South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Food Plot Program Offers Free Seed

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) food plot program was developed nearly 50 years ago to assist landowners in providing winter food sources for wildlife. Landowners can receive free corn or sorghum seed to plant each spring, plus a payment to help offset planting costs. The program took a step forward in 2015, offering landowners a third seed option, called the brood mix.

The brood mix is an annual mixture of cover crop species (i.e. canola, flax, millet, radish, sunflower), designed to flower from spring through fall and produce seed for wildlife to forage on during winter. By flowering, the brood mix provides pollinator habitat that traditional corn and sorghum food plots lack. Pollinating insects (i.e. bees and butterflies) thrive in areas with flowering plants. Insects comprise nearly 100% of a pheasant chick’s diet, therefore making habitats with high insect numbers for pheasant chicks to forage a key component of pheasant production.

Landowners enrolled in the program still retain and may regulate all hunting access privileges; however they cannot charge anyone a fee in exchange for hunting access.

Game, Fish and Parks Unveils New Website

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) is inviting visitors to explore its new website.

“The new website has been designed to provide the ultimate user-friendly experience with improved navigation and functionality throughout; connecting hunters, anglers, campers and other outdoor enthusiasts with their next outdoor experience and ensuring they have the most accurate digital content to do so,” said Calley Worth, GFP digital content strategist. “The website was created with the user experience firmly in mind using the latest technology compatible with today’s browsers and mobile devices.”

Extensive research through customer surveys, online feedback, one-on-one focus group conversations as well as trends and analytics provided information on how to structurally design and format content.

Key features include:
Enhanced events calendar with state park events, season dates, application openings, fishing tournaments, open house meetings and more;
A complete list of forms and permits with more than half of the previous paper versions being replaced by online versions;
A central location for all maps;
Specific visitor feedback from each park; and
Frequently asked questions.

In addition, a new mobile app will also launch later this month that features a digital backpack so users can customize it with favorite maps, licenses and handbooks. The app will provide the ability to view maps offline if the user is in an area with little to no cell phone service. Residents and nonresidents will be able to sign up for notifications regarding hunting season start and end dates and application opening and closing dates. Users need to know that this new mobile app is designed for Android systems 6 and up and iOS systems 10 and up and that they may need to update their software if the app does not download to this new version.

Learn more about the new website and when the official mobile app will be unveiled by following us

State Rep Bartling Honored

By Seth Tupper
Rapid City Journal

Could you stay civil after somebody threatens to run you over with a truck?

State Rep. Julie Bartling, D-Gregory, faced that and other challenges in 2006 when her sponsorship of a legislative abortion ban, which was ultimately referred to the ballot and defeated by voters, foisted her into the middle of a national debate.
She received threatening emails, including the one about the truck.

“I was just kind of in a numb state, if I can call it that, because of the name-calling and the ugly comments and remarks after all was said and done on that,” Bartling recalled.

But she maintained her commitment to civility and went on to make the trait a hallmark of her legislative career. Now, in her 16th year of legislative service, Bartling has been chosen as the inaugural winner of the Rapid City Journal’s Craig Tieszen Award for Civility in Lawmaking.

The award is given in honor of Tieszen, a Rapid City legislator and former police chief who died in a November kayaking accident in the Cook Islands. After his death, Tieszen was lauded across the state and across the political spectrum as a thoughtful and effective public servant with a commitment to listening and an uncommon devotion to civility. The Journal created the award to preserve Tieszen’s legacy and encourage legislators to emulate his civil conduct.

The Journal announced the creation of the award in December and solicited invitations in two ways: by sending two rounds of emails to every legislator in South Dakota, and by publishing two stories seeking nominations online and in print.

Twenty current legislators and one former legislator were nominated. A committee of Journal employees chose the winner, with input from Tieszen’s widow, Deb Tieszen, and her brother, Jim Pesek.

“My family and I are pleased with the inaugural choice for the Rapid City Journal’s Craig Tieszen Award for Civility in Lawmaking,” Deb Tieszen said. “Representative Julie Bartling deserves the award because she emulates the qualities that Craig demonstrated through his life and while a legislator. We thank the Journal staff for creating and sponsoring this award.”
Chris Huber, managing editor of the Journal, presented Bartling with a plaque Thursday during the South Dakota Newspaper Association’s annual Newspaper Day luncheon at the Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center in Pierre.

Bartling is a Democrat, and Tieszen was a Republican. Despite the distance between their politics and legislative districts, Bartling said she knew and respected Tieszen.

“He had a way about him that just made you feel so welcome, and he listened and joined in conversations,” Bartling said. “And I’m just truly honored to be the first winner of an award in his honor. It just means a great deal to me.”



