Commission meeting archives


november 2013 Commission Meeting

November 7-8, 2013
Pierre, SD

Rules Proposed at this Meeting


Division of Administration

Action Items

Approve minutes of the October 2013 meeting –

Additional Commissioner Salary Days

Sportsmen Against Hunger - Commission Representative

  • Gary Jensen was appointed to represent the Commission on the SAH board

License List Requests

  • South Dakota Wildlife Federation sub-group the Camo-Coalition for the list of 10,000 2013 resident fishing license holders to send an informational letter on what SDWF does in legislature, solicit membership and educate about access onto water over flooded private lands and the legislation that will affect it; approved

Bond Authority Approval Angostura, Cedar Shores

  • During this last legislative session HB1030 gave authority to issue bonds for Cedar Shore and Angostura projects; Commission approved a resolution authorizing GFP to execute a Tenth Lease Supplement between GFP and the South Dakota Building Authority to include a shoreline stabilization project for the Cedar Shore Resort and a wastewater treatment system for Angostura Recreation Area; SD Building Authority makes the request based upon expectation of issuing a taxable series of Revenue bonds

Information Item
License Sales Report

  • Sales of all licenses is down 3.5%
  • Nonresident Small Game sales through Oct. 29 were at 45,346 which is 15.4% down from 2012
  • License year ends on Dec. 14 and new license year begins on Dec. 15

Parks and Wildlife Foundation Report

  • Spencer Hawley serves as President of the Foundation board and was on hand to update the Commission
  • At one time P&W Foundation served to transfer property, but mission was expanded and hired a development director (Brown & Associates) and have expanded fund-raising efforts
  • Have raised over $7 million in cash and pledges for projects and another $300,000 in non-cash contributions
  • Assist in advising and working with donors
  • Have over 30 on-going projects that are being worked on
  • 2700 acres of land that the Foundation manages, and 4 conservation easements
  • Primary focus in 2014 Governor Legacy Projects including Good Earth State Park, CSP Visitor Center, and expansion of Mickelson Trail around Mt. Rushmore
  • Request that GFP contribute $50,000 to P&W Foundation to help finance development director; feel this is a worthwhile investment for agency considering the fund-raising rewards that are returned
  • Commission approved the request for $50,000

Open Forum

  • Gary Hoscheid for Pierre Pheasants Forever Chapter and expressed support for Medicine Knoll GPA land consolidation efforts; will add to value of habitat and make land more accessible; group is willing to donate up to $15,000 for purchase of the land

  • Jeff Olson, Rapid City: I feel WMI did a good job on the external review of big game management. They pointed out many areas of improvement. I feel it would be a good idea to have an external team in place to make sure these valuable changes are made. One suggestion they made was to send GFP leadership to training but they did not suggest where. I contacted them and they had three suggestions. The National Conservation Leadership Institute, the Management Assistance Team of AFWA and the National Conservation Training Center.

Public Hearing at 2 PM

Fish possession limits

  • Staff had no recommended changes from Commission proposal that would change the possession limit for all species of fish in inland waters from two times the daily limit to three times the daily limit
  • Proposal was generated by a petition from groups and individuals who were interested in seeing the limits increased; GFP does not advocate for or against the change
  • Fisheries staff have found that daily and possession limits have little impact on fish population and studies around the country bear this out; creel limits are more of a social factor than a biological factor
  • Motion was made but failed for lack of a second so this rule change was not made

Fishing regulations

  • Staff had no recommended changes from Commission proposal
  • Proposals include prohibit felt sole waders; change limit of yellow perch so same as MN and inland waters; adding East and West Heritage Ponds to waters with 15 inch minimum for smallmouth and largemouth bass
  • Commission finalized as proposed
  • Changes to fish spearing regulations were finalized as proposed

Bait fish

  • Staff had no recommended changes from Commission proposal
  • Commission finalized as proposed

