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Support Needed for Dakota Grassland Conservation Area

December 26, 2010

The South Dakota Resources Coalition is very excited about the Dakota Grassland Conservation Area proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. So are our friends in the Izaak Walton League of America. Regional Conservation Coordinator Paul Lepisto tells us that the Dakota Grassland proposal would “greatly accelerate funding for perpetual conservation easements on grassland and wetland areas in North Dakota, South Dakota, and a portion of Montana.”

Here’s the short form of what the Dakota Grassland Conservation Area means for us:

  • This project will conserve our vanishing prairie – for wildlife, ranchers and the general public.
    • It keeps the land in private ownership using voluntary easements.
    • It maintains land used for grazing and haying.
    • It pays landowners who choose to participate.
    • Grassland is the most threatened ecosystem in the United States
  • Native prairie and wetlands help the area’s economy.
    • Beef production – important aspect in the AG sector.
    • Tourism – outdoors recreation provides great benefits to rural areas and the states involved.
  • In ND and SD, over 700 landowners are on a waiting list for easements but current funding is insufficient to enroll everyone who has applied.
  • The project will be funded with dollars already dedicated to conservation.
  • This project will conserve native prairie and wetlands, maintain healthy wildlife populations, provide water quality, flood prevention, and carbon capturing benefits, while helping ranchers and landowner protect the land they love.

The public comment period on this important conservation proposal ends Friday, December 31—Update! USFWS has extended the deadline for public comment to January 14. The more of us USFWS hears from in support of this proposal, the better!

Learn more about the Dakota Grassland Conservation Area from the Izaak Walton League’s advocacy website and from USFWS’s own fact sheet. Then contact USFWS and tell them you support protecting more Prairie Pothole grasslands and wetlands through the purchase of voluntary easements.

For more information or to provide comments, contact:

  • Lloyd Jones, Wildlife Refuge Manager, Audubon National Wildlife Refuge
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    3275 11th Street NW
    Coleharbor, ND 58531
    701- 442-5474 x111
  • Nick Kaczor, Planning Team Leader, Division of Refuge Planning
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    P.O. Box 25486, DFC
    Denver, Colorado 80225
    303- 236-4387

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