PIERRE, S.D. – As hunters hit the field this weekend for the opening of west river deer season, they will have access to more public land. According to Kevin Robling, Deputy Secretary with South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP), the department has been working hard to partner with landowners to open additional public land opportunities for hunters this fall.
“Through our strategic planning process, we identified a goal to increase public land hunting access to 50,000 additional acres by 2020,” Robling said. “One of the key strategies in accomplishing this goal was to develop opportunities with private landowners to access inaccessible, or landlocked, public lands.”
In western South Dakota, nearly 300,000 acres of public land are inaccessible to the public. While these lands are owned by the public, there is not a direct access from a publicly maintained road into these areas.
“To ensure South Dakota’s hunting heritage remains strong for future generations, hunters need a place to hunt,” said Robling. “As a department, we are committed to providing additional public hunting acres and will continue to work with the great landowners in this state to maximize public land access.”
GFP field staff took this commitment to heart.
As of today, GFP and landowners have worked together to provide access to 24,145 acres of landlocked public land by adding 27,730 acres of new land to the Walk-In Area Program.
“That’s a total of 51,875 acres of new access for the public,” said Robling. “That’s a tremendous result from this initiative so far!”
As hunters take to the field for the west river deer season, which opens Saturday, November 16, these new acres are available for them to enjoy and carry on their own hunting traditions.
“Without the support and partnership of the landowners and producers, this wouldn’t be possible,” Robling said. “Whether they sign up for programs through GFP, like Walk-In Areas, or give permission to hunters who respectfully request access, they play a crucial role in the future of hunting in our state.”