The Legion Lake Fire
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard
December 29, 2017 

There is no place like Custer State Park. Each year nearly 2 million people from all over the world come to see the buffalo, drive the wildlife loop, hike Lover’s Leap, fish on Legion Lake, and swim and kayak at Sylvan. The 72,000-acre getaway destination is home to the State Game Lodge – the historic building that President Calvin Coolidge used as his summer White House – and it is a place where memories are made.

Custer State Park employees could not have anticipated the events of the week ahead when they came to work on Monday, Dec. 11. That morning a call went out on the radio to relay that a fire had started near Legion Lake. As one staff member put it, “I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. Usually fires in December include a lot of mop up and just driving around.” But after arriving at the scene, it was clear this was going to be something entirely different.

Over the next two days, the weather conditions and terrain made things difficult. High winds, unseasonably warm temperatures, and dry conditions led the fire to grow to 54,000 acres, becoming the third largest recorded fire in the Black Hills.

We were very fortunate to have our own Type II Incident Command Team based in the Black Hills to lead the response. We could not have responded as quickly or as effectively without South Dakota Wildland Fire.

Professional and volunteer firefighters from all over the state and region responded. Local ranchers and Custer State Park staff all contributed. When high winds caused the fire to jump containment lines, firefighters, emergency responders, law enforcement and park staff went door-to-door to help families evacuate as the fire pressed at their heels. More than 340 firefighters worked that night, and in the days after, to protect primary structures. Their efforts helped abate the further spread of the fire into Wind Cave National Park, and limited damages to livestock feed, wildlife and timber. After containing the fire, they acted to mop up hotspots around Custer State Park facilities and to cut fire-weakened trees near roadways.

Thanks to the efforts of all involved, no lives were lost, no one was injured, and no homes or primary structures were lost. All 175 houses in the area were protected and the farmers, ranchers and local residents all had a home to which they could return for Christmas.

A fire can be healthy if it clears grass and undergrowth, and in many areas of the park, that’s what happened. Thankfully the buffalo herd and wildlife were largely unaffected. Custer State Park lost fencing, most of the winter pastures, and some stands of timber; but the recovery is well underway with fencing crews on site, hay purchases, and relocation of some of the buffalo to an unburned area.

The Legion Lake Fire could have been much, much worse, if not for the hard work and heroic efforts of our firefighters. It was South Dakota at its best – people from all across the state and region pulling together in a time of need. Thanks to the efforts of all involved, Custer State Park is open for business again. With good moisture, burned areas will turn emerald green next spring, as new grass emerges. 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.

U.S. Forest Service Map Prices Set To Increase January 1 For First Time In Ten Years


Prices of paper and plastic coated maps will increase to $14 on Monday, Jan. 1, 2018.

December 28, 2017

Custer, SD – For the first time in nearly a decade, increasing costs of production, printing, and distribution are driving the need for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service to increase the price of its maps. Prices of U.S. Forest Service paper and plastic coated maps will increase to $14 on Monday, Jan. 1, 2018.

The U.S. Forest Service continually updates its maps and looks for ways to enhance maps. The Forest Service expects to shorten the revision cycle as cartographers continue to apply new digital technology to the map revision process.

The U.S. Forest Service continues to increase the availability of digital maps. Digital maps for mobile applications can be downloaded here: Digital maps cost $4.99 per side.

Visitor maps for forests and grasslands within the Rocky Mountain Region are available for purchase directly from national forest and grassland offices. The Rocky Mountain Region manages 17 national forests and seven national grasslands in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Maps can also be ordered by mail, fax, phone, or online through the National Forest Map Store at

Phone your order to 406-329-3024
Fax your order to 406-329-3030

Mail your order and payment to:

USDA Forest Service
National Forest Store
P.O. Box 7669
Missoula, MT 59807

The physical location of the National Forest Map Store will soon be relocating to Portland, Oregon.  When the move is complete, the new address and phone number will be available online at

To help offset the pricing increase for volume sales, starting Jan. 1, 2018 discount pricing will be made available on sales of 10 or more of maps of the same title. Discounted maps are only available when purchased through the National Forest Map Store.

