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$4M put toward Custer State Park Bison Center

"Custer State Park has played a key role in vison conservation for over a century," Gov. Noem said this Friday at the 55th Annual Buffalo Roundup.
"Custer State Park has played a key role in vison conservation for over a century," Gov. Noem said this Friday at the 55th Annual Buffalo Roundup.(Brianna Schreurs KOTA/KEVN)
Published: Sep. 25, 2020 at 3:06 PM MDT
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CUSTER STATE PARK, S.D. (KEVN) - Custer State Park has the money to build a Bison Center to educate visitors about the history of the bison herd. The Center will feature dynamic interpretive displays and tell the origin story of the park’s bison, herd management and the annual Buffalo Roundup and Auction.

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust awarded a $4 million grant to the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation to construct the Custer State Park Bison Center, Gov. Kristi Noem announced this Friday at the 55th Annual Buffalo Roundup.

“Visitors to South Dakota are treated to breathtaking landscapes, and the bison are a crucial part of that,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “Custer State Park has played a key role in vison conservation for over a century. This one-of-a-kind center will allow the park to tell its story and educate future generations on the importance of the bison. I’m grateful to Walter Panzirer and the Helmsley Charitable Trust for their generosity and commitment to this project.”

The free-roaming herd of nearly 1,400 bison at Custer State Park is one of the world’s largest publicly owned bison herds. Once complete, the Custer State Park Bison Center will give visitors the opportunity to learn about the important role the park plays in the preservation of the North American bison.

“We are excited to lead the funding effort to make the Custer State Park Bison Center possible,” said Walter Panzirer, a Trustee for the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “Custer State Park is known worldwide for its scenery, wildlife, and outdoor recreation. To help ensure the park’s educational opportunities reflect the grandeur of the park, Helmsley has made significant investments, providing funding for the Custer State Park Visitor Center and the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center. The opening of the Custer State Park Bison Center will provide visitors a landmark destination to learn about and understand Custer State Park’s role in preserving the North American Bison.”

The grant funds will be put to immediate use extending over a two-year period and puts the SDPWF in a position to leverage an additional $1 million in private and public donations for the total project budget of $5 million. The center is set to open in the spring of 2022 and will be located near the Custer State Park corral complex.

Pranzirer also announced his family would donate $100,000 go toward the Bison Center.

SDPWF is a nonprofit, independent support organization for the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks. To learn more about the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, click here.

Copyright 2020 KEVN. All rights reserved.

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