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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Southern Great Plains - More Information

Background information on DU's Southern Great Plains region
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Importance to other wildlife

Within the SGP, the playa lakes winter over 90% of the mid-continent population of lesser sandhill cranes (Iverson et al. 1985, Tacha et al. 1994). Endangered whooping cranes migrate directly through the SGP region and occasionally stop to rest and forage, while wetlands throughout the SGP are heavily used by spring and fall migrant shorebirds (Bolen et al. 1989, Fischer et al. 1982). Playas, Hackberry Flat, and Cheyenne Bottoms are important stopover sites for and undetermined but large number of American avocets, Wilson's phalaropes, Baird's, buff-breasted, and semipalmated sandpipers and other species. Avocets, Wilson's phalaropes, snowy plovers, long-billed curlews and mountain plovers breed in this region. Grasslands in this region offer some of the better remaining habitat for greater prairie chickens and Henslow's sparrows. This region provides breeding habitat for most of the endangered interior least tern population in North America.

Conservation programs

The SGPs conservation region takes in two NAWMP Joint Ventures - the Playa Lakes (PLJV) and the Rainwater Basin (RBJV). The PLJV has an objective to protect 20,639 ha, restore 4,047 ha and enhance an additional 10,117 ha. To date, the PLJVhas accomplished about 20% of their protection objective, 80% of their restoration objective and 38% of their enhancement objective. The RBJV has objectives to protect, restore, or create an additional 10,125 ha of wetlands, provide reliable water sources for a minimum of 33% of protected wetlands, and development and implementation of strategies that maximize wetland values to wildlife.

The causes of habitat loss and the biological consequences in both joint ventures are similar. Over-crowding of birds leads to disease outbreaks. Consequently, conservation programs of DU and its partners are similar throughout the SGP. Essentially, the over-riding needs are to protect existing wetlands, restore and/or enhance wetlands, and where feasible, provide a reliable source of water to assure availability of wetland habitat.

DU's participation in this region presently is focused on cooperating with state, federal and private partners to provide technical assistance related to wetland engineering, design and development and financial assistance with wetland development (Hackberry Flat, McPherson Valley Wetlands). DU does not currently have the financial or human resources to become extensively involved in delivery of a private lands program in the SGP conservation region. The Continental Conservation Plan identifies DU's future role in this region as cost-sharing habitat protection and enhancement activities and support of research on disease etiology, moist soil management of playas and winter mortality; and supporting resource policy issues that protect and enhance wetlands and associated uplands.


  • Protect, restore, enhance, and manage wetland and waterfowl habitat throughout the region with particular emphasis on the objectives of the Rainwater Basin JV and Playa Lakes JV.
  • Maintain and administer completed projects in the SGP, totaling over 3,343 ha as of March 1, 2000.
  • Protect, restore, or enhance 1,900 ha in the Playa Lakes Joint Venture, 2,000 ha in the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, and additional 1,000 ha within the SGP conservation region but outside of current NAWMP joint venture boundaries during the five years covered by this update.
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