Video: Non-meandered waters meeting in Webster, this one was more landowner oriented

June 1, 2017 Comments off

Large crowd at the non-meandered waters meeting in Webster.

Last night I attended a non-meandered meeting at The Galley in Webster. The meeting was organized by the Webster Area Chamber of Commerce. The purpose of this meeting was to provide an updated to the public about the current draft legislation and receive input from the public. I attended and recorded the meeting for all to view. This meeting was interesting because it was more property-owner oriented; as opposed to the previous meeting I recorded in Watertown, which was more sportsman oriented. This meeting accepted questions and comments directly from the public.

Here is the list of speakers at the event:

  • Marcia Lefman – Marcia opened the meeting as a representative of the Webster Chamber of Commerce. My hats off to her and others for organizing this event on very short notice!
  • Sen Jason Frerichs (D, Dist 1) – Frerichs is a member of the Summer Study trying to come up with a solution to some of the non-meandered waters issues.
  • Rep Steven McCleerey (D, Dist 1) – McCleerey is also on the non-meandered waters summer study.
  • Mark Ermer – Ermer works for GFP in Webster as the Regional Program Manager- Fisheries at South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.
  • Mike Klosowski – Klosowski is out of the Watertown GFP office and is the NE SD Regional Conservation Officer Supervisor.

In the audience Paul Dennert was in attendance; who happens to be one of the GFP Commissioners. Also in attendance from the state level was Rep Drew Dennert (R, Dist 3).

This was a huge crowd. I would estimate there were over two-hundred in attendance, probably closer to two hundred and fifty.

Below is the video of this event. It is just under one hour and forty-five minutes long. The video can alternatively be viewed directly on YouTube.

Tomorrow is the next and possibly final meeting of the Summer Study. I plan to be in attendance to see first-hand what occurs.

Non-meandered waters meetings in Webster and Rapid City on Weds May 31

May 30, 2017 Comments off

Ducks on a lake

The final (maybe) meeting of the Regulation of Access to and Use of Non-Meandered Waters on Public and Private Property Study legislative committee this Friday, June 2; which will lead into a likely July 12 special session for the legislature. With the issue of non-meandered waters being so important there have been public meetings announced around the state to discuss the issue. Earlier I noted a meeting will happen tonight (May 30) in Sioux Falls and a meeting tomorrow (May 31) in Watertown. I now have information about two more meetings, one in Webster and one in Rapid City.

The Webster meeting is being held on Wednesday, May 31, at 7:00 pm at The Galley. Here is the information about the meeting from the Webster Area Chamber of Commerce Facebook Event:

Hello:
Please pass the word to everyone that there will be a discussion in Webster on Wednesday, May 31 at 7 p.m. at The Galley, 230 Hwy 12, Webster to talk about the non-meandered waters use.

The State Legislature must determine whether and how the public may use non-meandered waters for recreational purposes. State leaders are encouraging everyone to stay informed as the Legislative Task Force works toward a solution. The Webster Area Chamber of Commerce has helped organize the event and it will just be an update on our status and gather some feedback.

We are happy to host Senator Jason Frerichs (serving Brown, Day, Marshall and Roberts counties) along with the House Representative Steven McCleerey (serving Brown, Day, Marshall & Roberts counties) plans to attend and possibly Senator Brock Greenfield (serving Brown, Clark, Hamlin & Spink counties) if it works in his schedule. Also, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks will be there along with various stakeholders.

We need all of you there so you’ll stay informed and help input your thoughts concerning this issue so that our State Legislature will consider your feedback when putting this into law for the state.

Everyone is welcome. Please join us!

Sincerely,

Marcia Lefman
Secretary/Treasurer
Webster Area Chamber of Commerce

I had originally planned on going to the Watertown event tomorrow. But I’ve already attended and recorded one Watertown event, and Webster is closer to me, so I believe I will be attending the Webster meeting.