The U.S. Forest Service is dedicated to researching, producing and distributing informative, accurate maps that can help improve the experience on America’s national forests and grasslands. Additional online resources that may help users enjoy the great outdoors:

·        Interactive Visitor Map to help you find great places to go and explore

·        Know Before You Go for tips that can help you enjoy the outdoors and be safe

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains world-renowned forestry research and wildland fire management organizations. National forests and grasslands contribute more than $30 billion to the American economy annually and support nearly 360,000 jobs. These lands also provide 30 percent of the nation’s surface drinking water to cities and rural communities; approximately 60 million Americans rely on drinking water that originated from the National Forest System.

South Dakota State Park Fee Changes Go Into eEffect January 1, 2018

December 20, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. – Changes to state park campground classifications, as well as some entrance and facility fees will go into effect Jan. 1.State Park director Katie Ceroll said the changes reflect the increased demand for and use of the state’s campgrounds and facilities.

The department reviewed campground occupancy rates, which are used to determine the classification of the campgrounds and the per night fees charged. Camping fees for each of the classifications will not change, but fees at several parks will see a modest increase as they are moved into the correct category.

The following campground classifications include:

  • Basic campgrounds: Campgrounds without modern facilities. $11 nightly per non-electric site; $15 nightly per electric site. Includes 5 campgrounds.
  • Modern campgrounds: Less than 80% weekend occupancy during the summer; feature restrooms and showers. $13 nightly per non-electric site; $17 nightly per electric site. Includes 7 campgrounds.
  • Preferred campgrounds: 80-89% weekend occupancy during the summer; feature restrooms and showers. $15 nightly per non-electric site; $19 nightly per electric site. Includes 6 campgrounds.
  • Prime campgrounds: 90% or higher weekend occupancy during the summer; feature restrooms and showers. $17 nightly per non-electric site; $21 nightly per electric site. Includes 31 campgrounds.

Other fee changes include:

  • Elimination of the per person daily entrance license. The $6 per vehicle daily entrance license remains unchanged.
  • Camping cabin fee increase to $45 in all parks except Custer, which will remain $50 per night.
  • Campsites in French Creek Horse Camp in Custer State Park increase to $31 per night.
  • Increase in some group lodging fees: Mina Lake and Shadehill to $205 a night; and Lake Thompson, Palisades, Sheps Canyon, and Newton Hills to $280 a night.
  • Fort Sisseton South Barracks rental will increase to $500.
  • Lewis and Clark catamaran dry slip summer storage will increase to $325.
  • The Angostura catamaran dry slip summer storage will increase to $175.

For the most up-to-date information about each state park, visit

Elk Research Continues In Wind Cave National Park With The Collaring of 24 Animals

A crewmember from Leading Edge Aviation out of Clarkston, Washington, repackages one of the nets used to capture elk. (NPS Photo)

WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, S.D. – Twenty-four elk in Wind Cave National Park were recently fitted with GPS (Global Positioning System) radio collars to help monitor elk inside the park for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

This study, led by a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist, is evaluating whether it is possible to reduce the prevalence rate of CWD in the park’s elk herd by reducing herd density. Last year the park culled 262 elk from the herd. The recently installed collars will be used to help monitor elk movements and habitat use as part of this CWD study.

“We appreciate our partnership with the USGS and how they are helping us learn more about this disease,” said Park Superintendent Vidal Dávila.  “These collars and the information they provide will allow us to study the elk that are living inside the park and learn more about their movements and habits.”

The collars record the location of the elk every seven hours, and on a rotating basis, several elk each day will have their locations recorded every 15 minutes.  This is the second year of this study.

The Travel Industry Sparks Backlash By Stressing Quantity Over Quality

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The view of Cartagena, Colombia from Tierra Bomba. Despite being one of the most visited cities in South America, Tierra Bomba remains highly impoverished. Why doesn’t large-scale tourism benefit such a community? Carter Hunt, CC BY-ND

Carter A. Hunt, Pennsylvania State University

Travel is a major global industry, but in 2017 it attracted unprecedented resentment and retaliation towards tourists. A growing global backlash against tourism extended from tropical rain forests to urban destinations like Rio de Janeiro and Venice.

I have studied tourism’s social and environmental consequences along the coastlines of Colombia, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, in the rain forests of Peru and Ecuador, on the islands of Fiji and the Galapagos and across the savannahs of South Africa and Tanzania. My research and that of numerous other scholars spotlights a key fact: More tourism is not always better. Increasing the number of visitors has generated profits for travel companies – particularly the cruise ship industry – but it has not always benefited local communities and environments where tourism occurs.

