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About the Huron District

Sanborn County Wetlands Aerial View

The Huron WMD is a haven for migratory birds and other wildlife.  Glaciers that once covered the landscape formed the many lakes and wetlands and rivers in the District. The District staff are responsible for managing small patches of lands and waters called Waterfowl Production Areas and wetland and grassland easements in the eight county district. 

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 WMDs.  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 62 Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs), totaling 17,574 fee owned acres, in Beadle, Sanborn, Jerauld, Hand, Hyde, Hughes, Sully, and Buffalo counties. The district topography in the eastern counties is relatively flat.  The landscape transitions, as you move further south and west, to the Southern Missouri Coteau slope.  The Southern Missouri Coteau Slope is the rolling hills that were formed of glacial till as glaciers receded after the ice ages. The District lies in the midst of the world renowned "prairie pothole" region.

The public lands of Huron WMD, called waterfowl production areas (WPAs), are a part of the National Wildlife Refuge System. National wildlife refuges and WPAs are vitally important to wildlife and people. These lands are managed to provide habitat for endangered species, migratory birds, and other wildlife and to provide places for people to learn about and enjoy wildlife. WPAs are open to many public activities year-round. Access to WPAs is by foot travel only or vehicles in designated parking areas.  For a complete list of regulation please see the South Dakota Waterfowl Production Areas Public Use Regulations.  Visitors to WPAs can expect to find a rich variety of plant and animal life.  WPAs are not open for overnight camping but camping sites and cabins are located on some South Dakota Game Fish and Parks lands within the management district.

The District staff also administers wetland easements and grassland easement programs with private landowners within Beadle, Buffalo, Hand, Hughes, Hyde, Jerauld, Sanborn and Sully counties. The wetland easement program consists of 89,800 acres of wetlands that are protected from drainage. The grassland easement program protects 167,200 acres of grasslands from plowing.  



The Huron WMD is a mixture of prairie grasses and shallow wetlands, this mixture is also well known for abundant wildlife.  Buffalo, pronghorn antelope, ducks, and geese were here in great numbers.  Both American Indians and white settlers depended on the wildlife in this area for food and other uses.  As settlement of the prairie accelerated, settlers looked for way to increase production of crops.  Thus, the drainage of prairie wetlands began.
Drainage of wetlands continued unabated until the adverse impacts were very evident.  Wildlife declined and flooding increased downstream due to drainage of wetlands.  In response to the disastrous effects that the drainage of wetlands was having on ducks and other wildlife, the United States Congress appropriated funding for the protection of prairie wetlands.  Thus the Duck Stamp Office was born and helped protect these important resources.  The majority of the lands and easements owned and managed by the Huron WMD would not exist today without appropriated fund from duck stamps. Even today hunters, birdwatcher and collectors of Duck Stamps help the USFWS purchase refuge lands, WPAs, and easements.



Page Photo Credits — Sanborn County wetlands aerial view, USFWS
Last Updated: Aug 26, 2014
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