Places We Protect

Davis Ranch

North Dakota

A small pond on a darkening prairie.
Davis Ranch Preserve North Dakota. © Richard Hamilton Smith

Davis Ranch is one of the largest prairie landscapes in the Missouri Coteau.



Why You Should Visit

Davis Ranch is one of the largest prairie landscapes in the Missouri Coteau. It is a mosaic of high quality northern mixed-grass prairie studded with fresh, alkaline, ephemeral and permanent wetlands. The impact of human activities has been very light in this place, with even surrounding agricultural areas having a low human population density. More than any other Conservancy preserve in North Dakota, Davis Ranch retains the "feel" and scale of the native prairie.


The overall size of Davis Ranch including the portion that was once called the Sheridan Preserve is 7,017 acres. It is the largest Conservancy Preserve in North Dakota. It extends six miles in a north-south direction and averages about 1.5 miles in width.

Why TNC Selected This Site

Large, high quality examples of several community types led the Conservancy to this site. The conservation targets include pothole wetlands, silverberry shrubland, western wheatgrass grassland, and needlegrass grassland.

What TNC Has Done/Is Doing

The Nature Conservancy acquired Davis Ranch in 1997 and since then has been developing a stewardship program at the preserve. Our management has been focused in three areas:

  1. We have been developing a grazing system where domestic cattle are used to mimic the historic grazing patterns of bison.
  2. In an effort to discourage woody plant encroachment and begin the reduction of smooth brome, we have initiated a prescribed burn plan.
  3. We are continuing to develop an integrated weed management program focused on controlling leafy spurge. We are spraying known spurge patches twice a year, and have released specalized-feeding flea beetles as a means of biological control.



Explore our work in North Dakota

Plan Your Visit

For more information on visiting this and other North Dakota preserves, check out our Preserve Visitation Guidelines.

What to See: Plants

The vegetation on Davis Ranch consists of high qualityu examples of northern mixed grass prairie. Shortgrass prairie species are found in the shallow soil areas on the tops of hills, midheight species on hillsides and flat uplands, and tallgrass species on deep soils of lowlands. Dominant shortgrasses include buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides) and blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis). The dominant midheight grasses include little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and the introduced smooth brome (Bromus inermis). The tallgrass dominants include big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) and cordgrass (Spartina pectinata).

What to See: Animals

Davis Ranch is part of the "prairie pothole" region, an area renowned for its production of waterfowl. In fact, the Davis Ranch area includes some of the best waterfowl breeding habitat in the prairie pothole region. Besides waterfowl, Davis Ranch also is home to a high diversity of other birds. Included are a number of uncommon prairie species including Sprague’s pipit, Baird’s sparrow, grasshopper sparrow, chestnut collared longspur, black tern, ferruginous hawk, Swainson’s hawk, upland plover, willet and marbled godwits.

There are no facilities at the preserve and it is located in an isolated location. Bring everything you will need including adequate water and other supplies. The nearest facilities and supplies are in McClusky or Goodrich, some 18 miles away.

The entire preserve is leased to local neighbors for cattle grazing. Please leave all gates as you find them and take care to avoid damaging fences.

Hunting and Fishing Activities

The preserve is open to public walk-in hunting during the Fall hunting season. Check out our Preserve Visitation Guidelines for more information the Conservancy's hunting and fishing policies on North Dakota preserves. Download rules and a map specific to Davis Ranch.

Find More Places We Protect

The Nature Conservancy owns nearly 1,500 preserves covering more than 2.5 million acres across all 50 states. These lands protect wildlife and natural systems, serve as living laboratories for innovative science and connect people to the natural world.

See the Complete Map

Photos from Davis Ranch

The prairie is buzzing and blooming with life!

prairie pothole.
prairie grasses and flowers.
prairie smoke.
yellow headed blackbird.
rolling prairie hills.

Support Our Work at Davis Ranch

You can help us protect North Dakota's diverse plant and animal communities. Make a donation now to help us further our work to protect land and water, provide food and water sustainably, and tackle climate change.