Some key positions are changing at South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Game Fish and Parks Department

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Tom Kirschenmann is now director for the state Wildlife Division in the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department.

GFP Secretary Kelly Hepler confirmed the change Thursday.

Hepler said Kirschenmann had been deputy Wildlife Division director the past three years and replaces Tony Leif. Kirschenmann has been in the department 14 years.

Hepler said Emily Kiel also is coming back to the department January 13. She was GFP communications director until May, when she moved to a similar position for Governor Kristi Noem.

“She will return to serve as my senior adviser where she will administer the department’s next four year strategic plan, help teams focus on key performance indicators and execute special projects from the Governor’s Office, state government agencies and other stakeholder groups,” Hepler said in a memo he distributed to department staff earlier this week.

“Additionally, she will spend her time on customer-focused initiatives that move our department forward,” he continued.

Hepler said the deputy-director vacancy created by Kirschenmann’s promotion would be posted for applications in the coming weeks.

“He is an outstanding leader and has extensive experience in wildlife management, research, biology and ecology. He has been a core member of my leadership team and I hope you will join me in congratulating him on his new role,” Hepler said about Kirschenmann in the memo.

He added, “Thank you for your patience as we work to transition folks into new leadership roles to best serve our department. I believe changes like this can bring about great development and progress, not just for our internal business objectives, but for the betterment of those we serve and for that of the next generation.

“I wholeheartedly believe that 2020 will be a year of creativity, innovative thinking and accomplishment for our department. We have built a firm foundation with the right people who have the right skills to ensure opportunity and growth… and fun. So let’s remember to have fun while we are at it,” Hepler continued.

Kiel’s change was one of several Governor Noem announced December 23. The governor said Joshua Shields was stepping down as her chief of staff and Maggie Seidel had joined her office as a senior adviser and policy director.

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