GFP proposal could OK pets in state park cabins, lodges – Black Hills Pioneer

MADISON — Visitors to South Dakota’s state parks may soon be able to bring their furry friends into the cabins or lodges.

Scott Simpson, parks director for the state Game, Fish and Parks Department said a recent proposal would allow visitors to pay a fee to bring their cats or dogs into the overnight facilities within the parks system, including the simple cabins and some lodges. The fee will be $10 per reservation.

“We know in the travel industry more and more people are traveling with pets and we want to be able to accommodate some of that travel,” Simpson said. “Prior to this we did not allow pets in any of our overnight facilities.”

Simpson said the $10 fee will cover the cost of any extra cleaning that will be required.

During discussion, Commissioner Stephanie Rissler clarified that none of the facilities have carpet or bedding in them.

“That’s true for the vast majority of these facilities,” Simpson said. “What we have most is the small brown camping cabins. They are simple. But some of them are different. We have some lodges and those kinds of things. This proposal would allow us to have pets in those facilities, but it doesn’t mean we have to. It gives us the flexibility.”

Those who have opposed the proposal so far have expressed concern about pet dander in the state facilities. But Simpson said the proposal allows game, fish and parks officials to make decisions about pet reservations on a local level. “We have to provide our customers what they want and we’ll have customers who have different needs,” he said. “At a local level, maybe we keep a couple cabins that don’t allow pets. We’ll figure out what works best for us and what works for our customers.”

The proposal still prohibits pets from being on the Summit Trail at Bear Butte State Park. It also requires pets to be on a leash from April 1 through Sept. 30, and any time on the George S. Mickelson Trail.

The GF&P Commission will take public comment about the proposal through their next meeting, Dec. 8-9 in Pierre, where they are expected to take action.

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