The grasslands of the northern Great Plains cover an area of approximately 180 million acres across Montana, Nebraska, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. This vast area is shaped by a diverse geologic history resulting in a complex matrix of soils, ranging from highly permeable sandhills to glaciated "pothole" wetland prairie to highly arid badlands.
America's Great Outdoors: Grasslands of the Northern Plains
Throughout the region, individual federal agencies have made substantial investments in long-term efforts to promote sustainable agriculture, water management, soil conservation and the protection and restoration of wetlands, grasslands, and wildlife habitat. For example, in 2011 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) and conservation partners invested $21.4 million for grassland restoration and migratory bird habitat protection in North and South Dakota. In the dryland working lands of the Northwestern Plains, the Bureau of Land Management has invested $1 million to complete a landscape ecosystem assessment. And in Nebraska's Rainwater Basin, the Service and NRCS invest approximately $2 million annually in the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture and Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program to deliver wetland and grassland conservation projects to support water management and key avian species dependent on this region.
While land and water managers share overarching goals for the region - the conservation of species and the preservation of a way of life - federal agencies can be better partners to local communities by more thoroughly coordinating investments and authorities and by working with partners to describe a more cohesive landscape-scale conservation vision. Our focus in 2012 will be on strengthening that coordination where it exists and working across agencies and with partners to define a shared vision to anchor coordinated action in the years to come.
To read more about the Northwest Plains, Dakota Grasslands and Rainwater Basin, click on the red outlined areas below.
To read the special Summer 2012 issue of The All-Bird Bulletin, the newsletter of the U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) Committee, whose current issue is dedicated to North American prairie ecosystem challenges and conservation, click here.