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SDPB Radio Coverage of the South Dakota Legislature. See all coverage and find links to audio and video streams live from the Capitol at www.sdpb.org/statehouse

Bill to Clarify Relationship Between Landowners And Public Water Users Killed in Committee

Access to public waters that cross private land is being debated in Pierre this year. Currently in South Dakota, the high water mark on a river or stream is seen as public land, but residents in the flooded areas of the James River say this has led to abuse of their private property rights. The Senate State Affairs committee killed House Bill 1135 Wednesday morning, which was intended to clarify the relationship between property owners and recreational use of waters on private land. Senators on the committee say they respect landowners, but also the need to preserve the economic impact sportsmen bring to the state. Senator Larry Rhoden was one of the bill’s sponsors. He says more time is needed to discuss resolutions.

“There are so many misperceptions on both sides of this issue, pro and con, that it would be extremely difficult for us to deal with in this environment and sort through that, no matter if we took four hours of testimony. I was very encouraged by the process we went through, however intense it was, at the willingness of the personalities that were involved to look at finding a solution, a viable solution, to represent both the landowners and the sportsmen.

Rhoden says he knows all sides are committed to come back with better legislation next year. Committee members agree there’s a hole in current legislation that needs to be defined, but in a respectful way.