U.S. Senators Tim Johnson and John Thune announced today that legislation to facilitate construction of a visitor center at the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site was unanimously approved by the Senate. 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 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
"The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site provides a unique window into the history of the Cold War," said Johnson, a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. "With the land to construct a visitor center, the Park Service will be able to more fully tell the story of this historic site to visitors from around the world. I am glad the Senate approved this legislation, and I hope the House will do the same so work can begin on the visitor center."
"The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site is a reminder of the 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 am pleased the Senate has passed this important legislation, and I urge the House to quickly follow suit, leading the way for the president's approval."
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 law passed in 1999 that established Minuteman Missile as a National Historic Site. 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. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee favorably reported the bill on March 14, and the full Senate approved the measure by unanimous consent on June 19.