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New nature park adds wellness to Brookings

By Jordan Smith

SDSU Collegian

BROOKINGS — What was once a landfill now offers residents of Brookings a place to get outdoors.

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The Dakota Nature Park, located on 22nd Avenue, was originally the city landfill, which closed in the mid ’90s. The city then capped off the garbage and dug four lakes, with the intention to turn it in to a nature park.

For a while, it was just empty land and in 2007-2008, a donation was offered to kickstart the development of the park, according to Parks and Recreation Director Peter Colson. The donation was initially given with the intent to enhance youth fishing.

Brookings Parks and Recreation Department collaborated with Big Muddy Workshop, a landscape architecture firm out of Omaha, Neb., and worked for about a year and a half on the master plan for the park. Additional donations were given for the project.

The park has been created with the help of feedback from the community. Public hearings have offered opportunities for community input and the developers have taken that feedback to develop a master plan, according to City Manager Jeff Weldon.

The park includes bike trails and fishing docks, along with more trails being added and park shelters, benches, bathroom facilities and landscaping improvements.

A central part of the park is the Outdoor Adventure Center of South Dakota. There is an archery range, 50 shooting positions and a small caliber gun range.

Added to the park will be mountain bike trail with a mountain bike skills park, which will include things such as log jumps.

The mission of the center is for education and programming to focus on nature and getting citizens outdoors.

The idea of the park is to preserve nature in an urbanizing community and allow citizens access to nature without having to travel great distances, according to Weldon.

“It is one more drop in the bucket that makes Brookings a unique community,” Colson said.