Wind Cave National Park
Buffalo jump on the newly acquired land. Native Americans hunted buffalo over a thousand years ago, driving them over buffalo jumps, or cliffs. Photo courtesy National Park Service
Did You Know?
- The Fund helped expand Wind Cave NP by more than 5,500 acres.
- Wind Cave, established in 1903, was the 1st cave designated as a national park and the 8th national park in the country.
- Wind Cave is home to one of America’s most ecologically-significant bison herds, which dates back to bison relocated to the park from the Bronx Zoo and Yellowstone in the early 20th century.
In 2011, the Fund worked with the National Park Service to add more than 5,500 acres to Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota.
Considered a sacred place by the Lakota, Wind Cave is one of the longest and most complex caves in the world. It’s known for its outstanding display of boxwork, an unusual cave formation composed of thin calcite fins resembling honeycombs. On the surface, the park now features more than 30,000 acres of mixed-grass prairie and ponderosa pine forest that provide important habitat for bison, elk, pronghorn, mule deer, coyotes, and prairie dogs.
Wind Cave’s New Land
The process of adding the 5,500-plus acres to Wind Cave NP began in 2000 when the Casey family approached the service about selling their property to the park. In 2005, with support from the South Dakota Congressional delegation, Congress passed legislation to expand the park. When the Casey family put up their land for auction in 2010, we purchased the property and held it until federal funding became available in 2011 and then transferred it to the park service.
The property includes a thousand-year-old buffalo jump and a historic homestead. Native Americans hunted buffalo on the newly acquired land over a thousand years ago, driving them over buffalo jumps, or cliffs. The tract also features Native American tipi rings and other cultural sites.
“The addition of this historic ranch to the park will help ensure that people for generations to come can come to know and love this treasured landscape and have the opportunity to learn about the indigenous peoples of South Dakota,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.
Looking To The Future
Park staff will now start the public planning process to allow visitors to experience this new land. The Visitor Access Plan/Environmental Assessment will determine, among other things, where and if hiking trails will be constructed. Broader planning over the next year will address how to comprehensively integrate this land into the rest of the park and address whether or not any new visitor service facilities are needed and whether or not existing wildlife management plans are adequate.