The Rapid City meeting is somewhat less of a public event, but it might be interesting for people in that area to attend. It is being hosted by the Prairie Hills Audubon Society (PHAS). I believe this is the regular meeting of the PHAS, but it does say everyone is welcome on their webpage. Here is the info about the event from the PHAS website:

May, 31st, Wednesday eve, Topic: Non-meandered Waters Legislative Summer Study and associated issues

Prairie Hills Audubon Society evening meeting
Outdoor Campus West, Rapid City
6:30 pm start.

If you scroll down the front page of the PHAS website there is actually quite a bit of good information and links for people trying to understand the issue of non-meandered waters. As Cory Heidelberger over at Dakota Free Press points out, the PHAS is opposed to the current draft legislation. I think it is important for all parties in support or opposition of this legislation be heard.

I would urge anyone able to attend the meetings in Webster, Watertown, Sioux Falls, or Rapid City to do so if possible. And if anyone hears of any other meeting please let me know. I’ll bring some attention to it here, and I will attend if possible.

My Memorial Day song playlist

May 27, 2017 Comments off

Arlington Cemetery

It has been a while since I’ve done a song playlist on this site. To rectify this I though it would be appropriate to list my favorite five songs remembering those who gave their lives serving the USA. Please take a moment this holiday weekend to think about and quietly thank those soldiers for giving everything.

This list is country-heavy and is not listed in any particular order. Well except for the last one… That one is special for me…

1 – Arlington by Trace Adkins

This song from Trace is a tribute to those resting in Arlington National Cemetery.

2- If You’re Reading This by Tim McGraw

This song was written as if a letter was sent by a fallen soldier to their family.

3 – 50,000 Names by George Jones

A tribute to the soldiers listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

4- More Than a Name on a Wall by the Statler Brothers

Another song inspired by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall .

5 – Some Gave All by Billy Ray Cyrus

I was never a big fan of Billy Ray Cyrus, but this song will always have a special place in my heart. I often think of this song as I remember my time being deployed in the army; not everyone was fortunate enough to come back home.

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Legislators may want to have multiple options available going into a possible special session

May 27, 2017 Comments off

Slough or lake?

On June 2 the  Regulation of Access to and Use of Non-Meandered Waters on Public and Private Property Study legislative committee will meet to look at draft legislation for a possible June 12 special session. The current draft legislation will likely be updated before the June 2 meeting so they can hammer out a version of the legislation they feel will pass both chambers of the Legislature in special session. The committee members might want to consider having backup legislation in case their favored solution is not able to get that two-thirds majority. A two-thirds majority will be necessary because whatever legislation is passed will need to be passed into law immediately; without that emergency clause the legislation would have to wait 90 days to take effect.

One possible thing for the committee to do is split the current legislation into multiple smaller bills. Yes the current bill was written as one package, but parts of that package may prevent the overall bill from passing. They can possibly break it into smaller bills in the following categories:

  • Force the GFP to reopen access to the non-meandered lakes where they shut down access. This would be minus the lakes involved in the lawsuits. Getting this bill passed would solve the current crisis for the fishing industry in NE SD. It however would not solve ANY of the problems dealing with non-meandered lakes.
  • Provide access to non-meandered lakes from public right-of-ways.
  • Allow landowners to mark their section of a non-meandered water off-limits. This part of the bill might keep the overall bill from passing anyhow, so splitting it out may help.
  • Release landowners from liability on non-meandered waters the public accesses.
  • Give GFP regulatory authority over non-meandered lakes. This is another part of the bill I could see preventing the overall larger bill from passing.

Splitting out the larger bill into smaller bills like that might allow the special session to avoid a long and fruitless battle. There is also a chance legislators could make a point of order on the larger bill and say it goes against the SD Constitution because multiple topics are included in the bill. Splitting the bill apart avoids that possibility.

