SPRINGFIELD — Time is short to save a southeast South Dakota recreation spot.
Faced with a briefer-than-expected time for fundraising, Bon Homme County sportsmen will be scrambling in coming weeks to raise between $50,000 and $100,000 to expand fall dredging operations at the Springfield boat basin and marina.
A $142,000 grant administered through the state Department of Game, Fish & Parks will be used to dredge a 120-by-500-foot channel from a boat ramp at one end of the small, 15-acre bay to its Missouri river outlet on the south end. Dredging operations begin next month.
While they’re grateful for the grant money, members of the Bon Homme Bass League, a group composed of three area bass clubs, say that merely dredging the channel won’t make the marina as functional as it needs to be. They want to add money to the project and dredge 6 to 8 more feet of mud from the entire marina.
“Nothing has been done here in more than 40 years. This whole bottom is just a marshy muck nearly 10 feet deep,” said Tim Peterson, president of the Bon Homme Tourism Association, and president of the Springfield Bass Club.
He pointed to a Labrador retriever in the large pond.
“He’s walking; he’s not swimming,” he said.
Peterson said the once 8- to 10-foot deep marina is now less than a foot in depth and a floating pier now sits high, dry and unused on the empty boat ramp. A popular fishing pier for handicapped anglers also had to be removed due to shallow water.
Josh Pesek, an officer with the Lake Henry Bass Club, said the loss of the marina means that Springfield will suffer economic losses as well as the loss of a valuable recreation facility.
In the past, the marina was used as a staging area for fishing tournaments. Without a usable marina for a staging area, the state bass association this year decided to move a major tournament, which had been scheduled for Springfield, to nearby Yankton.
Bass tournaments have an economic impact to the area, Pesek said, bringing thousands of dollars that go for lodging, food and gasoline.
Tom Logue, owner of Tyndall Motors and president of the Bon Homme Bass Club, said support has been strong for expanding the dredging project, which would be completed by the end of the year.
“I haven’t heard from anyone who doesn’t want it,” he said. “It’s vital to the area’s economy.”
Logue said a large part of the cost of dredging is set-up time. If money can be found to extend the contract, it will be a cost-effective opportunity that will benefit the entire community, he said.
Peterson said fundraising would have started earlier in the year, but GF&P officials recommended against raising money until the state grant was finalized. That process took longer than expected.
Letters will go out soon to area sportsmen’s clubs and civic organizations asking for support, and prize donations are being collected for a raffle that will include items such as a $3,000 vacation getaway. Tickets were scheduled to go on sale this week.
Individual donations may be sent to the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 329, Springfield, S.D., 57062.
Peterson said Springfield’s economy needs the business the marina can bring to town.
“We have a short fundraising window, but I think we can do it,” Peterson said. There are lots of people who have used this facility who would like to use it again.”