Ritter Island near Hagerman

The clear water at Ritter Island glistens in the Thousand Springs State Park near Hagerman on March 23.

HAGERMAN  — The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation and Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, a unit of the National Park Service, have formally agreed to a historic, long-term collaboration that will enrich the historic and recreational offerings in the region and have a positive economic impact within the Hagerman Valley.

The cornerstone of the partnership will be the construction of a 3,400-square-foot visitor center for Thousand Springs State Park and Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, allowing both agencies to share customer service and interpretive space.

The state of Idaho will build the visitor center, while the National Park Service has agreed to pay a lease fee to the state annually for the next 25 years for use of the shared space. Out of more than 400 park properties across the U.S., only a handful are co-locations with a state entity to leverage human, financial and historic resources.

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“By linking the many units of Thousand Springs State Park with the world-class paleontology assets of the National Park Service’s Hagerman Fossil Beds, we are leveraging our resources to provide better programs to visitors while saving significant taxpayer dollars,” David Langhorst, parks and recreation director, said in a statement.

Initial funding for the project was made available in part through an Idaho RV Fund Grant. The use of this funding was reviewed, ranked and prioritized for funding by the Idaho RV Fund Advisory Committee in March.

To follow progress at Thousand Springs State Park, go to parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/news.

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