Protecting South Dakota’s Wildlife for Future Generations

Protecting South Dakota's Wildlife for Future Generations
Whether through hunting, fishing or just enjoying the great outdoors, spending time outside is in our blood. We have great opportunities across our state to hunt and camp that are second to none. South Dakota is blessed with some of the country's most cherished natural and historic places, including Wind Cave National Park, Custer State Park and the Spirit Mound Historic Prairie.

With these opportunities, however, come a responsibility to leave future generations the same great opportunities we enjoy today. That is why I have introduced the first of its kind legislation to protect nongame fish and wildlife in our state and across the country.

The Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Act will help states across the country enhance game and nongame fish and wildlife habitat and fund state recreation programs. The legislation provides $350 million annually over five years to help states carry out comprehensive wildlife restoration programs consistent with each state's individual Wildlife Action Plan. These action plans were developed over the past decade – every state has one – and they spell out how these federal dollars should be spent. State fish and wildlife agencies have worked with a broad array of partners, including scientists, sportsmen and other conservationists to assess the status of wildlife in each state and outline the action steps that are needed to keep wildlife from becoming endangered.

The legislation also provides resources for recovery efforts here at home. The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks would receive a minimum of $3.5 million annually or $17.5 million over five years if this bill were to pass. The state will also be able to leverage these federal dollars with state funds to magnify the effect of their action plan. This reliable stream of money will help ensure that future generations can also enjoy our abundant recreation and open spaces from biking around Lewis and Clark Lake to enjoying summer trout fishing at Custer State Park for years to come.

Protecting our wildlife goes beyond political party or ideology, it is just good common sense. Sustainable and diverse habitat for fish and wildlife is important, as is supporting our strong outdoor and sportsman tradition. A successful pheasant hunt or landing a trophy walleye is connected to how we enhance the habitat of many other species.

The modest amount of funding in the bill could also result in big savings in time and money for states, private landowners and agriculture producers by keeping wildlife from becoming endangered and the subsequent recovery efforts that oftentimes encumber how we use land and water resources.

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