Hunting, fishing, and trapping license fees

  • Have plans in place to switch $2.5 million of funding to federal aid source; have budget cuts and delayed services in place at about $1.4 million to help align spending with revenue that is being generated
  • These fee increases are a third part that is important with aligning income and expenditures
  • Staff recommended change from proposal to change description of the small game license from "Sixteen years of age and older" to "19 years of age and older"
  • Commission amended the original proposal with the staff recommended wording change for small game license
  • Commission than finalized the proposal as amended

Camping permit fees

  • Staff had no recommended changes from Commission proposal
  • Similar to budget concerns faced by Wildlife Division, the Parks Division is facing the challenge of meeting expenses for fixed cost services with income
  • Commission finalized as proposed

Picnic shelter, firewood, park facility fees

  • Staff had no recommended changes from Commission proposal
  • Commission finalized as proposed

Hunting Season Proposals

Spring Turkey Hunting Season

  • Staff recommends no changes to Custer State Park Spring Turkey season, so this season is finalized with the same season structure as 2013
  • Staff recommended changes from 2013
  • Convert license types in 10 units from 2-tag "any turkey" licenses to 2-tag "male turkey" licenses, convert license type in 8 units from 2-tag "any turkey" licenses to 1-tag "male turkey" licenses, and adjust the number of licenses in 5 units. Overall, these changes and adjustments result in 186 fewer licenses and 2,976 fewer tags for resident hunters. For nonresident hunters these changes result in 15 fewer licenses and 207 fewer tags.
  • National Wild Turkey Federation approached GFP to establish a unit similar to one currently available for West River Deer that will be designated for physically challenged individuals; proposal to establish Unit PST-58B: Stanley County, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Land and the Oahe Downstream Recreation Area from April 5-30. Allow 4 resident "male turkey" licenses and 1 non-resident "male turkey" license to persons who use a wheelchair for mobility.
  • To accommodate rule proposal under item #2: From October 1 to April 30, inclusive, uncased firearms and bows are authorized for licensed hunters in all state parks, state recreation areas, nature areas, and lakeside use areas during established hunting seasons with the following restrictions: Uncased firearms and bows are prohibited the year around in all established campgrounds, designated day use areas, and at Beaver Creek Nature Area, Lake Herman State Park, Spring Creek Recreation Area, Spirit Mound Historic Prairie, Bear Butte State Park east of State Highway 79, Oahe Downstream Recreation Area except for a hunter who possesses a valid deer license for Unit WRD-58D as described in chapter 41:06:20 or a valid turkey license for Unit PST-58B as described in chapter 41:06:13, and Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve and Good Earth State Park Blood Run Nature Area except for a resident hunter who possesses a valid archery deer license and an access permit as described in chapter 41:06:22 or except for a resident hunter who possesses a valid archery spring turkey license and an access permit as described in chapter 41:06:13
  • Good Earth State Park Blood Run Nature Area is closed to spring turkey hunting except for ten turkey licensees who possess a valid spring turkey archery license and an archery turkey access permit. Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve is closed to spring turkey hunting except for ten licensees who possess a valid spring turkey archery license and an archery turkey access permit. The access permits may be issued by lottery drawing. Each access permit is valid from the first Saturday of April to April 30, inclusive.
  • Season Dates: Archery - Apr. 5-May 18; CSP, Black Hills and Prairie - Apr. 12-May 18; Split Seasons - Apr. 12-30 and May 1-18
  • Commission proposed rule changes as recommended by staff

Spring Light Goose Hunting Season

  • Staff recommends no changes from 2013
  • Commission made no changes so season is finalized for 2014 with same structure as 2013
  • Season Dates will be Feb. 15-May 4
  • No daily or possession limit

Division of parks and recreation

Action item
Angostura and Shadehill Seasonal Cabin/Trailer Fees

  • Staff recommendation to raise Angostura cabin rates from $810 in 2013 to $820 in 2014; and raise Shadehill rates from $420 in 2013 to $425 in 2014
  • Rates were first established over 20 years ago and raises are based on the projected year-end Consumer Price Index as reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (right now about 1.2%)
  • Commission proposed fee change as recommended by staff

