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Daugaard Appoints Avid Hunter/Fisher Olson to GF&P Commission

My erstwhile State Senator Russell Olson returns to Pierre as the newest Game Fish and Parks Commissioner:

Russ Olson, Game Fish and Parks Commission appointee
Russell Olson, Game Fish and Parks Commission appointee

“Russ will be a great addition to the Game, Fish and Parks Commission. He is an avid outdoorsman who is committed to conservation,” said Gov. Daugaard. “I appreciate Russ’ willingness to serve in this important role.”

…“As a lifelong resident, with generations of hunting and fishing traditions on both sides of my family, I want to do my part to make sure that the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts are able to enjoy the outdoors as I have,” said Olson. “It is vital that we continue to build better relationships with landowners as they hold the key to access and stewardship of one of South Dakota’s most precious resources” [State of South Dakota, press release, 2015.12.29].

While I appreciate the value of hunting and fishing as human activities and economic boosters, I also recognize that there’s a lot more to enjoying the outdoors than catching and eating its furry, feathery, and scaly components. I look forward to the day when the state touts a GF&P commissioner’s avid outdoorsmanship by pointing to his or her hiking, biking, swimming, and snowshoeing.

Olson takes one of the four non-farm seats on the eight-member GF&P commission. SDCL 41-2-2 requires that four members of the commission “be farmers actually residing on a farm, engaged in agriculture, deriving at least two-thirds of their gross annual incomes from crop or livestock production or both, and interested in wildlife conservation.”



  1. Donald Pay 2015-12-30 09:22

    Can someone have anything to do with hunting, fishing or being an “outdoorsman” (whatever that is) without being “avid?”

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-12-30 09:35

    Interesting adjective question, Donald. How often do we hear someone say, “Joe is an outdoorsman”, with no adjective?

  3. larry kurtz 2015-12-30 09:39

    “1760-70; < French avide < Latin avidus, equivalent to av(ēre) ‘to crave’ + -idus -id"

  4. larry kurtz 2015-12-30 09:40

    food and reproduction: dig it or don’t.

  5. Wayne Pauli 2015-12-30 09:47

    Adjectives aside (and I stopped hunting in 1991) Russ is passionate about the outdoors, will do a great job, and it was an excellent appointment by a Governor that is avidly grasping at straws at any low hanging fruit to build some kind of legacy.

  6. 96Tears 2015-12-30 09:47

    Don, I think “avid” infers that you went outside to hunt game instead of shooting digital deer, birds and other critters in the bar on the “Big Buck Hunter” game. But don’t hold me to that.

  7. 96Tears 2015-12-30 09:51

    Face it. Since Tony Dean died, there has been nobody with the ideal experience, passion for natural resources and — most importantly — intelligence to be active on the GF&P Commission. Tony paid a big price for sticking up for wildlife and fighting the politics that generate ruinous policies that also affect humans, but he never griped about it.

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-12-30 10:12

    Wayne, I haven’t hiked around cornfields and sloughs with Russ, but I did get to spend a Sunday outdoors with GF&P commissioner John Cooper at Nick Nemec’s place during this year’s Blogmore hunt. Cooper was conducting hunting university for the rest of us there. He also loves skiing on Lake Oahe.

  9. Porter Lansing 2015-12-30 10:23

    Outdoorsman holds more sway when prefaced by environmental than avid.

  10. mike from iowa 2015-12-30 11:02

    Love me some trout stream,bring on the hogs
    Bulldoze the high ground,timber the logs

    Everybody knows the best things you can do for native and imported wildlife is build large animal confinements everywhere,plow up every available acre of ground for row crops and manure handling and foul up the watersheds with nitrates and phosphorous and herbicides. You can always grow wild animals on farms and zoos. No worrys.

  11. mike from iowa 2015-12-30 11:09

    Cory,I hope he can ski fast enough to keep zebra mussels from clogging his drainpipe. I loved Tony Dean. Did not know he passed.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-12-30 11:26

    Russ was good for blogging. Maybe he’ll start some conversations at GF&P!

  13. Disgusted Dakotan 2015-12-30 11:44

    Why is it in a state with 842,000+ citizens, that the Daugaard political machine recycles so many RINOs into appointments?

    Of note, Russ “Squeeky” Olson was also Richard Benda’s boss in another appointment type gig.

    Is it arrogance when the Daugaard corruption rewards its machine members so flagrantly from the state coffers?

  14. 96Tears 2015-12-30 12:07

    DD – Good point. Was this a political payback that had to wait until things died down a bit?

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-12-30 12:26

    Because, DD, the Governor needs to make sure those commissions have a higher likelihood of doing what he wants. Of course, Russ is balanced by Democrat Paul Dennert. SDCL 41-2-2 also requires that the commission have no more than four members of any one political party.

  16. mike from iowa 2015-12-30 12:53

    96-you are my hero. Wait til things died down a bit. Excellent bit of prose and accurate as heck. :)

  17. Porter Lansing 2015-12-30 12:57

    good one, Hawkeye Mikeye

  18. Bill Dithmer 2015-12-30 13:13

    While this might not mean much to others, it is a source of pride for the hunters and fishermen in this country.

