Ranchers and grassland birds both depend on healthy grass and water. Populations of grassland birds have experienced greater declines than any other avian group. Moreover, ducks and other waterfowl are the focus of great interest, with many of their populations below desired levels. Loss of grasslands and wetlands, and the resulting habitat fragmentation, are behind these population declines.
Despite the recent upturn in cattle prices, ranchers in the Dakotas and Montana face ﬁnancial hurdles. New drought-tolerant, herbicide resistant crop varieties, efﬁcient farm implements, high commodity prices, and the ﬁnancial safety net afforded crop producers have stimulated the conversion of grassland to cropland. Consequently, grassland available to ranchers is increasingly scarce and expensive.
Ducks Unlimited (DU), the USDI Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and other partners in the region have joined with ranchers who want to protect their wetlands and grasslands for livestock, wildlife, and future generations.