Information items
Angostura Sewer System

  • 2008 inspection showed sewer system was inadequate and in need of overhaul; upgrade included construction of a new system with lagoon and expanse of sewer lines
  • Trailer owners have been kept updated; cost of system $1.8 million with $1.5 million raised through bonding; Bureau of Reclamation funds will include $274,000; costs will be recouped through $900 annual payment from each trailer owner
  • Work dirt to begin Nov. 11; construction scheduled to be complete Apr. 1, 2014
  • Also requested from trailer owners that water system be upgraded as well and that will add another $200 per year

Cedar Shore Shoreline Stabilization Project

  • Some of problems have been with the resort for a long time, others were caused by the 2011 flood event; high waters have eroded the bank and jeopardized some of the facilities; some shoreline protection within the resort marina was caused by the flood; there have also been issues with soil  movement that is causing damage to the area
  • Installed instruments to detect subsurface movement and have determined that action is necessary to preserve the resort facilities
  • Highest priority has been to build a shaft wall adjacent to marina to put holes 50-60 feet into the ground to rock bed and filled with reinforced concrete to make a very strong retaining wall that will be level with the ground
  • Dept. Transportation is working on erosion and soil slippage near the road
  • Replace rip-rap near campground
  • Environmental Assessment required by FEMA for $4 million mitigation funding; final assessment on Jan. 24
    Funding includes the $4 million in FEMA funding; $3 million from bonding; $1.43 million from GFP in form of Coast Guard and some other funds; just under $700,000 from DOT; and $250,000 from town of Oacoma for roadwork
  • Target date for funding approval from FEMA is Feb. 21

Custer State Park Visitor Center

  • Donovan Broberg presented on behalf of ARC as the design firm for the Visitor Center; hope to have schematic design complete in 30-40 days
  • Had looked at potential sites on either side of Game Lodge, but felt that would add a crowded feeling to the immediate Game Lodge campus
  • Considered a site near the group campground location that is on the east end of the Game Lodge area and have selected this as the chosen site for the Visitor Center; Grace Coolidge Creek flows into a pond at the site and the creek divides into a small meandered offshoot of the creek that rejoins at a later point; this is a little used area
  • There is a great deal of design to do in coming weeks, but design will be driven by tradition of the Park, education through interpretive exhibits similar to The Outdoor Campus-West; feature and emphasize the wildlife in the area; highlight the adventures of being in the park; and vision including a world class film that will be displayed

Good Earth State Park

  • Hired HDR, a consultant out of Sioux Falls for on-going design work for overall layout of park and visitor center
  • Ability access park in northwest as was part of original master plan; struggled with how to get road built into that area; working with family that originally homesteaded into that area and has offered for sale 20 acres that would facilitate a road into the property
  • Parks and Wildlife Foundation agreed to enter into purchase agreement to purchase this 20 acres

Park Revenue and Visitation Reports

  • Revenue for 2013 up 5.9% compared to same time in 2012; current total is $12,262,335.28
  • About half of increase due to policy change that brings in next year revenue that has been collected; actual increase probably closer to 3%
  • Camping units are up 3.1% compared to same time in 2012; current total is 277,728 and a new record year for camping units
  • Visitations up 1.7% over last year with totals = State Parks 2,408,660; Recreation Areas 4,211,294; and Nature Areas 81,544 for 6,701,498; 2013 numbers are based on a more reliable counter system

