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GFP News - September 23, 2013

Highmore Rancher Earns National Conservation Honor

PIERRE, S.D. - The national Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies has awarded Jim Faulstich the 2013 National Private Lands Fish and Wildlife Stewardship Award at their recent meeting in Portland, Oregon.

Faulstich wanted to operate a profitable ranch, preserve the natural resources of the land and pass the ranch on to the next generation in better condition. His success brought him a national honor as he received the award for his work on his 5,300 acre family farm/ranch.

Faulstich has invested time and resources to become a knowledgeable practitioner of principles and concepts learned in holistic management courses, grazing management workshops and tours, and more. Under his holistic approach to ranch management, he focuses on careful stewardship of the natural resources. Now, Faulstich is a frequent speaker at local and regional ranch and grazing management workshops.

"Jim believes that stewardship of the resources leads to better health of everything, benefiting land, water, livestock, wildlife and people," South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Secretary Jeff Vonk said.

Native and restored grassland and associated wetlands comprise about 80 percent of the ranch. It has become a sustainable grass-based ranch that also provides high-quality habitat to a wide variety of grassland- and wetland-dependent wildlife.

"Jim's tireless commitment to grassland stewardship and conservation is demonstrated not only in his day-to-day ranch management efforts, but also in his willingness to be a leader at the local, state and national level," Vonk said. "Jim is the current board chairman for the South Dakota Grassland Coalition and his vision and energy as a leader are a big reason the coalition has become one of the most effective and respected voices of grassland conservation and grass-based agriculture in the region."

Faulstich has set part of his ranch aside in conservation easements that will be critical for waterfowl and shorebird management, and is a cooperator in a variety of wildlife and grassland studies.

"It is fitting that this national honor is added to the statewide and regional recognition Jim has received," Vonk said.


Mountain Goats Find a New Home in South Dakota

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department, working in cooperation with the Utah Division of Wildlife, recently relocated 22 mountain goats from Utah to South Dakota’s Black Hills.

The goats were captured from a herd in Utah's Tushar Mountains, and are part of a study to increase genetic diversity in South Dakota's mountain goat population.

"Utah biologists used helicopters and net guns to capture the animals," said GFP Regional Game Manager John Kanta. "Mountain goats live in high altitudes and inhabit very rough and steep terrain. Capturing these mountain goats was very challenging."

Once an animal was captured, blood was drawn, vaccinations were given, measurements were taken and a throat and nose swab was performed to test for diseases. All yearling and adult mountain goats were fitted with a radio collar and mountain goat kids were ear tagged.

Goats were then loaded into wooden boxes filled with wood shavings and a block of ice to keep them comfortable and cool in preparation for their journey back to South Dakota.

"The mountain goats were released into the Needles area of the Black Hills," Kanta said. "We will be monitoring these goats for survival and transplant success and will also be using the data to enhance our aerial sightability survey for developing population estimates."

This project is one of many made possible through partnerships between GFP and non-government organizations.

"The Midwest Wild Sheep Foundation and the Greater Dacotah Chapter of the Safari Club International provided financial support for radio collars and capture costs associated with this transplant," Kanta said. "The cooperation from these partners will greatly assist GFP in managing South Dakota’s mountain goat population and their habitats."

Free HuntSAFE Training Available for Schools

PIERRE, S.D. - The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department is pleased to announce a free Conservation and Firearms Education training opportunity for teachers this fall.

HuntSAFE Instructor training is currently scheduled for Frederick, S.D., on Saturday, Oct. 5. The class will be held at the school in Frederick and will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is open to all educators in South Dakota who work with youth ages 11 and older. Upon successful completion of the workshop, teachers will be able to provide HuntSAFE certification to their students who wish to complete the HuntSAFE course. Depending upon previous experience, educators may be required to work with a previously certified instructor during their first class.

Teachers wishing to register for the HuntSAFE in the Schools training should email their contact information to or call 605.220.2130. Space is limited so registrations should be made as soon as possible.

Trail to Provide Angler Access to Crow Creek

The new Mirror Lakes trail system located on the Mirror Lake Game Production Area (GPA) 10 miles west of Spearfish is open for public use.

The scenic path provides angling, walking and biking opportunities along Crow Creek and the McNenny State Fish Hatchery. The trail system is made up of approximately 3,600 feet of trail and the area just north of the trail provides excellent late season duck hunting.

Trail use is restricted to foot and bicycle traffic. Trail access and parking areas are located at the southeast and northeast corners of Lower Mirror Lake. Both parking areas can be accessed from Upper Mirror Lake Road.

Funding for the project was provided by the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks and the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). The RTP is funded by the Federal Highway Administration and administered in South Dakota through GFP.

Users are urged to keep in mind that Game Production Areas were developed to provide hunting, trapping and angling opportunities. Hiker and cyclists are urged to wear orange during the hunting season and to be respectful of other users. The area is also open to trapping during the winter months, so caution should be used when walking dogs.

Large Trout Stocked Below the Oahe Dam

PIERRE, S.D. - The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department recently stocked approximately 3,000 15-20 inch rainbow and brown trout in the Oahe Tailrace.

GFP Fisheries Biologist Robert Hanten said the purpose of the stocking is to evaluate if a fall stock of larger trout will remain in the tailrace area and be available for anglers to catch throughout the year.

"We hope stockings like this will create an opportunity for large trout to be stocked, grown and caught as trophy trout in the future," Hanten said.

Oahe tailrace is located approximately 5 miles northwest of Pierre, below the Oahe Dam powerhouse.


Close to 600 Riders Take Part in Mickelson Trail Trek

LEAD, S.D. -- According to state Division of Parks and Recreation officials, three days of sunshine helped make last weekend's 16th annual Mickelson Trail Trek a success.

"The beautiful Black Hills scenery and fall colors help attract riders each year," said Dana Garry, Mickelson Trail manager. "The ride went well, and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. We were excited to have 588 riders, of which 13 were returning for their 16th year."

This year's event, held Sept. 20-22, brought people to the Black Hills from 29 states. Over the three days, trekkers rode past scenic Sheep Canyon and Crazy Horse Monument, across the Freedom Bridge south of Mystic and into Lead-Deadwood on the final leg of the trail.

"Staff from the South Dakota Division of Parks and Recreation, along with many volunteers, worked hard to pull this year’s Trail Trek together," Garry said. "We would especially like to acknowledge and thank the volunteers and the Chambers of Commerce that greeted the trekkers with water, snacks, ice cream and meals along the way."

The annual ride is held the third weekend of September, with the 2014 Trail Trek scheduled for Sept. 19-21. Online registration should be available in December, and Garry encourages riders to sign up as early as possible to ensure a spot in the ride. The trek is limited to 600 riders.

For more information on the Mickelson Trail, visit or contact the Black Hills Trails office at 605-584-3896. Photos from the 2013 Mickelson Trail Trek are available on the George S. Mickelson Trail Facebook page.



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