Important Bird Areas

Drainage Ditch Marsh Complex

South Dakota

This
IBA incorporates a series of marshes and sloughs in Brown and Marshall counties
that are used by tens of thousands of breeding waterbirds, waterfowl,
shorebirds, marshbirds, and raptors. The area includes, from west to east,
Claremont Slough, Renziehausen Game Production Area (GPA), Putney Slough, and Hecla
and Zabrasha GPAs and areas to the south. As the amount of moisture shifts from
year to year because of the wet-dry climatic cycles typical of the area, these
wetlands are constantly going through a marsh vegetation cycle which starts at
open water, develops into cattail marshes as water levels drop, and eventually
senesces because of too little water. Each area has slightly different water
flow sources and regimes and thus at any one time, each wetland is at a
different stage in the cycle. Each year, there is at least one wetland with
peak habitat conditions preferred by the birds and thus always an impressive
breeding population somewhere in the region.  

Conservation Issues

As
most of this IBA is private land which is generally wetland, a threat would be
attempts to drain or divert some areas to convert to cropland. Most of these
wetlands are shallow and heavily hunted during waterfowl season and there
likely is an accumulation of lead shot in some of IBA.

Ownership

This
is a mixture of state- and federally—owned wildlife management areas and
private land. 

Land Use

“Upland”
areas are used for hayfields when they are not flooded. Some areas in the
southeast section of the IBA are cultivated in row crops when they are not
flooded. The entire area has drainage ditches which have partially channelized
the water, especially during low and average water levels. The federal and
state lands are for wildlife production and hunting; hunting also is allowed on
some adjacent private land.