U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) today issued the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bipartisan bill (S. 47) that included their Custer County Airport Conveyance Act, legislation that would transfer approximately 66 acres of Black Hills National Forest System land to Custer County, South Dakota. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has agreed to sell this land to the Custer County Airport, giving it full ownership of all acres the airport occupies. A portion of the Custer County Airport currently occupies USFS land under a longstanding USFS agreement. Both parties have agreed to the terms of the property sale and transfer that are specified in the legislation.
“After extensive work with Custer County commissioners, the U.S. Forest Service, and the airport, and after having introduced this bill in two Congresses, this common-sense legislation to transfer land to the Custer County Airport and give it full ownership will finally come to fruition,” said Thune, Rounds, and Johnson. “We urge the president to swiftly sign this broader legislative package into law to allow Custer Airport and the U.S. Forest Service to move forward.”
This land transfer is necessary so Custer County can make additional improvements to its airport. Custer County has agreed to pay the USFS the appraised value of the land and all costs associated with the conveyance.
Thune, Rounds, and former U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) first introduced this legislation in January 2018. The delegation, including Johnson, reintroduced identical versions of the original bills this year at the beginning of the 116th Congress so they could again be considered by both chambers.
The U.S. Senate passed S. 47, the broader legislation in which their bill was included, by of a vote of 92-8 on February 12, and the House passed it on February 26 by a vote of 363-62. The bill now heads to the president to be signed into law.