Tapio: Non-Meandered Waters Bill a ‘Lose-Lose’ for Sportsmen and Land Owners
South Dakota Congressional Candidate and Watertown State Senator, Neal Tapio Monday expressed disappointment regarding SB 199, a bill meant to end a long simmering state feud over the balance between private land owners and sportsmen who believe in public access to bodies of water for angling and recreational use on private land. Tapio and 18 other senators voted to kill the bill in floor consideration Monday by a vote of 19-16.
Tapio blames authors of the bill for including several fatal flaws and unreasonable provisions in the bill’s language that he says made it impossible to reach a compromise, including one major sticking point which could have made it illegal for private landowners to hunt and fish on their own property.
“After more than a year of conversation, a special session and a 15-person committee to address this issue, it is an understatement to say this final attempt at legislation was a disappointment and a failure,” Tapio said.
“I think it’s unfair to South Dakota sportsmen who were misled into believing this was a reasonable attempt to open as many waters to fishing as possible,” Tapio said.
Senator Tapio believes fatal flaws doomed the legislation by attempting to expand the discussion to all non-meandered bodies of water and by demanding a process to close access to both the sporting public and private owners known as the “closed to one, closed to all provision.”
“This bill literally could have made it possible for one landowner to close down access to an entire non-meandered lake, making it impossible for adjoining landowners to use that lake for fishing or hunting, even on their own land” Tapio said.
“Think about that. You have water on your property and you want to take your grandchild hunting. For some reason another landowner requests the lake to be closed and so it is closed to all recreation, both public and private, thereby preventing you from hunting ducks with your grandson on your own land,” Tapio said.
“A group of seasoned Republican legislators met secretly for months, but failed to respect the very basic rights of private property ownership while leading the sportsmen to believe this was a fair and equitable solution to a very complex problem.” Tapio said. “Unfortunately, this bill expanded the scope of the problems by including all recreation on all non-meandered lakes, while failing to account for the simple core principles of private property rights,” Tapio said.
“Along with many other problems, it simply wasn’t fair to drag this process on any longer,” Tapio said.