The Missouri River Day Park was a good idea when it was proposed and remains a project worth pursuing.
The park would be along the Missouri River south of Bismarck. As proposed, it would be a primitive park with few amenities. Supporters envisioned a park that offered hiking, biking, fishing, birding, photography and cross-country skiing. There were discussions of developing an outdoor learning center. The park would be open during the day and there wouldn’t be any camping.
If completed, it will be the state’s newest park since 1989.
Shrinking state revenues and tight budgets forced the state Parks and Recreation Department to shelve the master plan for the park. That’s understandable. In times of budget cuts it’s difficult to justify new expenditures.
That means delaying, not dropping, plans for the more than 200-acre park.
Local Boy Scouts and the Dacotah Chapter of the Sierra Club have offered to donate their time to create primitive trails at the park site. The Sierra Club has experience creating trails at other parks in the state.
While it’s a nice gesture, Parks and Recreation is reluctant to do any work at the site until funding is available for staffing and to do other work. They don’t want to build trails until the park can be made available to the public.
The site of the park is a beautiful area and has been coveted by others over the years. While the Tribune Editorial Board isn’t opposed to development, we feel a day park would be a great addition for the area. A place close to Bismarck-Mandan for families to bike, hike and have picnics should draw a lot of use.
It’s an opportunity to maintain the natural beauty of the area while allowing the public to enjoy it. Some people were disappointed that the park plans didn’t include overnight camping. The goal was to limit the imprint on the area and keep costs down. Camping would require 24-hour staffing.
Supporters of the day park are taking a positive approach to the delay in plans. They are happy the state plans to maintain the area and eventually open the park.
Hopefully the state’s revenue situation will improve enough to allow the 2019 Legislature to fund work on the day park. The park would provide residents another chance to enjoy the state’s natural beauty.
The Tribune believes the day park would be a great addition to our parks system.