Below are press releases from the Governor's Office and the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP), along with other news, as it relates to the master planning efforts for Spearfish Canyon State Park and Bismarck Lake.

Media Contact: Katie Ceroll, Division Director of Parks and Recreation, at

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Press Releases

January 26, 2017
No Entrance Fees for Spearfish Canyon State Park
Entrance fees are no longer being considered for the proposed Spearfish Canyon State Park, Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced at his weekly legislative press conference this morning.

January 23, 2017
First Public Input Session on Spearfish Canyon Master Planning Efforts is Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. MST

“There are multiple decisions to be made regarding the Spearfish Canyon area right now,” stated Kelly Hepler, GFP department secretary. “We want the public to be very well educated on this topic so they can make informed decisions as we move forward. This is the first of many public input sessions to ensure that the Governor’s vision for this area is met with feedback, transparency and openness.”

January 12, 2017
Spearfish Canyon Volunteer Advisory Committee Application Deadline Approaching
GFP would like to remind interested citizens and organizations about the deadline for application to serve on the Volunteer Advisory Committee (VAC), as part of the proposed Spearfish Canyon State Park master planning efforts. The deadline is Jan. 18, 2017, at noon MDT.

January 4, 2017 - time change of first public input session is now 7 p.m. on Jan. 26.
Proposed Spearfish Canyon State Park Master Planning Contract Awarded
Today, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) announced that Peaks to Plains Design, PC will be the consultant in the master planning efforts for the proposed Spearfish Canyon State Park and Bismarck Lake areas in the Black Hills.

October 7, 2016
Envisioning Spearfish Canyon State Park
Spearfish Canyon is another jewel of the Black Hills – a natural wonder that rivals those of Custer State Park. That’s why I’m excited about the possibility of establishing Spearfish Canyon State Park in the upper portion of the canyon.

September 30, 2016
State of South Dakota Provides Additional Information on Proposed Spearfish Canyon State Park
Today South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks released a list of frequently asked questions with answers to provide a better understanding of the proposed Spearfish Canyon State Park and Bismarck Lake areas in the Black Hills.

July 14, 2016
Congressional Delegation Furthers Governor's Spearfish Canyon State Park Vision
Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s plan to create a new state park at Spearfish Canyon is progressing thanks to South Dakota’s Congressional Delegation. Sen. John Thune today introduced federal legislation to authorize a land exchange between the federal government and the State of South Dakota. The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Mike Rounds. Rep. Kristi Noem also today introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives.

February 4, 2016
Expanding Outdoor Opportunities in Spearfish Canyon
Over the last few months, the Spearfish Canyon Foundation has been working with the state Game, Fish and Parks Department to acquire a beautiful property from Homestake Mining Company. Within just a few weeks the Foundation will donate funds to Game, Fish and Parks for the purchase of 73 acres in Spearfish Canyon, including Spearfish Falls. That land, along with two other adjacent state-owned parcels including Roughlock Falls, is the genesis of an opportunity for our state.

News Articles (not an all inclusive list)

January 25, 2017
Spearfish Canyon :: A State Treasure by Jerry J. Boyer
The state is exactly the proper caretaker for the people of South Dakota. The care provided by Homestake did not cost us a thing. But, the honeymoon is over, and it’s time we take responsibility. It’s the least we can do.

January 19, 2017
Spearfish Canyon State Park Plan :: Better Resource Management for the Future or State Land Grab?
Roberts and Hepler think the massive backlogs in repair and maintenance in the existing federal forest system tell a compelling story on behalf of their argument that the state has more resources to manage the property now and especially into the future. And they believe there’s plenty of public support out there, too — or will be, they say, when they get a chance to explain the details of the plan.

January 19, 2017
GFP Aims to Protect Spearfish Canyon
No matter the rumors you’ve heard, or the assumptions that have been made, we can all agree that special places like Spearfish Canyon and Bismarck Lake need to be protected. Plain and simple, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks would like to be the caretakers of these wonderful places. That’s why Gov. Daugaard proposed creating Spearfish Canyon State Park and including Bismarck Lake as part of Custer State Park. We believe we are the best organization to preserve and protect the future of these areas. We have the experience, we care for the environment, and we work with and for the people. Balancing use and providing responsible stewardship is what drives our vision for these sites.

January 15, 2017
Governor :: Land Swap Under Consideration Separate from Spearfish Park Plan
"People think it's all one decision, and it's not," said Daugaard, who was in Rapid City on Friday to address the Chamber of Commerce and to meet with the Rapid City Journal editorial board. "They're all separate decisions. Do you want a land swap to create a larger block of state-controlled land? Secondly, do you want to name this block or any part of it a state park? And thirdly, do you want to charge any kind of fees?"

