Photo © Keith Anderson

Progress Update

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 and posting requirements.
  • 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 verify ownership.
    • Sites have been investigated to ensure they are indeed nonmeandered and that they are 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.
  • Closures are located predominately on the eastern part of the state and can be viewed here.
    • Well over 200,000 acres of  publicly-accessible nonmeandered water in the state remains open to the public.

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

  • GFP provides signs to landowners who wish to close nonmeandered waters, thus creating consistent and easily recognizable markings.  This process is in line with the department providing 660’ Safety Zone signs to landowners who place 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 will provide signs and the landowner will provide buoys.
    • 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 providing a mechanism for a landowner with property on a Section 8 lake to petition the Commission if they would like to request 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 may submit the form online or print and mail the form to GFP.
  • The Commission has received three petitions to close parts of three 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 for a partial closure on Goose Lake in Codington County.  The Commission held a hearing for the petition in April, 2018 and the request for partial closure passed. The Commission denied a third request on Cottonwood Lake in Spink County on August 31, 2022.

Access Agreements

Starting in 2018, there have been and continue to be several access agreements signed to create access to nonmeandered waters. To date there have been 15 successful agreements ensuring access to non-meandered water bodies in Clark, Codington, Day, Campbell, Hamlin and Walworth counties. Negotiations on 9 other locations did not result in any agreements at this time and other negotiations are ongoing. For the most up to date and complete list of access agreements please contact

The SD Legislature passed HB 1081 during the 2018 legislative session. HB 1081 simply removed the sunset clause from HB 1001, meaning 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.