PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Public comments Thursday ran strongly against the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission raising the speed limit for boats on Deerfield Lake in the Black Hills.
Commissioner Travis Bies agreed with those opponents. He ranches in the Fairburn area.
“I’m very familiar with the lake,” Bies said. “I see the people who use that lake almost every day.”
Wildlife Division Director Tony Leif recommended that Deerfield be kept as a no-wake lake.
The commission agreed, without discussion.
The proposal to change to a boating speed limit of 25 miles per hour came from Ken Edel of Rapid City. He was last to testify at the public hearing.
“A lot of misinformation is out there,” Edel told commissioners.
He said the intent was to make Deerfield more appealing to people he described as “boating anglers.” He acknowledged he was in the minority.
“In fact, I don’t have endorsements from nobody,” Edel said.
Hundreds of people opposed to his plan emailed or spoke to commissioners. Some came to the meeting to voice their disagreement.
They often described Deerfield Lake as peaceful and tranquil. It is a special place to dip a paddle or oar and kayak, they said, and other Black Hills waters, such as Angostura and Pactola, are too busy with power boats and personal watercraft creating big waves.
Kassie Shiffermiller, an attorney from Rapid City, spoke for the South Dakota Paddlers and the South Dakota Canoe and Kayak Association. “There are few lakes in the Black Hills that offer this,” she said.
Noted Mary Braley, who lives near Deerfield: “Currently there are two bald-eagle nests and three osprey nests around the lake.”
The Pennington County Commission formally opposed the change. So did the U.S. Forest Service and the federal Bureau of Reclamation, who established the narrow two miles of reservoir 74 years ago.