Mandan News

Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park includes some construction

Turnout was light Monday night, Dec. 9, at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park for a second public meeting on a draft proposal for improvements for the oldest state park in North Dakota.
After the first meeting held last January, plans were dropped to build a new campground adjacent to Cavalry Square.
Mark Zimmerman, director of the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department, said the majority of people who commented on the proposal were against building the campground, which could have accommodated larger motor homes and campers.
Zimmerman said most acknowledged more camping spots are needed, but not at the expense of the viewshed of the Missouri River and the historical integrity of the park.
Instead, Zimmerman said by moving existing tent camping spots to the south side of the existing campground, the park could gain 10 or more new spots for modern campers.
About 20 people attended Monday’s meeting, most of them local or state government officials.
While the master plan, which will need approval by the 2015 Legislature, calls mainly for maintaining and expanding uses of current facilities, there are some new construction proposals.
The first calls for building a new administrative building and park office at the main entrance to the park. The existing office is tucked away in the campground.
A second proposal is to build a new residence for the park manager, locating it on the former farmstead of the Keller family from whom the park purchased about 300 acres in the 1970s.
The existing residence could be renovated into an event center with additional restrooms that would be open after traditional park hours of operation.
Zimmerman said in working on the master plan, it became apparent the park could better utilize several of the park’s buildings like the triple shelter, granary, stables and snowmobile shelter, possibly transforming some into overnight lodging areas.
Zimmerman said hopes are to expand walking and bike trails, resulting in improved connections with attractions like the blockhouses and On-a-Slant Village.
Toward that end, he said the park is working on implementing an in-park transportation system to carry visitors around the park.
Zimmerman said of those responding to a survey, 64 percent indicated they would be willing to pay a nominal fee to use such a system.
Another component of the plan calls for selling or swapping slightly more than 31½ acres of park land to the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery, which butts up to the south boundary of the park.
Paul Zent of the North Dakota National Guard said the cemetery has enough room to accommodate burials for the next 70 years.
He said because the park was considering expanding, the timing is right to secure additional space for the cemetery.
The additional land would be an L-shaped tract 500 feet wide on the north side of the cemetery and a 400-foot-wide strip along the east side.
The land could come as a direct sale from the park, or through a land swap, Zent said.

Mark Zimmerman, director of the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department, points out details of plans for improvements at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park with Paul Zent of the North Dakota National Guard on Dec. 9.

Mark Zimmerman, director of the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department, points out details of plans for improvements at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park with Paul Zent of the North Dakota National Guard on Dec. 9.

By Brian Gehring