Thursday, May 15, 2014

Training Day

The week started out slow but picked up speed as we moved along.Training began as we arrived at the Peter Norbert Visitor Center each morning to be transported by vans to the Park Office for training.  Mornings were spent listening to various department heads:  Craig Pugsley, Lance Catron (Campground Operations), Julie Brazell (Naturalist Activities), Ermin Husidic (Entrance Operation), Gary Brundige & Mark Hendrix (Resource & Range Management), Chad Lehman (Wildlife), Adam Gahagan & Chad Jacobson (Forestry), and Chad Kremer (Buffalo Operations).

We learned overall operations of the park and how and why it is managed, including how it came into being. We then visited each resort within CSP. The resorts, activities and lodges are all managed by one concessioner company. We were entertained with lunch and an overall view of each lodge daily.

Once lunch was completed, off we went to visit the many sites and campgrounds inside the state park. By the time the days were done, our training days were 10 hours long and we were on overload. 

Of course,  we can't forget mention the many wildlife photo ops we saw each day:

So Sit Back and Enjoy the Slide Show

Located within Custer State Park, is Mount Coolidge, which is perhaps best known for the fire tower that sits upon the summit. Built in 1937-9 by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), the fire tower is still staffed from approximately mid-May to mid-October every year. 

Mount Coolidge has suffered something of an identity crisis over the years. Originally called Sheep Mountain, the peak was renamed Lookout Mountain in 1923 only to be renamed again in 1927 to Mount Coolidge. Now, however, this mountain even has its own namesake USGS quad.From the summit, the visitor can enjoy fantastic views of the surrounding Black Hills, including Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, the famous Needles and even Ellsworth Air force Base. It is said on a clear day, the Badlands can be viewed approximately 60 miles eastward. At the summit, informational kiosks tell about the 1988 Galena Fire that scorched 17,000 acres of the park.

Custer State Park is known for its population of a keystone species of this region, the American Bison. According to National Geographic, this heaviest of North American land mammals can rise to 5 to 6.5 feet (1.5 to 2 meters) tall at the shoulder and weigh in excess of 1 ton (971 kg). Best yet, they sport pointed horns and can run at speeds of up to 40 mph (65 kph).

Rank: 53rd highest peak in South Dakota

Prominence: 683 feet

USGS Quad: Mount Coolidge
43.7451322, -103.4812897
Link to Google Maps

Mount Coolidge is located 3 miles south of US Highway 16A along SD Highway 87. From here, visitors can drive 1.2 miles up the road to the lookout tower or park at the base of the road and stroll up.

Safe Travels and Journeys from Da Girls