• Badlands formations against the blue sky; photo by Rikk Flohr


    National Park South Dakota

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  • Visitor Center Open / Road Construction

    Park roads and parking lots are under construction. Expect occasional 10 - 15 minute road construction delays along Hwy 240 Loop Road. There is limited parking at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. Please follow the signs to park in designate areas.

Aerial Spraying of Badlands National Park

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Date: June 17, 2008
Contact: Brian Kenner, (605) 433-5260

BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK, S.D. —  Badlands National Park will begin aerial spraying for Canada thistle Monday, June 23. Spraying should be completed by July 4 depending on weather.


The contractor is Dakota Helicopters out of Beulah, North Dakota. The parks anticipates spraying from 5,000 to 8,000 acres of scattered Canada thistle patches throughout the 64,000 acre Badlands Wilderness Area. Dakota Helicopters will be using 2 helicopters, a Hughes and a Bell 206 Jet Ranger. They will be spraying from heights of 10'-15' above the patches with boom sprayers.


We will be using Milestone herbicide, which is a newer chemical produced by Dow for broadleaf weed control. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers it to pose "no real health hazard" and does not classify it as a Restricted Use Pesticide, but it is registered under the EPA's Reduced Risk Pesticide Initiative. This designation is for compounds that demonstrate lower risk to humans and the environment than marketplace standards. It has a low use rate, which means less chemical added to the environment. It is considered "practically non-toxic" to aquatic organisms, fish, and birds. It breaks down into natural soil components and is non-volatile.


Visitors should not be overly concerned about exposure to Milestone. They should avoid Canada thistle patches. Direct exposure may cause moderate eye irritation. If they feel they have come in contact with Milestone, they should wash hands and face before eating. They should wash clothes at the first opportunity.


Milestone will not impact native grasses, but will impact native forbs and shrubs. Low level boom spraying from helicopters following label limitations will allow for maximum coverage of infested acres with minimum impacts to non-target species.


We recognize that these helicopters will be an intrusion into visitors' wilderness experience, but we feel the need to control Canada thistle and reduce its impacts on the park's native prairie warrant the intrusion. 


This project is funded by the President's Centennial Initiative for the National Park Service.


For more information, please contact Brian Kenner, Director of Resource Management at (605) 433-5260.

Did You Know?

Early motorist meanders through the Upper Tunnel

Early motorists along the Badlands Loop Road traveled through tunnels carved into the formations. Since the road’s layout defied engineering logic by being based on scenery rather than stability, the road is constantly shifting. Though the tunnels are long gone, the sense of adventure remains.