Between the Lines

Between the Lines by David Lias We received a letter from Gov. Bill Janklow the other day.

The governor usually doesn�t write newspapers unless he�s trying to right something he believes is being perceived the wrong way.

In other words, he usually reiterates his opinion on an issue.

He wrote to us about upgrading the boat ramps on the Missouri River.

It�s important to share what he stated, not simply because we agree with the governor�s position, but because it makes sound economic sense.

Enclosed with Janklow�s letter is a recent editorial by the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

The Argus� editorial board believes that an upgrade of the boat ramps along the Missouri is needed, but is also unrealistic.

�Not when we�re panhandling Congress for a few pennies just to keep the Lewis & Clark Rural Water program going,� stated the Argus.

The Lewis and Clark Rural Water Program, when completed, will have its beginnings in a stretch of the Missouri River near the Clay County Park.

There will be new water treatment plant constructed here in the county.

The city of Vermillion has opted to not participate in the water system � our wells provide plenty of water � but there are a host of cities and towns, large and small, in the region that are thirsting for the higher quality, plentiful water supply of the Missouri River.

The biggest customer? Sioux Falls, naturally.

So there�s little wonder that residents of that city want every financial resource available allocated to the new water system.

The state Game, Fish and Parks Department recently completed a study of boat ramps, suggesting it would could cost more than $23 million to improve more than 50 of them.

The Argus admits that the ramps need to be improved. Right now, they are subject to the highs and lows of water � both of which can cause boaters problems.

Janklow wants to take that study as well as a cost benefit analysis and let a citizens group look it over and offer recommendations.

At some point, he�d like to take the whole thing to Congress for funding.

�All that is great but hardly realistic,� states the Argus editorial. �Lewis & Clark needs $12 million a year to keep it on track, and it looks like we�ll be lucky to get $7 million. And we�ll have to go back to Congress year after year for the additional funding.�

The Argus is conveniently ignoring very realistic fact. The Missouri River is simply more than a reliable water source.

It is, in part, host to one of the largest industries in South Dakota.

According to the Congressional Sportsmen�s Foundation, 214,000 anglers and 209,000 hunters spent $469 million in South Dakota last year in pursuit of their pastime which supported 10,000 jobs in the state.

The salaries and wages of those sportsmen-supported jobs total $198 million in South Dakota.

South Dakota also collected $25 million in sales tax revenue from sportsmen who come to the state to hunt and fish, buy gas, fishing gear, shotgun shells, meals, lodging, etc.

That amount alone could pay 898 teachers� salaries or fund the annual education expenses for 4,179 students.

Sportsmen also support more jobs in South Dakota than Gateway Computers, one of the state�s largest employers.

The Congressional Sportsmen�s Foundation estimates that the positive ripple effect of hunting and fishing to the state�s economy totals $803 million.

Naturally, the Missouri River doesn�t generate all of those positive economic benefits. But it�s a main attraction to fishermen, campers, boaters and waterfowl hunters.

We could follow the Argus� suggest approach and push the boat ramp issue aside for awhile. The ramps will fall in disrepair, and fewer people will use them. Oh, and our economy will suffer, too.

The river�s economic impact on our state is simply to great. We must improve the river�s boat ramps.

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