GFP Commission tackles issues at September meeting

File photo: Rules for aquatic invasive species like the zebra mussel were among the many issues the GFP dealt with at its September meeting.

PIERRE – The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission held its September meeting at Rapid City’s Outdoor Campus West. The commission finalized proposals from its July meeting and  passed several other proposals, which will now be up for public comment.

State parks proposals

The commission proposed to standardize check out times for all modern lodging (lodges, camping and modern cabins, and suites) to 11 a.m., reducing customer confusion and allowing for adequate time to clean between stays. Campsite check out was not included in the changes and will remain 4 p.m.

The commission also proposed to allow for the sale of the following year’s park license earlier than Oct. 1 if necessary. Allowing some flexibility with the issue date will help meet customers expectations. An example is someone visiting a park on Sept. 30 would be able to purchase the new license for the upcoming year.

Due to increased use and the need for basic services, the commission proposed to increase camping fees at Dude Ranch, Elm Creek and Sheps Canyon to $11/day. The commission also proposed to reclassify Randall Creek from a preferred to a prime campground due to high occupancy rates. 

This proposal would increase the Randall Creek camping fee to $22/day.

The camping fee for the Custer State Park French Creek Horse Camp was approved for an increase from $31 to $36/day by the commission in 2019. The increase was inadvertently omitted from the package that went to the Interim Legislative Rules Committee, and has been re-proposed. For more information on this proposal, visit gfp.sd.gov/commission/information/.

Public comments currently being accepted 

If you would like to comment on any of these proposals, visit gfp.sd.gov/forms/positions. Comments can also be mailed to 523 E. Capitol Ave. Pierre.

To hear the discussion on these proposals, audio from the meeting is available through South Dakota Public Broadcasting and will soon be available on the GFP website as part of the meeting archive. \To see the proposal in its entirety, visit gfp.sd.gov/commission/information.

To be included in the public record and to be considered by the commission, comments must include a full name and city of residence and be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 3.

The next GFP Commission meeting will be held Oct. 7-8 in Deadwood.

The commission also finalized several proposals from its July meeting.

Aquatic invasive species

The commission finalized four changes to the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) rules:

1. Allow shoreline property owners to possess and transport invasive species away from their property for disposal in a manner that minimizes their spread to other waters. This means that individuals who own homes or cabins on a waterbody can remove AIS species on docks, boats, shorelines, or other similar structures.

2. Provide an exemption to allow boats, docks or boat lifts with zebra mussels attached to be removed from, and launched directly back into that waterbody, without having mussels removed, if the boat is stored on the owner’s lakeside property or at a marina on the lake.

3. Allow vegetation cut above the waterline to be attached to boats or blinds, as camouflage.

4. Remove current rules requiring decontamination of boats that have used zebra-mussel-infested waters before their next launch.

Bait, hatcheries and fishing tournaments

The commission removed the requirements for monthly and annual reporting by licensed retail bait dealers. They also eliminated annual fish health and AIS inspection requirements for private hatcheries and removed restrictions on trap size and mesh size for noncommercial bait seines, nets, and traps.

Finally, the commission changed the definition of fishing tournaments so that youth events with participants under the age of 18 (currently 17) would not be considered a tournament.

Blowguns

The commission did not approve adding blowguns as a legal method to take fish. The commission did approve adding the majority of inland waters to the list of areas where legal spear, legal spear gun, legal crossbow and legal bow and arrow may be used to take game fish.

Hoop nets and set lines

The commission approved the use of float lines as an alternative method of take for individuals possessing a valid setline license on inland waters currently open to use of setlines. The also added hoop nets and traps as legal methods of taking catfish and rough fish on western tributaries of the Missouri River and Angostura, Belle Fourche, and Shadehill reservoirs.

Fish limits

The commission changed daily catfish regulations on the Iowa/SD border to allow 10 channel catfish, 1 blue catfish and 5 flathead catfish per day, with one flathead catfish 30 inches or longer per day.

Spring turkey

The commission finalized the elimination of the second Black Hills turkey license for the 2022 spring turkey hunting season. This is following the guidance of the South Dakota wild turkey management plan, where reduced hunter success for the past two seasons suggests a management response which adjusts the season structure to one license per year for the Black Hills spring season.

Mountain lion

The commission voted to allow the pursuit of mountain lion by dogs to additional lands outside of the Black Hills Fire Protection District. Previously, pursuing mountain lions with dogs had only been allowed on School and Public Land and Bureau of Land Management areas if the pursuit originated on private land.

Hunters are now able to pursue mountain lions with dogs on all public lands unless otherwise prohibited on specific areas. The pursuit must originate on private land, but may cross over or culminate on private land with permission from the landowner or lessee or public land unless otherwise prohibited.

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