GFP Looking at Turning Spring Creek Country Club into Trailer Park
The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks is set to take over Spring Creek Country Club in 2025. Their preferred idea seems to be that of turning it into a trailer park.
According to Dakota News Now, GFP has plans of building a campground on a large portion of the existing golf course that is currently surrounded closely by 80 homes. Those existing residents are understandably not happy about the prospect of campers (large trailers), fire pits, partiers, and dump stations in their neighborhood that is now mostly covered with manicured grass.
On Monday, GFP sent out an email seeking more public input on the three options they have proposed for the site. One has no camping, a picnic day-use area, and a disc golf course. Another with "12% camping," which in reality turns a majority of the golf course into a campground with archery and disc golf. The "20% camping" concept is closer to the whole thing becoming a campground with a bunch of camper hookups, cabins, and of course, disc golf and archery. The number of native grass areas planted in the latter two proposals is virtually none.
This plan is not what neighbors were told when the property was purchased by the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation in 2015.
“There was going to be a return back to natural grasses. So we were like, Okay, that’s cool,” said Barb Koopman. “The state GFP had meetings but they split the HOA and there was only two HOA fees involved. There’s five HOA’s out here. A concept for the campground. That did not go over well at all."
In 2025, the golf course will become part of Good Earth State Park at Blood Run. The new picture of what will happen then is not the one that was painted in 2015 by the foundation's former president. From a Dakota News Now article dated July 10, 2015:
South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation past president and Blood Run project chairman Jeff Scherschligt said "we're not only preserving history, we're preserving some beautiful land. Ultimately, when you're adding this to the park, for good, forever, we just made a purchase that we know is going to be part of South Dakota's resources for thousands...forever."
As it turns out, it would also preserve the former Spring Creek #9 fairway as a dump station for human waste from people's Winnebago's. It would be there forever for those who live down Pymid lane to drive by on their way home and get to see Uncle Eddie emptying the sh---er instead of golfers approaching the number nine green.
This is the kind of thing that turns conservation into a farse. The "Parks" portion of "Game, Fish, and Parks" does not seem to concern itself with conservation.
In the minds of those at GFP, there seems to be only one way to do parks and that is to build modern camping facilities with pavement, picnic shelters, and bathhouses. In 2016 and 2017, then-Governor Dennis Daugaard and the GFP hatched a plan, with the aid of Senators John Thune, Mike Rounds, and then-Congresswoman Kristi Noem sponsoring legislation, that would have exchanged relatively worthless state land in Lyman County for a large chunk of Spearfish Canyon, owned federally and run by the National Forest Service.
The plan for Spearfish Canyon was to turn it into a campground, pour roads, build camping facilities and other manmade amenities that would ruin a natural and beautiful place. they also planned to charge people to enter a place that was and is free to enter. Daugaard ended up backtracking on the fees, but the project imploded after hundreds of people voiced opposition to it.
Spring Creek is different, they already have the land. GFP will most likely be able to do almost anything they want. When they took possession of Roughlock Falls in Spearfish Canyon, an area that was overused by tourists and had eroded stream banks, their solution was to put up chain-link fences and pour concrete sidewalks. It looks more like something at a mini-golf course than a natural wonder.
There is nothing wrong with campgrounds. My family goes camping every summer. There are plenty of those facilities in the state. However, GFP is only interested in creating facilities that generate revenue. When the Spearfish Canyon project was proposed, representatives from GFP, including the one I interviewed, spoke of park visitors as customers. That insinuates that they are a business providing a service or product. Even the words used in the email they sent out for feedback is concerning. The opening paragraph reads:
"The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Department is seeking additional public input on the future development and use of the Spring Creek Country Club near Canton (Harrisburg)."
That should not be their mentality. The state parks department is not a developer. They should be concerned with the conservation of wild places first. Along with that, they should at least be respectful of their new neighbors, all 80 of those homeowners. If it makes sense to put in a campground somewhere, like on a lake or Missouri River reservoir, go for it. When you build a campground adjacent to water recreation areas, and you have the room for a disc golf course, put it up. But most of what is proposed for Spring Creek is not really to the benefit of anyone but GFP.