- Associated Press - Monday, November 2, 2015

STURGIS, S.D. (AP) - The city of Sturgis is working up plans to open a pristine area south of the city to non-motorized uses including hiking, fishing and primitive camping.

Last month, the Sturgis City Council unanimously endorsed developing plans to open up the area, which includes four small reservoirs nestled in a steep, forested canyon. But the idea is upsetting to Davenport family heirs who have cabins on private property near the reservoirs.

The reservoirs date to 1891, when Joseph Davenport started a water company to serve Sturgis. The family sold the water system and reservoirs to the city in 1978 for nearly $2 million, but retained some parcels of land.

Heir Katherine Martel, of Albany, New York, told the Rapid City Journal (https://bit.ly/1Of8rmj ) that wide-open public access will degrade the area. She’d rather limit public access to seasonal tours.

“I can’t understand why a community would want to jeopardize a water source with the possibility of human contamination,” Martel said.

Martel uses the water to feed some of her properties. The city hasn’t been served by the reservoirs since 1980, but has restricted public access to the water and the surrounding 620 acres it owns.

Supporters of opening the area to public use say it would improve the community and also boost the local economy. The nonprofit Black Hills Trails wants to put new trails on the reservoir land and include them in roughly 50 miles of connected trails it envisions in the Sturgis area.

Kevin Forrester, a Black Hills Trails board member, says the project is a chance to grow the community.

“I hope it means more visitors that help fuel the economic engine of Sturgis,” Forrester said. “But really I hope it means more rooftops from people that decide they like to live in a location where they have access to this kind of thing.”


Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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