Helmsley Trust grants $1.8 million toward Custer State Park fire rehabilitation project

Staff reports
Farm Forum

Custer State Park, S.D. — The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has awarded a $1.8 million grant to Custer State Park to aid rehabilitation efforts following last December’s Legion Lake Fire.

The fire burned nearly 50 percent of Custer State Park’s 71,000 acres and is the third largest fire in Black Hills recorded history.

The grant funds will be put to immediate use and extend over a three-year period to support aerial mapping, tree thinning, reseeding, weed control, erosion control and stream rehabilitation efforts.

“Custer State Park is truly a gem for the entire state of South Dakota,” said Walter Panzirer, a trustee for the Helmsley Charitable Trust, in a news statement. “The Helmsley Charitable Trust has already made significant investments in the park, providing funding for the theater in the visitor center and the remodel of the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center. We are pleased to assist with strategic efforts to mitigate the effects of the devastating fire and ensure visionary steps are taken to secure the park for future generations.”