The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a long tradition of scientific excellence and always uses the best-available science to inform its work to conserve fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitat for the benefit of the American public.
Created in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt, today's National Wildlife Refuge System protects habitats and wildlife across the country, from the Alaskan tundra to subtropical wetlands. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Refuge System's 560-plus refuges cover more than 150 million acres and protect nearly 1,400 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.
While national wildlife refuges were created to protect wildlife, they are for people too. Refuges are ideal places for people of all ages to explore and connect with the natural world. We invite you to learn more about and visit the national wildlife refuges and wetland management districts in Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.
The Mountain-Prairie Region's Office of Ecological Services (ES) works to restore and protect healthy populations of fish, wildlife, and plants and the environments upon which they depend. Using the best available science, ES personnel work with Federal, State, Tribal, local, and non-profit stakeholders, as well as private land owners, to avoid, minimize, and mitigate threats to our Nation's natural resources.
Providing leadership in the conservation of migratory bird habitat through partnerships, grants, and outreach for present and future generations. The Migratory Bird Program is responsible for maintaining healthy migratory bird populations for the benefit of the American people.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program in the Mountain-Prairie Region helps conserve, protect, and enhance aquatic resources and provides economically valuable recreational fishing to anglers across the country. The program comprises 12 National Fish Hatcheries.
Law enforcement is essential to virtually every aspect of wildlife conservation. The Office of Law Enforcement contributes to Service efforts to manage ecosystems, save endangered species, conserve migratory birds, preserve wildlife habitat, restore fisheries, combat invasive species, and promote international wildlife conservation.
External Affairs staff in the Mountain-Prairie Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides support to the regional office and field stations to communicate and facilitate information about the Service's programs to the public, media, Congress, Tribes, partners, and other stakeholders in the 8-state region.
Special attention is given by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to proposed developments that may include the modification of wetlands, or stream alteration, or contamination of other important habitats such as riparian (streamside woodlands or shrub) communities, especially if migratory birds or threatened or endangered species could be adversely impacted. During the interagency consultation process (often involving state, other federal, and private agencies) the Service recommends ways to avoid, minimize, rectify, reduce, or compensate for damaging impacts to important or sensitive fish and wildlife resources and their habitats
Project review programs: Legislative Acts and subsequent Amendments, such as the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act of 1958, National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act), Endangered Species Act of 1973, and Executive Orders 11988 (Floodplain Management) and 11990 (Protection of Wetlands) encourage and in some cases mandate the Fish and Wildlife Service involvement in the review of projects or proposals that may impact wetlands. To assist in the review of projects, the Service developed a mitigation policy that involves sequential steps intended to first avoid, then minimize, and finally compensate adverse impacts to natural resources, including wetlands. This sequential approach to minimizing resource impacts allows the vast majority of projects reviewed by the Service to proceed while still providing opportunity to make adjustments that lessen adverse impacts to natural resources.
Regulatory programs: Some national laws, such as the Clean Water Act, have many sections that affect wetlands, with various sections administered by different agencies. The Service provides comments and recommendations to these administrating agencies, both on individual projects and on the development of rules to implement the statutes. The Service comments on regulatory programs are typically constrained to development and implementation of rules that conserve, protect, and enhance natural resources.
Technical assistance programs: The Service, along with other natural resource agencies in South Dakota, participate daily in efforts to exchange information and expertise to benefit wetland resources. These efforts are often collective tasks with private landowners and other agencies or municipalities and many times involve incentives as well as technical assistance.
Incentive programs: The Service administers a variety of programs that cost share, and in some cases, the entire capital cost of projects, to restore, create, enhance, or preserve wetlands. Typically, these projects are constructed in conjunction with private landowners via cooperative agreements and result in improvements to the wetland resource in South Dakota. In order to protect wetland resources for the future, the Service also offers financial incentives to willing landowners to participate in a wetland easement program. This involves a one time payment to the landowner in exchange for an easement that restricts the draining, burning, leveling, or filling of the wetlands. The landowner retains other rights including ownership and agricultural production.
Acquisition programs: The Service manages a wetland acquisition program whereby suitable properties are purchased from willing sellers. Many factors are taken into consideration in the decision to purchase land, including acreage of wetlands, configuration, management capabilities, etc. Often, the involved parties may decide that the Service easements are more appropriate than outright purchase and create an agreement accordingly.