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SD Parks and Wildlife receives $1,000,000 Helmsley Charitable Trust Grant


PIERRE, S.D (KELO-AM) – Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced that the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation (SDPWF) has been awarded a $1 million grant by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.


SDPWF is a non-profit, independent support organization for the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks. The grant will support a new world-class visitor center and theater to enhance the visitor experience in Custer State Park (CSP).


“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.



About The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust

The Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective nonprofits in a variety of selected areas. Since 2008, when the Trust began its active grantmaking, it has committed more than $1 billion to a wide range of charitable organizations. The Trust’s Rural Healthcare Program funds innovative projects that use information technologies to connect rural patients to emergency medical care, bring the latest medical therapies to patients in remote areas, and provide state-of-the-art training for rural hospitals and EMS personnel. To date, this program has awarded more than $230 million to organizations and initiatives in the upper Midwest states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Minnesota, Iowa and Montana. For more information on the Trust and its programs, visit www.helmsleytrust.org.