GFP hopes to net $1 million from proposed fee increases
PIERRE - The state Game, Fish and Parks Commission holds a public hearing Thursday on charging more for boat licenses, reserving campground spaces by telephone, using the Mickelson Trail and taking a vehicle into Custer State Park.
PIERRE – The state Game, Fish and Parks Commission holds a public hearing Thursday on charging more for boat licenses, reserving campground spaces by telephone, using the Mickelson Trail and taking a vehicle into Custer State Park.
The state Bureau of Finance and Management estimates the increases combined would net the Game, Fish and Parks Department nearly $400,000 in additional revenues in the final six months of the 2016 fiscal year and more than $1 million for a full 12 months.
State government’s fiscal year runs July 1 through June 30 for budgeting purposes. The increases would take effect Jan. 1, 2016, if the commission approves them and the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee gives final clearance.
The hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT at the Ramada conference center at 1525 W. Havens St. in Mitchell.
So far comment has been minimal. The commission received one email opposing most of the increases.
Michael Amick of Lead wrote: “The GFP needs to do what most people in SD do-live within their means and do without.”
He said he wouldn’t mind applying the Custer State Park increase only to vehicles registered outside South Dakota.
The Custer State Park proposal would increase the seven-day entrance fee for vehicles to $20 from the present $15. Motorcycle would remain at $10.
The department’s public notice regarding the CSP increase states:
“Custer State Park is a destination park and shares the same visitors as Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain and Theodore Roosevelt National Parks which charge anywhere from $20 to $30 for a seven-day entrance permit. Eighty percent of Custer State Park's visitors are non-South Dakota residents.”
The commission also is considering adding a $2 charge for accepting telephone reservation for camping sites at GFP’s parks and recreation areas.
The department’s notice explains the reason:
“The intent of the additional $2.00 fee to make a reservation through the telephone call center is to encourage campers to make reservations online. lf more reservations can be shifted online, the cost of offering the reservation service will be reduced.”
The daily fee for using the George S. Mickelson Trail through the Black Hills would rise to $4 from the present $3.
The department’s notice says:
“A $4.00 trail fee would be consistent with the daily motor vehicle fee a person pays to enter any other South Dakota state park or recreation area. The daily trail fee was last adjusted 7 years ago.”
Fees for boat licenses also would rise. The last increases came in 2009.
The price for non-motorized boats longer than 12 feet and boats propelled only by electric motors would increase to $15 from the current $12.50.
Licensing motorboats shorter than 19 feet would cost $25. Motorboats 19 feet and longer would increase to $45. Both increases are $5.
Says the department:
“The Division of Parks and Recreation maintains over 300 boat ramp and associated roads, docks, toilets and parking lots sites on lakes and rivers in South Dakota. The biggest single cost in providing quality boating access is the investment in roads and parking to facilitate boaters.”
The BFM revenue estimate doesn’t break down the amounts that would be generated by each of the increases.