BROOKINGS, S.D. - SDSU Extension recently released its new land use report, Quantifying Undisturbed (Native) Lands in Eastern South Dakota: 2013, which takes a comprehensive look at all historic and current land use in eastern South Dakota in regard to native or virgin sod that potentially remains.
"This project was initiated in response to the continued conversion of grasslands for cropping and other uses and the multiple reports that have been published in recent years focused on land use," said Peter Bauman, SDSU Extension Range Field Specialist.
Bauman has coordinated the project over the last two and a half years. "What had been missing from previous reports is a specific look at the impacts to truly native habitats - those habitats that had never been cropped or otherwise converted from their natural state," Bauman said. "We have a great team of people working on this project, and the results are meant to inform all land managers as to the status of this irreplaceable natural resource. We can shift acres into and out of programs like CRP and other similar programs, but we cannot re-create truly native grasslands."
What the report said about South Dakota Native Grasslands
Only 24 percent of eastern South Dakota remains in native grassland and woodland habitats according to the SDSU report.
Counties near the Missouri River have a higher density of native grasslands than do those in the rich farm country in the southeast part of the state. The SDSU report contains charts and maps for each county as well as a thorough description of methods utilized in the inventory.
The eastern South Dakota report is part of a continuing statewide evaluation on the status of native habitats by SDSU and has received funding support by federal, state, and non-government organizations.
To view the complete report visit iGrow and search the term 'eastern South Dakota land use.' Maps, charts, and other data can be accessed at the Open PRAIRIE website with the same search term as above.