Personally I think the legislature should pass just three bills. Here are the three bills I would pass:

  1. Pass a bill forcing the GFP to reopen the access to the non-meandered lakes they barred entrance to after the supreme court ruling. The lakes involved in the lawsuit would probably have to be exempt and remain closed in this approach. I would also add a sunset to this bill of March, 2018. This will allow NE SD to get past its current crisis and force the legislature to come up with permanent long-term solutions before the end of the 2018 session. There might need to be a little more to this bill, but basically this bill is to reset things to how they were before the Supreme Court decision. This isn’t the most ideal thing to do, but if the legislature isn’t able to come up with a compromise during a special session this will buy a little more time.
  2. Pass a bill releasing landowners from liability on non-meandered waters the public accesses. This is something which should have always been in law from my perspective.
  3. Pass a bill extending and funding the Regulation of Access to and Use of Non-Meandered Waters on Public and Private Property Study legislative committee. Actually I think this bill needs to be passed no matter what happens. There are a LOT of issues with non-meandered waters and only a few of them are going to be dealt with in a special session. This committee needs to keep working up until the 2018 legislative session so the legislature can find long-term solutions and stop kicking the can down to future sessions.

Now I’m sure there are other and possibly better contingency plans for the legislature to follow. But no matter what I think the legislature has to come up with some sort of plan if the body is unable to get a 2/3 majority on the draft legislation coming out of the June 2 meeting.

Non-meandered waters legislative committee meeting will be on Fri June 2

May 27, 2017 Comments off

Lake

Earlier this week I noted the fourth meeting of the Regulation of Access to and Use of Non-Meandered Waters on Public and Private Property Study legislative committee would likely be on June 2. It can now be confirmed the meeting will be on June 2 as the agenda has been posted on the LRC website.  Here is the full agenda:

  • 9:00 AM
    • Call to order
    • Determination of Quorum
    • Approval of Minutes – May 24, 2017
    • Comments from the Chair
  • 9:10 AM
    • Proposed Legislation
  • 10:00 AM
    • Public Testimony on Proposed Legislation
  • 11:15 AM
    • Committee Discussion and Final Action
  • 1:00 PM
    • Adjourn

There isn’t any updated proposed legislation on the LRC website yet. If there will be proposed legislation ahead of time it will be posted here on the LRC website. My look at the current draft of the proposed legislation can be viewed here. I plan to attend the meeting and possibly live-tweet during the proceedings. The audio from this meeting can be listened to on the LRC interim meetings website or on SD.net.

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Sioux Falls public meeting about Meandered and Non-Meandered waters on Tues May 30

May 27, 2017 Comments off

Photo from Facebook Event

On Tuesday, May 30, there will be a public meeting about Meandered and Non-Meandered waters. This meeting is being hosted by the 29-90 Sportsman’s Club and the South Dakota Wildlife Federation (SDWF).

Here is the information about the meeting listed in the Facebook Event:

The 29-90 Sportsman’s Club, Sioux Falls, along with South Dakota Wildlife Federation (SDWF) would like to invite sportsmen/women to our public meeting about Meandered and Non-Meandered water here in South Dakota.
The presentation is open to the public and will be held on; Tuesday, May 30th at 7:00 PM in the Hub building, 2001 N Career Ave located on the SE Tech campus.
There will be a Power Point presentation covering the history of water, The Public Trust Doctrine and our 12 words to fix water law in SD. We will also hear about the “Economic Impacts” of the recent Supreme Court Decision Duerrer V. Hepler that Northeast SD and sportsmen/women of SD are currently experiencing.
29-90 Sportsman and SDWF are trying to be proactive in moving in the right direction for everyone. We have invited all Sioux Empire Legislators to this meeting. It is a state-wide issue and affects all of us.
29-90 Sportsman is about 150 members strong and is one of SDWF’s 16 Affiliate Clubs and is located in Sioux Falls.
Our goal is to disseminate accurate and factual information to the public and too help everyone understand the recent decision. We are also soliciting questions from the public to be presented to the speakers. If you have a question which you would like answered, please E-mail them to sdwf@mncomm.com. We are expecting a large crowd so individual questions from the audience will not be taken or asked for. We are hoping to select 10 submitted questions to present to the speakers.

