Good Earth State Park
Big Sioux River, South Dakota. Photo by Clint Miller/The Conservation Fund.
At A Glance
- South Dakota's first state park in more than 40 years.
- Located within Blood Run National Historic Landmark.
- The are is considered the most important Oneota cultural site in the Midwest.
- The state’s first Forest Legacy project.
“The cultural, educational, natural beauty and opportunity for outdoor activities of this site is of immeasurable significance to our state and the nation,” said South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard. “The opportunity to preserve this resource is a testament to the effort of so many agencies, organizations and individuals that shared this vision.”
Good Earth State Park is South Dakota’s first state park in more than 40 years. The Fund became involved with efforts to create the park back in 2011, when the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks needed help acquiring more than 250 acres of high quality oak woodlands, savanna and native prairie along the Big Sioux River. Good Earth is located within Blood Run National Historic Landmark, which is considered one of the oldest areas of long-term habitation in the country. The park was officially dedicated by the Department in July 2013.
Visitors to Good Earth from nearby Sioux Falls and beyond can currently enjoy nature hikes through oak woodlands, savanna, native prairies and scenic vistas that stretch along 1.6 miles of the Big Sioux River. The future visitor center will share cultural and educational information about the rich history of the land and the peoples who lived there, as well as serve as a hub for the network of trails and planned interpretive routes.
Historical And Cultural Significance
For centuries, the Northeast corner of Iowa and the Southeast corner of South Dakota have been a significant hub for ancient as well as modern civilization. The location of Good Earth State Park is considered the most important Oneota cultural site in the Midwest. The Oneota, and the Native Americans who came before them, were drawn to this forested land along the Big Sioux River for its abundance of food and shelter resources, making it a vibrant place of trading and ceremonial activity.
South Dakota’s First Forest Legacy Project
The Forest Legacy Program, administered by the USDA Forest Service and funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), works with state agencies and local landowners to protect environmentally important forests that are threatened with conversion to non-forest uses. South Dakota competed nationally with 63 other projects and was one of 20 selected for 2013 Forest Legacy funding. The Forest Legacy funding and additional funds provided by the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation were used by the Department to acquire this forestland from the Fund for the park in 2014.