Foundation - Philosophy Statement
The Spearfish Canyon Foundation was established in 1989 as a nonprofit public charity for the purposes of preserving the rich cultural heritage, protect the natural beauty, and maintain public access and enjoyment of Spearfish Canyon .
The Foundation is managed by a President who reports to an eleven member Board of Directors. The Board is comprised of people who are skilled in certain fields of knowledge and are representative of the public at large. The Board's purpose is to create objectives to accomplish the goals contained within the Foundation's mission through thoughtful, caring, and fiscally responsible programs.
The Foundation incorporates values that are paramount to its judgments and is called a Philosophical Statement. The Foundation has inherited an established legacy of land stewardship from Homestake Mining Company who owned and managed most of the private lands in Spearfish Canyon for the past one-hundred and twenty six years.
Spearfish Canyon is approximately 11,500 acres and is predominantly public lands of the Black Hills National Forest . Public Access to public lands is a reasonable condition particularly if it is within the tolerances of the natural environment. If the public owns the land and the public has reasonable access to the land, it follows that a public's use and enjoyment of the land is a reasonable privilege derived from ownership and access. The Foundation basis its judgments on the "best interests of the public" and views the meaning of the term public in the broadest sense to mean the People of the United States .
There is a small amount of private lands within Spearfish Canyon . Private property and the rights and privileges of ownership in land, water, and mineral assets are a value bestowed in the U.S. Constitution, and are highly regarded by the Foundation. Responsible development of these properties within the constraints of local laws and regulations is supported by the Foundation. The Foundation, however, discourages surface mining in the Canyon "rim-to-rim", but understands that, unless voluntarily restricted, may result in an adverse condemnation of property rights which requires due compensation to the property owner. The Foundation values the eventual public ownership of most private undeveloped lands to be an ideal future condition for the best protection, preservation, and enjoyment of Spearfish Canyon . The Foundation views such a transition as voluntary transactions in land sales, trades, or gifts over an extended length of time.
The ecology – rich biodiversity and scenic values - of Spearfish Canyon is of paramount importance to the Foundation. Biodiversity and the resulting visual qualities must be maintained, and further enhanced, were feasible. Public activities and residential/ commercial development must be responsible and environmentally sound, and constantly balanced with the natural environment to best serve the long term interests of the public. Spearfish Canyon with its vast and varied natural resources is a monument to man and nature's peaceful coexistence. The Foundation views the meaning of the term natural resources in its broadest sense to mean timber, mineral, grazing, water course and quality, geologic formations, vegetation, wildlife, and air quality.
Economic development – tourism and recreation – is dependant on a healthy ecology, and would be severally diminished by an imbalance. Spearfish Canyon is the fourth most popular attraction in the Black Hills with nearly a million people visiting annually. The Foundation values Spearfish Canyon as it would a National or State Park. In a Park scenario, the infrastructure would include but limit public roadways, hiking trails, lodging and eating facilities, a gift shop, an interpretive center and outdoor area, and public restrooms. Education through interpretation is a value of high regard to the Foundation. The public's motivation to involve itself in Canyon affairs is, most often, the appreciation they derived from their personal experiences. Interpretation of the scenic and unique landscape, wildlife, and cultural history is a major activity of the Foundation, and presents itself in many forms from nature hiking trails to cultural displays and self-guided tour brochures.
There is a rich cultural heritage within Spearfish Canyon . Many different nations of Native Americans lived in the Black Hills before the arrival of the settlers. The discovery of gold in 1876 brought a change in culture as America expanded westward to explore new and exciting opportunities. The transition of cultures and the developing American culture caused conflicts in lifestyles and values, and from its hardships and struggles developed many famous persons and events which shaped the future of America in South Dakota . The Foundation values the sacrifices and contributions of the people who created and nurtured the formation of modern civilization. The Foundation has erected many different mining and historic exhibits in their Cultural Center . The new Lodge features the culture of the western plains, and a number of outdoor cultural exhibits are planned for the future. The Foundation values the 86-year tradition of visitor accommodations that have been part of the Canyon culture since 1909 when McLauglin Sawmill was converted to the Glendoris, the first vacation resort in the Canyon. In 1919 the named was changed to Latchstring Inn. By then, the area consisted of a restaurant, gift shop, sleeping rooms, six cottages, mercantile store, post office, and a railroad station.
The Foundation values partnerships through public input and public support on all issues related to the affairs of Spearfish Canyon . People who visit the Canyon are inspired by its unique formation and scenic view, and instinctively adopt the Canyon as their own. This phenomena and the fact that over 90% of the Canyon is public land, requires that a thoughtful, caring, and, often, lengthy approach and review of issues is necessitated to best serve the long range needs of the people and the protection and preservation of the Canyon environment and its culture. Whenever possible, the Foundation will join in partnerships with federal, state and county agencies, other nonprofit charities, and individuals/groups to formulate, plan, develop, and finance the management of Spearfish Canyon affairs.
Political Action activities are not part of the Foundation's purpose or desire. The Foundation is prohibited by law as a non-profit public charity to involve itself in candidate issues, and even though the law permits "minimal" legislative lobbying activities, the Foundation will rarely participate in lobbying of any kind except for defensive and preservation purposes. Political issues often polarize people and inevitably substantially restrict and constrain broad public support. It is the Foundation's desire to proceed with various concept developments in a low key and confidential manner until a plan is fully developed and presentable to the public for comment and scrutiny. Foundation members will occasionally meet with legislatures to inform and enlighten.