U.S. Senators Tim Johnson and John Thune announced today that legislation to allow construction of a visitor center at the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site cleared an important hurdle after it was reported out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Johnson and Thune's legislation would transfer approximately 29 acres of National Forest Service land to the National Park Service to construct a visitor facility and provide parking. The legislation is now ready to be considered by the full Senate.
"We worked hard to establish the Minuteman Missile site in the late 1990s, and with my legislation, we can ensure that many more South Dakotans and tourists from around the world can learn about this historic site," said Johnson, a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. "I am glad the full Committee approved this legislation and it can now be brought to the Senate floor for consideration."
"The Minuteman Missile National site is a reminder of the historic and important role that South Dakota played in the Cold War arms race," said Thune. "Providing additional land to the Minuteman Missile site to be used for the development of a visitor's center will make a piece of South Dakota's past more accessible to students of history from around the globe. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move this important legislation through the Senate."
The launch control facility and missile silo that make up the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site were preserved to illustrate the history of the Cold War and the role the Air Force's Minuteman II Missile defense system played in efforts to preserve world peace.
The legislation builds upon a bill passed in 1999 that established Minuteman Missile as a National Historic Site, which required that two sites be evaluated as potential locations for a visitor center. The land transfer provided in the bill would allow for the construction of a visitor center and administrative facility at Exit 131 off of I-90 (about 70 miles east of Rapid City). The bill would also transfer 3.65 acres near the missile silo for visitor parking and other administrative uses. Congress provided funding for the construction of the visitor center when the Site was established.
The Minuteman Missile consists of the Delta-01 Launch Facility and the Delta-09 Missile Silo, located about 11 miles from one another on Interstate 90.
Johnson and Thune reintroduced the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site Boundary Modification Act (S. 459) on March 5, 2013.