South Dakota: Goebel Ranch

The Goebel Ranch is located in the heart of the Prairie Pothole Region and is nestled in a portion of the Missouri Coteau where, on average, more than 100 pairs of ducks per square mile settle and breed each year. The ranch and surrounding prairie landscape contain thousands of shallow, seasonal wetlands that are ideal for duck production.

Ducks Unlimited, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, protected the wetlands and grasslands on the Goebel Ranch with perpetual easements while also continuing the tradition of grazing cattle on the property. In cooperation with USFWS, DU restored or enhanced 20 drained or degraded wetland basins on the ranch, totaling 83.5 acres.

Since 2000, the Goebel Ranch has served as a research station and educational site where hundreds of DU volunteers, local ranchers, conservationists and others have learned about the benefits of maintaining a healthy native prairie ecosystem.

Biologists have banded more than 25,000 ducks on the ranch and more than 1,700 have been recovered by hunters. Band recoveries have occurred in 31 states, four Canadian provinces, four Caribbean countries and eight Central and South American countries. Banding activities are currently ongoing on the ranch.

Originally, DU owned 9,455 acres of the property. In 2012, DU sold 7,300 acres to area cattlemen who will continue to implement grazing practices that are beneficial to waterfowl and maintaining native prairie ecosystem. DU will retain ownership of 2,200 acres of the Goebel Ranch, allow public hunting access and maintain access to sites dedicated to DU sponsors. Duck banding efforts will continue on the portions of the ranch DU currently owns. DU also negotiated a 20 year research access agreement with the current landowners to continue duck banding and waterfowl habitat research.

Partners: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited and its Major Donors