Quail Prairie is a small but very important remnant of the great tallgrass prairies which has been recognized for years as being one of incredible native diversity. A portion of the property that has never been plowed or grazed by livestock has tremendous plant diversity.  Last year, an inventory of the plant diversity was started including a Floristic Quality Index which ranks the quality of the plants on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best.   To date, 163 individual species have been identified and many of those are ranked 8, 9 or 10. Here is a sampling of Quail Prairie.

Jim Madsen, Northern Prairies’ field biologist out of Watertown, South Dakota spent many hours with the landowner helping her identify plants and taking hundreds of photos, and working to convince her that permanent protection of this jewel of a prairie was essential.  In 2008, Quail Prairie was placed under a US Fish and Wildlife Service easement ensuring perpetual preservation. In addition to the plant inventory NPLT has worked with the Bramble Park Zoo’s youth program out of Watertown to sponsor field trips to Quail Prairie to get young kids interested in our native prairies and outdoor experiences.

North American Wetlands Conservation Act Grants Coordinator

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) has provided millions of dollars for preservation of wetlands and grasslands in South Dakota. However, the grant application process is extremely complex and it is estimated that a grant application takes approximately 400 hours and substantial expertise. Northern Prairies has teamed up with the South Dakota Department of Game Fish and Parks to secure the services of Tom Tornow, recently retired from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, to write NAWCA grants and secured the requisite matching funds.

Northern Prairies Provides Public Presentations

In conjunction with the University of South Dakota, Missouri River Institute and the University of Sioux Falls, Northern Prairies sponsored a presentation recently on “The Missouri River Flood of 2011: Causes, Impacts, and Post芳lood Policy Decisions.”

The presentation was given by Professor Tim Cowman of USD, who has extensively studied many aspects of the Missouri River and also spearheaded channel restoration on one of Northern Prairies’ easements.

Professor Emeritus John H Davidson of the University of South Dakota Law School, and President of Northern Prairies, participated in the presentation on preservation and conservation easements entitled “The Land and Its People”. Liz Almlie of the South Dakota Historic Preservation Office also provided the state perspective on preservation, and the presentation was sponsored by the Clay County Historical Preservation Commission. John Davidson’s work was essential to completing the conservation easement on Jerry and Norma Wilson’s historic property near Vermillion, South Dakota.

Landowner Incentive Program Summary
In July of 2004 Northern Prairies Land Trust opened its first South Dakota field office in Watertown.  The financial support came through the Landowner Incentive Program (LIP), a US Fish and Wildlife Service program. The grant was sponsored by the SD Department of Game Fish and Parks, which also provided matching funds.   From the start, creating partnerships and identifying Northern Prairies as a valuable conservation advocate were integral keys to the success of the program.  Over the next 7.5 years we worked closely with many State and Federal agencies and a host of conservation organizations, developing and implementing individual projects with landowners and also but coordinating ideas and concepts with partners to bring innovative and wide scale conservation programs to the tallgrass prairie.

Northern Prairies contacted over 200 landowners and helped implement 250 individual projects.   Included in the vast array of projects were shallow wildlife dams that doubled as stock watering ponds and wildlife habitat,  rotational grazing systems that included water sources and paddock fencing,  restoration of previously drained wetlands,   re-establishment of native grasses and forbs, providing prescribed burns as a grazing management tool, assisting landowners with CRP enrollments and providing mechanisms for landowners to protect sensitive and unique landscapes through the use of long-term and perpetual conservation easements.