SPEARFISH, S.D. — A recent lawsuit settlement has cleared up uncertainty over how the public can access Spearfish Falls in western South Dakota, sparked changes to the visitor experience and removed a small obstacle to a proposed state park.
The $1 million lawsuit was filed in 2014 by members of the Romano family, who bought a cabin and land near the falls during the decades when it was fully or partially dry due to the Homestake Mining Co.’s diversion of Little Spearfish Creek.
In 2003, the falls roared back to life when Homestake quit diverting the creek, and visitors started coming to the area. The Romano family sued the mining company and a charitable foundation that helped create a trail to the falls, to try to regain privacy and control over a parking area and bridge.
The lawsuit was settled in late September, with public access rerouted to another recently installed bridge, the Rapid City Journal reported (http://bit.ly/2d7Ajbr ). A new elevated viewing platform also is planned for the public, said Matt Snyder, the state park regional supervisor for the Black Hills.
Eventually, the falls could be a key component of a state park in Spearfish Canyon. State government already owns Spearfish Falls and Roughlock Falls and some surrounding land, and federal legislation has been introduced to acquire some U.S. Forest Service land in the canyon that is considered necessary for the park plan.
Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com