President’s message – George Vandel, Pierre
January 17, 2020

I met today with the attorneys representing Flatland Flyway, Chris Hesla and Zach Hunke with the SD Wildlife Federation, Kelly Hepler and two of Kelly’s staff.  I also invited local SDWA Board Member Bill Koupal to attend.  Bill helps our organization with great insight and advice.  Bill is also very good with communications.  In addition Alex Russo was on a speaker phone.  I stated clearly that our organization cannot accept, will not support and would fight their 3 options as listed and that we would strongly oppose any legislation that allows for unlimited nonresident waterfowl or any legislation that increases nonresident waterfowl license increases without something for resident waterfowl hunters – specifically some type of guaranteed access program.  Chris and Zach said the same.  I also requested to be involved with any potential alternative nonresident waterfowl permit legislation.

I don’t know where this is going from here – the attorneys indicated that they would discuss this legislation privately with Alex and get back to us.  I was also informed that neither the Department nor the Governor would “spearhead” and/or “take the lead” on any of the 3 legislative options.

I guess – just stay tuned and I’ll keep you informed as I hear something.

To those of you who responded to my request for input – thank you very much.  Your comments were greatly appreciated.  I received about 30 – 40 texts, e-mails and phone calls from you.  All the comments were opposed to any increase in nonresident permits.  About a third of the comments indicated a willingness to work on this issue and to see if there is any compromise.  I intend to do that.  I will not commit to anything without first contacting you.

As previously mentioned Senator V.J. Smith (Brookings) is going to introduce legislation creating a “habitat stamp”. The the stamp would be required by all (accept youth) who hunt or fish in SD with the income derived specifically used for habitat improvement and access projects – both hunting and fishing. The proposed cost would be $10 for residents and $25 for nonresidents.  I’ll let you know when it is introduced.  Depending on the specific language of the bill, I recommend we back it.  The bill will raise funds that can be used for waterfowl hunter access.

Our main issues 1) expanding and increasing quality waterfowl hunting access opportunities in South Dakota 2) maintaining quality waterfowl hunting in our state by balancing nonresident waterfowl hunter numbers such that they not create undue conflicts with resident waterfowl hunters and 3) to ensure that commercialization of waterfowl hunting in South Dakota remains low.

Board: John Simpson – Pierre, Spencer Vaa – Brookings, Tom Yseth – Brookings and Bill Koupal – Pierre.  Bobby Cox will serve as Secretary Treasurer and Chuck Dieter will serve as Past-president.