Photo © Keith Anderson

Progress Update as of December 20, 2018

The Open Waters Compromise (HB 1001) passed on June 12, 2017 and reopened access to 27 GFP managed nonmeandered lake boat launches where access had previously been restricted in response to the Supreme Court ruling in Duerre v Hepler. 

After passing of HB 1001, the GFP website was updated with information to aid the public in understanding the bill and how it affected access to waters in the state. 

  • The department added a summary of HB 1001 to the GFP website. 
  • A “Frequently Asked Questions” section was added to the website to provide answers regarding the bill, meandered vs. nonmeandered lakes, process for closing nonmeandered waters, posting requirements and more information continues to be added to the site as process details become available.
  • The department also added a list of meandered lakes to the website. Meandered lakes are not affected by HB 1001 and are open to recreational use by the public.
  • An online map shows the water bodies that have been legally closed.
    • Sites listed have been reviewed to ensure ownership.
    • Sites have been investigated to ensure they are nonmeandered and not Section 8 lakes.
    • Section 8 lake landowners are notified of the GFP Commission petition process if they wish to close waters over their flooded property.
  • Currently 4,280 acres of nonmeandered water are closed. The closures are located in Clark, Day, Deuel, Kingsbury and Marshall counties and can be viewed here.
    • There are 235,416 acres of  publicly-accessible nonmeandered water in the state currently open to the public.

The GFP Commission finalized administrative rules for marking closed waters at their November, 2017 meeting.

  • GFP will provide signs to landowners who wish to close nonmeandered waters creating consistent and easily recognizable markings.  Similarly, the department provides 660’ Safety Zone signs to landowners who wish to mark hunting safety zones in rights-of-ways around their building sites. 
  • The marking requirements include the following:
    • Nonmeandered water closures shall be marked with buoys and/or department-supplied signs.
    • Signs and buoys must be placed no further apart than 660 feet.
    • Signs and buoys shall be installed so they are conspicuous.
    • Buoys shall be of polyform design.
    • Buoys shall be red with contrasting 3 inch minimum letters stating: “Closed.”
    • Buoy size shall be a diameter of not less than 14.5 inches and a length of not less than 19.5 inches.
    • Signs and buoys are to be installed and maintained by the owner or their designee of the private property.
    • Property corner boundaries located in the water must be marked by signs or buoys.
    • The department has signs available.
    • The department will provide a list of vendors who could supply buoys meeting the standards required.
    • Marking standards can be found here.

The GFP Commission finalized a rule in September, 2017 that provides a mechanism for a landowner with property on a Section 8 lake to petition the Commission requesting a recreational use restriction on a portion of the water over their flooded land. 

  • As defined in statute, the GFP Commission must consider privacy, safety, substantial financial interests of the landowner, along with water quality, water quantity and the public’s interest in recreational use of the water in making their decision on whether to grant in full, in part or deny the petition.
  • Landowners can complete and submit the form online or print and mail the form to GFP.
  • The Commission has received two petitions to close parts of two different Section 8 lakes.  The first petition was a request to provide for closing part of Cattail-Kettle Lake in Marshall County.  The Commission held a contested case hearing on the Cattail-Kettle petition on November 2, 2017 and subsequently denied the request after considering all the criteria they are tasked with evaluating.  The Commission received a second petition on November 7, 2017 – this one for a partial closure on Goose Lake in Codington County.  A hearing for this petition was heard by the Commission in April, 2018 and the partial closure on Goose Lake was granted.

Access Agreements

  • The department has met with several landowners regarding the possibility of providing some access to lakes which have been closed under injunctions (Long, Parks, Schiley, Duerre, Jesse).  The landowners would like to provide some access for recreation, but want to make sure the fisheries are sustainable.  They are very interested in conserving the resource and want to be confident it isn’t over-exploited.  There has been discussion of how best to provide access, but yet maintain a viable and lasting fishery.  Some of the initial thoughts shared included:
    • Non-motorized boats only
    • Limited time frame when water body will be open
    • Limit access to certain locations on the water bodies
    • Preference would be to have all the landowners on the water bodies in agreement in order to eliminate the need for buoys separating open and closed areas if possible.
    • No access agreements have been reached to date, but there is ongoing discussion to see if common ground can be reached to provide some public access.

An access agreement has recently been signed with the landowners who own flooded property under Reetz Lake in Day County.  This agreement reopened one of the most popular walleye fisheries in northeastern South Dakota for open water fishing.  Reetz Lake will remain open through September 30, 2018.  Access from October 1, 2018 – April 30, 2019 will be by landowner permission only.  Reetz Lake will reopen to public fishing from May 1 – September 30, 2019.   

The SD Legislature passed HB 1081 during the 2018 legislative session. HB 1081 simply removed the sunset clause from HB 1001, so the legislation passed in 2017 remains in place moving forward unless there are modifications made by the legislature in the future.

·       The department continues to work on Recreation and Respect communication efforts to encourage positive interactions among anglers, hunters and landowners. The agency will also continue to meet with landowners, sportsmen and women, the GFP Commission and the Legislature to ensure the Open Water Compromise works for everyone.