The Big Dry Arm Spring Storm in the Great Basin Red Cliffs Desert Tortoise Reserve March Morning on the Platte River After a Spring Storm in the Great Basin Hunting Upland Birds at Kingsbury Lake Waterfowl Production Area Sandhill Migration on the Platte River Badlands Sunrise The Green River at Ouray NWR North Park Lupines Moab Sunset
Refuge System - Planning
Mountain-Prairie Region
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Land Protection Plan

Waubay National Wildlife Refuge Complex Land Exchange—South Dakota

Land exchange - key aspects | Documents | Open / close all

Mallard ducks and Canada geese mingle on an icy pond. © Mike Artmann

Mallard ducks and Canada geese mingle on an icy pond. © Mike Artmann

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.

  • Transfers about 3,736 acres in 25 of the Service’s waterfowl production areas to South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks in exchange for about 3,780 acres of the State’s game production areas.
  • Located in 10 counties: Brown, Clark, Codington, Day, Edmunds, Marshall, McPherson, Roberts, Spink, and Walworth.

Completed Plan Contacts

The Service completed this plan in 2010.

District Street Address

Waubay National Wildlife Refuge Complex
44401 134A Street
Waubay, South Dakota 57273

District Telephone

605 / 947 4521

District Email

District Website

Waubay NWR
Waubay WMD

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.

Land exchange - key aspects »

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  • Improve habitat conditions for waterfowl on land holdings of both wildlife management agencies.
  • Trade small parcels of land to the larger landowner where State and Federal lands adjoin, leaving a similar land base acreage but with bigger units.
  • Decrease confusion for the visiting public faced with different boundary signs on areas they perceive as one unit of public land.
  • Continue livestock grazing, where currently occurring on exchange lands, in the same units.
  • Add no additional refuge staff to manage this acquisition.

Documents »

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Environmental assessment
Environmental assessment 2010 (1 MB PDF)

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: November 14, 2019
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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