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Award nominations from Bartling came from current and former legislators of both major political parties, and from a lobbyist.
One of the nominations for Bartling came from former legislator Lee Schoenbeck, a Republican from Watertown.
“She never says an unkind word about anybody, or loses her composure in any setting,” Schoenbeck wrote. “With you or against you, if you know her, you know a friend.”
Bartling is currently the assistant minority leader in the House and is one of 16 Democrats in the Legislature, compared to 89 Republicans.
“To not succumb to bitterness or hostility while spending life in the minority really takes a special person,” Schoenbeck wrote. “Julie is that person.”



Schoenbeck also noted Bartling’s effectiveness. Last year, she was the prime sponsor of six bills or resolutions that were passed by the Legislature and many more pieces of legislation that passed with her as a co-sponsor.
Lobbyist Eric Ollila also nominated Bartling.
“Rep. Bartling is a bit like a ray of sunshine with a huge, smart brain,” Ollila wrote. “She is unfailingly polite and genuine.”
Bartling said she learned civility from her parents while growing up on a farm as one of 12 children in a Catholic family.
“I grew up being raised by some really good, strong parents who always taught me respect and taught me that other people’s views matter,” Bartling said. “We may not agree, but we can be respectful in our disagreements.”
Civility has prevailed during most of her time in the South Dakota Legislature, Bartling said, but she has been dismayed by the erosion of civility in national politics.
She hopes to stand against the spread of that behavior into her home state.
“When it comes to public service,” she said, “I don’t believe the name-calling, the antagonistic attitudes and the disrespect that might get thrown around is a way to really accomplish anything.”

The South Dakota Newspaper Association is accepting nominees for the 2018 SDNA Eagle Award.

This award is given to an individual, group or organization that has demonstrated outstanding efforts to protect and promote openness and transparency in government.

“South Dakota has taken significant strides in advancing the ideals of open government in the past decade, thanks to people who have pressed for transparency and accountability from our elected officials,” said SDNA First Amendment Committee Chairman Tim Waltner, who recently retired as publisher and is continuing as a contributing editor at the Freeman Courier.

“Since 2001, SDNA has recognized some of those individuals through the Eagle Award, including government officials and citizens who have spoken out and stood firmly for the ideals of a well-informed citizenry that is at the heart of our democracy.

“Although we’ve made progress in protecting the ‘public’s right to know,’ the ongoing efforts of citizens, government officials and journalists are essential to ensure that a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” are more than just part a famous speech by Abraham Lincoln,” Waltner said. “Given the current political climate, the ideals of truth, responsibility, accountability and transparency have never been more important.”

The SDNA First Amendment Committee welcomes nominees for the 2018 Eagle Award to honor the efforts of those who have demonstrated their commitment to the ideals of open government.

The first SDNA Eagle Award was given to the 2001 South Dakota Supreme Court for its efforts helping open the Supreme Court to media cameras starting in August 2001.

Recipients of SDNA Eagle Award also include Mitchell School Board member Rodney Hall (2003), South Dakota States Attorney Larry Long (2004), Yankton County Commissioner Brian Hunhoff (2005), Codington County State’s Attorney Vince Foley (2006), state Sen. Jason Gant and the staff of the South Dakota State University Collegian (2007), state Sen. Nancy Turbak Berry (2008), state Sen. Dave Knudson (2009), Sioux Falls resident Gordon Heber (2010), state Sen. Al Novstrup (2012) and state Sen. Corey Brown (2016).

Any individual, group or organization that has demonstrated commitment to the ideals of open government in South Dakota is eligible to be nominated.

Nominations for the 2018 SDNA Eagle Award should be submitted in writing and sent to: SDNA Eagle Award, South Dakota Newspaper Association, 1125 32nd Ave., Brookings, SD 57006. The deadline for nominations is March 15.

Contact SDNA Executive Director David Bordewyk for more information (800-658-3697).

Illegally Dumped Snow Causing Problems

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Department of Transportation reminds the public and commercial snow removal operators that it is illegal to place or dump excess snow on highway right of way, which includes driving surfaces, shoulders and ditches.

“The recent snowstorm across South Dakota has deposited a large amount of snow in some areas,” said Kristi Sandal, public information officer. “The space within the right of way needs to be reserved for future snow that may fall on the road. If the department’s plow operators do not have a place to put that snow, it severely hampers their ability to clear roadways.”

Violation of the anti-dumping law is a Class 1 misdemeanor, with a penalty of up to one year in jail, $2,000 in fines, or both. It is the policy of the SDDOT to remove snow that has been illegally piled within the highway right of way that may be a safety hazard. In addition, violators will be billed for the costs of removing illegally dumped snow.

