PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Something new this year will greet visitors to many of South Dakota’s state parks and recreation areas: Self-serve kiosks for buying daily passes and annual entrance stickers.

The state Game, Fish and Parks Commission received a presentation about the new feature Friday from Al Nedved. He’s assistant director for the state Division of Parks and Recreation.

Nedved said federal CARES Act funding paid for the 96 units at a cost of about $4,700 apiece. Users will need credit cards to operate them. The vendor, Flowbird, has units in parking lots world-wide.

The terminals should help protect the health of all sides as COVID-19 continues as a threat in South Dakota, according to Nedved. He said park workers won’t have to stick their heads inside visitors’ vehicles, and visitors will have one less reason to come inside GFP entrance buildings.

“It’s basically a cash-less transaction that does not require a staff person’s assistance,” Nedved told commissioners. “We thought this was good value and an efficient way to improve service.”

The terminals can run on solar power “pretty reliably” and have battery backup, he said, and they can be hard-wired too for power. They have touch-screen design with anti-skimming protection and are tough enough to handle South Dakota weather, he said.

Adding the kiosks will “tremendously streamline” the process for visitors, according to Nedved. He said the units will also replace some of the traditional ‘iron rangers’ at staff-less spots where people fill out envelopes, put money inside and stick them in tubes. The honor system takes park staff’s time, Nedved said, because each spot needs to be visited to collect envelopes and later process them at the office.

Park managers won’t have to mail annual stickers anymore either, he said, and services could be centralized either in Pierre or with the system’s contractor.

The Flowbird units are in state park buildings now and will be moved into place soon. “We’re hoping to get these out for the season,” Nedved said.

Originally Published on https://www.keloland.com/news/capitol-news-bureau/self-pay-technology-coming-to-sd-state-parks/