GF&P pays landowners $5 million for public access in 2011BROOKINGS — Owners of land in South Dakota received more than $5 million in the past year from the state Game, Fish and Parks Department for granting public hunting access on their private properties.
By: Bob Mercer, The Daily Republic
BROOKINGS — Owners of land in South Dakota received more than $5 million in the past year from the state Game, Fish and Parks Department for granting public hunting access on their private properties.
That represented about 9 percent of GF&P’s operations budget and about 5 percent of the department’s total budget of $82 million.
About $50 million of GF&P’s budget annually comes from license, park and camping sales, with about $5 million of general funding from the Legislature and $20 million to $30 million in federal aid, depending on the year.
Coordinator Mark Norton briefed the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission on hunting access and related issues involving the federal farm program Thursday.
One of the biggest chunks of access money went to landowners in the James River valley who enrolled in the special Conservation Reserve Enhancement program run by the department.
The department paid $2.2 million to the holder of those contracts. They currently number 582, covering about 62,300 acres, with each agreement each scheduled to run 10 to 15 years. The department can take up to 100,000 acres.
An equally large amount went to about 1,400 landowners who placed property in GFP’s walk-in area program. More than 1.3 million acres were contracted in 2011 at a cost of about $2.2 million to the department.
The department used federal grant funding of $618,613 to pay bonuses to landowners to enroll 26,436 acres in federal wetland and conservation-reserve programs. Landowners in turn allow access for hunting.
About $200,000 was spent on access for waterfowl hunters along 37,306 acres at the lower end of Oahe Reservoir. That program involves nine landowners. The area also is hunted for pheasants and grouse.
GFP also runs a controlled-hunting access program, primarily for big game. There were 12 operators with 18,137 acres enrolled last year.
The CHAP payments are based on the number of hunting days when the land is used by members of the public, and whether the landowner places any restrictions for game species and seasons. The program cost about $18,000 for 1,800 hunting days in 2011.