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central Regional Advisory panel

june 19, 2014

Rock Hills Ranch - Lowry, SD

Panel Members Present GF&P Staff Present
Fred Hubbard - Miller Cliff Stone
Keith Krull - Harrold Sandi Knippling
Herb McClellan - Mobridge Brian Pauly
Lyle Perman - Lowry Dave Ode
Danielle McGee-Campbell - Onida Mike Blaalid - Pheasants Forever
Leonard Spomer - Pierre  
Kevin Swensen - Chamberlain  
Cody Wilson - Pickstown  

Welcome & Introductions
Cliff Stone opened the meeting at 10:00 am, thanked Lyle and his family for hosting the meeting, welcomed the panel members, introduced Department Staff, and reviewed the agenda. The Perman family and Rock Hills Ranch was congratulated for being selected for the Leopold Conservation Award. The Ranch Tour, associated with the award, will be held on July 2nd.

Panel Member Updates/Issues
Leonard Spomer: Fishing has been good on Lake Sharpe, locally in the stilling basin and some nice fish (16-17") are being taken. A recent tournament had a 9-10 lbs fish. The walleye spawn is over and fish are still being taken in the Pierre area despite low flows from the Bad River. Fishing on Lake Oahe has been spotty, generally a lot of smaller fish. Spring moisture has been very good, without any large "gully washers". Nesting cover for pheasants is good. There was also a recent kids fishing event in the Pierre area, with a near record number of kids participating.

Keith Krull: Overall, things good in his area, there should be good cover for pheasants. His hunting lodge is already booked for the fall. Everything looks good, wheat, grass, and everything else looking pretty nice right now. Keith complimented Lyle on the looks of his ranch.

Kevin Swenson: Spring fishing has been good in the Chamberlain area on both Lake's Francis Case and Sharpe. They have started a two-person team Tuesday night fishing league. Teams can keep four fish per night and the average team weight has been about 5 lbs. Little bit different year this year, have had rains but not heavy like other parts of state. Noted, that on his drive up this morning, he saw pheasants and ducks but no deer.

Cody Wilson: Generally things have been kind of slow around the Pickstown area, fishing has been hit or miss. Everything is kind of strange this year, usually things pick up by now. At this point he hasn't seen anything "baby" (deer, pheasants, etc.) yet. It was a cold winter in the Pickstown area, but not much snow. Had some late freezes which has held the grasses back especially brome grass. Currently they have had an average amount of rain. For the most part everything is average.

Fred Hubbard: The Miller area is in good shape for moisture. The spring started cold but the last two weeks have been great for the pastures. Saw several fawns but most does he has seen have only one fawn. He has seen one brood of pheasants, the hen had 15 chicks. That's good, with hopefully more to come. Lake Louise free fishing camping weekend was a hit. They had 82 kids participate in their local fishing derby and each kid received a supply bag of goodies. A record 300 hot dogs eaten! Good event and great attendance. Bullheads in Lake Louise recently experienced a die off due to a viral disease. Once the water temperatures warmed up the disease diminishes and fishing picks up. A few 18-19" walleye caught. Jones Lake hasn't had much going on. Cottonwood Lake was stocked in past years with walleye and doing really well. Can catch walleye just fishing from the docks. Twin Lakes is producing some nice walleye and crappies. Fred recently fished near Clark, SD, generally very good fishing in the lakes in that area.

Herb McClellan: Lots of rain in the Mobridge area, the pastures look great and have great cover. A young boy in Mobridge caught a new state record big mouth buffalo in the non-restricted class. The Denny Palmer Memorial Fishing Tournament was a week ago, participants caught some nice walleye, but still suffering from the reduction in the smelt population. Guides are also commenting on the large number of small fish. Cabela's is coming to Mobridge on June 27th for a tournament. Talking about Mobridge native fishing in Pierre and boated all the way to Mobridge to stop in home town. Overall, fishing has been pretty good at times. Herb reported that they are not seeing a lot of deer and hopes the pheasant population rebounds.

Danielle McGee-Campbell: The Onida area sounds like everywhere else, grass is about two weeks behind but growing. Danielle reports seeing a few pheasant broods and lots of baby animals. Their local Youth Outdoor event is scheduled in August, while their recent Kids Fishing tournament was cut short due to a thunderstorm.

Lyle Perman: Observations are similar to those reported, has seen pheasants and geese that have hatched. Saw a pheasant nest with 19 eggs. Concern now is rain, no downpours but on June 9 it rained with a total of 3.9 inches. Some concern that yesterday's rain could have been hard on some chicks. Cover is improving and he feels that pheasants wintered well and hope this year's population should be good. Deer numbers are down, however has had some folks contact him that license/tag reductions for the 2014 season went too far. Mentioned that at one time antelope were common on and in the area around his ranch and now they are gone.

Elk Stakeholder Group Update - Leanard Spomer
Leonard is representing the Central RAP panel on the Elk Stakeholder Group. The group is composed of various individuals representing organizations interested in elk management in South Dakota including agriculture, sportswomen/men, and all four of the RAP panels. The group held their first meeting in Rapid City on Feb 10th at the Outdoor Campus-West. Topics covered at this meeting included results of a public opinion survey on elk management, a review by the USFS on how they establish AUM's and how the available forage is allocated between livestock and wildlife, and, results of a 2013 aerial survey/count of the Black Hills elk herd. The second meeting is tentatively scheduled for July. Leonard will provide the group with further updates.

Drone Demonstration (not scheduled as part of the meeting)
The RAP group was able to go outside to observe the use of a drone. The drone was deployed on two separate flights. One flight had an on board camera and was used to photograph a pasture to evaluate the plant community, locate noxious weeds and provide an overall evaluation of the pasture health. A second flight utilized the "Facetime" feature of an iPhone to provide live and recorded video of the pasture.

Legislative / Misc Updates - Cliff Stone
Cliff updated the group on several pieces of Legislation that will take effect on July 1, and provided a handout/update on the Pheasant Habitat Summit Working Group.

GFP Wildlife Partners Programs - Brian Pauly
Game Fish and Parks biologist Brian Pauly provide the panel an overview of our Departments Wildlife Partners Program (WPP). Within the WPP are landowner programs for Dense Nesting Cover Establishment, Warm Season Native Grass/Forb Establishment, Woody Habitat Establishment, Food Habitat Plots, and Habitat Fencing. The WPP programs are administered by GFP Private Lands Biologist and by contracted biologist working through Pheasants Forever (PF). Brian explained the importance of habitat development on private lands, gave an overview of the Game Production Area lands owned by GFP and our two main private lands public hunting programs, Walk-in-Areas and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.

Questions/comments/recommendations from the panel members included:

Rock Hills Ranch Tour - Lyle Perman/Dave Ode
The group toured Rock Hills Ranch, Lyle pointed out changes that have occurred on the ranch as a result of their various management practices, including their grazing rotation and water management. Lyle pointed out that healthy grasslands are good for both a cattle operation and wildlife. Lyle has also developed a self-guided GPS tour of his ranch that allows individuals to observe various features of the ranch. Dave Ode, GFP Ecologist, identified various plant species that are indicators of healthy grasslands. They also discussed and answer questions from the panel on the role that various plant species play in grassland heath.

The Central RAP group is looking at meeting again in early September. The group again thanked Lyle and Garnet Perman for hosting the meeting and congratulated them again on their award!

Meeting adjourned at 3:00 PM.