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december 2012 Commission Meeting

December 6-7, 2012
Pierre - Ramkota

Rules Proposed at this Meeting

summary


Division of Administration

Action Items
Approve minutes of the November meeting
Additional Commissioner Salary Days
License List Requests

  • Tom Trewick, Rapid City, for a list of Private Shooting Preserves just to know who and where they are so he knows what his options are when he comes to South Dakota to hunt; will be contacting Mr. Trewick and if he is just looking for businesses that offer hunting opportunities will provide that without charge, but if he is looking to provide marketing or consulting work to business then he will be charged
  • Black Hills Puddle Jumpers chapter of Delta Waterfowl for list of resident Migratory Bird Certification holders from Black Hills counties to inform hunters about the organization and recruit membership; asking for exception to regular fee status; approved $100 for full list
  • Mitchell Convention and Business Bureau for list of Nonresident Small Game license holders from Alabama, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, New York, Texas and Tennessee to market Mitchell as the premier destination for pheasant hunting, in particular for late season hunts; asking for exception to regular fee status; approved $100 for full list
  • Pierre Area Convention and Visitor Bureau for 4,000 hunting and 4,000 fishing license holders from Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota and Canada to send a direct mail piece promoting hunting/fishing in the Pierre area; asking for exception to regular fee status; approved $100 for full list

Information items:
License Sales Report

  • Through Dec. 4 Nonresident Small Game license sales were 92,112 compared to 93,729 (1.7% behind) at the same time last year; Resident Small Game at 27,605 compared to 31,683 last year; Combination at 46,171 compared to 43,423 last year; total of all general license sales to date 409,892 compared to 384,668 in 2011
  • 2012 general license sales year ends on Dec. 14 and beginning on Dec. 15 the 2013 licenses are sold
    SD Parks and Wildlife Foundation
  • Jeff Scherschligt, outgoing president for the Foundation gave an update (Spencer Hawley will take his place as the new president)
  • Provide extension to GFP work by providing fund raising for projects; build advocacy by incorporating private individuals and funds to assist work; encouraged investment on behalf of the department to support
  • Projects include purchase of land for Blood Run with over $2 million raised; purchase of interpretive exhibits for The Outdoor Campus in Rapid City; raised $111,000 to update exhibits at The Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls; purchase lands to expand Big Sioux Recreation Area; repair of bridges on Mickelson Trail; raise money for Tony Dean Memorial Acres
  • Total over $4.7 million raised
  • GFP investment of $50,000 for development director helps maintain momentum in fund raising efforts; model of public-private partnership works and need to stay tapped into fund raising opportunities
  • Commissioner Cooper, who represents the Commission on the Foundation Board, presented a draft resolution for the Commission to continue financial support of Foundation development director
  • Commission approved the resolution and will continue agreement for maximum $50,000 for one year

Open Forum

  • Dick Brown, former GFP Commissioner, thanked Chairman Jeff Olson for the work they have done together over the years and presented Olson with a collector duck decoy
  • Matt Rippentrop, Oelrichs, spoke on Bighorn Sheep management and auction of a tag; wanted to make sure to include CSP as one of the open areas for the auction bighorn hunt, and previous tag holders would be allowed to hunt if they were a successful bidder for the tag; would like Pennington County to be include in the areas open for the auction tag hunt; auction of one tag is for greater good of bighorn sheep by raising money for management and to raise awareness of population needs; would like to know if it would be detrimental to Pennington County herd if it was opened to the auction tag hunt
  • Tom Krafka for self and Greater Dakota Safari Club Intl spoke on concern for decline in bighorn and would also like to see Pennington open as part of auction tag hunt

Public Hearing
Finalizations
Spring Turkey Hunting Season

  • No recommended changes from proposal
  • Prairie and Black Hills seasons will run from April 13 – May 19; Split late season for Prairie units and Black Hills late season will run May 1-19; and Archery season will run April 6 – May 19
  • Prairie season will include 10 resident archery access permits to hunt Blood Run Nature Area and 10 resident archery access permits to hunt Adams Homestead and Nature Area from April 6-30
  • Public input expressed concern about boundary change taking away opportunity and Commission considered possible impact of moving Black Hills Spring turkey hunters into pool of licenses for Unit 115A; felt there will be a loss of opportunity
  • Commission adopted original proposal to without change in Black Hills unit boundary
Division of Parks and Recreation

Action item
Custer State Park Easement with Nature Conservancy

  • Commission asked to approve a resolution to honor a request from The Nature Conservancy to grant an access easement over CSP property at Sec 36-Twn 4 S-Range 6 E for the purposes of accessing Nature Conservancy property near buffalo corrals; access road cuts through a little corner of CSP that is outside of boundary fence; preparing to sell property and need formal resolution in place to facilitate that sale
  • Resolution will be forwarded to Commission of School and Public Lands and then submitted to the Governor for his approval
  • Commission approved resolution

