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Plan to connect Mickelson Trail to Mount Rushmore moves ahead

FORT PIERRE — The state Game, Fish and Parks Commission informally agreed Friday that Gary Jensen, of Rapid City, should be its member on the building committee that will oversee the project connecting the George S. Mickelson Trail to Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Because the project involves federal property and wilderness area, a full environmental impact statement will be assembled, according to Al Nedved, assistant director for the state Division of Parks and Recreation.

Seven companies including three with offices in South Dakota submitted statements of interest by the July 25 deadline to do the EIS work, Nedved told the commission. He said the seven will be whittled to three in the next few weeks, followed by face to face interviews with representatives of the selected three.

The contractor will be selected from those three, Nedved said.

The U.S. Forest Service is the lead agency but South Dakota is providing $500,000 for the EIS. The money was appropriated by the Legislature two years ago at the request of Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

The state building committee will include state Game, Fish and Parks Secretary Jeff Vonk, commissioner Jensen, a representative from the Office of State Engineer and a member of the GFP staff.

Nedved said he’s been working with Black Hills National Forest supervisor Craig Bobzien on the broad outlines of the project.

“A lot of work has went into this effort,” Doug Hofer, director for the state Division of Parks and Recreation, said.