|USDA HELPS TO EXPAND MAJOR PALEONTOLOGICAL SITE’S EDUCATIONAL IMPACT ON COMMUNITY AND VISITORS|
|, Oct 31, 2013
The Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, SD Inc. is a private non-profit 501-C-3 organization located on the southern edge of the Black Hills of South Dakota.
The present day Mammoth Site was discovered during removal of a hill for fill dirt for Phil Anderson’s housing development in June of 1974.
Dr. Larry Agenbroad, then with Chadron State College located 60 miles south, was called in to determine what had been uncovered and the importance of the find.
Phil put his housing project on hold and after two years, Dr. Agenbroad recommended that the fossils be left in-situ (as found) and a building be constructed over the site to preserve the fossils and to enable research to continue.
The local Hot Springs Gem and Mineral Society was headed up by Les Ferguson who was an amateur rock hound. Les said “If we don’t do something no one will” and the non-profit organization was founded in 1975.
Phil Anderson sold the land at his cost to the newly formed group whose main mission has been to preserve the fossils and to educate the general public.
Several small plywood structures covered (1975-1985) a portion of the sinkhole allowing visitors to have a peak at some of the fossils uncovered.
In 1985 funds were finally raised and a 20,000 square foot building was built over the sinkhole and opened in 1986.
The Mammoth Site has made a couple of additions since; Enclosing of the lobby and adding a gift shop (3,000 Square feet) in 1990; A 12,000 square foot addition in 2001 included bone storage, molding and casting, classroom, research library, offices, storage, restrooms and exhibit hall (USDA RD also helped with a $400,000 loan for this project).
The new learning center /theater is estimated to cost $1,369,772. A HUD grant of $137,969 and local/regional contributions of $369,703 have been secured.
The USDA RD loan of $862,100 is the final cog in making this project a go for The Mammoth Site.
The new 5,800 square foot addition will feature a new entryway, gathering area, storage and two 53- seat theaters. The theaters will allow visitors to experience an introductory video. It also will allow to have lectures by scientists and visiting scientists available to local clientele and visitors and school groups.
This project has been a dream of many of the Board of Directors and has been in the Mammoth Site’s Strategic Plan for about eight years.
This project will enhance the experience of approximately 100,000 visitors who come to the Mammoth Site each year.
With assistance from USDA Rural Development in securing the loan, the State of South Dakota will have a world-class working paleontological site and museum.