“Piling snow in the state highway right of way can be very dangerous,” says Sandal. “Snow piles can restrict sight distance, as well as present an extreme hazard if a vehicle leaves the roadway. Snow piles that remain adjacent to the road may cause additional drifting and visibility problems posing more safety hazards to travelers, as well as additional expenses for manpower and equipment to remove the illegally dumped snow.”

Property owners and access users are reminded it is their responsibility to remove snow from the ends of driveways and around their own mailboxes.

The department asks landowners and commercial snow-removal operators to keep excess snow on private property or haul it to legal dumping sites.



By Bob Gardner, Executive Director of the National Federation of State High School Associations and Dan Swartos, Executive Director of the South Dakota High School Activities Association.

They don’t make the headlines, their names are not in the box scores and they don’t make the all- star teams, but perhaps the most important individuals in high school sports are the contest officials.

These individuals are so important that, in fact, there would be no organized competitive sports at the high school level without the men and women who officiate these contests every day across the country. Subtract the dedicated men and women who officiate high school sports and competitive sports would no longer be organized; they would be chaotic.

Anyone looking for a unique way to contribute to the local community should consider becoming a licensed high school official. For individuals who played sports in high school, officiating is a great way to stay close to the sport after their playing days have ended. Officiating helps people stay in shape, expands their social and professional network and offers part-time work that is flexible, yet pays. In fact, officiating is a form of community service, but with compensation.

Another benefit of officiating is that individuals become role models so that teenagers in the community can learn the life lessons that high school sports teach. Students learn to respect their opponents and the rules of the game and the importance of practicing good sportsmanship thanks, in part, to those men and women who officiate. And the objectivity and integrity that high school officials display is an example that every young person needs to observe firsthand. In short, communities around the country will be stronger because of the life lessons that high school officials help teach the next generation.

Officiating is a great way to stay connected to sports and to give back to the local high school and community. We need dedicated men and women to become involved so that high school sports can continue to prosper for years to come.

Individuals interested in learning more about becoming a high school official, and even begin the application process, can do so at

Keystone Pipeline Moving Forward

The developer of the Keystone XL pipeline announced Thursday that it hopes to begin construction next year following an alternative route approved by Nebraska authorities, but an opponent voiced doubt that the pipeline will ever be built.
Part of the pipeline will pass through Tripp County.

TransCanada Corp. said in a news release it has secured enough 20-year commitments from oil companies to ship approximately 500,000 barrels per day through the pipeline. The company previously said it needed time to evaluate the commission’s decision and line up potential customers.

The proposed route cuts through a large swatch of rural western South Dakota.

“Over the past 12 months, the Keystone XL project has achieved several milestones that move us significantly closer to constructing this critical energy infrastructure for North America,” Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission in November approved a route that would extend the pipeline by 5 miles (8 kilometers) more than TransCanada had initially proposed, and requires the company to build an extra pumping station in the state. The company, based in Calgary, Canada, said Thursday that it would accede to the commission’s demands in order to move the project along.

The project has faced intense opposition from environmental groups, property owners along the route and Native American tribes, who consider it a threat to their groundwater and property rights.

Commissioners who voted for it said the alternative route would affect less rangeland and endangered species. The commission was not allowed to take into account the recent leak of the existing Keystone pipeline in South Dakota because pipeline safety is a federal responsibility.


Opponents have filed a lawsuit challenging the commission’s decision, and the Nebraska Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments later this year.

If opponents succeed, TransCanada would have to file for a new permit with the Nebraska Public Service Commission, triggering another review that could take up to a year.

Pipeline foes said the company’s commercial support of 500,000 barrels per day from shippers was “shockingly weak” given that the pipeline was supposed to have the capacity for 830,000 barrels per day. They noted that 50,000 of those barrels per day will come from the Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission, which is owned by the Alberta government.

“The Keystone XL pipeline will never be built,” said Jane Kleeb, founder of the anti-pipeline group Bold Nebraska.

The Nebraska commission’s vote to approve a route through the state removed one of the last regulatory obstacles for the project. TransCanada has said it still needs to gets permits to cross land held by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Montana, although that likely won’t be as large a hurdle as what the company faced in Nebraska.

If completed, the pipeline would carry oil from Canada through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, where it would connect to an existing pump station in Steele City, Nebraska. From there it would continue through Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas until it reaches Gulf Coast refineries. Business groups and some unions support the project as a way to create jobs and reduce the risk of shipping oil by trains that can derail.

President Barack Obama’s administration studied the project for years before finally rejecting it in 2015 because of concerns about carbon pollution. President Donald Trump reversed that decision in March. Federal approval was required because the route crosses an international border.


