About the Huron District

Sanborn County Wetlands Aerial View

The Huron Wetland Management District is a haven for migratory birds and other wildlife. Glaciers that once covered the landscape formed the many lakes, wetlands, and rivers throughout the District. District staff are responsible for managing tracts of land called Waterfowl Production Areas. Grassland and Wetland Easements also encompass a large portion of the Huron district. Together these lands provide quality habitat to numerous species of wildlife.

Huron Wetland Management District (WMD)

Huron WMD was created on May 31, 1992. The district was established encompassing lands that were previously under the management of both the Lake Andes and Sand Lake Wetland Management Districts. The Huron WMD covers eight counties in east-central South Dakota and is headquartered in the town of Huron, South Dakota. The District consists of 59 Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs), totaling 17,683 fee owned acres, in Beadle, Sanborn, Jerauld, Hand, Hyde, Hughes, Sully, and Buffalo counties. The topography in the eastern counties of the district is relatively flat. The landscape transitions, as you move further south and west, to the Missouri Coteau slope. The Missouri Coteau is the rolling hills that were formed by glacial till as glaciers receded after the ice ages. The District lies in the midst of the world renowned "prairie pothole" region (PPR). The PPR is named for the millions of depressional wetlands dispersed throughout the landscape. Millions of waterfowl and shorebirds travel through and nest in the PPR. .

The Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA's) are a part of the National Wildlife Refuge System. National wildlife refuges and WPA's are vitally important to wildlife and people. These lands are managed to provide habitat for endangered species, migratory birds, and other wildlife They also provide places for people to hunt, fish, learn about, and enjoy wildlife. WPA's are open to many public activities year-round. Access to WPA's is by foot travel only or vehicles in the designated parking areas.  For a complete list of regulations please see the South Dakota Waterfowl Production Areas Public Use Regulations.  Visitors to WPA's can expect to find a rich variety of plant and animal life. WPA's are not open for overnight camping. Camping sites and cabins are available at one of the many South Dakota Game Fish and Parks campgrounds located throughout the state.

The District staff also works with private landowners to administer the wetland easement and grassland easement programs. The Huron WMD easement program consists of 308,909 acres of wetlands and grassland that are permanently protected. Each year the number of acres protected grows with the help of willing landowners who sign their lands into easements. 

History

The Huron WMD is a mixture of prairie grasses and shallow wetlands. An abundance of wildlife call these areas home. Buffalo, pronghorn antelope, whitetail deer, ducks, and geese were here in great numbers. Both Native Americans and white settlers depended on the wildlife in this area for food and other uses. As settlement of the prairies accelerated, settlers looked for ways to increase production of row crops. Thus, the drainage of prairie pothole wetlands began. The drainage of wetlands continued unabated until the adverse impacts were very evident. Wildlife numbers began to decline and flooding increased downstream. The combination of drainage, unregulated sport hunting, market hunting, and collecting feathers for the fashion industry had disastrous effects across the landscape. In response, the United States Congress appropriated funding to stop the destruction of wetlands, vital tot he survival of migratory birds. Thus the Duck Stamp Act of 1934 was born. The act requires all waterfowl hunters ages 16 and over to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp annually. The majority of the Waterfowl Production Areas and Service easements would not exist today without the funding from sales of the Federal Duck Stamp. Every person who buys a Federal Duck Stamp is lending a helping hand to habitat conservation in America.