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Good Earth Campground concerns brought to Lincoln County Commissioners

Lincoln County Commissioners heard from homeowners presenting their experiences with the Game Fish and Parks Department, in hopes the Commission will join them.
Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 7:17 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Lincoln County Commissioners heard from homeowners presenting their experiences with the Game Fish and Parks Department, in hopes the Commission will join them in support of ongoing concerns.

Spring Creek Golf Course was purchased by The South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation in 2015, with plans to lease the land back to the golf course till 2025, when the land would be given to Good Earth State Park.

Homeowners were pleased with what they said they were told initially: either reverting the land back to natural grasses or continuing as a golf course. Either direction seems to fulfill the GFP’s goal of connecting people to the outdoors.

Homeowner Phil Keithahn says the existing golf course is viable and would be missed by a growing population in the area.

“The course is already efficiently used for outdoor recreation. Over 25,000 rounds of golf are played each year,” said Keithahn.

He also cited the schools in the area that use the golf course.

Homeowners were surprised to see the most recent plans. Barb Koopman remembers looking over the plans being shocked.

“The concepts are laid on the table as a campground. You know we did the same thing. Where did this come from?” said Koopman.

Many concerns were laid out: the cost to Lincoln County for additional road usage and security, uncertain land values, and damage to archeological artifacts underground.

When land started moving to create Springfield Golf Course, archeologists were called to the scene. They discovered over a thousand artifacts that were already moved and no longer in context. More is left underground, including possible burial sites. The land has a rich tie to the many Native Americans who once gathered to the location as a trading center.

“A new campground would partially be located within their largest cultural site discovered to date in the upper Midwest,” said Keithahn.

Lincoln County commissioners listened and confirmed what they heard.

“Upon the time they purchased this thing that to go in and make this more or less an extension, good earth or that kind of stuff. That was what they publicly said. And then somewhere along the line, the dialogue changed,” confirmed Commissioner Jim Schmidt.

Several Commissioners voiced concerns about the location of the campground near the encircling 80 home neighborhood. Commissioners also came to understand that although they could make a statement regarding the commission’s concerns, reviewing a permit to build the campground was not in their scope of influence.

“The state doesn’t have to apply for a permit,” said commissioner Joel Arends. “They can just build it and you know of course they want this commission to be opposed to that.”

The commission will review the information provided today, and decide on a possible official statement next week.

“We want that support as we continue on the path of going to elected and nominated officials,” said Koopman.

With the stories we’re bringing you regarding Good Earth State Park, we offer input from South Dakota Game Fish and Parks as well.

After our last story aired on December 20th, we heard from Scott Simpson, Director of Parks and Recreation at South Dakota Game Fish and Parks, requesting an interview to provide additional insight. We responded with interview opportunities and were told the GF and P would be in touch when schedules were coordinated. Since then, there has been no further correspondence.

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