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Fort Lincoln view to be preserved

The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck

The decision to preserve the Missouri River viewshed at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, by not constructing a new campground adjacent to Cavalry Square, makes good sense. A new campground would get much use, that’s true, but the price would be too high in the loss of the view from the high ground overlooking the bend in the Missouri River to the south.

Planners from the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department, responding to citizen comment, made the right choice.

The original proposal for improvements at the popular park just south of Mandan called for building a 75-unit modern campground on the flats to the south of the Commissary and Custer House. Doing so would have compromised the view of the Missouri River, which is spectacular from the bluffs in that stretch of the river.

That had to be a hard choice, because the state park is a popular camping site for many people in the Bismarck-Mandan area.

Another good thing to come of the master plan is shifting use of 32 acres from the park to the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery.

State Parks Director Mark Zimmerman has it right, saying: “The Veterans Cemetery has become a special place in Bismarck and Mandan.” Having the cemetery “annex” this property will double its size. The property transfer can be made without diminishing the park.

Park officials do intend to build a new park office and visitor center at the park entrance, and make improvements at the existing campground, which will mean 10 new sites for larger campers, as well as expanding and modernizing other sites. There will be additional emphasis on the natural world, as well as a continuation of the interpretation of Mandan Indian life and the Seventh Cavalry’s time in North Dakota.

Of course, all of this must pass legislative review.

State Parks took over interpretation from the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation about one year ago.

People sometimes wonder when they go to government planning meetings whether their voices are being heard. The response from State Parks in regard to Fort Lincoln suggests that, indeed, officials were listening. As a result of public comment, changes were made in the parks master plan. The system, it seems, can work.