The rolling landscape of Sioux Prairie harbors several seasonal ponds, which provide vital habitat for the diverse plants and animals living here. Sedges and bulrushes burst forth from these seasonal waters. Prairie grasses and wildflowers dominate the landscape.
Amid this abundance, grassland birds such as upland sandpipers, bobolinks, waterfowl and the occasional sharp-tailed grouse thrive.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
Sioux Prairie and the smaller Aurora Prairie near Brookings are the Conservancy’s only preserves in the Big Sioux River valley region. These prairies are unique because they lie within grassland complexes that were saved from agriculture conversion due to wet soils. They are surrounded by lands that are used for grazing and haying. Sioux and Aurora prairies provide critical standing upland prairie and wetland habitat.
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
Before becoming a preserve, this land was farmed. Since then, it has been managed with controlled fires. The only indication that this land once was inhabited is an old well site near the preserve’s north end.
In recent years, the Conservancy has removed old tree groves, electrical poles and scattered woody species, while maintaining an intense controlled burn and weed control program, which is aimed at restoring the most degraded areas of the preserve. A drive along the west side of the preserve displays a beautifully diverse native prairie.