Sturgis Watershed & City Dams Access

Your rights to access public lands are at stake, we need your help!

Background – In the 1970’s the City of Sturgis purchased the domestic water distribution and storage infrastructure from the Jarvis Davenport heirs that was originally built in the early 1900’s. Due to EPA regulations the above ground water storage system AKA “City Dams” was abandoned as a source of drinking water for the City of Sturgis. For the last 30 years the only persons utilizing the City Dam property have been recreational in nature through executive privilege or outright trespass. No public access to this public land has been allowed.

The 501(c)(3) not for profit Black Hills Trails has proposed including the City Dam property in a stacked loop multiple option non-motorized trail system that is directly accessible from several trailheads within the Sturgis City limits and several trailheads located on BLM and US Forest Service property. This system would encompass the Fort Meade Recreation Area managed by the BLM, City of Sturgis property adjacent to the Bear Butte Cemetery, the Barry Stadium, and the City Dams, along with USFS property on Deadman Mountain, and along Alkali Creek. When completed, recreational users will have access to loops of length from only a couple miles to 50 miles, or more, all starting and finishing in the city limits of Sturgis. Additionally, new water born recreation never before open to the public will be made available in addition to many possible historic interpretative possibilities.

Progress to date includes:

  • New trail from the Lions Club Park to the BLM Fort Meade Recreation Area.
  • Environmental Assessment completion and start of construction on 27 miles of the marked and mapped 7th Calvary trail system on the Fort Meade Recreation Area.
  • A $250,000 Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant to the City of Sturgis for the construction of a 3 mile handicap accessible loop around the south side of the Fort Meade VA Hospital.
  • Designation of three trailheads (Lions Club, Old Stone Road, Deadman) within the Sturgis City Limits.

The Sturgis Park Board at their September 15th meeting unanimously approved a recommendation to the Sturgis City Council that the City Dams be open as soon as possible to the public providing a “minimalist wilderness-like experience for hikers, horse riders, and mountain bikes with primitive overnight camping”. Safety of the public using the area was discussed by the Park Board and the group indicated the South Dakota liability umbrella that protects the city from liability at parks, sports fields, and activities in the downtown area would apply. The Park Board also indicated that conditions at the City Dams were consistent with those at other city and federal managed reservoirs locally and did not see any liability concerns that would affect public access to the site. Private property owners in the vicinity of the cites holdings would not be affected as all routes are on City, USFS, and BLM property.

All trail construction will be funded through grants and donations to Black Hills Trails and with volunteer labor wherever possible. City of Sturgis budgetary impact would be minimal to non-existent.

WE NEED YOUR HELP – Black Hills Trails requests your attendance at the Sturgis City Council meeting on the evening of Monday, October 19 at 6:30pm, in the Commissioners’ Room of the Erskine Building, 1300 Sherman Street, Sturgis. Please be present to show your support for your right to access this public land. If you are unable to attend, please relay your support to your Sturgis councilperson or the Mayor.

Mayor & Council Contact Information:



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