Goat Island Finds A Home

Oct 13, 2016

Aerial shot of Goat Island
Credit National Park Service

Goat Island has a new caretaker following a twenty year dispute.

Ownership of the 500-acre strip of land on the Missouri River between South Dakota and Nebraska has been contested since 1999.

The National Park Service will now manage the island.

Officials say now that the Goat Island dispute is settled, the National Park Service can manage the area in a way that boosts recreational opportunities.

Attorney General Marty Jackley says the dispute over Goat Island began when Bill Janklow was the attorney general in the mid-70s. Jackley says the Missouri River is in constant flux. That, he says, created boundary disputes between the two states.

“This really has been an opportunity for the state of South Dakota, Nebraska and the Federal Government to say ‘it’s time to put aside our differences.’ And instead of worrying about where the boundary is at, worry about our citizens and the opportunities that we have to facilitate recreation, hunting, and really improve the island.”

Goat Island is now part of the Missouri National Recreational River.. It’s a wild stretch of the Mighty Mo below Yankton that most resembles what the river was like before dams were put in.

Jackley says the two states will still have influence over what happens on the island.

“There’ll be management by the National Park Service with the agreement that both South Dakota and Nebraska will have a say in what is happening on the island. So, really, it was a compromise that made sense that allows South Dakota to have that input”

Jackley says the Yankton Sioux Tribe has not been involved in the negotiations of Goat Island at this point.