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The South Dakota Wildlife Foundation recently announced the election of officers to its board of directors for 2018, according to a release from South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.

Karen Gundersen Olson of Rapid City will serve as president while Sarah Larson of Sioux Falls will serve as vice president. Tom Krafka of Rapid City will be the secretary/treasurer.

Other members continuing their service on the board include: Kevin Nyberg, Kathryn Anderson, Dale Jahr, Jeff Stingley and Jeff Scherschligt, all of Sioux Falls; Spencer Hawley of Brookings; Dick Behl of Scotland; Jim Spies of Watertown; and Jack Lynass and William May of Rapid City. GFP Department Secretary Kelly Hepler and GFP Commissioner Gary Jensen of Rapid City serve as ex officio members of the board.

Pay Wyss and Bob Paulsen of Rapid City were also newly elected to the board.

"Those of us who serve on the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation are honored to support our cultural and natural resources through partnerships that build, protect and enhance South Dakota," Gundersen Olson said in the release. "We, like all South Dakotans, know that South Dakota’s outdoor places are precious and must be cared for and protected for future generations."

Winter hikes in South Dakota state parks

There are several snowshoe hikes planned in state parks across South Dakota in January:

Jan. 6: Lake Herman State Park near Madison 1 and 3 p.m. CT. For information or to register call 605-256-5003.

Richmond Lake Recreation Area near Aberdeen 1:30 CT, for info and registration call 605-626-3488

Jan. 13: Game Lodge Snowshoe hike in Custer State Park 10 a.m. MT. Information and registration call 605-255-4515.

George S. Mickelson Trail 1 p.m. Info and registration: 605-584-3896

Jan. 27: George S. Mickelson Trail 1 p.m. MT. Info and registration 605-584-3896.

There is no cost to participate in any of the hikes, but a park entrance fee is required, and participants should wear sturdy hiking boots or walking shoes. Snow shoes are available on a first come-first served basis. 

GF&P officials remind hikers to respect groomed trails 

South Dakota Game GF&P is reminding winter hikers to respect groomed cross country skiing trails.

"Groomed trails are for skiers," visitor services coordinator for South Dakota state parks Lynn Spomer said in a release. "Once the trails are groomed, we ask that walkers, snowshoers and dog walkers please stay to the side of the trail."

Foot prints in the middle of a ski groove breaks the skiers’ momentum. Many trip and fall, damaging skis, equipment and sometimes hurting people, Spomer said.

Walleye in good shape in North Dakota's Lake Sakakawea

BISMARCK, N.D.— The number of young walleye in the Lake Sakakawea reservoir on the Missouri River in North Dakota is among the highest in decades, though walleye reproduction downstream of the lake's dam wasn't as successful last year. Still, state wildlife officials are pleased with both results.

Walleye are generally considered the most popular game fish sought by anglers in the state, and Lake Sakakawea is considered one of the finest walleye lakes in the region. State Game and Fish Department crews last year had the fourth-highest catch of young walleye in the lake in the half-century history of fall surveys.

Scott Gangl, the department's fisheries management section leader, credits both the stocking efforts and the natural reproduction aided by a rebounding smelt population since major flooding seven years ago flushed substantial numbers of the forage fish through Garrison Dam.

The flood also changed the river channel downstream of the dam, damaging areas such as side channels and sandbars where fish like to breed. The damage hurt fish numbers, and the habitat is still recovering.

"We've seen increased numbers of fish, but it's not where it was before the flood," Gangl said.

There were fewer young walleye produced downstream last year, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

"We've had a couple of good (walleye) classes since the flood, and we've got a lot of young fish out there that need to feed before adding more young fish to the system," Gangl said.

There also are more forage fish for walleye to eat. Reproduction of gizzard shad in the river from Bismarck to the South Dakota border rebounded last year, though "numbers aren't terribly high" compared to pre-flood levels, according to Gangl.

"Hopefully sometime we will get back to pre-flood conditions ... but we don't know if that will happen in a matter of years or decades," he said.

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for the Rapid City Journal.