Ducks Unlimited and NRCS create program to improve soil and restore grasslands in the Great Plains

New five-year partnership aims to regenerate native vegetation and revitalize rotational livestock grazing practices in eastern South Dakota.

BISMARCK, ND. – June 3, 2022 – Ducks Unlimited (DU) will lead a new partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to help farmers and ranchers improve soil health, restore grasslands and improve rotational livestock grazing infrastructure in eastern South Dakota.

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) approved the five-year "Scaling Soil Health in the Prairie Pothole Region" project, which will receive funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The RCPP partnership includes 20 conservation partners across South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana, creating a $17 million investment in prairie working lands. 

"We’re excited about the unique opportunities this partnership with the RCPP provides to the region's natural resources," said Bruce Toay, manager of conservation programs for Ducks Unlimited in South Dakota. "We're hoping this new program helps all the project partners improve the landscape for generations to come, while at the same time, provide a valuable service to local agricultural producers."

The project will enable the integration of cover crops and small grains into reduced tillage cropping systems and the restoration of large tracts of native grassland. Livestock grazing infrastructure assistance for things like fencing and water development will also be available.

"The ability to effectively manage grassland and cropland systems with rotation livestock grazing is critical and often a limiting factor to building soil health and retaining grassland and wetland systems on working lands," said Toay. 

The project will provide financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers through Ducks Unlimited’s Great Plains conservation staff. The RCPP partnership will also collect on-site environmental and economic data over the five-year term to define project outcomes specific to this region and prioritize connections between farmers and ranchers to help advance local soil health education and mentorship opportunities. 

Farmers and ranchers interested in this new opportunity can reach out to Bruce Toay at 605-380-0684 (or btoay@ducks.org) for additional details or to request an application. At this time, there are a limited number of enrollment positions open for this program and initial applications are due by June 17, 2022.

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


Media Contact:
Ben Romans
(208) 761-7775
bromans@ducks.org