In 1958, Congress amended the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act (the Duck Stamp Act), which authorized the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Small Wetland Acquisition Program. Under this program, the Service has protected well over 2 million acres of wetland and grassland habitat, mostly in the duck producing areas of the Dakotas.
In the Kulm Wetland Management District, nearly 1,600 wetland easements protect over 113,000 acres. Wetland easements are signed agreements with private landowners to permanently protect valuable wetlands. The landowner receives a one-time payment; protected wetland basins cannot be drained, burned, filled, or leveled. When these wetlands naturally dry up, they can be farmed, grazed or hayed. The land remains in private ownership, remains on the tax rolls, and the landowner controls access.
To learn more about wetland easements, please visit this link.
Vast grasslands once covered much of North America. Settlement, agriculture and development have reduced prairie grassland habitats to small isolated patches of grasslands. Loss of grassland is detrimental to wildlife as well as people. Grasslands help reduce soil erosion by wind and water, filter chemicals which help protect water supplies, and trap snow and rain to recharge our ground water. Grasslands provide forage for livestock as well as valuable habitat for food, cover and nesting sites for many species of migratory birds and wildlife.
The Kulm Wetland Management District is very active in trying to protect these remaining grasslands by acquiring grassland easements from willing landowners. Since 1995, we have acquired 130 easements protecting over 47,000 acres of native prairie and seeded grasslands. Grassland easements are signed agreements with landowners to permanently keep land in grass. The majority of these easements are usually areas that exhibit steep and rocky topography considered by many to be marginal land for crop production and are best suited for livestock pastures. Landowners receive significant payments to keep these grasslands intact. Grassland easements restrict landowners from cultivating and/or developing these areas, and delay mowing, haying and seed harvesting until July 15 of each year. This restriction helps grassland nesting species to complete their nesting before the grass is disturbed. Grazing is not restricted in any way.
To learn more about grassland easements please visit the following website:
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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service