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LETTER: What about sportsmen in habitat work group?

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To the Editor:

I believe a closer look is warranted by all sportsmen (resident and nonresident alike) at the current course of the “South Dakota Pheasant Habitat Summit.”

The Governor’s Office of the State of South Dakota has issued “marketing material” around the Pheasant Habitat Summit that reads:

“Pheasant Habitat Summit to discuss the future of pheasant habitat and hunting in South Dakota.”

“The work group will look for practical ways we can solidify our status as the world’s greatest pheasant hunting destination while supporting agriculture — our number one industry.”

Therefore, a sportsman could reasonably conclude that the Pheasant Habitat Summit, as title and context assert, would certainly scrutinize the dire habitat situation unfolding today from a disparate number of viewpoints including:

• Conservation

• Farming

• Legislation/Regulation

• Hunting

Unfortunately, only about a month after the Summit, it appears that the common sportsman’s voice will be heard via proxy, at best.

Just this week, the Governor appointed the Pheasant Habitat “work group.” Thankfully, it is rightfully comprised by an allstar lineup of conservationists, farmers and legislators/regulators. However, what should quickly raise every sportsman’s concern is why does this working group lack even one member to exclusively represent the simple sportsmen’s interests?

In a nutshell what I mean is this: The common sportsman community (resident and nonresident) spends a purported $230 million annually in South Dakota on licenses, lodging, food, gas, etc. This staggering dollar amount routinely captures the full attention and energy of the South Dakota government to insure its safekeeping and hopefully growth. So why now, at this critical juncture in pheasant habitat are common sportsmen not being fully and unequivocally represented within this pheasant habitat working group?

Sure the working group is made up of people who hunt, but they are there as conservationists, farmers, legislators/regulators and are wearing those hats, not the simple bright orange hat of the sportsman. After all, only sportsmen can advance their own unique agenda, but without a voice at the table what does that say for common sportsmen and the ringnecks they pursue? Long live the king of South Dakota, the ring neck pheasant.

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