Fortunately, once people are aware of the often surprising ways in which their trips impact local people and places, it becomes easy to ensure that their travel has more positive consequences for the destinations they visit.

A demonstrator holds a Basque-language banner that reads ‘Tourism = a poverty salary’ during a protest against massive tourism in San Sebastian, Spain, on Aug. 17, 2017. AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos

Billions on the move

Born from the accessibility of mass air travel, modern international tourism has been popularized as “holiday-making” in regions that offer comparative advantages of sand, sun and sea. Travel is often portrayed as a tool for personal growth and tourism as an economic motor for destination countries and cities. There is a tendency to assume that tourism is good for everyone involved.

Today the big bang of tourism drives more than 1.2 billion tourists across international borders each year, generates 9 percent of global GDP and provides one out of every 11 jobs on earth. But many popular places are literally being loved to death. Recent protests in ports of call like Venice and Barcelona against disturbances created by larger and more numerous cruise ships show the unfortunate consequences of emphasizing quantity over quality in tourism.

Unabated tourism development has become a primary driver of social and environmental disruption. Tourism studies, which came of age as a scholarly field in the 1970s, provides much documentation of the many negative social impacts of tourism and resulting resentment that local populations direct towards visitors.

Early tourism scholars even developed an “irridex” to measure this irritation with tourists among local residents. Later, scholars identified stages through which tourist destinations evolve. Antagonism toward tourists typically develops in mature, heavily visited destinations. Protests in heavily visited destinations suggest that traditional tourism has overstayed its welcome.

Resentment toward tourists, attacks on foreign-owned hotels and increases in crime against both tourists and local residents were regularly documented in the 1970s and ‘80s, at a time when only 2 to 3 million tourists were crossing international borders annually. So it is not surprising that such protests have escalated in scale and frequency as tourism has grown.

In Barcelona, for example, growing resentment of neighborhood gentrification, elevated real estate and rental prices, and erosion of local social networks has led some residents to call tourism the city’s biggest problem and label tourists as “terrorists.”

Nations compete for market share at the 2015 New York Times Travel show.

Friends without benefits

Residents often become frustrated when the benefits of tourism are not felt locally. Although it can generate foreign exchange, income and employment, there is no guarantee that multinational hotel chains will allocate these benefits equitably among local communities.

On the contrary, when people stay at large resorts or on cruise ships, they make most of their purchases there, leaving local communities little opportunity to benefit from tourist spending. These forms of tourism widen economic and political gaps between haves and have-nots at local destinations.

In recent decades, local residents in destination communities also have found themselves negotiating new cultural boundaries, class dynamics, service industry roles and lifestyle transformations. For example, data show that tourism activity corresponds to increased alcohol, drug and sex abuse as local residents adopt the behaviors of tourists, often leading to parallel upticks in crime, addiction and prostitution.

All-inclusive resorts can also privatize access to important coastal, marine, forest and agricultural resources. And when foreign investment drives up local land values and living costs to international standards, it may put ownership out of reach for local residents. In such situations, even people who depend on tourism will often question its ethics, whether they are rural Nicaraguan residents working in a newly booming resort industry or urban dwellers being priced out of their apartments by the sharing economy.

All-inclusive resorts (shown: Hotel Majestic Colonial Punta Cana, Dominican Republic) offer amenities such as shopping, child care, religious services and multiple bars and restaurants, reducing incentives to spend time outside the gates. Batle Group, CC BY-SA

Cruise lines miss the boat

Jim Damalas, owner of Si Como No ecolodge in Costa Rica, observes that publicly traded corporations do “not fall in love with the country, they fall in love with the numbers.” No form of tourism is more in love with the numbers than cruises. While all forms of tourism have grown in recent decades, the rise in cruise travel is dramatic. For instance, cruise visitors to Belize grew from 34,000 in 1999 to 800,000 in 2005.

Contemporary cruise ships can entertain as many as 5,700 passengers. These boats themselves are the destinations. As they bounce from port to port, they are not beholden to any particular community and provide only the most superficial levels of engagement with local people and places. Their business model emphasizes packing the greatest number of travelers into the greatest number of places in the shortest amount of time.

Research into the industry’s impact has shown that few forms of tourism do less to improve the social, environmental or economic well-being of the places where they occur than cruises. These trips may give passengers a pleasurable experience, but they miss the boat – pun intended – with regard to supporting local communities and environments.

Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class cruise ships can carry more then 5,400 passengers and displace roughly as much water as a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. Baldwin040, CC BY-SA

A better model

The United Nations declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. What does this mean for the everyday traveler? Here are a few of the U.N.’s suggestions, which research on tourism supports.

First, as Stephen Colbert has quipped, “There’s nothing American tourists like more than the things they can get at home.” All tourists should make every effort to honor their hosts and respect local conditions. This means being prepared to adapt to local customs and norms, rather than expecting local conditions to adapt to travelers.

Second, tourism is a market-based activity and works best when consumers reward better performers. Livelihoods, human rights and the fate of endangered species all can be affected by travelers’ decisions. In the information age, there is little excuse for travelers being uninformed about where their vacation money goes and who it enriches.

Informed travelers also are better able to distinguish between multinational companies and local entrepreneurs whose businesses provide direct social, environmental, and economic benefits for local residents. Such businesses are in love with the destination, not just the numbers, and are therefore deserving of market reward.

The ConversationIn the long run, the goal should not be just to minimize the impact of travel. Being a responsible traveler means ensuring net positive impacts for local people and environments. With the amount of information available at our fingertips, there has never been more opportunity to do so.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

Red Cloud’s War Exhibit


CUSTER, SD – The Indian Museum of North America® is proud to present a temporary exhibit on the 151st Anniversary of the Battle of the Hundred in The Hand. Red Cloud’s War opens on December 1st in the Native American Educational and Cultural Center® at Crazy Horse Memorial and is free to the public with admission. The exhibit, which focuses on Red Cloud as a strategist and the methods he used to outwit Federal forces, is open through January 31st. Taking a glimpse at what it took to defeat westward expansion for a time, visitors can see items attributed to Red Cloud himself, such as his cane and war club. Children of all ages can try their hand at Red Cloud’s strategies with chance games that test their own ability to maneuver the Plains in hopes of victory. We hope you will join us as we take a brief look at the genius of Red Cloud’s strategy and unifying power which shut down the American Army on the Bozeman Trail.

Cultural Programs at Crazy Horse Memorial Make Dreams Come True For Native Artist

Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation
December 7, 2017
CUSTER, SD – In 2018, Native performers, artists, and culture bearers can make their dreams come true by applying for six exciting Cultural Programs at Crazy Horse Memorial, in Custer, SD, which include Performers, the Talking Circle Speaker’s Series, Artist in Residence Fellowships, Artist Marketplace, the Mentor/Mentee program, and the Gift from Mother Earth Native and Western Art Show and Sale. Applications for these programs can be found at on the Crazy Horse Memorial website. Please return application materials, by email, to: or send to Loni Manning, Cultural Programs Manager, 12151 Ave of the Chiefs, Crazy Horse, SD, 57730-8900. The deadline for all Cultural Program applications is January 31, 2018, excepting the Mentor/Mentee program which has a rolling deadline.

Individual or group dancers, musicians, singers, and other performers are invited to apply. State or federally enrolled tribal members from North America, including Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians, or First Nations of Canada, and Mexico are invited to apply. Performers are needed from May through September for daily performances and for other special events.

Talking Circle Speaker’s Series
Native artists, musicians, actors, historians, cultural bearers, writers, and educators are encouraged to share their cultural knowledge and skill with visitors at Crazy Horse Memorial, through a 40-60 minute presentation on a Thursday evenings from June through August.

Artists in Residence Fellowships
Another exciting program being offered is the Artist in Residence Fellowship program for Native artists, musicians, and writers. Artists in Residence Fellows can sell their art to thousands of visitors, while sharing their art and culture in a workshop or lecture to the public. Artists may apply for one of the four one-month sessions between June and September. The artist is required to be present at the museum a minimum of 120 hours for the month.

Artists Marketplace
We are looking for highly qualified Native American artists, 18 years or older, to sell their authentic and reasonably-priced artwork to thousands of international visitors each day. Applicants must be members of a federally recognized tribe, a state recognized tribe, or certified as an Indian artisan. Indigenous artists from outside the United States, are also encouraged to apply for one or more of the five summer sessions between May and September. Artists are required to be on site from 10:00am – 7:00pm, 5 days each work week, with at least one of those days being Saturday or Sunday. Booth space in the Artist’s Marketplace is FREE.

