Dakota Country Magazine October 2016 Edition - Page 75

to 1 million PLOTS acres, but from what we know and what our hunters are telling us, they don’t want 1 million acres of marginal PLOTS. They want quality habitat and they want it in the right locations,” said a statement from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. The Walk-In Area program works to maintain South Dakota’s hunting heritage by providing public hunting access to privately-owned lands that contain valuable wildlife habitat. The landowner opens the land to free public hunting, (foot-traffic only) in exchange for a small payment and immunity from non-negligent liability. Landowners with land enrolled in permanent habitat conservation programs like CRP can receive an additional upfront bonus payment by opening it to public hunting for multiple years. Since 1988, GFP has worked cooperatively with landowners to provide hunting access on privately owned lands. This program currently has more than 1.2 million acres enrolled with 112,000 undisturbed habitat acres working in partnership with over 1,300 landowners. South Dakota also maintains other public hunting opportunities like Controlled Hunting Access Program (CHAP), the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), and the recent Habitat Pays, a direct results of Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s 2013 Habitat Summit. The positive support from landowners allows officials like Devney to make a strong case for inclusion of the WWPP in the next farm bill. Most of the time, farmers have confronted punishment for draining wetlands. Wetland drainage continues liberally unabated in areas of the Dakotas, pushing water problems onto someone else downstream. In fact, there’s a huge backlog of wetland determination requests at the offices of the NRCS in North Dakota. It could take years to resolve most of the request s. The drainage, say farmers, is needed to make up for crop losses. Preserving them, with compensation, is a better alternative, Devney says. “These wetlands are valuable,” he said, “but they’re not being www.dakotacountrymagazine.com compensated for.” By late summer, working with NRCS, the WWPP program had 124 contracts covering nearly 9,400 wetlands on 4.8 million acres in North Dakota. Devney emphasized the importance of these small wetlands, not only for waterfowl and water quality, but for conservation. He said that small wetlands conserve 0.7 acre-feet of water per acre of wetland, meaning that water won’t end up in lake basins. Also, Devney summarized, these wetlands also hold 89 pounds of nitrogen and 1.7 pounds of phosphorous per acre, benefits that affect many more people than just hunters. Landowner makes large contribution Making welcome news late last summer was the 20,000 contiguous acres of land signed into the PLOTS program by the Richard Angus Ranch in far western North Dakota. It represents the largest amount of ever offered into the program. Landowners Byron and Kathy Richard purchased a large tract of land a year ago north of Beach, with the vision of creating a cattle and conservation acreage. Bryon soon realized he had a relative paradise in that land, supporting everything from miles of creek water, high bluffs, open range and abundant wildlife. His thoughts turned to conservation. To assist in managing and supporting the massive amount of land, numerous groups, along with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, signed on. They included the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Pheasants Forever, the Wild Turkey Federation and the Mule Deer Foundation. These Reeder Community Center RENTALS: • Lodging (14) Rooms Available • Great Fishing, close to Bowman-Haley Dam • Family Reunions • Wedding Receptions • Sports • Concerts • Hunting • Corporate Meetings • Retreats • Birthday Parties • Educational Classes 701-853-2311 302 4th St • PO Box 244 • Reeder, ND 58649 rcclodge@ndsupernet.com LUND Catch of the Year! Rebates up to $2500! 1440 N. Garfield www.pierresportscenter.com Pierre, South Dakota (605) 224-5546 Dakota Country, October 2016, Page 75