PIERRE, S.D. — Gov. Dennis Daugaard is asking South Dakota legislators to extend a law that governs the use of lakes on private land for recreation, an issue that has long vexed landowners and outdoor enthusiasts.
Lawmakers during a special legislative session last year approved a compromise on so-called nonmeandered waters. But the law is set to expire in June, meaning lawmakers will have to revisit the issue. The 2018 legislative session starts next week.
The governor’s office proposed a bill this week that would move the law’s expiration date to 2021. South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks has received good feedback on the measure, and Daugaard believes it should be given more time to work, according to the governor’s chief of staff, Tony Venhuizen.
Nonmeandered waters are bodies of water that weren’t specially designated during government surveys in the late 1800s. Some private property has since flooded, forming new, unofficial bodies of water and creating good fishing. But that has come at the cost of farmland and pastures lost by agriculture producers.
The new law restored access to nearly 30 specific lakes for public recreation hampered after a 2017 state Supreme Court decision. State officials intervened after the high court said the Legislature needed to decide the extent the public could use the waters on private land for recreation.
The law also says lakes on private property are open for recreational use unless a landowner installs signs or buoys saying an area is closed, though property owners could still grant permission to use the water.