Custer State Park, S.D. – The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has awarded a $1.8 million grant to Custer State Park to aid rehabilitation efforts following last December’s Legion Lake Fire.
The fire burned nearly 50 percent of Custer State Park’s 71,000 acres and is the third largest fire in Black Hills recorded history.
“The Legion Lake Fire took us all by surprise and could have been much, much worse, if not for the hard work and heroic efforts of our firefighters,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard. “It was South Dakota at its best; people from across the state and region pulled together in a time of need. And that hard work continues through rehabilitation efforts with help from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. By peak season, park staff will have the park in pristine condition, ready to give visitors the high-quality experience they have provided for decades.”
The grant funds will be put to immediate use extending over a three-year period to support aerial mapping, tree thinning, reseeding, weed control, erosion control and stream rehabilitation efforts.
“Custer State Park is truly a gem for the entire state of South Dakota,” said Walter Panzirer, a trustee for the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “The Helmsley Charitable Trust has already made significant investments in the park, providing funding for the theater in the visitor center and the remodel of the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center. We are pleased to assist with strategic efforts to mitigate the effects of the devastating fire and ensure visionary steps are taken to secure the park for future generations.”