Summer 2017

Coordinator's Corner: Grasslands

With so many distractions confronting the people of this country, it seems gaining attention for land conservation – and ultimately wildlife conservation – is a tall order indeed. We have all viewed efforts to promote the conservation of oceans, wetlands, and even forests. However, we hear little about “grasslands,” yet, from a global perspective, temperate grasslands are one of the most altered biomes with the highest risk of disappearing.

South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks and PPJV Partners Continue to Deliver Wetland Restoration Projects on Public and Private Lands

In the fall of 2016, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Private Lands Habitat Program, along with Pheasants Forever, and private landowners completed 30 wetland restorations working across 3 project areas on public and private lands in northeastern South Dakota. These areas provide important habitat for waterfowl and other wetland and grassland dependent wildlife. Furthermore, several of the restored tracts provide great public access for waterfowl hunting and bird watching.

Developing a Conservation Reserve Program Optimization Model for Grassland Birds

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) of the 1985 Food Security Act (a.k.a. Farm Bill) provides substantial benefits to grassland birds. Populations of grassland birds are declining at a steeper rate than any other group of North American birds and the Northern Great Plains has the highest diversity of grassland bird species on the continent, therefore optimizing the enrollment of CRP in this region is significantly important.

Priority Grassland Bird Full-Annual Cycle Conservation Plan

Grassland bird populations have shown the most widespread and significant declines of any avifaunal group in North America. The Prairie Pothole Region supports the core breeding populations for four of the most rapidly declining species, specifically Sprague’s pipit, chestnut-collared and McCown’s longspur, and Baird’s sparrow. Through the leadership of the Prairie Pothole Joint Venture, the Grassland Bird Technical Subcommittee is leading the development of a tri-national grassland bird conservation plan to address conservation needs throughout the full-annual cycle for these species.

Improving Soil Health and Wildlife Habitat

Soil health practices have become increasingly popular among producers across North and South Dakota, and Ducks Unlimited (DU) is seeking opportunities to develop associated wildlife benefit and provide financial assistance to interested farmers. By incorporating more diversified crop rotations, reducing tillage, and incorporating cover crops, producers can improve soil structure, improve water infiltration and storage, increase organic matter, and increase microbial diversity in their soil.