The Nature Conservancy ’s mission is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends.
Grasslands are intensively used by people – and can be forever altered. The grasslands of the Great Plains once covered one fifth of North America; today less than half remain. South Dakota still has extensive prairies that help preserve water quality, provide wildlife habitat and store precious water while providing sustainable grazing.
Conserving the Prairie
Since 1961, The Nature Conservancy has conserved more than 84,000 acres in South Dakota. We use science to develop innovative and pragmatic solutions to conservation challenges and work collaboratively to produce long lasting, tangible results.
The Conservancy owns and manages a few select properties in South Dakota. We also work with landowners who are interested in using conservation easements to conserve native prairie and wildlife habitat.
The Conservancy works with ranchers to fine-tune grazing to keep prairie healthy and productive for livestock and wildlife.
Fire removes weeds, warms the soil and stimulates the growth of new plants. Carefully planned prescribed burns bring this natural process back to the prairie, helping to maintain productive grassland while benefitting wildlife.
Invasive Species Management
Invasive plants overtake prairie, choking out native grasses and wildflowers. The Conservancy works to control invasives like leafy spurge on its preserves and collaborates with landowners by sharing information and resources.
Read a comprehensive assessment of major rivers and streams in South Dakota and elsewhere within the Northern Tallgrass Prairie Ecoregion.