Grasslands, whether in the form of pastureland, rangeland, or various conservation program or habitat lands are important ecosystems that provide a variety of goods and services such as:
- forage for livestock
- wildlife habitat
- pollinator habitat
- plant diversity
- hydrologic function for ground water recharge
- nutrient cycling
- carbon storage
- water filtration and sediment capture
- soil conservation and soil building
- open space for aesthetic value
It is the responsibility of the grassland manager to apply the proper tools, techniques, and management to achieve the desired set of goods and services. The goods (e.g., livestock, hay, fee hunting) are supported by well-established economic markets while services (e.g., nutrient cycling, water quality) are generally supported by governmental conservation incentive programs.
The goal of the Coalition and its partners is to help you, the private grassland manager, understand the value of these goods and services and how to navigate the complex conservation policies surrounding incentivized conservation programs. Science and management must be at the heart of such policy debates. The Coalition is at the forefront in helping local, state, and federal agencies guide these important policy discussions to ensure grasslands continue to provide such goods and services in the future.
The Healthy Grasslands article series is provided by the South Dakota Grassland Coalition in partnership with SDSU Extension. Contributing editors: Sandy Smart (SDSU Extension Rangeland Management Specialist), Pete Bauman (SDSU Extension Range Field Specialist), and Joshua Lefers (South Dakota Grassland Coalition Board Member, 2015–2017). © South Dakota Grassland Coalition 2017. View the full document for more information.