BH&B Board of Directors | Debbie Speas | Black Hills & Badlands - South Dakota

BH&B Board of Directors | Debbie Speas

The BH&B Board of Directors plays an important role in the success of the organization by providing strategic oversight, guidance and influence to support the organization’s mission. The board represents diverse members throughout the industry and community and we’d like to introduce them to you!

Debbie Speas

Mount Rushmore Society

It probably comes to no surprise that Mount Rushmore National Memorial is my favorite thing about the Black Hills! Not only is it inspiring and beautiful, but it is amazing to me that the vision for Mount Rushmore actually began with increasing tourism to the Black Hills, and that vision continued throughout the 1930s and the Great Depression. Because of the foresight of a handful of South Dakotans and one talented artist, they created a Memorial that people from around the world now come to see. And as a result, it propelled the start of many attractions, lodging establishments and other tourism-related businesses throughout our state.

The challenges that the carving’s forefathers had to face 90 years ago, rings true today. With the impact COVID-19 has had on our industry and the uncertainty of it all, we can look to them “to just keep going” and take the next step.

Since the pandemic began, our Mount Rushmore Memories Airport Store, Mount Rushmore Memories on Main and the Mount Rushmore Bookstores at the park have been closed. With new COVID safety measures in place, we opened the airport store last week and are planning to reopen our bookstore in the Information Center at Mount Rushmore on May 23. Fingers crossed! The good news is the National Park Service has given us the entire footprint of the Information Center for retail sales. NPS will move their Ranger Desk under a tent outside the Information Center to help with social distancing. We plan to open our other operations at Mount Rushmore and on Main Street once staffing allows.

Phase I construction at Mount Rushmore has continued and is slated to be complete in June. At that time, visitors will have more access to areas of the park. Yay! Plus, our bookstore in the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center can open as well.

As you know, fireworks are returning to the park on July 3 with a Presidential visit. In the past, the Independence Day Fireworks event provided South Dakota with awesome publicity. Like you, we look forward to hearing more about what the event will look like and stand ready to assist the National Park Service in whatever they may need to “get ‘er done.”

This is a unique year for all of us, but we will make it through if we take Gutzon Borglum’s words to heart: “Don’t say ‘I can’t’ on this work. The ‘I can’ts’ are unknown in the world’s work and unremembered in history.”  

Learn more about Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association's Board of Directors here.