Worthington Daily Globe
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — After years of private fundraising and piecing together property parcels that for centuries were home to thousands of Native Americans, South Dakota officials are ready to make the picturesque acreage along the Big Sioux River a state destination.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard, in his State of the State speech last week, said that he’s introducing a bill to designate the 600-acre Blood Run nature area as South Dakota’s 13th state park.
The governor is asking for $2 million in general funds to make the first phase of improvements and build a visitor’s center within two years, said Doug Hofer, parks and recreation director for the state Game, Fish and Parks Department.
Officials this past summer opened the property 11 miles southeast of Sioux Falls for self-guided hikes and appointment-only tours led by a veteran interpreter-historian.
Hofer said the response has been overwhelming. He counted 20 cars on the site when he visited with his grandchildren during a Sunday afternoon in mid-October.
“The interest is there,” Hofer said. “Once we’re able to move forward with providing more interpretation, more information about the history of the area, improve the hiking trails and ultimately build a visitors’ center there, I think it’s going to become extremely popular.”
The acreage along the Big Sioux River bordering Iowa was used by thousands of Oneota Indians into the early 1700s, and its diverse landscape boasts a large oak forest, rolling hills, flood plains and riverside bluffs. The site has a story to tell, holding historically rich burial mounds, refuse pits and artifacts.
“Long before white settlers came to what is now South Dakota, a number of Native American tribes gathered along a winding, wooded creek to trade, bury loved ones and establish bonds of peace and friendship,” Daugaard said in his address last week. “Rolling hills, broad floodplains, rock-covered burial mounds and steep riverside bluffs mark the area, one of the oldest sites of long-term habitation in America.”
The $2 million in state funds will be matched with $2 million in private donations being raised by the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation. The department is also shifting $1 million from its budget to the project.
Foundation fundraiser Dick Brown said the effort commitment will help turn Blood Run into a destination location for eastern South Dakota on par with what Custer State Park does for the Black Hills.
“It really will become the premier state park of the east, similar to what Custer is out here,” Brown said.
Blood Run, which was designated a national historic landmark in 1970, will be the first new property to become a South Dakota state park in more than 50 years.