This is a great opportunity for selected Native high school and/or college students to work with respected Native artists or culture bearers. Mentors will work with mentees for 100 hours of one-on-one or one-on-three learning in Traditional Arts, Storytelling, or Studio Arts. Applicants must be residing in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota or Wisconsin or be enrolled members of a state or federally recognized American Indian tribe from those states.

Art Show and Sale
The 28th annual Gifts from Mother Earth Native and Western Art Show and Sale juried competition will be held June 15, 16 and 17, 2018. The show is open to all artists, 18 years or older, working in a western or Native-inspired theme.
If you have any questions regarding the application or the review process, please call Loni Manning at 605-673-4681, X 286.

Drivers Urged to Use Caution when Driving Through Wind Cave National Park

Drivers need to be extra cautious during the winter driving through Wind Cave National Park due to wildlife on the roads.  (NPS Photo)

December 6, 2017

WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, HOT SPRINGS, S.D. – With the recent winter weather, bison are once again on or near the roadways of Wind Cave National Park, especially Highway 385 at the park’s south entrance.  Three bison were injured and one was killed in vehicle crashes in the park so far this season.

“Bison gather in the driving lanes, especially next to the cattle guards, where salt is most easily tracked in on vehicles,” said park superintendent Vidal Dávila. “Despite their size, these animals are very difficult to see on the park’s winding roads, all the more so at night or when visibility is poor due to winter weather.”

Bison and other large animals such as elk are drawn to the roads by salt used to melt snow and ice during winter storms. The park doesn’t salt their roads, but salt is carried into the park by vehicles from outside the park. Salt-laden clumps of snow and ice are frequently shaken loose while vehicles travel through the park or when vehicles rattle across cattle guards at park boundaries. The recent animal collisions occurred along US Highway 385, where salt is most prevalent.

The park may seek restitution for each animal killed if the driver is found to be negligent due to factors such as speed or driving under the influence.

State regulations do not allow the park to donate road-killed bison to food banks. The bison carcasses instead provided food for other park wildlife.

There are approximately 350 bison and 390 elk in the park.

Forest Service Hosts Two Virtual Job Fairs by Phone

December 5, 2017

LAKEWOOD, CO – The Rocky Mountain Region of the U.S. Forest Service will host two virtual job fairs by phone for job seekers interested in working for the U.S. Forest Service next summer. Over 900 temporary positions are available for the 2018 field season throughout national forests and grasslands in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.

During the one hour, toll-free call, recruiters will introduce job seekers to the U.S. Forest Service; provide information regarding available jobs; provide an overview of the application process; and answer questions.

Two Opportunities to Join In

  • Thursday, December 7, 2017 | 2-3 p.m. MST
  • Tuesday, December 12, 2017| 2-3 p.m. MST

Call-in Information & Instructions

  • Dial the call-in number: 1-888-844-9904
  • Enter the access code followed by the number sign: 7662084#

Temporary positions are available in a variety of exciting and rewarding occupations such as fire, trails, forestry, engineering, wildlife, recreation, fisheries, archaeology and administrative support. Temporary job opportunities are available online at

The Forest Service is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture that manages 193 million acres of land, roughly the size of Texas. The Rocky Mountain Region includes 17 national forests and seven national grasslands located in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.

For questions about the virtual hiring call, accessibility or to request an accommodation, please contact Lawrence Lujan at (303) 275-5356 or

Photo caption/credit: Virtual job fair graphic. Photo by Canva





Black Hills National Forest Seasonal Closures Go Into Effect Dec. 15, 2017  

December 4, 2017

Custer, SD, – Dec. 15, 2017 marks the beginning of winter recreation on the Black Hills National Forest as Forest officials open snowmobile, cross-country ski and snowshoe trails in the Black Hills area and close seasonal gates and recreation sites that do not remain open through the winter.

Gates are closed to provide a seasonal refuge for wildlife, protect road surfaces and other resources, and provide for public safety as some of the roads are converted into part of the snowmobile trail.

Seasonal closures also occur at many of the recreation sites including some campgrounds and picnic areas. Click here to see a list of campground sites that remain open in the offseason. Most restroom facilities and trash collection are closed for the season.

As a safety reminder, use extreme caution when driving on forest system roads as the road ahead may become impassable or hazardous due to ice and snow cover. National Forest System roads are not plowed or maintained during the winter.

Seasonal recreation sites and roads typically reopen mid-May, weather depending.

For more information on the Black Hills National Forest, visit, follow the Forest on Facebook: or Twitter: