Senators John Thune and Tim Johnson have introduced legislation to return nine historic cemeteries in the Black Hills to their local communities.

Thune and Johnson introduced the Black Hills Cemetery Act on Tuesday to transfer ownership for the cemeteries and up to two acres of adjacent land from the U.S. Forest Service to local caretakers.

Rep. Kristi Noem initially introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives last year, which was approved on a 400-1 vote. But the Senate didn't pass its version before the last session of Congress.

Noem has introduced her legislation in the House again.

Cemeteries included in the legislation are Englewood, Galena, Hayward, Mountain Meadows, Roubaix, Nemo, Rockerville, Silver City and Cold Springs.

The cemeteries have long been managed by local associations and city governments in surrounding communities but have been owned by the Forest Service since the early 1900s.

They have been managed by the caretaker organizations under special-use permits issued by the Forest Service.


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