BROOKINGS – The Brookings Wildlife Federation will host local legislators at an Infolunch to be held at noon at the Brookings County Outdoor Adventure Center, Friday, Jan. 8.
The meeting is a chance for the local Federation members to provide their legislators with information and hear legislators' predictions about conservation issues that might come up when the session begins on Jan. 12.
Attending the meeting will be District 7 legislators Tim Reed and Larry Tidemann (House) and V. J. Smith (Senate). John Mills, District 4 representative and former Federation member, also usually attends.
Tidemann replaced Doug Post as a Representative from District 7. However, Tidemann is not a newcomer, having served in the House from 2005-2011. Tidemann is especially knowledgeable about agriculture and conservation issues having served with the SDSU Cooperative Extension Service for many years.
Spencer Vaa, president of the BWF, says, “The habitat stamp is a 'user pays' deal to improve habitat on public land. We have been pushing the stamp idea for years.”
Federation members will be interested in the legislators’ predictions for this year’s actions in the Legislature regarding natural resource conservation. Of particular interest is the proposal to combine the Department of Environment and Natural Resources with the Department of Agriculture.
Last year, 12 House bills and five Senate bills were introduced that relate to hunting and fishing. Two bills were hot topics. Both had a reoccurring theme – who can hunt in South Dakota. Both bills tinkered with the number of and access to hunting licenses, and both passed despite opposition from the South Dakota Wildlife Federation (SDWF).
The BWF contacts all members of the Legislature by working through the SDWF, which is headquartered in Pierre. SDWF is the state’s oldest conservation organization and the state’s only conservation organization actively involved in developing legislative policy impacting outdoor sporting activities.
In general, the SDWF defends resident hunting and fishing opportunities. This position is sometimes at odds with legislation that increases nonresident access, or privatizes and commercializes wildlife.
The Infolunch is open to the public. Infolunch during COVID is a brown-bag affair, but there is usually a crock pot of lunch for a free-will donation. The BWF’s monthly Infolunches are being held at the Outdoor Adventure Center, which has a large meeting space set up to meet COVID safety recommendations. For more information, contact BWF President Spencer Vaa at 695-6867.