The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has given a $1 million donation to assist in the construction of a new visitor center at Custer State Park.  Governor Dennis Daugaard made the announcement. The money will be leveraged with other private and public dollars to build the project. 

“I appreciate the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s generous financial support of the Custer State Park Visitor Center project,” said South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard. “Their generosity will provide visitors with a unique experience – something they can only gain at Custer State Park.”

Gov. Daugaard and the SDPWF publicly recognized the Helmsley Charitable Trust and its representatives – Walter Panzirer, trustee, and Shelley Stingley, program director – during the South Dakota Game Fish and Parks Commission meeting this morning.

“This strategic grant will assure that the park’s 2 million annual visitors will have an increased understanding of the wildlife, history and attractions at one of the largest state parks in the nation,” stated Spencer Hawley, president of the SDPWF Board of Directors. “It will be used for construction of the new theater, which will be the centerpiece of the visitor center.”

The South Dakota Legislature and the Game Fish and Parks Department allocated a total of $2 million to the CSP Visitor Center project in 2013 while the SDPWF committed itself to seek additional private funds for the total project budget of $5 million.

Hawley emphasized that the grant puts the SDPWF in a position to leverage an additional $2 million in private and public donations for the project.