SD: Campsites, Facilities Open This Summer In Pierre-Area Parks Impacted By Flood

PIERRE, S.D. – Despite last year’s Missouri River flood that
closed campsites and damaged facilities, the camping season outlook
is promising for two Pierre-area state parks.

State Park officials expect both Farm Island and Oahe Downstream
Recreation Areas to have many campsites and the majority of
facilities available for Open House and Memorial Day weekends in
May. Most campsites and facilities should be open by mid-June, but
total restoration from the flood will continue throughout the
year.

“We’re making progress in terms of recovering from the flood,”
said State Parks and Recreation Director Doug Hofer. “The mild
winter has benefited us greatly, and crews are working hard to get
the parks up and running as soon as possible. After last summer
with little camping opportunities in the Pierre area, we know lots
of folks are anxious to get out and enjoy the outdoors.”

Hofer released the timeline now for Farm Island and Oahe
Downstream Recreation Areas because reservations open soon for
those popular campgrounds. Reservations can be made 90 days before
arrival, with reservations opening on Feb. 18 for the first
official camping weekend of the summer, referred to as Open House
Weekend, on May 18-20. Memorial Day reservations open Feb. 25 for
arrival Friday, May 25.

Campers should keep in mind that full recovery will take quite a
while, Hofer said. While most areas and facilities will be open,
many will not be in the same condition as they were before the
flood. Visitors will see the effects in eroded shorelines,
accumulated sand dunes, patchy grass, damaged trails, and fewer
trees.

“The aftermath of the flood will be felt in these parks for some
time to come,” Hofer said. “We appreciate visitors’ understanding
as we work to make things right again. There is much to do to
restore the parks to their former condition, but we’re focusing
first on the major projects to get them in useable condition for
the summer.”

At Farm Island Recreation Area, 17 campsites, three camping
cabins, and picnic shelter 4, all located in the east campground,
will be reservable beginning with May 18 arrival. All 70 campsites
in the main campground and picnic shelters 1, 2, and 3 are expected
to open for June 15 arrivals, making March 17 the first day to
reserve those sites.

Throughout the summer, park visitors will have use of the
sanitary dump station, fish cleaning station, swimming beach change
house, day-use area, disability fishing pier and one of the comfort
stations in the main campground at Farm Island. New electrical
hookups will also be in place, and grass is expected to begin
growing this spring.

The causeway to Farm Island is open, and the island trails and
the Lewis and Clark Trail are in usable condition. This spring, GFP
staff will work to re-establish a trail base and lay materials to
improve the trail surface.

The main boat ramp will be open to Hipple Lake, but access to
the main river channel will not be possible due to the build up of
silt at the end of the island. Boaters will be able to access the
main river channel from the west boat ramp located near the polo
field, which will be improved into a two-lane ramp with expanded
parking later in the summer.

At Oahe Downstream Recreation Area, facilities reservable
beginning with a May 18 arrival include 56 campsites, located in
Campgrounds 1 and 3; four camping cabins located in Campground 3;
and picnic shelters 1 and 3. Another 137 campsites (including all
of Campground 2) and three more comfort stations are expected to
open for June 15 arrivals. The first day to reserve those campsites
is March 17.

This summer’s visitors should have use of the comfort stations
in Campgrounds 1 and 3, the boat ramp at Oahe Marina, fish cleaning
station, disability fishing pier, swimming beach, sanitary dump
station and the Cottonwood Path hiking trail. New electrical
hookups will also be in place, and grass is expected to begin
growing this spring.

Not available this summer at the Oahe Downstream Recreation Area
are several campsites and camping cabins in Campground 3. The force
of the rushing water along the stilling basin caused a massive
amount of shoreline erosion, obliterating 12 shoreline campsites
and forcing removal of camping cabins along the water. Only four
camping cabins will be available for summer reservations in
Campground 3; they were relocated to existing campsites to the west
of their original locations.

LaFramboise Island Nature Area, located in the city of Pierre,
will be closed throughout the year. Floodwaters destroyed the
causeway road leading to the island, and it is unknown at this time
when all repairs can be finished.

Campgrounds and facilities at other parks in the area, including
Cow Creek, Okobojo Point, Spring Creek and West Bend Recreation
Areas, are operational and on schedule for summer reservations.

Hofer said sites and facilities will continually be evaluated
and opened as soon as conditions allow. He encourages park users to
check the parks’ individual webpages and sign up for email news
releases at www.gfp.sd.gov to stay current on the latest
information.

 

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