The tallgrass prairie is widely considered one
of North Americas most threatened ecosystems. Less than 4% of this globally unique
grassland remains intact. Over 100 species of butterflies, 30 species of reptiles and
amphibians, 50 species of mammals, and 250 bird species are known to breed in or use the
tallgrass prairies of the Dakotas. The South Dakota Partners Program has made tallgrass
prairie restoration, enhancement, and protection one of its highest priorities.
We recently joined with a
host of local partners to initiate a 3-year, $500,000 effort to accelerate tallgrass
prairie conservation throughout northeastern South Dakota. The primary goal of the project
is to benefit both wildlife and livestock by working with ranchers to restore and enhance
grasslands. Accomplishment estimates for this cooperative effort include over 7,000 acres
of beneficial grazing systems, over 1,300 acres of restored grasslands, and 35 wetland
developments. This project will focus on the mutual goals shared by wildlife conservation
interests and family ranchers-- a shared vision of sustainable grassland management and
tallgrass prairie conservation for future generations.