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About Us

A History of the Partnership

Mission Statement

The goal of the Prairie Coteau Habitat Partnership is to promote a greater appreciation of native tallgrass prairie by educating agencies and landowners on the fire and grazing processes that have shaped the prairie ecosystem.

It is our mission to work with agencies, landowners, and the public to return a more natural fire and grazing regime to the region in a safe, efficient, ecological, and socially sensitive manner via the promotion of economic incentives, conservation programs, VFD partnerships, and education.

Who We Are

The Prairie Coteau Habitat Partnership (PCHP or the Partnership) consists of state, federal, and private conservation organizations and private landowners who are interested in working to conserve and enhance the quality of native pastures and prairies and other grassland habitats in northeast South Dakota and southwest Minnesota. This work is accomplished through the use of prescribed fire, managed grazing, and grassland restoration.

Since its inception, the Partnership has worked with over 50 producers across 12 counties in northeast South Dakota and has burned over 5,000 acres of privately owned grasslands, including native prairie/pasture, CRP, and other habitat program lands.
How We Started

The Prairie Coteau Habitat Partnership began in 2001 with an informal meeting of agencies interested in promoting coordination and cooperation in prescribed fire management, wildland fire response, and technical training in fire management in northeast South Dakota. Since that time, the team has gone through a series of workshops and meetings under the direction of the Fire Learning Network. As a result of this effort, the Partnership has begun to explore innovative ways to promote wildlife habitat, sound grazing management, and economic return on private lands through the use of controlled burning as a management tool.

Having officially formed in 2004, the Partnership has been actively burning on select sites since 2005. These projects have served as demonstration sites with a focus on fire use for pasture rejuvenation, habitat improvement, litter removal, cattle production, grass planting establishment, and research. The Partnership is independently funded through grants and donations.

What We Do

The Partnership’s primary long-term goal is to influence at least 10% or 30,000 acres annually for the improvement of wildlife habitat and corridors. We envision a shifting landscape mosaic with alternative disturbance treatments across project areas, whether burn, rest, or various intensities of grazing.

The Partnership also strives to promote economically viable options for landowners to practice grassland conservation through existing established conservation programs and alternative ideas such as grass banking, prairie seed, and grass-finished beef. Essentially, the premise of the Partnership is to provide leadership through example in order to demonstrate to landowners the positive impacts that fire can provide to their operations.

Where We Are

The Prairie Coteau Habitat Partnership program is currently run out of The Nature Conservancy’s Prairie Coteau Office in Clear Lake, SD. See map on the home page.

Our Qualifications

Individuals performing prescribed fire management under the Prairie Coteau Habitat Partnership are trained professionals.

  • All potential burns are planned by experienced individuals who are knowledgeable in grassland fuels and familiar with the landscape.
  • Burn plans are professionally reviewed to ensure safety and efficiency.
  • Actual burns are conducted by crew(s) consisting of personnel who meet federal and agency training certifications for leadership and participation in a prescribed burn event.

For more information on our training standards or for information on individuals participating in the fire crew, please contact us at 605-874-8517.

The Nature Conservancy’s burn program standards can be viewed at http://www.tncfiremanual.org/req_guide.htm or http://www.tncfiremanual.org/index.htm.

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