Mt. Rushmore Route Optimization Study

The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks has proposed development of a non-motorized recreational trail that connects the Mt. Rushmore National Monument to the historic Mickelson Trail near Hill City, SD. This proposal was controversial with recreational users and conservationists as the proposed trail was routed through a highly sensitive area of the Black Elk Wilderness Area.

Catalyst was contract by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks to lead collaborative work sessions and stakeholder engagement with various conflicting parties, including representatives from organizations that have a specific mandate related to the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve and/or Black Elk Wilderness Area (a highly sensitive area that through which the trail is being routed), in order to develop a proposed for submittal to the US Forest Service Black Hills District.

Catalyst’s expert mediation abilities and tools for soliciting open dialogue directly resulted in the technical Working Group pinpointing key environmental issues and developing alternative trail routes in a collaborative setting. Catalyst GIS technicians were able to interactively develop mapping layers and trail alternatives during the meetings based on Working Group feedback, which allowed the group to develop routes and identify constraints in real-time during the meetings. The USFS is preparing an EIS on the trail system and our “low-impact” analysis directly contributed to the alternatives and technical issues considered in the EIS.

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