Fishing and Boating
Recreational Use (Duerre v. Hepler) of Non-meandered Water Overlying Private Property
The Supreme Court in Duerre v. Hepler sets a legal precedent for all non-meandered waters in the state that the Department will conform to. The Supreme Court decision stated that it is up to the South Dakota Legislature to determine whether members of the public may enter or use the non-meandered water or ice overlying private property for any recreational use such as hunting or fishing. Therefore, the Legislature (not the Supreme Court, not the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks and not the public) must decide how these waters are to be beneficially used in the public interest.
The Supreme Court further enjoined and now prohibits GFP and the class of public defendants in this case who have used or intend to use non-meandered lakes from facilitating access to these non-meandered bodies of water for any recreational purpose.
Download or view the Supreme Court decision.
GFP will abide by the court’s decision in its entirety and assist the Legislature in whatever capacity requested to resolve this issue of paramount importance to our state.
As per the directive of the court order, GFP will no longer facilitate the public’s access to non-meandered waters. Therefore, we will discontinue facilitating public access via boat ramps and docks placed on these non-meandered waters.
GFP will not construct any new access facilities, such as boat ramps, docks, fishing piers and associated facilities on non-meandered bodies of water in the absence of authorization from the state Legislature. Mowing and weed control in and around these areas will continue to protect the investment of this infrastructure.
In terms of facilitating access, there are other activities that have been temporarily halted on non-meandered waters in the absence of legislation. These include fish stockings, creel surveys, canoe and kayak rentals and permitting of fishing tournaments and special events.
- GFP Guidance Document
- April 6, 2017 GFP Press Release Regarding the Supreme Court Decision.
- View public notice signs posted at the sites listed to the right.
- Meandered and Non-Meandered Waters Definitions
- Meandered waters are waters that at the time of the original survey of South Dakota, the U.S. government surveyor estimated them to be larger than 40 acres and of a permanent nature. Land within the defined meander line, or surveyed boundary, became state trust property.
- Non-meandered waters are all other lakes, ponds or sloughs that did not meet the above definition at the time of the original survey. The lands beneath the waters in these basins were made available for homesteading and would become privately owned. Over time, GFP or other government agencies may have acquired lands within some of these non-meandered basins.
GFP is Closing boat ramps at the following bodies of water to comply with the supreme court decision:
Note: There is potential for additional bodies of water to be added.
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