October storm impact and cleanup

  • Over 4' of snow in some areas of the Black Hills; deep snow and high winds on the prairie for Oct. 4-6 storm
  • Assisted Lawrence County Emergency Management; sno-cats were operated in Boulder Canyon, Nemo, Terry Peak and Spearfish Canyon; transported 59 citizens to the Red Cross Shelter located in Lead; operators logged 106 hours in three days
  • Granted use of 3 sno-cats and GFP operators to Black Hills Power and Light to help work with downed power lines, this work is re-imbursed through contract with department
  • Worked with volunteers from local snowmobile clubs to clean up snowmobile trails from downed trees
    Shadehill Reservoir got 24" snow and 70mph winds that raised havoc with trees, lost 30% of trees; without electricity for 20 days; lost significant October revenue; 3.7' elevation rise in the reservoir; first time dam has overspilled in October
  • Custer State Park no power Friday through Monday in parts of the Park; no buffalo lost and no signs of loss of  big game animals; several visitors were stranded until roads started to open Saturday afternoon; flooding caused quite a bit of damage
  • Wind and tornado hit Adams Nature Area on Oct. 4; majority of heavy damage in NW part; tornado was roughly 1/2 mile wide; about 8 of the 16 miles of trail were blocked by downed trees; trail system was cleared by Oct. 12
  • Not uncommon to receive call from Emergency Operation Center to take advantage of specialized equipment that is valuable in these situations along with trained and experienced staff
  • Challenged to get to facilities through blizzard conditions; Highway Patrol was going to use 4-wheel drive vehicles to help with their work but conditions were too bad for that
  • Staff camped at Cleghorn Hatchery through blizzard to make sure generator and hatchery remained in operation; no fish lost at Cleghorn and no structural damage
  • Pennington County requested use of equipment but could not get to shop so brought in help to open up area and access to equipment
  • McNenny Hatchery suffered substantial damage to raceway covers
  • Conservation Officers and other staff were out trying to assist with transportation needs
  • Also considerable work to move snow at Outdoor Campus are to prevent damage
  • Regional staff were concerned about possibility of hunters stranded in the Black Hills so contacted Civil Air Patrol to do aerial survey to make sure there were no rescue needs
  • Staff used track ATVs to check on people who might be stranded
  • Livestock perished from pulmonary edema or fluid on the lungs; up to 14,000 lost; staff assisted with effort to account for and clean up after lost cattle
  • Did call in staff from other parts of state to help with efforts in the west
  • Estimate about $30,000 repairs for The Outdoor Campus-West; McNenny raceway covers will cost around $450,000 to replace; Curlew Dam had damage estimated around $200,000
  • State submitted around $38 million in damage claims
  • Total figure submitted by GFP as part of FEMA declaration was $800,000; there is no guarantee that this is what FEMA will reimburse

Division of Wildlife

Action item
Partridge allowed for release

  • Department has received requests from individuals to release other sub-species of partridge and the department has determined there is no biological reason to retain language in existing rules. The deletion of "Hungarian" and "Chukar" would make an allowance for the release of any species of partridge.
  • Commission approved rule change to delete words "Hungarian" and "Chukar" from written rule and open up release to any species of partridge under captive game bird and shooting preserve rules
  • Commission proposed rule change as recommended by staff

Sully County land acquisition

  • Medicine Knoll Creek Game Production Area exchange and purchase
  • Located in southeast Sully County
  • This project involves the equal value exchange of two private tracts of land (118.2 acres and 154.8 acres) adjoining the Medicine Knoll Creek GPA with two GFP tracts (160 acres each). GFP would purchase the residual acres (41.8 acres and 5.2 acres) of each quarter section to complete an acre-for-acre property exchange
  • Would consolidate GFP holdings, realize more diverse wildlife habitat opportunities and enhance public hunting
  • Cost $109,400 with expected closing in December; Pierre Pheasants Forever Chapter has offered to contribute $15,000 to this purchase
  • Commission adopted resolution approving the exchange and purchase

Information items
Land acquisition update

  • Chain Lakes (Holoubek) GPA addition is in development
  • Located in southeast Brule County; a 160-acre tract of grassland and wetland adjoining the Chain Lakes GPA
  • Cost $160,000 and funded through Tony Dean's Acres grant; expected action item for January meeting
  • Also have project in early development stage in northwest Moody County

