INTERIOR, S.D. (KELO) — Over $5 million in donations were awarded to the Badlands National Park for a new visitor center.
Rain or shine, these folks were not going to miss today’s big announcement.
“This is an exciting day for the park because we are taking a major next step for a proposed new visitor center for this great place,” Mike Pflaum, Badland National Park, said.
The Ben Reifel Visitor Center here at the Badlands National Park was built in the 1960s, it was in need of some major renovations for decades.
A new visitor center is the answer.
“So we look forward in the near future for the visitors that come through these lands to see the partnerships and the friendships between the Badlands National Park and the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe and the preservation of our history and our culture and our language,” Angela Koenen, Cultural Liaison for Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe, said.
Jim Hagen with South Dakota Tourism says this has been one of the biggest years in the state’s tourism history.
“We have seen the interest in this park, especially globally just explode,” Hagen said.
Hagen says this is an exciting time for the Badlands National Park and all its visitors.
“We want them to be able to have facilities or have places to stay or to visit attractions that are very memorable and will stick with them for the rest of their lives. So when you can have a new facility that helps us tell that story and gives them that special experience, that’s what it’s all about and that’s what will make that trip so memorable,” Hagen said.
The Helmsley Charitable Trust granted $3.3 million for the project. The Badlands Natural History Association donated $1.8 million. And Badlands National Park Conservancy donated $100,000. Designs and an exact timeline for the new visitor center are under discussion.