New grant is giving Badlands National Park a modern way to showcase the ancient land formations

(Scarlett Lisjak)
Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 7:09 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) -America’s National Parks have been busier since the start of the pandemic and the Badlands are no exception, and more visitors means more revenue. However, what would the Badlands National Park do with an extra couple of million dollars?

Turns out, the Badlands National Park is over due for a new visitor center. Helmsley Charitable Trust Member, Walter Panzirer says the current one is not meeting the parks needs, “the park services told me, year after year they saw increased growth and increased growth, now its time, this visitor center was built in the 1960′s and its way to small.”

Helmsley Charitable Trust announced Monday that they will give a $3.3 million dollar grant to the project. Badland’s Park Superintendent, Mike Pflaunm says along with the large donation, the Badlands Natural History Association, and the Badlands National Park Conservatory will also help turn a dream to a reality.

“These organizations reached out and when they came aware that plans were happening, and basically came to us and said we would like to be part of it,” Pflaunm said.

Panzirer adds, the new center will give visitors all the modern conveniences while they learn about the past, “the visitor center is a launching point for the park, this is where the visitors get their first park experience, so its real important to have a modern visitor center, that’s ADA compliant, and also large enough to accommodate the groups, and tell the cultural history of the Lakota people here.”

And this comes at just the right time, Pflaunm says the park has seen enormous growth, “we had a banner year of visitation this year, despite the pandemic, we had one of the busiest years in recent decades and people love their parks and rightfully so, parks are great places for education, recreation, spiritual renewal and fresh air.”

Preliminary designs will start in the coming months, and will be an ongoing process.

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