Transplant of mountain goats

  • Not native to SD and introduced for first time in 1920s; increased to 300-400 in 1940s; first hunting season 1967; population decline here and around the country in the past several years
  • Decline may be due to combination of genetics, habitat degradation, increased human activity, increased predation, and hunting pressure
  • 2006-7 worked with Colorado to transplant 18 mountain goats; radio-collared and most collars are now inactive
  • Utah mountain goat transplant this past September; cooperative agreement to share wild Merriam turkeys (turkeys were trapped from private property as part of depredation complaints)
  • Capture occurred on Sept. 4; went through a battery of disease testing; vaccinated; measured, aged and sexed
  • Transported to and released near Needles Highway; 22 goats included 12 adult/yearling females; 1 female kid; 4 adult males; 4 male kids
  • Will evaluate success of transplant through annual survival and movements; may capture additional goats for transplant
  • Have distributed from release site and 1 female died with a couple of days from release; one has traveled to an area north of Rapid City
  • Latest population estimate from 2012 was around 200 mountain goats, but tough to detect and count in their native habitat

Elk management opinion survey

  • Random sample of elk license applicants from 2010-13; 2,000 individuals; remainder of sample made up of landowners; 2,133 landowners
  • Completed initial mailing of letter with 12 pages of questions; followed up with post card reminder and a thank you for those who submitted; currently 26% response rate
  • Will send a second copy of survey and cover letter next week and about 8 days following that a final mailing of survey to nonrespondents
  • Questions center on feelings about wildlife values; thoughts about where elk population should be; specific experiences hunting elk; tolerance of elk on the landscape and social tolerance for big game species
  • Once survey completed and report is finalized will work with a stakeholder group to present suggestions for elk management plan

Lake Oahe fisheries update

  • Smelt in low abundance of less than 1 million for all of Oahe... very small compared to previous years; the positive is that smelt have the ability of explosive reproduction and a good year will turn around that forage base
  • Warm-water prey fish can impact predator populations in Oahe; during the last summer had 6th highest abundance in past two decades; provide good forage for predator populations
  • In 2013 have a good population of walleye, but few are over 20 inches and abundance of 15-20 inch walleye also comparatively low; but under 15 inch population is high and bodes well for future as these fish hit the 15 inch range, part of excellent 2009 year class
  • Another good year class in 2011 will mean more small fish in harvest in next year or two
  • Condition of walleye declined rapidly when smelt population crashed with 2011 flood event; now beginning to see improved condition of fish
  • Record harvest in early June and record low harvest by August as bite went off and walleye began feeding on warm-water prey species of fish
  • Recommendation to remove the 2013 experimental and return to statewide walleye limit restrictions; 4 walleye per day and of these one may be 20 inches or greater

Changes in the lakes in Northeast SD

  • In 1990 there were 35 permanent, semi-permanent and marginal lakes; in 2013 there are 95 to manage for fisheries
  • In 1986 stocked 5.6 million walleye fry and 9,310 large fingerling; in 2013 stocked 38.6 million, plus 359,760 small fingerlings, and 47,980 large fingerlings
  • At that time only Bailey and Round lakes were good walleye fisheries; now there are 155 lakes actively managed and likely to catch a walleye
  • Bitter Lake in 1991 was 3,500 acres but only 3' deep and did not support fishery; now over 18,000 acres and 30+ feet deep with excellent fishery; Waubay Lake was small complex of waters that were now stocked, now a huge lake; Dry Lake was 4,700 acres in 1991 and very shallow; now 10,500 acres and a very significant fishery even though under 10' deep; Lynn Lake was a series of potholes in 1987; now 3,120 acres (came up six feet in 2011 alone); Indian Springs complex was 2700 acres in 1987, now 4,400 acres; Waubay was 8,400 acres and now over 18,000 acres
  • Lake Access areas in 1987 totaled 59; in 2013 there are 125
  • Lakes were full in 1856, dry in 1892, full in 1916, and dry in 1936; history is a series of wet and dry cycles
  • Secretary Vonk and Director Leif were part of a meeting on water issues that was hosted by GFP in Watertown as an extension of discussions that came out of the past legislative session on water access issues; legislative effort would have privatized any water that inundated private land; in SD the history has been that all water is considered to be public; Supreme Court case said all water is public and a public trust resource, but also that the recreational use of that water needs to be appropriated by the legislature
  • Bill in 2006 followed that decision trying to determine recreational use, but that bill failed
  • Group called Non-Meandered Waters was formed and they helped spearhead the bill this past legislative session to restrict public use of many waters; House Ag committee overwhelmingly passed and then passed on House Floor as well; so provided an option for legislatures to consider that would be the beginnings of a compromise; agreement in Senate to table the bill with direction that both sides get together and work out a compromise that would be available in 2014 legislative session; further efforts to reach compromise have failed and both sides are not willing to move off base  to find grounds for a compromise
  • Will continue to meet with legislators to talk through issues and take suggestions on how GFP might improve a suggested bill; work on defining some minimum size of water body that can be taken off the table that would have minimal recreational value; so far these ideas have been rejected by Non-Meandered Waters group
  • Wildlife Federation plans to introduce their own bill and this will be one of the big issues in the 2014 session