This meeting looks like it will be similar to the one I recorded in Watertown a couple of weeks ago.  Although that meeting didn’t have draft legislation to actually speak about.

If I see any more public meetings between now and June 2 I’ll try to list them on the blog. I doubt I’ll make this meeting as I already plan to be in Watertown, Pierre and Rapid City this week (plus hopefully some time at home in Aberdeen).

The non-meandered waters issues go way beyond a couple dozen lakes or property taxes

May 26, 2017 2 comments

I just had someone ask why the legislature will go special session over a couple dozen lakes when all that needs to be done is get rid of property taxes for any land under water. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this question, or variations of it anyhow. It’s a fair question considering most of the coverage in the news has been focused on the lakes GFP shut down public access to. In my attempt to answer some of the questions people have about non-meandered waters I seem to have forgotten some important points. I’ll try to answer a few more questions about non-meandered waters here as best as I can.

I’ll probably do more of these posts as June 2 approaches to help people have conversations regarding non-meandered waters.

How many non-meandered lakes are there in SD?

To answer this one I’ll defer to a chart included in the power point presentation GFP gave to the legislature:

Natural Lakes in South Dakota. Graph from GFP PowerPoint Presentation.

Looking at the graph above there are 2,324 nonmeandered lakes covering 325,000 acres in South Dakota which are over 40 acres in size. When adding in the lakes under 40 acres, there are 29,033 lakes covering 588,000 acres in South Dakota. The twenty-plus lakes GFP closed access to are just a drop in the bucket compared to how many lakes are being talked about. There is a lot of flooded farm land in NE South Dakota; a lot of which formed in the 1990’s.

Most of these nonmeandered lakes do not have fish in them. Here is another chart from the GFP presentation:

Non-meandered Lakes with Fishing. Chart from GFP PowerPoint presentation.

So of the thousands of non-meandered lakes in SD, GFP has determine only 91 of those lakes have fishing. Just under 2/3 of the land under these non-meandered lakes with fishing belongs to private landowners.

I think the above charts do a good job of showing that dealing with non-meandered waters is more than just a couple dozen lakes.

So are the 91 fish-able non-meandered lakes the only ones that have to be dealt with?

Simple answer: No (despite what I heard incorrectly noted during a radio news story earlier this week).

The legislature is tasked with determining if the public has a right to enter or use non-meandered waters for recreational purposes, and what the conditions are in order to utilize non-meandered waters for recreational purposes. There are recreational uses other than fishing. Common recreational uses include hunting, trapping, snowmobiling, swimming, boating, kayaking, and many other activities. Just because a lake doesn’t have fish it doesn’t mean it can’t be used for recreation.

Going back up to the numbers shown above, this issue has to do with thousands of bodies of waters covering hundreds of thousands of acres. That number is greatly reduced when counting only bodies of water where the public can gain access (such as from a road), but even that number is going to be very high.

Won’t abating property taxes on flooded lands please the landowners?

I hear this solution a lot. In reality I don’t think this is a solution. Many of nonmeandered waters being discussed are flooded farm lands. Yes, some landowners would like a property tax abatement. And yes, some already have an abatement of up to 90% depending on the county their flooded land is in. But in reality what is really frustrating many of these landowners is that they have farmland that has been taken out of production because of this water. A lot of these farmers would love to find a way to remove the water altogether. With commodity prices dropping it places even more of a financial burden on these farmers as they potentially have a large number of farm acres inaccessible. Some of these lands may actually have loans against them, which the yearly payments they make on the land make the property taxes look like a pittance.

Property tax abatement or supplement may be part of a solution, but I don’t think property taxes is as big of an issue as many think it is (although I could be wrong).

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