Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a Watertown real estate appraiser, former newspaper reporter and editor, and longtime opinion columnist. He is president of the South Dakota Lakes and Streams Association, vice president of the South Dakota Wildlife Federation and served 16 years on the South Dakota Board of Water and Natural Resources. 

Zebra mussels on a rock pulled out of Lake Kampeska at Watertown, and washed-up piles of aquatic weeds. (Brad Johnson, for South Dakota Searchlight)

State is content to be a benchwarmer in aquatic invasive species battle

By: - September 22, 2023

Pathetic best describes South Dakota’s response as zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species transform the state’s lakes and rivers. While Minnesota invests heavily in education and research to counter the impacts of zebra mussels, our state gives lip service.  Leadership flows down from Gov. Kristi Noem and, since protecting our water is not important […]

Gov. Kristi Noem shakes hands with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Aug. 21, 2023, near the nation's southern border. Also pictured, from left, are Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa and Gov. Jim Pillen of Nebraska. (Courtesy of Gov. Noem's office)

At the border, politicians play while migrants pay

By: - August 25, 2023

Sister Teresa Ann Wolf from the Mother of God Monastery in Watertown recently comforted a young, pregnant Guatemalan woman who collapsed in pain after crossing the Rio Grande River, her baby breached and both lives in peril. Gov. Kristi Noem recently flew to the Texas border, where she joined Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and a […]

Some farmers have argued that their land shouldn't be subject to eminent domain for liquid carbon dioxide pipelines. (Photo by Jared Strong/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Riding the tilt-a-whirl of ag land values

By: - August 12, 2023

The dizzy tilt-a-whirl of rising South Dakota agricultural land values may be slowing, but the challenge of keeping pace is enough to make people queasy. Two recent reports, one in late July by Farm Credit Services of America (FCSA), and another in August by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provide the latest insight into […]

Bear Butte, as seen in 2020 from a vantage point within the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Fort Meade Recreation Area near Sturgis. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

Public Lands Rule would benefit wildlife and sporting traditions

By: - June 14, 2023

As a sportsman who enjoys getting out on public lands and waters, I was heartened when the U.S. Bureau of Land Management recently released a proposed Public Lands Rule that elevates conservation as one of the multiple uses on federal land. Not surprising, however, was South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s decision to fly off to […]

Big Sioux River tributary floodwaters wash through cattle yards in the upper reaches of the river basin on April 13, 2023. (Brad Johnson/For South Dakota Searchlight)

Pollution carried by major floods is killing our lakes

By: - April 20, 2023

The state of South Dakota’s lackadaisical, careless approach to protecting its lakes and streams from agricultural pollution is glaringly apparent when floods are viewed from an airplane.  Hundreds of acres of plowed fields sent tons of black soil down the Big Sioux River during the week of April 8-15. Significant amounts of mud ended up […]

(Getty Images)

Moving nominations from conventions to primaries would put power where it belongs

By: - March 3, 2023

In a legislative session jammed with efforts to take rights away from South Dakotans, one bill would have dramatically improved the way our top leaders are elected.  Senate Bill 40, which as previously written would have changed how the two major parties select the state’s top constitutional officers, was gutted by the House this week […]

Author JK Rowling arrives at Royal Albert Hall June 26, 2003, in London. (Photo by John Gichigi/Getty Images)

South Dakota woman explores societal conflicts in podcast with ‘Harry Potter’ author

By: - February 23, 2023

It seemed as if everything “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling touched turned to gold. Her series about the boy wizard captivated the world and she became the most famous female author ever known.  Then “it all blew up in the summer of 2020,” wrote Clark, South Dakota, author Megan Phelps-Roper in a Feb. 14 article […]

Cattle near Stoneville, South Dakota, on July 21, 2021. (USDA Photo by Lance Cheung)

On ag pollution, state’s carrot doesn’t work and the stick is a twig

By: - February 16, 2023

Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR) Secretary Hunter Roberts confirmed what long has been known about South Dakota during a Jan. 19 briefing before a legislative committee. South Dakota gives only lip service to controlling agricultural pollution. In a broad discussion, Roberts told the House Ag and Natural Resources committee that financial efforts to […]

A person climbs the stairs of the South Dakota Capitol. (Joshua Haiar/SD Searchlight)

Several early bills show some legislators could use a dose of common sense

By: - January 22, 2023

It puzzles me why some South Dakota legislators, who depend on voters for their jobs, are so afraid of their constituents. And why isn’t common sense a legislative job requirement? Oh, right. Voters establish the job criteria. Maybe that is why some legislators are petrified. If they voted the legislator into office, what might they […]

Houses in a new development on Oct. 28, 2022, in Harrisburg. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Political squabbling stalls vital housing investments

By: - January 8, 2023

The Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes and inaction by our state’s political leaders have had a dramatic negative effect on South Dakota’s real estate market. A series of interest rate hikes has caused residential sales to decline while the price per single family home is up. Additionally, the inventory of houses available for sale is […]

Snow piles up under an interstate bridge during a December 2022 winter storm in South Dakota. (Photo courtesy of SD Department of Transportation)

Blizzard therapy: Find solace in reading about storms that were even worse

By: - December 15, 2022

What better is there to do during a four-day snowstorm than to think about past snowstorms? “Blizzard therapy” is what author Carey Goldberg called such behavior after he read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “The Long Winter” during a 2015 snowstorm. My blizzard therapy caused me to stumble across several little-known historical writings.  One comes from the […]

Gov. Kristi Noem delivers her annual budget address Dec. 6, 2023, at the Capitol in Pierre. (Makenzie Huber/SD Searchlight)

With budget, Noem plays Santa and the Grinch

By: - December 9, 2022

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem played Santa Claus and the Grinch during her budget address Tuesday.  Listening closely were state legislators who know they must pay the bills once the thrill of new gifts has faded.  Particularly excited on Tuesday were Democrats, a small minority in the Legislature. Noem delivered their Christmas morning dreams come […]