Bown Tract

An important duck-breeding habitat in central South Dakota will remain in grassland and wetlands forever, thanks to an acquisition made in December by Ducks Unlimited.

The 640-acre Bown property, located 20 miles north of Highmore in the Missouri Coteau, contains 22 wetland basins and a diverse stand of native grasses. More than 100 ducks will nest on this property in an average year, and the area is a magnet to northern pintails that depend on shallow ponds and vast grasslands for nesting habitat. Pintail numbers have declined over the last two decades due to the loss of grasslands. Between 2002 and 2005, the Farm Services Agency reports that more than 298,000 acres of native prairie were converted to cropland in North and South Dakota.

DU purchased the property as part of its Pintail Initiative, an ambitious project to maintain and restore habitat for this important species. South Dakota has some of the best pintail breeding areas in North America, and DU supporters from across the country contribute funds towards projects in that state.

After DU conducts any necessary restorations and protects the grasslands and wetlands with perpetual easements, it will sell the land back to the private sector and use the proceeds to purchase another property. In the meantime, DU leases its pastures to local ranchers, because well-managed grazing helps maintain the health and vigor of the grassland.