Daugaard: No Entrance Fees For Spearfish Canyon State Park

PIERRE, S.D. – Entrance fees are no longer being considered for the proposed Spearfish Canyon State Park, Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced at his weekly legislative press conference this morning.

Daugaard says the prospect of fees has been unpopular among people who frequent the canyon and say it would restrict their access to the area. “Based upon the public input I have received on creating a state park in Spearfish Canyon, I am recommending against entrance fees,” Gov. Daugaard said. “South Dakotans feel a fee would restrict access to the canyon. I respect that sentiment, so my administration is taking entrance fees off the table.”

Initially, Gov. Daugaard suggested no entrance fee be required to drive through the canyon on the highway, but that otherwise the proposed state park should consider charging similar fees as the rest of the state park system. Current fees for the 60 state park and recreation areas are charged per vehicle and are $6 per day or $30 for an annual license. Through conversations with stakeholders, the Governor and Game, Fish and Parks Secretary Kelly Hepler decided against entrance fees.

A former Department of Game, Fish and Parks secretary promised that fees wouldn’t be charged in 2006, when the agency obtained the canyon from mining companies for restoration.

A discussion on other types of fees will still take place, according to GFP. How to manage fees for those seeking special use of the area for weddings, camping or other events will be addressed at upcoming public input meetings.

“How the plan develops will depend greatly on the public’s input,” Secretary Hepler said. “We look forward to a healthy discussion from all viewpoints.”

At the press briefing, the Governor broke down the proposal into three components: the federal legislation authorizing the land-swap, the decision whether to create a state park and the determination on fees. The proposal is still in preliminary stages, with the land-swap bill in the early phases of the legislative process.

Gov. Daugaard concluded by inviting the public to continue to give input.

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