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Land Protection Plan

Dakota Grassland Conservation Area—North Dakota, South Dakota

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Plan cover with photo of water-filled prairie potholes surrounded by grassland in North Dakota.

The Service has established the Dakota Grassland Conservation Area and will work with private landowners to accelerate the conservation of native prairie — both wetland and grassland habitats — within the Prairie Pothole Region in the eastern parts of North Dakota and South Dakota.

The conservation area is an easement program that will be part of a landscape-scale, strategic habitat conservation effort. The focus is to conserve populations of migratory birds by protecting the unique, highly diverse, and endangered ecosystem known as the Prairie Pothole Region.

  • Land protection with conservation easements bought from willing sellers — 240,000 acres of wetland habitat — 1.7 million acres of critical grassland habitat
  • Project area map (5 MB PDF)

The overall purpose of the proposed Dakota Grassland Conservation Area is to preserve, at a landscape scale, the ecological integrity of the area’s mixed-grass prairie, tallgrass prairie, prairie pothole wetlands, and riparian woodlands with the support of the associated ranching culture. More specifically, the project is designed to do the following:

  • Maintain and enhance the historical native plant, migratory bird, and other wildlife species.
  • Preserve working landscapes based on ranching and livestock operations that support a viable livestock industry.

Completed Plan Contacts

The Service completed this plan in 2011.

Landowners interested in easements may contact these offices.


Wetlands Acquisition Office
3425 Miriam Avenue
Bismarck, North Dakota 58501
701 / 250 4415

Wetlands Acquisition Office
2001 6th Street Southeast, Suite 5
Minot, North Dakota 58701
701 / 852 0318


Wetlands Acquisition Office
200 4th Street Southwest, Room 307
Huron, South Dakota 57350
605 / 352 7014

Sand Lake
Wetlands Acquisition Office
39650 Sand Lake Drive
Columbia, South Dakota 57443
605 / 885 6357


134 Union Boulevard, Suite 300
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
303 / 236 4378

  • Support the recovery and protection of threatened and endangered species and reduce the likelihood of additional listings under the Endangered Species Act.
  • Prevent further habitat fragmentation.
  • Protect an intact north–south migration corridor for grassland-dependent wildlife.
  • Provide a buffer against climate change by providing resiliency for the mixed-grass and tallgrass prairie ecosystems and associated prairie pothole wetlands.
  • Use this ecosystem resiliency to climate variability to ensure the continuation of wildlife habitat in the face of the uncertain effect of climate change.

Conservation easement contracts will specify perpetual protection of habitat for trust species and limits on residential, industrial, or commercial development. Contracts will prohibit alteration of the natural topography, conversion of native grassland to cropland, drainage of wetland, and establishment of game farms.

Easement land will remain in private ownership. Therefore, property tax and invasive plant control will remain the responsibility of the landowner, who also would retain control of public access to the land. Contracts would not restrict grazing on easement land.

Documents »

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Land protection plan (LPP) 2011
Includes the environmental assessment (EA) in appendix C.

By section, for faster download:
Contents, Summary (2 MB PDF)
Chapter 1, Introduction and Project Description (7 MB PDF)
Chapter 2, Area Description and Resources (8 MB PDF)
Chapter 3, Threats to and Status of Resources (3 MB PDF)
Chapter 4, Project Implementation (4 MB PDF)
Appendixes (28 MB PDF)

Draft EA and draft LPP 2011
Draft EA and draft LPP (8 MB PDF)

Planning process documents
News release June 20, 2011
News release December 29, 2010
News release December 1, 2010

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People.
Last modified: January 24, 2017
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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