North Dakota Partners for Fish and Wildlife
Project Profile: Wetlands Help this Cowboy Keep More Range!
Contact: Scott McLeod, (701) 355-8526
The Prairie Pothole Region is an area of tallgrass and midgrass prairie in the northern United States and southern Canada that contains thousands of shallow, seasonal wetlands known as potholes, which were created through glaciation. Most of the shallow potholes are not connected to surface streams, therefore the water arrives via spring snowmelt. This Partners for Fish and Wildlife (PFW) project in North Dakota established three new wetlands totaling 15.4 acres to provide wildlife habitat, and provide the landowner partner needed livestock water sources in order to maintain 480-acres of expired Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land as grass, rather than convert it to crop production.
The many wildlife benefits provided by created wetlands are well documented. They have been credited with providing important breeding and migratory habitat for a variety of waterfowl, shorebirds, marsh and wading birds, especially when the Prairie Pothole Region is suffering drought conditions. The North Dakota Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program (NDPFW) cooperative efforts with West River region ranchers have resulted in less grassland being converted to crop production; this project is an excellent example of this.
The NDPFW, with funding from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), and Ducks Unlimited, Inc. helped to accomplish this project along with a 30-year agreement with the landowner. NDPFW cooperated with the rancher to create three new wetlands that benefit wildlife and provide his livestock with necessary water sources. The rancher explained that had it not been for our program, he could not have put the 480-acres of restored land into livestock production. This has been a common story in the West River region. Since 1998, the NDPFW has established over 3,000 acres of wetlands in the West River region of North Dakota.
Besides keeping land as grass for livestock production, the wetlands provide important benefits in attenuating flood events and reducing runoff of sediment and agricultural chemicals that can adversely affect downstream fisheries and resources. The wetlands also provide important habitat for waterfowl, especially migratory shorebirds and wading birds. The value of these projects in keeping the surrounding land as grass for livestock production means grassland habitat is maintained for a large variety of grassland birds, including marbled godwits, many species of sparrows, bobolinks, Sprague's pipits, ferruginous hawks, and sharp-tailed grouse. Generations will now be able to enjoy the preserved grassland, and the wildlife that comes with the grassland.