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Farm Conservation Plans - a "Mini-Joint Venture"
Wetland and Grassland Restoration in Stutsman County

Farm Conservation Plan #1

A Stutsman County landowner’s first introduction to the North Dakota Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program involved implementing a mini-joint venture rotational grazing system on a 621-acre pasture he owned and a 160-acre Waterfowl Production Area owned and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This rotational grazing system provides additional grazing land for the landowner’s cattle and allows a pasture to be ungrazed for a season. By allowing a season of rest, nesting habitat is improved on the entire 781 acres. The North Dakota Partners Program provided funding towards the purchase of necessary fencing materials.

After recognizing the benefits this system provided, increased weight gains to his calves and improved health of the grass in his pastures, the landowner expanded the grazing system. He seeded 81 acres of marginal cropland back to grass and included it in the grazing system, and he restored a 0.7-acre wetland. Again, the Partners Program provided cost-share for these projects.

A year later, the landowner planted another 134 acres of cropland back to grass and added them to the original grazing system. The Partners Program cost-shared for grass seed. As with the other projects, the landowner provided in-kind services such as field preparation, spraying, grass drill rental, and post seeding weed control. These in-kind services have since been used as matching dollars to apply for a North American Wetland Conservation Act Grant which provides funding for other wildlife projects in the Chase Lake Prairie Project Area.

Mini-Joint Venture Grazing System

map showing the grazing management plan 1996
May 1 - May 27
May 28 - June 16
June 17 - July 16
July 17 - August 13
Cell #
1
2
3
WPA
1997
May 1 - May 20
May 21 - June  19
June 20 - July 16
July 17 - August 13
Cell #
2
3
5
1
1998
May 1 - May 29
May 30 - June 25
June 26 - July 23
July 24 - August 13
Cell #
3
5
1
2
1999
May 1 - May 26
May 27 - June 23
June 24 - July 14
July 15 - August 13
Cell #
5
1
2
WPA
2000 same as 1996
2001 same as 1997
2002 same as 1998
2003 same as 1999
2004 same as 1996
2005 same as 1997
WPA grazed in 1996 instead of cell #5
WPA grazed in 1999 instead of cell #3
WPA grazed in 2002 instead of cell #2
WPA grazed in 2005 instead of cell #1
*The area that was seeded to grass in cell #4 is hayed every year. This cell is grazed at least 10 days per year, after hay is removed, utilizing native grasses surrounding the grass seeding.

cumulative land use mapMost recently, the landowner has sold perpetual wetland and grassland easements to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to preserve this valuable wildlife habitat. A total of 89.6 wetland acres and 658 grassland acres will be protected indefinitely, providing wildlife habitat and cattle grazing land for his grandsons.

"I have grandsons that may want to farm and ranch when they grow up. I think that taking care of the land, managing it properly, and utilizing the opportunities offered by the Partners Program will allow them to succeed in farming this land and enjoy the wildlife that use this land."


Farm Conservation Plan #2

wetland/grassland easements mapWith the success and benefits the landowner achieved with his projects, his son and daughter-in-law decided to implement Partners for Fish and Wildlife projects on their land too. They owned two sections of land and wanted to make long-term changes to the land to provide needed income for their family. They sat down with Partners biologists and developed a conservation plan.

The son had 92 acres of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) grasslands that was going to expire. He didn’t want to re-enroll this land into CRP because he needed additional pastureland for his cattle. The North Dakota Wetlands Trust provided funding for fence materials to build a boundary fence around this quarter section, and the Partners Program paid to permanently restore four wetland basins covering 7.1 acres. In addition, Ducks Unlimited paid to restore seven wetland basins covering 4.8 acres for a 10-year period on other CRP grassland acres. To top it all off, the son and his wife sold a perpetual wetland easement on the entire two sections of land and perpetual grassland easement on 342 acres of native prairie grasslands.


Summary

Both Farm Conservation Plans are fine examples of landowners taking the opportunity to utilize the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and management of a Waterfowl Production Area to make significant changes to their lands. Partners for Fish and Wildlife was able to restore and enhance valuable wetland and grassland habitat for wildlife on private lands while providing needed financial and technical assistance to the landowners.


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