President’s message – George Vandel, Pierre
January 2020

I failed to mention in my recent note that I again registered as a lobbyist for the SD Waterfowl Association for the 2020 SD Legislative Session.  I plan to monitor bills in the session as they pertain to our association and in general with conservation issues.

I met last week with Justin Bell (Pierre attorney representing Alex Russo and Flatland Flyways), Nathan Sanderson (SD Retailers Assn), Kelly Hepler (GFP Secretary), some of Kelly’s staff including newly appointed Wildlife Division Director Tom Kirschnemann, 2 members of Governor Noem’s staff and Governor Kristi Noem.  Also present was Zach Hunke (president of the SD Wildlife Federation).  We were presented with 3 legislative options which I have attached for you review.

After reading these carefully, here is my brief summary of what each does:

Option # 1) Eliminates all 3-day temp licenses, all caps for the 10-day permits and allows a hunter to split their hunt time into two, 5-day periods. All nonresident waterfowl licenses would be statewide, no zonesunits, one license type, unlimited numbers.

Click here to view/download DRAFT BILL NO. 1 PDF

Option # 2) Does all of the above accept keeps the SE nonresident unit permits as season long but also unlimited

Click here to view/download DRAFT BILL NO. 2 PDF

Option #3) Retains the ability to allow the GFP Commission to set the cap for numbers, provided they don’t exceed 5% from the previous year, of the statewide 10-day nonresident permit (now two 5-day licenses) but removes all caps for the 3-day temporary permits. No units, statewide, unlimited but a nonresident can only purchase 2 temporary permits.

Click here to view/download DRAFT BILL NO. 3 PDF

Options 1, 2 and 3 would all prohibit nonresidents from hunting on State GPAs and WIAs but would allow hunting on all state meandered waters and all navigable waters (such as the Missouri River).  All Federal WPAs and any Federal refuges open to duck hunting would be open to nonresident waterfowl hunters.

In my opinion all 3 options are a commercial duck outfitters dream.  Unlimited permits, clients who can split their hunts and come back twice and they are basically required to hunt private land.  The dollars behind these legislative options come straight from Alex Russo of Flatland Flyways.  Finally is clear and obvious that the SD Retailers Association, GFP Secretary Kelly Hepler and Governor Kristi Noem all believe we should have significantly more nonresident waterfowl hunters to increase economic opportunity in our small towns and rural communities.

I have strong opinions on this issue but I represent you, the members of our Association.  We have been asked by the proponents not to pre-judge these options.  They sincerely want to work with us as does Sec. Hepler and Gov. Noem to see if there is room for compromise and negotiation.  They have asked to meet with Zach and myself toward the end of next week.  I have already agreed to do so.

Please give me your opinions on how I should respond to these 3 options – and do it fast – as in right away.  Do you want me to stay involved and work toward a compromise legislation? 

The 2020 session is not all bad news.  Senator V.J. Smith (Brookings) is planning to introduce legislation creating a “habitat stamp”. As I understand the concept, the stamp would be required by all 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.  More to come on this.

Finally on a national level, a bill is working its way through the US House called the Reinvest in America’s Wildlife Act.  If passed it would provide significant (as in $13 million annually) to SD to help those species not normally hunted or fished.  Please give Rep. Dusty Johnson an e-mail asking him to support this.  Dusty has been conspicuously uncommitted so far.

So, please stay in the loop, keep in touch, start visiting with your local legislators on these issues.  And please give me your opinions on how to proceed involving the above 3 nonresident waterfowl license options.  Call or text me at 605-295-2880 or e-mail me direct at gvan3@pie.midco.net

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.