Gov. Dennis Daugaard sent a letter to Director of the National Park Service Jonathan Jarvis today, proposing to allow the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks to operate the Elk Mountain Campground at Wind Cave National Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
The National Park Service recently announced that the 64-site Elk Mountain Campground would be closed through the 2013 camping season due to budget cuts. Gov. Daugaard offered to assist Wind Cave by continuing to provide this recreational opportunity for visitors to South Dakota.
"South Dakota has a worldwide reputation as a vacation destination, and the staff of our state parks does an excellent job in providing a pleasant camping experience," Gov. Daugaard wrote in his letter. "In order to assist the National Park Service in providing recreational opportunities for visitors to Wind Cave, the State of South Dakota would be pleased to operate the Elk Mountain Campground for the 2013 season."
The Governor added that, because 6,600 people used the 64 campsites last year, he believes the state could operate the campgrounds at a profit.
South Dakota's Department of Game, Fish and Parks manages a vast state park system, with almost 8 million visitors each year. In 2012, more than 270,000 campers utilized campsites in state parks and recreation areas throughout South Dakota.
"With the camping season approaching, visitors to South Dakota are looking for opportunities to enjoy our beautiful Black Hills," added the Governor. "I hope the Park Service will partner with us to find a way to keep this campground open."