Game, Fish and Parks Commission named 2018 Commission of the Year | TSLN.com

Game, Fish and Parks Commission named 2018 Commission of the Year

Earlier this year, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) announced that the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission has been named Commission of the Year at their annual conference in Eugene, Oregon.

"In recent years, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission has dealt with difficult, and at times, contentious issues beyond their normal duties of establishing rules and regulations governing parks, wildlife and fish resources on behalf of this state," said Kelly Hepler, secretary of the department of Game, Fish and Parks. "Their willingness to face the crucial conversations head on and find platforms for all individuals to provide input is what makes them deserving of this honor."

The GFP Commission is highly engaged in the social science of managing the state's resources and opportunities. Nonresident waterfowl license allocations, revising how deer licenses are structured, nonmeandered waters as well as waterfowl refuges and boating restrictions are examples of highly polarized and diverse philosophical belief issues this eight member Commission has addressed.

"It is very humbling and satisfying to be recognized nationally for our work," said GFP Commissioner Cathy Peterson of Salem. "The work that we do as a Commission could not be done without the support, leadership and professionalism from the department staff who patiently provide knowledge and expertise on all issues we are faced with."

One of the primary responsibilities of the GFP Commission is to establish rules as well as adjust or remove them entirely. This Commission has encouraged the public to bring forward petitions for desired changes when it comes to regulation changes. In the past two years, the GFP Commission has considered petitions that have been adopted and others that have been denied. It is the belief of this Commission that when any petition is brought forward, it deserves a public hearing and the opportunity for input before a decision is made.

"It is truly an honor to be part of a group receiving such high recognition," said GFP Commissioner Doug Sharp of Watertown. "I want to express gratitude to the department secretary, Kelly Hepler, for submitting the nomination, but more importantly, for being the leader who has allowed these difficult issues to be discussed and managed through the teamwork of both the department and the Commission.

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–South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission