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Good Earth dedication on Friday

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO AM) -- South Dakota will officially dedicate Good Earth State Park at Blood Run on Friday as its first new state park in over 40 years.

"We want to preserve this culturally significant site for future generations," said Gov. Dennis Daugaard. "By setting aside this land as a state park we will protect its natural beauty and provide an excellent educational opportunity about a site that was a peaceful Native American trading and ceremonial center for centuries."

Good Earth State Park at Blood Run is located just southeast of Sioux Falls and is part of the Blood Run National Historic Landmark. The landmark lies on both sides of the Big Sioux River at the mouth of Blood Run Creek, and includes over 3,000 acres of land in South Dakota and Iowa.

The river, abundant wildlife, fertile flood plains, availability of pipestone and protection from winds made the site an important gathering place and trading center for American Indians from 1350 to 1700 A.D. During the latter part of that period, Blood Run was the largest Oneota site known to exist anywhere. Archeologists speculate that there were 6,000 to 10,000 people utilizing the village that served as a trade and ceremonial center for the entire region.

The park was officially designated as a state park during the 2013 Legislative session but the project has been in the works for several decades.

The National Park Service recognized the site’s cultural and historical significance and named Blood Run a National Historic Landmark in 1970. Over the next several decades, the states of South Dakota and Iowa purchased pieces of land within the landmark.

The major acquisitions came recently in South Dakota, where over 400 acres of pristine natural property have been added to the park over the last two years.

"Partnerships have been key to this project from the beginning," said Doug Hofer, South Dakota State Parks Director. "The outpouring of support from both public and private entities has been phenomenal."

Hofer noted The Conservation Fund as an important partner. As a national non-profit organization dedicated to saving special places and land for public use, the organization acquired a key portion of the park and held it until funding was available for the state to purchase the property.

Hofer also praised the many donors that have contributed to the project, as well as the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation for their major role in leading the fundraising effort.

The dedication, which is open to the public, will take place 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. CDT on July 19 at the site. Scheduled speakers include Gov. Daugaard, GFP Secretary Jeff Vonk, members of area tribes, SD Parks and Wildlife Foundation Past President Jeff Scherschligt and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. Guided hikes of the new park will be offered following the ceremony.

For more information on Good Earth State Park at Blood Run, visit www.gfp.sd.gov.