INTERIOR — Visitors of Badlands National Park are set to see major upgrades to their experience after the National Park Foundation announced Monday it will be receiving over $5 million in grants.
The headline of these improvements includes a new visitor center on the Cedar Pass — aiming in part to provide park visitors with more opportunities to learn about the Badlands' natural, cultural, historical and recreational resources.
The center will also improve scientific study and understanding of its unique paleontological and geological resources to help people connect with the history, culture and heritage of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Lakota People.
The project's funding was provided mainly by a $3.3 million grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust, which has contributed over $3 billion to a variety of charitable causes since 2008.
“Badlands National Park’s layered rock formations and stunning buttes offer visitors a breathtaking glimpse into a scenic landscape that began forming millions of years ago,” said Walter Panzirer, a Helmsley Charitable Trust trustee. “We’re excited to lead the funding effort to construct a new, modern visitor center to highlight the park’s splendor and significance.
The Badlands Natural History Association and the Badlands National Park Conservancy also contributed, donating $1.8 million and $100,000, respectively.
"The Badlands Natural History Association has proudly supported Badlands National Park for 60 years and we are excited to join the National Park Foundation and the Helmsley Charitable Trust in the collective effort to make the visitor experience even better,” said Sam Benne, board president of the Badlands Natural History Association.
Randy Seiler, chair of the Badlands National Park Conservancy, said the Conservancy is honored to complement these grants with their own contribution.
National Park Foundation President and CEO Will Shaforth said the Foundation is grateful to the Helmsley Charitable Trust, noting the visitor center will be a "stellar" experience for visitors now and for generations to come.
The release specify an exact location for the planned visitor center, but the Cedar Pass is located approximately 11 miles into the park from the northeast entrance.