January 12, 2017
First Public Input Session on Spearfish Canyon is Jan. 26
The first public input session will be held on the proposed Spearfish Canyon State Park and Bismarck Lake areas will be held Jan. 26, according to a statement from South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. The first session will take at 5:30 p.m. at the Spearfish Park Pavilion located at 115 S. Canyon St.

January 8, 2017
No-Fee Pledge Haunts Spearfish Canyone State Park Plan
Current GFP Secretary Kelly Hepler took the same position last week during a visit to the Journal while he and other state officials were in the Black Hills to promote the state park plan. He said no fees will be imposed to drive through the canyon on U.S. Highway 14, but said other fees are possible and are under discussion as part of a master-planning initiative that will include public input sessions. Hepler indicated that some user fees will be necessary to operate the proposed park. He said annual interest from the $600,000 fund established in 2006 amounts to only about $6,000, while the cost to maintain basic visitor infrastructure at Roughlock Falls — which is already designated as a state nature area — along with Spearfish Falls and Savoy Pond is about $34,000 annually.

December 8, 2016
$2.5M in Budget for Spearfish Canyon State Park Proposal
The fiscal year 2018 budget proposed Tuesday by Gov. Dennis Daugaard includes $2.5 million to create a state park in Spearfish Canyon.

October 14, 2016
Gov. Daugaard Hosts Media Information Tour to Bismarck Lake and Proposed Spearfish Canyon State Park
On  Thursday morning October 13, 2016 a group of state officials and media outlet representatives met at Bismark Lake/Bob Marshall campground in Custer State Park for the start of a four and one half hour information tour, that ended at the proposed Spearfish Canyon State Park. 

October 14, 2016
Gov. outlines plan for Spearfish Canyon State Park
Gov. Dennis Daugaard and other state officials outlined plans for a future Spearfish Canyon State Park Thursday, which has been proposed through legislation by Sen. John Thune.

October 14, 2016
Gov. Daugaard visits Spearfish Falls to promote vision of state park
As Gov. Dennis Daugaard hiked the steep switchbacks on the trail to Spearfish Falls on Thursday afternoon, he recalled a previous visit in 2003, when he was only lieutenant governor.

October 10, 2016
Latest in land-swap controversy: Forest chief apologizes for comments
The new supervisor of the Black Hills National Forest is apologizing and admitting he erred when he said top South Dakota officials failed to communicate with his office about a controversial land-exchange proposal. Mark Van Every, who became the supervisor of the forest in August following the retirement of his predecessor, Craig Bobzien, said in a Sept. 23 interview with the Journal that neither he nor any of his top staff was consulted about the proposal.

October 9, 2016
Spearfish Falls access dispute settled
The settlement of a lawsuit has resolved uncertainty surrounding public access to Spearfish Falls, and it has also sparked changes to the visitor experience there and removed a minor obstacle to a proposed state park in Spearfish Canyon.

October 1, 2016
State pushes back in support of land-swap to create new state park
South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks officials have released more information regarding the state's position in favor of the proposed land-swap of Spearfish Canyon State Park and Bismarck Lake areas in the Black Hills.

August 2, 2016
Spearfish Canyon Could Be Home To New State Park
Federal legislation by the state's congressional delegation would authorize a land swap between the state and the U.S. Forest Service to create the 1,600-acre Spearfish Canyon State Park. It would make Spearfish Falls — a state-owned feature midway up the federal scenic byway through the canyon — a more prominent and visited part of the canyon experience.

July 20, 2016
Parts of Spearfish Canyon could become a state park
South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks is soliciting proposals from consultants to assist the department with a master plan proposal. Through this effort, it's hoped the public will become interested in the project and give input.

July 18, 2016
Part of Spearfish Canyon Closer to Becoming State Park
“The bottom line here is, the state park taking over pieces of this property will only make the canyon more beautiful and we will be secured into the future the protection of this national scenic byway,” says Susan Johnson with the Spearfish Canyon Foundation.

July 15, 2016
Congress asked to OK land swaps in Spearfish Canyon, near Custer State Park
South Dakota’s congressional delegation has introduced bills calling for a state-federal land swap that would allow the expansion of Custer State Park and the creation of a state park in Spearfish Canyon.

February 7, 2016
Spearfish Canyon plan is something we can do for future generations
South Dakotans would be short-sighted not to agree with our governor that Spearfish Canyon is a gem that needs to be set aside for all generations to come.

January 15, 2016
State takes big step toward creating Spearfish Canyon park
A key piece of what eventually could be a new Spearfish Canyon state park moved into place Thursday. The state Game, Fish & Parks Commission voted unanimously Thursday to accept 73 more acres, including Spearfish Falls, in the scenic northern Black Hills.