    “The Pittman-Robertson Act (also known as the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act) of 1937 charges an 11% tax on the purchase of firearms, ammunition, or archery equipment. Hunters played an important role in getting this law passed, and the money raised goes directly to wildlife conservation and Hunter Education. Hunters provide almost $86 million a year for conservation through this tax—over $2 BILLION since 1937! It is the single biggest source of money collected nationally for wildlife.”

    To truly know John Cooper you would need to talk to the landowners in western Iowa to get a feel of how he operates.

    The Blindman

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-12-30 14:51

    What kind of assessment will those western Iowa landowners give us, Bill?

  20. leslie 2015-12-30 20:37

    avid likely means very large humvee or equivalent 4×4 withevery convenience, a VERY large fast boat ect. i like cory’s idea for a smaller fossil foot print. will this commission right the wrong cooper pulled in the 11th hour on the Harney name change? cooper was what, and avid retiree from USAF or something? well said DD.

    olson is a life long dakotan. so what, most of us are. what are his qualifications?

    avidly yours. leslie

    p.s. i do love unexpected adverbs

  21. grudznick 2015-12-30 20:46

    Mr. Dennert seems a fairly reasonable libbie. He probably even gets invited to some of the Governors big outings. Mr. Cooper, on the other hand, is more of a flaming libbie. You do know that Mr. Cooper is a libbie, don’t you leslie?

  22. jerry 2015-12-31 10:05

    I think that it is great that these former legislators volunteer for these positions. There must be a lot of work and for these folks and to do it for free is amazing.

  23. John Wrede 2015-12-31 10:49

    I don’t know what your thinking Jerry but these Commissioners do not do the work for free! Where in gods name did you get that idea. For every appearance, meeting or function these people attend, they collect both salary and travel per diem. That is money right out of the sportsmans pocket. If we actually want to compare the amount of expenditure of license and PR money to the attention paid by commissioners to their local constituency and their wishes, (the Commissioner’s primary job) we’d readily discover that such representation is flushing money down a rat hole. This appointment just protects the political infrastructure and insulates government from the people. The thought that these folks are objective and uninfluenceable by the corrupt political machinery in South Dakota is fantasy!
    I have a very good friend that shall remain anonymous for now, that attempted on numerous occasions to contact Olson with either information or testimony over the number of years he was in the State legislature and never once did he get a response or a followup question from Olson. I’ve found that to be true with almost all legislators in SD. Of course the excuse is always that they can’t possibly reply to every e-mail, letter or phone message they receive during the session or a Commission meeting but an occasional vote that is obviously influenced by the public would tend to suggest that these people are open to and accepting of public input. Hardly……… Did anyone see where GFP is going to spend $40,000 of our license money on an e-mail survey to determine how and where residents and non-residents are spending their recreation money in South Dakota. In stead of relying on a smaller sample survey done by the Fish and Wildlife Service, every 5th year, (National Survey of Hunting, Fishing and Related Outdoor Recreation) these folks are going to spend money intended for conservation purposes to try and better pin down the value of a Black Hills Deer hunt or a pheasant hunt on somebody’s private shooting preserve. Our license fee’s have gone up at least twice in the last 5 years and this is what we’re paying for…….. Nonsense!

  24. John Wrede 2015-12-31 11:09

    Cory: Is now a good time to publish the expose rebutting Daugaards theories on revisions to the Endangered Species Act. At one time, years ago, when lawmakers actually understood the importance of wildlife and natural resource conservation, the law required that Commissioners have a demonstrated interest in conservation. Now, all they have to do is demonstrate that they can shoot a shotgun,rifle, or a bow and arrow and get their picture in the paper with a trophy and the public assumes they are a conservation minded, natural resources steward. Has Olson served on the executive of any conservation organization in the state such as the Izaak Walton League, SD Wildlife Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation etc.? How many of them, other than Cooper have demonstrated any accumen related to honest, benevolent, sustainable natural resource conservation in this or any other state. Somebody mentioned Tony Dean…….. Tony forgot more about wildlife and conservation than the vast majority of these people and his legacy is not being honored or memorialized by appointing people to these positions whose only qualification is that they’ve been to Cabelas and have exclusive access to land and trophies that nobody else has; that is unless they’ve got a ton of jingle in their jeans………

  25. jerry 2015-12-31 11:19

    Well of course I am bound to figure that Mr. Wrede, to think that a revolving door would be perpetuated here in South Dakota to feather the nest of someone, well who ever heard? The very last thing a state that is so corrupt as to not be able to handle the corrupt EB-5 allowing revolving door policies, why that would be disgraceful.

  26. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-01 07:00

    Wrede’s October critique of Daugaard’s approach to the Endangered Species Act is online here. That essay reminds us there is much more at stake in GF&P decisions than hunting and fishing and those activities’ impact on farming. Again, how odd that the GF&P commission’s only quota is that half of its members be farmers and that its membership is not required to have a certain proportion of range science majors, wildlife and fisheries experts, zoologists, horticulturists, or other environmental scientists.

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