Iowa House approves funding for state park spanning two states

Land to be set aside around burial grounds in northwest Iowa, eastern South Dakota

DES MOINES — The Iowa House approved a $185 million infrastructure bill today that includes money for what is believed to be the nation’s first bistate state park.

The $2 million to be set aside will be used to acquire land in the Blood Run archaeological area that includes parts of far northwest Iowa and eastern South Dakota, and is named for the American Indian mounds in that area.

“The burial grounds encompass both states,” said Rep. Jeff Smith, R-Okoboji, whose district includes the area. “South Dakota has been trying to secure this area for years to preserve it. We’ve kind of come late to the party, but we’re moving ahead.”

The legislation includes $6 million spread out among the three state universities to plan for new buildings. Under the legislation, the University of Iowa would get $2 million toward a new pharmacy building, Iowa State University would get $2 million toward a biosciences building and the University of Northern Iowa would get $2 million toward an education center.

Rep. Chuck Isenhart, D-Dubuque, criticized the legislation, saying it does not do enough for river restoration or other environmental projects.

“The members of this body should be very disappointed,” he said. “Part of Dubuque’s resurgence came after we opened up access to our great national treasure, the Mississippi River.”

Republican Rep. Dan Huseman of Aurelia who floor-managed the bill, said, “It’s not perfect, but I don’t think we did too bad.”

The bill now goes back to the Senate.

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