South Dakota Partners for Fish and Wildlife
Project Profile: PFW and USDA - A Wetland Restoration Partnership that Works for Everyone
Contact: Kurt Forman (605) 697-2500
For over 15 years the South Dakota Partners for Fish and Wildlife (PFW) program has partnered with the USDA and private landowners to restore wetlands on farms enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The PFW Wildlife Extension Agreement in Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge provides just one from hundreds of such examples. This project was completed in association with a larger ongoing initiative to restore wetlands within CRP grasslands. Primary partners in this ongoing wetland restoration effort include Ducks Unlimited Inc., the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks. Over the past 15 years this statewide partnership has resulted in 520 wetland restorations totaling 2,313 acres.
The Lake Andes project was completed by PFW staff stationed at the Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge. Two wetlands totaling 7.4 acres were restored in association with a new CRP contract. A PFW biologist worked closely with the landowner and USDA staff to complete the wetland restorations. The wetlands had previously been drained by a surface drainage ditch. Wetland hydrology was restored by installing earthen ditch plugs at the outlet portion of the drainage ditches directly adjacent to the wetland basin.
The project was completed in the heart of the Prairie Pothole Region and will provide immediate breeding and migration habitat for a wide variety of federal trust species (threatened, endangered, or other species of concern), including mallards, northern pintails, gadwalls, wood ducks, blue-winged teal and a variety of shorebirds such as the American avocet. 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 notably, restoring wetlands in CRP tracts creates a critical mix of shallow wetlands and dense grasslands, which provides ideal habitat for duck reproduction. The CRP grasslands host high densities of duck nests and the adjacent wetlands provide critical cover and food for new duck broods. In addition, during the spring and fall, the same shallow wetlands also provide migration habitat and critical food sources for waterfowl and shorebirds migrating throughout the continent. This important ecosystem is now restored, enhanced and preserved for the benefit of native species, and for generations to come.