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Game, Fish and Parks Commission Awarded Commission of the Year





FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, July 18, 2018
CONTACT: Emily Kiel at Emily.Kiel@state.sd.us 

PIERRE, S.D. – The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) announced this week that the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission has been named Commission of the Year at their annual conference in Eugene, Oregon.

“In recent years, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission has dealt with difficult, and at times, contentious issues beyond their normal duties of establishing rules and regulations governing parks, wildlife and fish resources on behalf of this state,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard. “The members of this commission provide an exemplary model of how progress can be made and how public trust can be increased through transparency and public engagement in the decision making process. Their willingness to face the crucial conversations head on and find platforms for all individuals to provide input is what makes them deserving of this honor.”

The GFP Commission is highly engaged in the social science of managing the state’s resources and opportunities. Nonresident waterfowl license allocations, deer license allocation and its drawing structure, nonmeandered waters as well as waterfowl refuge and boating restrictions are examples of highly polarized and diverse philosophical belief issues this eight member commission has addressed. Concurrently, the commission is moving forward with evaluating nonresident hunting, fishing and state park use, allocating opportunities and finding a balance between resident and nonresident desires. 

“It is very humbling and satisfying to be recognized nationally for our work,” said GFP commissioner Cathy Peterson of Salem. “The work that we do as a commission could not be done without the support, leadership and professionalism from the department staff who patiently provide knowledge and expertise on all issues we are faced with.”

One of the primary responsibilities of the GFP Commission is to establish, adjust and remove administrative rules (regulations). In an attempt to be more responsive to the public’s desire for regulation change, this commission has encouraged the public to bring forward petitions for desired changes. In the past two years, the GFP Commission has considered several petitions; some have been adopted and moved into the rule promulgation process and others have been denied. It’s the commission’s belief to be responsive to the public’s interest for change which has resulted in a higher number of petitions. It is also their belief that these topics, often unpopular, deserve a public hearing and the opportunity for all sides to weigh in before making a decision.

“This is truly an honor to be part of a group receiving such high recognition,” said GFP commissioner Doug Sharp of Watertown. “I want to express gratitude to the department secretary, Kelly Hepler, for submitting the nomination, but more importantly, for being the leader who has allowed these difficult issues to be discussed and managed through the teamwork of both the department and the commission.”

To learn more about the GFP Commission, its members and their role in sustaining outdoor recreational opportunities of South Dakota’s state parks, fisheries and wildlife through transparent decision making processes, visit https://gfp.sd.gov/commission/members/

Since 1922, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has advanced conservation in western North America. Representing 24 western states and Canadian provinces, WAFWA’s reach encompasses more than 40 percent of North America, including two-thirds of the United States. Drawing on the knowledge of scientists across the West, WAFWA is recognized as the expert source for information and analysis about western wildlife. WAFWA supports sound resource management and building partnerships at all levels to conserve wildlife for the use and benefit of all citizens, now and in the future.

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