By Bob Mercer, American News Correspondent
A couple from rural Codington County won approval on April 6 to close 26 acres of Goose Lake so they have private space around their house and buildings.
The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission voted 6-1 in favor of Jeff and Wendy Hanson. They essentially live on an island connected only by a township road.
The water is considered nonmeandered under South Dakota law. That means it is public water over privately owned land.
State law says nonmeandered water is open to public use, but gives the commission authority to decide in most instances whether parts can be closed.
Jeff Hanson told the commission he and his wife bought the land in 2005 and moved a house to it in 2009.
They didn’t expect the shore anglers, boat anglers and ice anglers who flocked to the lake in the years that followed.
The Hansons presented their situation to the commission during its April meeting in Rapid City.
“I think my case is pretty simple and straightforward,” Jeff Hanson said.
He described himself as an “avid” hunter and fisherman.
Among evidence he submitted was a report showing calls through the years to the Codington County Sheriff Office’s. He said he also called the state Game, Fish and Parks Department at times.
Complaints included vehicles blocking the only public road to their house, sometimes as many as 30 or 40, he said. He spends time each day picking up litter left by outdoors enthusiasts along the road and in winter on the ice.
Roger Tellinghuisen, a former state attorney general now from Rapid City, represented the South Dakota Wildlife Federation as the only opponent to the Hansons’ request.
Tellinghuisen quizzed Hanson for more than 20 minutes about photos and other details. Tellinghuisen introduced as evidence a GFP 2014 report that showed Goose Lake had been stocked with walleyes.
He said the Hansons’ evidence didn’t support “invasion of privacy” sufficiently to warrant restricting people from public water.
Commissioners, however, disagreed in siding with the Hansons.
— By Bob Mercer, American News Correspondent