VERMILLION, S.D. — Area residents got the chance Wednesday to share their views about the future of Goat Island.
After decades of uncertainty surrounding the legal ownership of the island, a land survey determined the island belongs to the federal government and will be administered by the National Park Service.
Federal officials on hand for the National Park Service Open House at the W.H. Over Museum here were pleasantly surprised with theturnoutt. Over 120 people showed up during the two-hour listening session which was designed to get public input on the proposed management plan for the 800- acre Missouri River island.
There were just about as many opinions about the island that sits north of Brookey Bottom on the northern border of Cedar County as there were people to express them.
Missouri National Recreational River Supt. Rick Clark said he was very pleased his agency got the opportunity to hear so many opinions at the meeting.
“This portion of the planning process is a chance for people to get out and make their opinions known,” Clark said. “At the end of the day, we will go over all the feedback to help us put together a plan. We look at everything and evaluate all the information before we make a plan.”
The meeting was just one way for the public to express their views on the 104-page management plan. The plan was available for viewing at the meeting.
It can also be read online at https:// parkplanning.nps.gov/goatislandplan.
Clark said the management plan has been developed over the past 18 months.
Goals for the plan are to ensure that the resources are left unimpaired for the enjoyment of present and future generations and to find management strategies all parties can agree to for the island.
One of the options being considered is to make the island more accessible and modernize some of the island with camping pads.
Laura Noecker, Hartington, was one of a couple of dozen area residents that attended the meeting.
She told Clark the island would be best utilized if it remained primitive.
“If I want a camping pad, I go to Yankton. If I just want Mother Nature, I go to Goat Island. Why can’t we just keep it natural? You’re not going to find many places like it. Why change it?” she asked Clark.
Clark said he agreed Goat Island is a very unique place.
“Goat island is a special place — an incredible place,” Clark said, adding that it might be a good idea to let other people see just it’s beauty.
“Our objective is to look at everything we hear. Look over all the comments and then roll up our sleeves and get to work,” he said.
Anyone wishing to comment on the management plan can do so until April 10 by either writing the National Scenic River office at 508 East 2nd Street, Yankton, SD 57508; or by emailing Rick_Clark@nps.gov.