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GF&P is acquiring land again after moratorium was lifted

SYLVAN LAKE — Acquisition of two parcels of land in Clark and Moody counties received approval Friday from the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission.

The Clark County purchase covers 5.16 acres of old railroad route owned by Gregerson Salvage, of Waubay. The price is $7,740. The land is an inholding within the existing Lynbe Game Production Area.

The Moody County purchase is approximately 160 acres owned by James Van Hecke and Carol Van Hecke near Colman. The price is $160,000. The land will be used for a game production area.

Negotiations are underway toward buying 153 acres in Kingsbury County. The land provides access to Twin Lakes, according to Paul Coughlin, who oversees land acquisitions for the Game, Fish and Parks Department.

"This is really kind of a priority for us because those Highway 81 ponds are such a resource," he said.

Coughlin said he's working on getting back into contact again with landowners who had previously expresses interest in making their property available to GF&P, now that Gov. Dennis Daugaard has lifted his moratorium on most GF&P land purchases.

Here are other topics discussed at the commission meeting Friday:


Hunters would be limited to no more than three archery deer licenses for the 2014 season under the proposal made Friday by the commission. The limit has been five.

To get three licenses hunters would need an East River license, a West River license and one antlerless-only whitetail license.

All archery licenses would be single tag. A public hearing will be held June 5 at the commission's next meeting at Yankton.

Archery hunters harvested 7,277 deer in 2013. That was the smallest number in at least five years. The recent high was 9,930 in 2010.


The proposed Dec. 1 through Jan. 15 season for muzzleloader users would see changes similar to the archery proposal.

The any-deer muzzleloader licenses would remain at 1,000. There would be unlimited antlerless-only whitetail licenses. Last year there were unlimited antlerless any-deer licenses.

There also would be a limit of two total muzzleloader licenses per hunter, with a limit of one antlerless-only whitetail license per hunter.

The proposal gets a public hearing June 5 at Yankton.

There were 1,346 deer taken by muzzleloader hunters in 2013. That was a five-year low. The recent peak was 2,988 in 2010.

Youth deer hunters

The main change recommended for the youth deer hunting season calls for allowing one antlerless-only any-deer license per hunter. The proposal goes to public hearing June 5.

In 2013 youth hunters took 2,507 deer. That was the lowest in at least five years. The recent high was 3,831 in 2010.

Event center

Steve and DeeAnn Rounds, who operate the Oahe Tailrace concession below the dam upstream from Pierre and Fort Pierre, want to construct a permanent addition to host larger events.

A 32 by 60 structure is planned on the rear of the existing restaurant and store building. There also would be a small concession booth. The addition would have a slab concrete floor. The estimated cost is $40,000.

The deal calls for Rounds to clean up some other structures and put equipment and furniture behind an enclosure before the addition could be built.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also would need to grant approval. The corps leases the property to GF&P and in turn it's leased to Rounds.

A new parking area would be added too. Large groups attending events would need to obtain park entrance permits. Restaurant users would continue to be unofficially exempt.

Beretta letter

The commission voted Friday to send a letter notifying Beretta USA about Scott Robertson, who hosts a TV outdoors show sponsored by the company.

The letter expresses the commission's concern about the ethical and legal violations committed in South Dakota regarding illegal deer taken by Robertson and his wife, Wendy, in 2008 and 2009.

The violations were part of a broader investigation that led to state and federal convictions of others in the Rock Creek Ranch case in Todd County. The many violations took place over a five-year period.

Robertson hosts a program called Beretta's Wild and Raw. John Cooper, of Pierre, the commission's chairman, signed the letter to Beretta.

"Mr. Robertson's actions demonstrate a total and complete disregard for the wildlife laws in South Dakota," the two-page letter says.