Each year, South Dakota issues well over 120,00 resident hunting licenses and, and nearly 100,000 nonresident hunters visit our state each year to support our tourism and hunting industry. This one sport pumps millions of dollars into our state's economy.
But for most of us, this season is not about our state's economy – it is about family and friends. It is about seeing those people we only see one time a year when they come back to enjoy a crisp fall afternoon walking corn fields. It is about the community dinners that bring people back to town to tell stories and relive memories. For me, it is about spending time with family and friends, as we work to fill our limit.
It is no accident that South Dakota is known around the world as the best place to hunt pheasants. A lot of work goes into creating a healthy environment for the ringneck and other wildlife to thrive and survive. As an avid outdoorsman and your Senator, I am committed to protecting and preserving our natural resources for future generations. I support a balanced, multiple-use approach to the management of our environment and natural resources that preserves our resources for agriculture, sportsmen, wildlife, enthusiasts and commercial interests alike.
While serving in the House of Representatives, I served on the House Committee on Agriculture and played an important role in the 2002 Farm Bill. This legislation created a six-state, 500,000-acre Farmable Wetlands Pilot Project that would allow frequently farmed wetlands, surrounded by buffers or filter strips, to be eligible for enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). In the 2002 Farm Bill, this pilot program was expanded and extended through the duration of the Farm Bill in order to recognize that farmers and ranchers are great stewards of the land.
This approach struck the right balance between competing interests and proved to be a win-win situation for farmers, hunters and of course ringneck pheasant. South Dakota will remain one of the best places to hunt so long as we continue to protect out natural resources. Just as I started hunting with my brothers and my dad when I was a young boy, it is important that the same opportunity may be available for future generations.
If you are headed out into the field this fall, I hope you have a safe and successful hunt.