Statewide Fisheries Plan

  • Draft plans are being completed; plans are intended to establish where we want to be, prioritize limited resources, document a path to follow, track progress towards success, help staff and public have ownership in work, and information sharing
  • Planning structure a statewide component as umbrella over regions; putting together inventory, list of programs, supporting programs, and performance measurements; strategies include develop statewide data management system, survey review and prioritization process, comprehensive fishing access inventory, and inventory fish habitat, develop non-game species survey, invasive species plan, develop egg stock sources; communications, human dimensions and law enforcement; Parks Division and important part of planning
  • Measurements include a goal of 2.7 million angler days
  • Regions include Black Hills, West River, Missouri River and East River
  • Plans for regions have standard format with focus on inventory, issues, goals, objectives and strategies
  • Black Hills management issues: presence of other species that may be unwanted; changes in Black Hills anglers that can bring conflicting management; habitat degradation; maximize hatchery trout; Strategies: marketing/education, survey, generate streams and small lakes/ponds plapn, refine fish population surveys, identify limiting factors
  • West River issues: small impoundment aging lack of information on angler preferences, lack of partnerships for fisheries management, impacts of water levels on larger reservoirs, summertime shore access because of vegetation, unauthorized fish stocking; strategies to gather input, rehabilitate small impoundments
  • Missouri River issues: dynamic nature of reservoirs complicates fish management; strategies to investigate factors influencing fish populations and angler satisfaction, how well current gear types harvest fish
  • East river issues: deteriorating quality of waters, access problems, watershed degradation, panfish size; strategies include participate in watershed improvement projects, protect and enhance shoreline habitats, improve small impoundments fish populations, establish new urban fisheries
  • Plan includes focus from broad levels to very specific levels
  • Public participation is an important part of the planning process and will include summaries of the plans to get highlights; will include a public review and comment period through the end of the year; input on setting up goals and objectives; Black Hills angler survey will gather information; other public involvement tools will be used; will reach out to specific audiences for specific parts of the plan

Big game management review response plan

  • Action plan in response to the report received by the Wildlife Management Institute
  • 43 point plan of actions has been put together with staff responsibilities along with timeline to accomplish; some have a very specific outcome from the action, and others a more general outcome
  • Categorize into subject areas: Population monitoring, management plans, communications, and Commission recommendation development process
  • Want to be timely with implementation with moving forward with plan; must strike balance with timeline and abilities of staff to accomplish with regular duties
  • Evaluation of staffing needs and prioritize work one of biggest challenges; have started implementing some changes and will have more to report in the next couple of months
  • Now manage on county-by-county basis and looking at larger grouping for some management; some adjustments within deer season structure for more consistent management
  • Goal is to use guidance from report to better the operation of the Division of Wildlife

Pheasant Habitat Summit update

  • Plan to have a broad plenary session for entire assemblage to share information on pheasants and habitat during the morning; followed with smaller group breakouts to focus on 4-5 questions that will be posed to each group; their responses will be combined and part of close-out for session likely attended by the Governor; around 230 people have signed up and expect around 400

Miscellaneous updates

  • Commission had a chance to view the new waterfowl access trailer

Next meeting:
Thursday, December 5, 2013 - one day meeting; 1-5 p.m.
Plains Ballroom, Huron

Governor's Pheasant Habitat Summit
Friday, December 6, 2013; 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Crossroads Convention Center, Huron