Possibility of Six-Man Football

By Dana Hess
For the S.D. Newspaper Association

In many South Dakota communities, Friday nights in the fall are set aside for high school football games. In smaller towns, continuing that tradition may depend on going to six-man teams.

That possibility was discussed at Wednesday’s (Jan. 17) meeting of the South Dakota High School Activities Association board of directors. SDHSAA Assistant Executive Director John Krogstrand told the board that the matter had been discussed and unanimously endorsed by the football advisory committee.

Krogstrand said that schools with an average daily membership of 100 or less were surveyed about the possibility of going from nine-man to six-man football. More than 40 percent of the 112 respondents showed some level of favorability to adding six-man football to the offerings of the SDHSAA.

Notes from the advisory committee, available at the SDHSAA website at, say that adding six-man football would likely mean that fewer schools would offer nine-man football, requiring a realignment of the remaining nine-man teams.

Krogstrand said the change to the smaller teams may be necessary “to keep football Friday alive.”

The advisory committee’s recommendation will now go to a meeting of the state’s high school athletic directors. Any action endorsed by the athletic directors would then need to come before the SDHSAA board for its approval.

South Dakota Supreme Court Upholds Bertram Murder Conviction and Life Sentence

Picture Courtesy of Mitchell Daily Republic

Attorney General Marty Jackley announced that the South Dakota Supreme Court has affirmed the first degree murder conviction and life sentence without parole of Russell Ray Bertram, a former law enforcement officer, for the shooting death of his fiancée Leonila Stickney.

“The South Dakota Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the jury’s guilty verdict in this 2009 death case that could have likely gone unsolved but for the hard work of investigators and prosecutors,” said Jackley. “Bertram’s callous disregard for his fiancée Leonila was evident and he is being held responsible for her tragic death.”

The South Dakota Supreme Court rejected all of Bertram’s claims. The evidence revealed that even though Bertram was in bankruptcy and had debt exceeding $100,000 he purchased two life insurance policies on Leonila’s life totaling $920,000 with himself as the sole beneficiary. The jury also heard about his sexual encounters with other women immediately prior to Leonila’s death. The State argued all this evidence was relevant to Bertram’s motive for killing his fiancée and the Court agreed.

Bertram was convicted by a Gregory County jury in September 2016 and was sentenced to life without parole for first degree murder.

Statewide Youth Business Plan Competition Celebrates 10th Year with Most Entries Ever

This year the statewide business plan competition, a part of the annual Lakota Nation Invitational (LNI) that takes place every December, celebrated its 10th year with 33 competitors – nearly double last year and more than any other previous year. The participating students represented White River, Red Cloud, Little Wound, Lower Brule, St. Francis, Todd County, and Cheyenne Eagle Butte High Schools.

Sarah Keefe from White River High School won the top prize – a $1,000 scholarship – as the 1st Place Award in the Senior Division for her funeral home business idea. She will also have the opportunity to receive a $2,500 equity injection from Lakota Funds, a community loan fund on the Pine Ridge Reservation that sponsored the event. The equity injection would be paired with a business loan to support Keefe in starting her business.

“Sarah was really well spoken, assertive, and confident. She was extremely well prepared, and you could tell that she thought about every detail,” says Yolanda Clifford, a loan officer at Lakota Funds, who helped coordinate the event. Clifford was especially impressed by the environmentally friendly burial options that Keefe included in her plan.

Other winners of the competition included: Paige LeBeouf from White River High School with a 2nd Place Award in the Senior Division; Sam Grimshaw from Todd County High School with a 3rd Place Award in the Senior Division; Maia Taranto from Todd County High School with a 1st Place Award in the Junior Division; Arvish Bhinder from Todd County High School with a 1st Place Award in the Sophomore Division; and Wohpe Bull Bear from Red Cloud High School with a 1st Place Award in the Freshman Division.

“With each passing year, the contestants are getting more business savvy and becoming more aware of business and entrepreneurship. It’s great to see the level of fine detail into developing their plans is growing every year,” says Clifford.

Business ideas presented in the competition included a funeral home, taxi service, gym, livestock services, various restaurants, and more. All competitors were required to deliver a presentation to a panel of four judges that evaluated entries on several criteria, including market opportunity, management and operations, and financial projections. This year’s judges were: Jennifer Bear Eagle, an attorney for the Oglala Sioux Tribe; Denton Fast Whirlwind, an artist and small business owner; David Kelly, Director of the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Transportation, and also an entrepreneur; and Bud May of the Oglala Sioux Tribe Economic Development Office, and a long-time rancher.

This year’s LNI business plan competition was sponsored by Citi Community Development, Lakota Funds, and the Oglala Sioux Tribe Office of Credit and Finance.