Angostura Concession Agreement

  • Commission was asked to approve a new lease agreement with Angostura Resort Management LLC for continued operation of the Angostura Recreation Area concession; this was the only proposal received
  • Lease areas include main marina and resort complex, Summersun Trailer Area and Marina, and Horsehead Trailer Area and Marina
  • Added repair and maintenance fund to the lease agreement; reduced time-share limited cabins to 3 and increased cabins available to general public; introduce requirement that trailers must be on proper wastewater system; introduced standards for condition and appearance of trailers in order to stay; reduced requirement for restaurant
  • All slips in marine 30 feet or longer required to have electricity provided to them, but there are none 30 feet or longer and no electricity; would require considerable financial input from concessionaire and staff if left requirement in so removed that requirement
  • Formalized capital investment concessionaire planned for the facility to replace equipment and upgrade the building; will need to complete this work in two years
  • Added assessment fee required of lot renters for sewage system
  • Added language that ties sewer system assessment to lot lease annual fees; should someone decide they do not want to rent anymore and not using lot have 30 days to remove property and if not done Department will remove the property and charge the individual
  • Concessionaire is seasonal and most facilities are shut down around Sept. 15
  • Commission approved the lease agreement

Information items
Angostura Sewer Project

  • Letter sent to each Angostura trailer owner that a preliminary design and budget estimate is in place for the proposed wastewater system
  • Repayment of the trailer owners’ share of the project will result in an annual assessment of approximately $800 for each owner
  • Construction expected to begin in 2013
  • Have received 43 of 86 agreements; received around 20 in the last week; Dec. 7 postmark deadline
  • Next step is request legislature to give bonding authority to issue a bond that will finance the work; will be faced with a decision to develop a sewer system for one trailer court or for two, depending on how many positive responses come from current renters

Blood Run State Park Designation

  • One-time money may be available from State and GFP came up with 3 projects that would benefit
  • First and largest is the Blood Run project; will be a bill in next legislative session to designate it as a state park; enough land in place for the park, although there is still some land purchase remaining; big visitor center will be a priority to get developed and completed; proposal to Governor was dedicate $2 million new money to match $1 million from GFP and $2 million from Parks and Wildlife Foundation fund raiser
  • Second project to develop a new, more modern, and more accessible visitor center for Custer State Park that will include theater for visitor orientation presentation; will do more to promote CSP and what is in it, and better way to talk about history and natural resources of the park; proposal would be $1.5 million of new money, $.5 million from GFP, and $1 million from Parks and Wildlife Foundation fund raiser
  • Mickelson Trail project to add 18-mail connector trail to Mount Rushmore; money will include $.5 from general fund, $1 million from Mount Rushmore Society, $.4 from GFP Recreational Trail Fund, and $.1 from Parks and Wildlife Foundation fund raiser;
  • $10 million total of three projects includes $4 million from general fund, $3.1 million from P&W Foundation, $1.9 million from GFP and $1 million from Rushmore Society
  • Commission put forward a resolution of support for these activities

Custer State Park Buffalo Sale

  • 255 buffalo sold at annual sale for a total of $401,750; this compares to 214 for $317,200 in 2011 and 177 for $258,500 in 2010
  • In addition 15 burros sold for a total of $1,450
  • 82 registered bidders and 14 actual buyers
  • Will now overwinter 860 buffalo, a lower number to account for drought conditions
Division of Wildlife

Action items
Bighorn Sheep Hunting Season

  • Proposal to increase the number of licenses available from 1 to 2 in Unit 2, with one of the licenses sold by auction pending: 1-approval of the auction by the Interim Rules Committee, and 2-approval by GFP Commission resolution selecting the single application received requesting the opportunity to auction the license
  • Unit 1 (Pennington Co. west of Hwy 79, except Mt Rushmore Nat. Memorial) would have 1 license available
  • Unit 2 (Custer Co. west of Hwy 79 except Custer State Park, Wind Cave Park and Jewel Cave Park) would have 2 licenses
  • Staff recommendation to make auction tag valid only in Unit 2
  • Season dates Sept. 1 – Dec. 31
  • Bighorn sheep herds in Unit 1 continue to experience poor lamb recruitment. Preliminary data from SDSU research suggests that a majority of lamb recruitment is being lost primarily to pneumonia (37% of mortality) and predation (25%). This has significantly reduced ram recruitment resulting in fewer young Class I, II, III rams. With fewer rams reaching maturity, fewer are available to hunter harvest in the future. Unit 2 has a sufficient amount of rams to support increased harvest.
  • Commission made a motion that auction tag is valid in Unit 1 and Unit 2
  • Motion passed and 3 licenses will be available – 1 in Unit 1, 1 in Unit 2, and 1 auction tag valid in both Unit 1 and 2

