South Dakota limiting access to ‘private’ lakes

PIERRE, S.D. — The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department is limiting access to infrastructure on more than 20 lakes in the state following a recent state Supreme Court decision.

In 2015, several Day County landowners filed a lawsuit against most of South Dakota’s hunters and anglers, the state and the state Game, Fish and Parks Department. Landowners sought to secure injunctions against hunters and anglers and the department that would prevent public use of their lakes that have become fish-filled over the last 25 to 30 years.

The March decision that neither outdoors enthusiasts nor private landowners have the right to the water has reintroduced uncertainty into an already complex problem of how South Dakota’s non-meandered lakes should be used, the Capital Journal reported.

“We’ve spoken with several attorneys and the GF&P and everyone has a different opinion of what it means,” said Rich Widman, president of the South Dakota Wildlife Federation, the state’s largest public hunting and fishing advocacy organization.

On April 6, the department decided to limit access to infrastructure placed at non-meandered lakes, saying it “cannot facilitate access to non-meandered waters for recreational purposes.”

“My advice to people is to find someplace to go fishing where you aren’t going to get into trouble until we can get this sorted out,” said Bill Antonides, a past president of the South Dakota Wildlife Federation.

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