In northeastern South Dakota, a land exchange to consolidate Service lands will improve the efficiency of managing prime waterfowl habitat—by increasing the size of Waubay National Wildlife Refuge and decreasing the number of waterfowl production areas in the Waubay Wetland Management District.
An environmental assessment documented the Service's analysis of the environmental and social effects of the land exchange.
The land exchange area is in the Prairie Pothole Region, which produces more than half of North America’s waterfowl. Tallgrass prairie and mixed-grass prairie, along with interspersed wetlands, provide important habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.
Tallgrass prairie is the wettest prairie ecosystem in South Dakota and is dominated by plants such as big bluestem, Indiangrass, and purple coneflower. Dominant plants in mixed-grass prairie include western wheatgrass, blue grama, and scarlet globemallow.
More than 250 bird species regularly occur in the area, and about 109 of these species nest there. Canada geese, snow geese, common goldeneye, bufflehead, mergansers, and other waterfowl migrate through in spring and fall. Some of the species that nest in the area are Canada goose, mallard, northern shoveler, and wood duck.
Grassland birds include bobolink, western meadowlark, and grasshopper sparrow. Sharp-tailed grouse nest in the area.
Wetlands associated with grassland attracts a great variety of shorebirds, wading birds, and songbirds such as killdeer, American avocet, great blue heron, black tern, yellow-headed blackbird, and marsh wren.
The uplands and lowlands provide habitat for many small mammals, which are important food resources for red-tailed hawk and other raptors. Eastern fox squirrels are common in the wooded areas. The most common large mammal is white-tailed deer.
Key aspects of the land exchange:
Environmental assessment 2010 (1 MB PDF)