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:
- We have been developing a grazing system where domestic cattle are used to mimic the historic grazing patterns of bison.
- In an effort to discourage woody plant encroachment and begin the reduction of smooth brome, we have initiated a prescribed burn plan.
- 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.