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This weekend, campers can begin making reservations for summer stays in the South Dakota State Parks.

Saturday is the first day to make camping reservations for a Friday, May 18, arrival — the State Parks’ Open House Weekend and traditional kickoff to the summer season.

Reservations for other summer dates will follow in succession, becoming available 90 days before arrival. Over 40 parks offer camping reservations on the 90-day schedule. The exception is Custer State Park, which offers reservations one year before arrival.

State Parks Director Katie Ceroll encourages campers to keep an eye on the calendar and make reservations for camping trips as soon as possible. Memorial Day reservations open Feb. 24 for a Friday arrival, and campers can reserve for Father’s Day weekend starting March 17.

“The sooner you can plan your camping trip, the better,” said Ceroll. “We had a record number of campers at our parks last year, and campsites at popular parks go quickly.”

Campsites become available at 7 a.m. Central Time on the first day of the 90-day window, but reservations for available campsites can be made until the day you arrive. The 90-day window calendar can be found online at

Reservations can be made 24 hours a day, both online at and by calling 1.800.710.2267. Taxes and reservation fees may apply.

Unit 2 Canada goose season closes Sunday

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) is reminding waterfowl hunters that the Canada goose season for Unit 2 will close Sunday.

The 2018 spring light goose conservation order will begin on Feb. 19 and end May 9. The spring light goose conservation order has unlimited daily and possession limits. Hunters are allowed to use shotguns using more than three shot shells and electronic calls.

For more information on goose seasons in South Dakota, visit

The Great Backyard Bird Count returns this weekend

Millions of novice and accomplished bird watchers can make their love of nature count for science during the 21st Annual Great Backyard Bird Count.

On Feb. 16-19, anyone can count birds wherever they are and enter their results online. These reports create a real-time picture of where birds are across the continent and contribute valuable information for science and conservation.

“During the count, bird watchers tally up birds for as little as 15 minutes, or for as long as they like, keeping track of the highest number of each bird species they see together at one time,” said Eileen Dowd Stukel, wildlife diversity coordinator for South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP). “People are encouraged to report birds from public lands, local parks and their own backyards.”

Participants enter their numbers online at where they can explore sightings maps, lists and charts as the count progresses.

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There is no fee to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count. The event is led by the National Audubon Society, the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada.

Game, Fish and Parks launches 100 Years of Tradition

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) announced that the next couple of years will be dedicated to celebrating 100 Years of Tradition. In 1918, South Dakota established its first pheasant hunting season which was held in Spink County in 1919. Also, in 1919, Custer State Park was named the first official state park.

“In South Dakota, we know that traditions come in all forms of outdoor recreation,” stated Kelly Hepler, department secretary. “Over the next two years, we will highlight our hunting, camping and outdoor recreational traditions as well as yours, but also focus on where we all want to go in the next 100 years.”

To kick things off, GFP will showcase 100 Years of Tradition at the 2018 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, Feb. 16-18. Department staff will be located in the concourse as well as at Booth 1706. Commemorative 100 year hats will be given away throughout the event and staff will be selling hunting, fishing and park entrance licenses on site. Other prizes will also be given away.

“With celebrating 100 years, there will be a strong digital push using #MySDTradition; focusing on the outdoor opportunities that provide us all with great memories of the past. As we reach 100 years of pheasant hunting and state parks in South Dakota, we encourage our recreational users, residents and nonresidents, to take us for a trip down memory lane. We want to learn about your new and old traditions and how they got started,” stated Hepler.

In addition, two new partnerships are underway with South Dakota breweries and the South Dakota RV industry. The New Brew Competition asks all breweries in South Dakota to develop a brew honoring the 100 year celebration and focusing on the close relationship with nature, strong ties to community and how the outdoors play a strong role in our future. A Request for Proposals (RFP) was sent to all South Dakota RV dealers this week requesting a donation of a new camper to be given away in 2019.

Additional events, partnerships and opportunities to commemorate the 100 years will continue to be announced as they are finalized.

For more details on how you can get involved, visit

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