GFP To Rope Off Areas Of Non-Meandered Water Over Private Land

Apr 12, 2017

Secretary of South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Kelly Hepler

The head of South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks says it will block off access to water situated over private land.
 
The move is a result of a state Supreme Court decision saying landowners have property rights under non-meandering water.
 
Last week Game Fish and Parks officials announced they were closing Department-managed boat launches and halting fish stockings on non-meandered bodies of water over private land.

Now the department says they’re going to rope off areas of water where private land begins.
 
Kelly Hepler is the secretary of Game, Fish and Parks. He says the state has 24 bodies of water where this will occur.
 
“All of these we’re going to put a cable across and we’re going to have a sign that says why we’re doing that. So that’ll happen within a week," Hepler says. "We’ve ordered the signs, we’ve put post up. So that’s going to happen quickly. The decision that’s not to plant some of the fish in there, that’s happening right now, we’re modifying how we give information out to the public. All those things are in transit. But I think the most immediate thing, probably the one that most people are most concerned about, are you truly going to restrict access to all those sites. Within a week, that’s going to happen.”
 
Hepler says restricting access to some of these waters could have a residual impact on area communities in the northeast part of the state.
 
Under South Dakota law, the state holds water in trust for the public. So Game, Fish and Parks provided boat ramps for public access. The Supreme Court ruled that GFP has to remove those ramps for public use, unless the legislature clarifies otherwise.
 
An online petition calls for a special legislative session to clarify the issue. The governor’s chief of staff, Tony Venhuizen, says it’s likely an interim committee, or summer study, will look at the issue.
 
“Talk to the interested parties and try to find some kind of proposal. Once a proposal is reached that has broad support, then there’d be a timing question about whether it makes sense to call a special session or whether it makes sense to wait until next session. A lot of that would have to do with how quickly a solution could be reached.”
 
The executive board meets next week to discuss what topics may receive a summer study.