First State Park in 40 Years

Good Earth State Park was officially dedicated in 2013, but The Conservation Fund became involved with efforts to create the park back in 2011 when we purchased more than 250 acres of unspoiled woodlands, savanna and native prairie along the Big Sioux River. This largest remaining intact forestland within Blood Run was the cornerstone of South Dakota’s first state park in more than 40 years. The Fund temporarily protected the property while the State sought funding for its permanent protection.

Two years later, the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks received funding through the Forest Legacy Program. Administered by the USDA Forest Service and funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), this federal grant program 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 Forest Legacy funding, making it the state’s first Forest Legacy project.

In 2014, with the generous help of additional funds from the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation, a key piece of the puzzle was put into place when the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks purchased the property from The Conservation Fund.

Why This Project Matters

A hike along the Big Sioux River up to one of the park’s scenic vistas will make you feel like you are more than just 10 miles outside of bustling Sioux Falls and will help you experience what the landscape was like for our country’s earliest inhabitants. The future visitor’s center will share cultural and educational information about the rich history of the land and the people who lived there, as well as serve as a hub for the network of trails and planned interpretive routes.

“The cultural, educational, natural beauty and opportunity for outdoor activities of this site [are] of immeasurable significance to our state and the nation. The opportunity to preserve this resource is a testament to the effort of so many agencies, organizations and individuals that shared this vision.”
—South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard.

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