Farmers and ranchers who understand the benefits of grasslands to the North Dakota landscape are invaluable. Landowners like Rusty Schultz from Lamoure County, North Dakota, who participate in conservation programs, are an integral part of Ducks Unlimited's effort to conserve grasslands and wildlife.

Rusty recently enrolled in the Natural Resources Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) when his Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contract expired.

"I had a choice to break up the land and gamble on crop prices," Rusty said. "But, I would rather keep my cattle on the land through rotational grazing, which benefits not only livestock, but keeps the native grasslands from becoming over grazed, providing habitat for wildlife."

EQIP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to private landowners who implement voluntary conservation programs on their land.

Rusty worked with Ducks Unlimited's staff to enroll his property in an Outdoor Heritage Fund (OHF) program for Enhanced Grazing and Wildlife Habitat administered by DU.This program allows landowners, like Rusty, to transition expired CRP acres into grass-based working lands with more haying and grazing options.

"Participating in this program has benefited the grassland, wildlife and people of North Dakota. It keeps the habitat intact for wildlife, and provides us an opportunity for hunting on our land, which I hope to pass down to my children one day," Rusty said.