Preserving Our Outdoor Heritage

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Preserving Our Outdoor Heritage


By: Governor Kristi Noem

March 1, 2024


Almost every memory I have from my childhood is outdoors. I think my parents used to send us kids outside as an attempt to keep us out of trouble. And to this day I am still more comfortable in my jeans and ball cap. As Governor, though, my hours are often filled with other things. But even with all those other things that have to fill up my time, one thing I have always prioritized is hunting.


I come from a family of hunters. Our hunting trips and the lessons that my dad taught me turned me into the woman that I am today. When I had kids of my own, I knew that I was going to raise a family of strong-willed, independent, stubborn hunters, too. When I think about future generations, about my two grandkids (and the third on the way), I don’t want anything more than for them to be able to grow up experiencing the outdoors and seeing the world the way I did.


If we want our grandkids to experience the joy of hunting and the outdoors, we need to proactively protect habitat.


In 2019, I started the Second Century Initiative to increase resources to grow our habitat here in South Dakota. This Initiative included the Working Lands Program to provide an alternative to cash flow marginal acres and make ends meet by converting those acres into habitat. And I am very proud that we have enrolled about 10,000 marginal acres in our Working Lands Habitat Program!


With the Second Century Initiative, I also launched my Nest Predator Bounty Program to increase the trapping of predators that kill our precious pheasants. Every year, participants turn in 50,000 tails of predators that would otherwise devastate our pheasant and wildlife population. But what I think it really awesome is that last year 46% of our participants were under the age of 18. I love that more kids are getting involved in trapping, hunting, and fishing!


I was honored to kick off Pheasant Fest this year. I am so proud that we are hosting this great event in Sioux Falls. They used to only go to Minneapolis, but because of our passion for pheasant hunting and habitat conservation, as well as our economic development efforts, we now get to host Pheasant Fest right here in South Dakota!


I signed a bill that my Department of Game, Fish and Parks has been working very hard on. This legislation creates a habitat conservation specialty license plate and emblem.  We will be unveiling the design later this year – but I can tell you that it will have some beautiful scenery featuring our grasslands and the habitats that are so critical to our wildlife. We will also have several emblems to choose from – a buck, a rooster pheasant, a meadow lark, and a pasque flower. There will be something for everyone! The dollars to purchase these special plates and emblems will then go to benefit habitat.


I grew up as a farmer and a rancher. My family put food on our own table by putting food on tables around the world. And my dad used to always tell me, “Kristi, you have to take care of the land, God isn’t making any more of it.” That has always motivated me to start these initiatives and prioritize conservation and habitat preservation.


I am very proud that we are ensuring that future generations will get to grow up and experience the outdoor heritage that is so central to our way of life here in South Dakota.