Bighorn Sheep Auction Tag Resolution

  • Commission asked to approve a resolution allowing the Wild Sheep Foundation – Midwest Chapter the opportunity to auction one bighorn sheep license
  • Working closely with Legislative Interim Rules Review Committee to answer questions and concerns about rules allowing an auction tag; have prepared a letter for presentation to IRRC to add clarity to this rules action
  • Language to allow Commission to decide where auction tag will be valid
  • Commission approved resolution
  • Midwest Chapter will promote and hold auction at March meeting; notify GFP of successful applicant and supply application for individual and individual will be issued license valid for the fall hunt

Information items
Bighorn Sheep Action Plan

  • Initial management plan adopted in 2007
  • New potential areas being looked include around Deadwood and Angostura
  • Some of major issues include pneumonia, habitat loss due to encroachment from development, transplants to establish new herds and augment existing herds, access to herds for hunters and viewing
  • Objectives center on disease and habitat issues, collaborate with stakeholders as move forward, monitoring of sheep populations, research and management, and outreach and awareness
  • One of the more important parts is an implementation plan for time, staffing and costs
  • Includes policy for handling bighorn sheep that come in contact with domestic sheep
  • Discussion on hiring a full-time bighorn sheep biologist and how to assure that the funds raised through the auction are utilized in the most efficient manner
  • Audubon Bighorn is native to SD, due to unregulated hunting and disease began to decline in late 1800s and were extirpated by 1920s
  • Transplants began as early as 1922 in Custer State Park, and first season in 1970s
  • Four herds in SD, three in Black Hills and one in Badlands
  • Bighorn sheep are threatened by lion depredation, vehicle strikes, direct contact with domestic sheep or goats is almost always fatal, fire suppression works against sheep because they like more unforested area, and human encroachment
  • Average age of harvested rams is around 8 years; range of ages for harvested rams is 3.5 to 11; rough scoring of rams hangs in the 170 region
  • Survey sheep population show decline in Rapid City herd population as well as a decrease in ram count
  • Research preliminary data from SDSU project: Population parameters of bighorn sheep in Elk Mtn region; investigate why not growing population and disease prevalence
  • Winter 2011/12 collared 8 ewes, 1 ram and 1 lamb in pilot year; lost 1 ewe and 1 lamb to lion depredation; will seek to capture more in next couple of months
  • Another project to determine impacts of mountain lions on bighorn sheep and other prey species in the Black Hills
  • Annual survival of 80% in 2010 and 86% in 2011; but lamb survival in Rapid City herd was 0 in 2010 and 2 in 2011; pneumonia and predation two major causes of death
  • To sustain a harvestable population of bighorns look for a population of at least 100, harvest 1 ram per 25 in population, total harvest of rams not to exceed 50% of upper class
  • 2007 Wild Sheep Foundation ram harvest strategies: minimum population 50-100; ram harvest per 100 total sheep in population with range 1.3 to 3.5 rams per 100 sheep in population; may also look at ram harvest per total rams with 7-12% of all rams
  • Using total number of rams in population can conservatively harvest 1 ram from Rapid City population, need to be conservative since seeing little recruitment of new rams into population
  • For Elk Mountain herd may harvest 3 rams, including both SD and WY side
  • Surrounding states bighorn populations; Nebraska estimated population 330 with a closed hunting season; North Dakota estimated at 283 with 4 licenses issued
  • Bighorn license is an “any bighorn” tag that potentially could allow harvest of a ewe; this was done originally in recognition of a once-in-a-lifetime hunt and allowing a hunter to fill with a ewe if it came to that

Wildlife Damage Management Working Group

  • Original legislation established a surcharge on licenses to develop funds for public access and wildlife damage and a group was developed to work with those issues
  • The group is being re-instituted with representations from different areas of the state and some different groups
  • Meeting planned for Jan. 14 with idea 2-3 months down the road to re-assemble the group to visit about program components and consider changes for the program
  • Will work at marketing the accomplishments of the programs

