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ABERDEEN WAO ACHIEVES MILESTONE
Mountain-Prairie Region, February 1, 2005
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You can?t blame the staff at the Aberdeen, S.D. Wetlands Acquisition Office if they ?feel like a million.? Because that's the number of acres of habitat they?ve preserved in northeastern South Dakota. The milestone was reached in February 2005, after 45 years of efforts by former and current staff members. The breakdown goes like this: 514,000 acres in grassland easements; an additional 52,000 acres of tallgrass prairie easements; 87,000 acres of fee title purchases; and 348,000 acres of wetlands easements.

Project leader Pat Russell says the emphasis in the early years was on protecting wetlands, by purchasing them outright or buying easements. ?But our numbers have grown by leaps and bounds since we started acquiring grassland easements about 15 years ago.? Russell explains the popularity of the grassland easements this way: ?Landowners like this program because it doesn?t take away any significant rights. they can still hay and graze these lands plus receive compensation from us.?

Can the 2-million mark be far off?

Contact Info: Kenneth Torkelson, 701-355-8528, kenneth_torkelson@fws.gov
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