U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Division of Refuge Planning
Mountain-Prairie Region

Completed Plan Contacts

The Service completed this plan
in 2000.




Bismarck Wetlands Acquisition Office
3425 Miriam Avenue
Bismarck, North Dakota 58501

Branch of Land Protection Planning
134 Union Boulevard, Suite 300
Lakewood, Colorado 80228


701 / 250 4415 Bismarck
303 / 236 4345 Lakewood



Land Protection Plan

North Dakota Wildlife Management Area
Grassland Easement Program

North Dakota


This environmental assessment documents the establishment of the North Dakota Wildlife Management Area Grassland Easement Program. This wildlife management area is within the Missouri Coteau located in northwestern to south-central North Dakota. With a 45-percent loss of native prairie, protection is critical for the last remaining large blocks of native, mixed-grass prairie in the Coteau.

The purpose of the grassland easement program is to preserve quality, mixed-grass prairie habitat in the Missouri Coteau by (1) protecting native mixed-grass prairie from agricultural conversion, (2) protecting wetlands from siltation and chemical contamination, and (3) promoting ecosystem management to maintain and enhance the historical biodiversity of native mixed-grass prairie.

  • Established in 2000.
  • Comprises about 3 million acres, of which the Service will acquire easements on 300,000 acres of private land.
  • Located throughout all or part of 17 counties in North Dakota.

The Coteau is a hilly region formed by glacial deposition that lies to the north and east of the Missouri River. Historically, millions of waterfowl nested on the Missouri Coteau, shorebirds stopped over during migration, and grassland songbirds completed their life cycles among a diversity of invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals. Key predators included the plains wolf, coyote, and grizzly bear. Changes include altered fire frequency, increased sediment and pesticide runoff, and the replacement of dominant predators and grazers with red fox, raccoon, skunk, and domestic livestock.

The Service will preserve mixed-grass prairie primarily through the purchase of perpetual grassland easements and associated wetland easements from willing sellers. Occasionally, fee-title transfer and restoration activity may occur.

Image of the plan cover.

Land protection priorities follow:

  • Quality native prairie that provides habitat for waterfowl, nongame migratory birds, and other wildlife.
  • Lower quality grassland that connects and rounds out larger tracts of quality grassland.

Easements restrict grazing, permit haying after July 15 each year, and prohibit plowing the prairie. All land with easements remains in private ownership; therefore, property tax, invasive plant control, and control of public access remains the responsibility of the landowner.


Environmental assessment
Environmental assessment 2000 (1 MB PDF)