Wind Cave elk movement plan

  • Wind Cave’s resource manager gave a presentation on developments in movements in and out of the Park with the new elk jump gates that allow elk to leave the park and cave, then put gates up to keep them out of the park for hunting opportunity, then when hunting season is over to lower the fence to allow elk back into the park
  • Now over 900 elk in the park and looking to lower number to 400-500; moratorium on live shipment of elk so can’t use that, and do not want to bring in sharpshooters to kill elk; goal to decrease numbers with maximum recreational opportunity possible
  • Jump gates all long western boundary and some on north boundary as well; will try herding elk out of park via jump gates in late February
  • Don’t know where elk will end up once they are moved, but trying to send them and hold them in CSP
  • Send around 150 elk into Rankin Ridge herd in Elk Unit 3; move 100 to Gobbler Knob herd south of Wind Cave; move 200 of Boland Ridge herd into CSP and will test using horseback to herd these
  • Outreach will include a Dec. 11 meeting with Unit 4 landowners; Unit 4 landowners apprised of ongoing elk research; meeting Dec. 12 with Custer Coalition of Elk Emphasis area; Jan. 8 meeting with Unit 3 landowners

2013 Season Setting Schedule

  • Similar schedule to 2012 and past few years
  • May Commission Meeting will be proposing East River, Refuge and CSP Deer; this brings all deer recommendations before the Commission at the same time
  • December will bring bighorn sheep proposal to accommodate auction tag

Returned deer hunting license results

  • A total of 2,624 licenses (4,354 tags) were returned by hunters as part of the opportunity provided by GFP to all deer hunters who did not want to keep their license in the wake of the EHD die-off this fall
  • Total reimbursement for returned licenses was $176,670
  • Counties with major license reductions included: Bon Homme (165 voluntary return by license holders and 114 unsold licenses removed); Charles Mix (203 returned and 212 removed); Clay (29 returned and 276 removed); Hutchinson (204 returned and 279 removed); Union (50 returned and 65 removed); and Yankton (151 returned and 115 removed)
  • These counties, along with Meade County, were the main areas for deer die-off reports

Missouri River reservoir water levels

  • Two factors for low water levels are in play: Drought and a call for higher water releases to support downstream water needs
  • Corps of Engineer Master Manual directors operation of the reservoir system and the manual includes conservation measures for drought conditions
  • Looking for conditions that will be favorable for smelt spawning to build forage base for Lake Oahe base, look to rising water levels in month of April; Lake Oahe will have a favored water release schedule this spring, and hoping to create conditions that might aid a good smelt spawn
  • Call for downstream water releases to support navigation in lower states while upstream states are asking that water be held; if wishes of downstream states were granted it would reduce elevation to 1591-2; if it all came out of Lake Oahe it may bring elevation to 1577
  • Comparison indicates a direct relation between Lake elevations and angler use, with use peaking on high elevations (mid to late 1990s), slumping in low elevations (2000-2007) and again peaking 2008-11
  • Persistent drought will again affect access to Lake Oahe via boat ramps; about 25 feet lower than during peak of flood of 2011; required to hold enough water to withstand 25 years of drought so Corps is favoring holding water
  • Primary ramps that will be out of service at lake level 1593 (current level) include Okobojo, Garrigan’s Landing, Point of View, Grand River, Jed’s Landing, Bush’s Landing, East Whitlock, Little Bend, Sutton Bay, Foster Bay and Shaw Creek
  • With expected Corps of Engineer water releases, a level of 1577.5 could be reached by March 2013 which will put a majority of the ramps out of operation
  • Secondary deep water ramps at Bush’s Landing, Little Bend, Shaw Creek, West Whitlock, Bob’s Landing, Cow Creek, West Shore, Indian Creek, Spring Creek and Swan Creek stay in operation until 1565
  • Low water during last drought cycle was around 1567; spent $5 million to keep minimum operation of boat ramps
  • Low water level has brought fewer fishermen, fewer licenses, and fewer visitors to campgrounds

Interactive Snowmobile Trail Application

  • Connects with GIS technology to provide users with web and mobile information on trails and conditions
  • Formerly relied on a printed, fold-out trails map; now have an electronic system with interactive maps
  • User can zoom into an area, click on a trail, and see what current conditions are; will see photos of the area; lists types of land present (public, federal, private); lists businesses along the route
  • System can be used on smartphone for users on the road and at a snowmobile location; can see where they are at along a trail; keep posted on trail conditions
  • Easy for staff to update information and keep current with conditions; a great tool for improving response time for sharing conditions with trail users
  • Already 20,000 people who have downloaded GFP smartphone application and will be letting others know that this capability is available

Wildlife Comprehensive Plan

  • Plan put in place 5 years ago; technically have 10 years before required to update but will do updates every 5 years
  • Planning open houses at Outdoor Campus facilities in Sioux Falls and Rapid City to inform people what the plan is about and what is needed
  • Having a plan in place allows South Dakota to access and utilize federal funding for certain projects
    Ring-Neck Pheasant Book
  • Pheasant book is #3 in series to go with turkey and grouse book
  • GFP Staff worked with SDSU staff to provide both scientific and popular information on pheasants, life history, habitat and hunting