Diverse native grassland communities once dominated nearly the entire state of South Dakota. Grassland conversion, invasive species encroachment, and poor land use practices have made native prairies rare and what remain are often times of low quality. High quality native prairie vegetation is extremely valuable to many game prairie species such as sharp tailed grouse, greater prairie chicken, all waterfowl, and pheasants. A large variety of non game species such and bobolink, lark bunting, western meadowlark and dicksissel are highly dependent on native prairie vegetation. The high diversity of plants in a properly managed native prairie provides excellent nesting and brood rearing habitat for upland nesting species. Aesthetically, few scenes can match a native prairie with its kaleidoscope of yellows, purples, whites, reds, and blues.
Several different techniques can be used to create or restore sites to native prairie vegetation. In cropland, a diverse grass/forb mix can be seeded to create a native plant community. In existing degraded pasture prescribed fire, managed grazing, and chemical rehabilitation can all be used to bring back native plant species currently dominated by exotic species such as smooth brome, Kentucky bluegrass, crested wheatgrass. Often native grass and forbs are also inter-seeded into treated prairie to bring back some native species that may have been lost. Several cost share options are available through SD GFP and USFWS to improve or create native plant communities on your property.
- If you are interested in creating or restoring native prairie vegetation on your property please contact your nearest SD GFP private lands biologist.