South Dakota

Credit: Dakota News Now

The South Dakota Campground Owners Association plans to head back to the Capitol today (Feb. 17) for a public hearing on state code § 9-38-1 that stipulates that a municipal campground could be added, or expanded, if the private campgrounds within 15 miles approve.

Senator Al Novstrup wants to amend the law to allow government-owned campgrounds to expand against the judgment of nearby privately-owned campground businesses, according to Dakota NewsNow.

SDCOA’s Lobbyist and Executive Director Mary Arlington, who is also a former owner of a rural RV park, says, “Fifteen (miles) isn’t far enough. When I was a park owner, the county seat was 18 miles away. Its activities in the community’s venues brought guests. Had the municipality expanded its camping facilities, fewer would have needed my services, causing a negative impact to my private business. Rural communities shouldn’t have a mindset that damages the private business owners. Even the two Kampgrounds of America’s (KOA) that were an hour on each side of me, their franchise agreements prevented me from becoming a KOA because those two parks owned the territory on either side of me. If KOA believes a park draws from 60 miles away, then 15 miles is too narrow. Why is the state considering weakening a bill with more and more exceptions?”

One East River campground in the private sector is the Sioux Falls Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort. Aside from providing compensation packages to their employees, it has sustained three generations of the Aljets family.

Owner Bruce Aljets says, “Perhaps had a family like mine stepped up in Aberdeen, Wylie Park Campground would also be a private business that pays its share of community taxes.”

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