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Walk-In Areas Popularity Growing

Each year, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department makes a significant investment in leasing private lands for public use. A recent GF&P survey shows that the investment is paying off in hunter satisfaction.

The Walk-In Areas for hunting on private land rated high in satisfaction from residents and nonresidents alike, 76 percent and 77 percent respectively in a survey conducted by Game, Fish and Parks Planning Coordinator/Human Dimensions Specialist Larry Gigliotti.

GF&P also provides hunters with a free atlas of Walk-In Areas. The atlases garnered a 70 percent satisfaction rating from both resident and nonresidents hunters.

Survey data shows that private land still dominates the hunting landscape and few hunters rely solely on Walk-In Areas. According to Gigliotti, 38 percent of resident hunters and 31 percent of nonresident hunters supplement their hunting experience with the use of Walk-In Areas.

When they use the Walk-In Areas, survey data shows that the hunters like what they see. In 1999 almost 66 percent of hunters surveyed rated the habitat in Walk-In Areas good or excellent. That number rose to 73 percent in the 2005 survey.

While Walk-In Areas help to influence the overall satisfaction of the hunting experience, the areas also have an economic impact. In 2005, GF&P invested about $1.8 million in payments to landowners. According to the survey results, this produced an estimated 160,000 days of hunting and additional hunting-related expenditures of $11 million.

A complete copy of the 2005 Hunter Evaluation of the Walk-In Areas can be obtained by writing to Larry Gigliotti, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD 57501 or by e-mailing wildinfo@state.sd.us and requesting the document .

Landowners interested in learning more about the Walk-In Areas program should contact their local Conservation Officer.

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