BISMARCK, ND. – April 2, 2022 – In 2017, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) awarded Ducks Unlimited (DU) $4.2 million to create the Prairie Pothole Working Lands Partnership under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The primary goals of the project were to incentivize a suite of short- and long-term voluntary conservation practices on working lands in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana.
The program focused on restoring marginally productive cropland back to perennial native grasses, improving soil health on farmlands by reducing tillage and integrating cover crops, and providing infrastructure to improve livestock rotational grazing capacity to both grassland and farmland production systems. Countless growers and biologists knew these practices achieved the objectives outlined in the plan, which made it a high-demand proposal among growers in the region.
"We wanted to find solutions that worked for landowners that could improve soil health on farms and ranches, improve water quality and retention, and provide habitat for wildlife in the Prairie Pothole Region," says DU Regional Biologist, Abby Rokosch,
DU worked with a variety of other conservation partners and federal agencies like the NRCS and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state agencies like the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, numerous county conservation districts, non-government organizations like The Nature Conservancy and over 100 different farmers and ranchers.
"By bringing together diverse partners and leveraging activities toward a common objective, we can expand our reach and really start to accomplish some ambitious goals," notes Jeff Vander Wilt, Assistant State Conservationist with the NRCS in South Dakota. "That’s one of the primary intentions of the RCPP program."
Financial and technical assistance was available to producers through existing Farm Bill programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), as well as complementary conservation programs provided by RCPP partners. Collectively, the Prairie Pothole Working Lands Partnership spent just over $10 million over the four-year period and benefited over 127,000 acres of grasslands, farmlands, and wetlands.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 15 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.