Ducks Unlimited (DU) has begun restoration work on the 524-acre Summit Ag Fund property in Sanborn County. As part of DU's Revolving Land Program, DU purchased the important waterfowl habitat property, seven miles southeast of Woonsocket, along with the 160-acre Bennett property, which is three miles northwest of Letcher.
This area of Sanborn County contains a rich network of wetland habitats that attract large numbers of breeding waterfowl when water conditions are suitable. These two properties are located in the middle of the James River Lowlands, a landscape dotted with numerous, shallow wetland habitats. During wet years, this landscape attracts large numbers of breeding waterfowl. The James River Lowlands is located in the heart of the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR), the most important waterfowl-breeding habitat in North America.
"Sanborn County is very important to breeding waterfowl, and we hope improving the habitat on these two properties will lead to further opportunities to restore and protect other important waterfowl habitat in this area," said Steve Donovan, DU's South Dakota manager of conservation programs. DU is in initial talks with other landowners in the area who are interested in pursuing habitat projects on their own lands.
With the Revolving Land Program, DU acquires from willing landowners suitable properties with a high capacity to support breeding waterfowl.
The Summit Ag Fund property contains more than 50 small, seasonal wetlands, most of which have been drained. DU will restore all of these wetlands and convert the cropland to native prairie. DU will protect with perpetual easements both the Summit and Bennett properties. Once restored and protected, Revolving Land Program properties are sold at public auction to conservation-minded buyers. While owned by DU, all of the properties are open to public.
Projects like these will play a key role in DU's ability to realize its long-term goals of protecting important waterfowl-breeding habitat in the PPR.