South Dakota’s Custer State Park gets boost – of nearly $2 million – in bounce-back from historic wildfire

CUSTER, S.D. — South Dakota officials say efforts to rehabilitate Custer State Park after a historic wildfire will be helped by a $1.8 million grant from a charitable trust established by the late hotel and real estate baroness Leona Helmsley.

The funding announced recently will be used over three years to support aerial mapping, tree thinning and stream rehabilitation, among other initiatives. The December fire, which burned about half the park, was the third largest in Black Hills recorded history.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard says hard work that started with responding firefighters has continued to rehabilitation efforts, with the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust’s help. Daugaard says park staff will have it in “pristine condition” by peak visitor season.

Helmsley trustee Walter Panzirer says the organization is pleased to help “secure the park for future generations.”