This IBA is a complex of seven sites (Good Earth at Blood Run, Newton Hills , and Union Grove State Parks; Oak Ridge , Fish, Johnson and McKee Game Production Areas) in south-eastern South Dakota. All of these sites, except for Union Grove State Park, lie along the Big Sioux River. These sites support forest patches that are western outliers of the eastern Deciduous Forest biome. Because of this, they support a unique breeding assemblage of eastern species, as well as hosting an outstanding diversity of migrant landbird species.
These extreme eastern South Dakota eastern deciduous forest outliers support a number of bird species that are characteristic of the eastern deciduous forest. Also, several species of continental and state concern occur in these forests. Finally, these forests are important stopover sites for migrating landbirds.
Because these sites are state-owned, threats are minimal. However, exotic plant species are a significant threat. Buckthorn can grow in dense thickets in the understory, crowding out ground-nesting forest birds such as American Woodcock Eastern Whip-poor-will, and Ovenbird. Red Cedar is invading old fields used as display grounds by Woodcock. Hilltop native prairies are being invaded by smooth brome.
All sites in the complex are owned by the state of South Dakota.63% State Park37% Wildlife Management Area
and flood plain deciduous forest with grassed hilltops. The hillside portions
of these forests are dominated by bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa). Also
important are basswood (Tilia americana), hackberry (Celtis occidentalis),
and hop hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana). The understory at many locations
is dominated by buckthorn (Rhamnus carthartica). Principal forest floor
species are Virginia waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum) and wood
nettle (Laportea canadensis). River bottom forests of these sites
support cottonwood (Populus deltoides), green ash (Fraxinus
pennsylvanica), silver maple (Acer saccharinum), and box elder (Acer
negundo). Also occurring at these
sites are grassy hilltops, most of which are dominated by smooth brome (Bromus
inermis). Some portions of these hilltops have native grass species of
tall- and mid-grass prairie.
The three state parks are preserves used for recreation, conservation and environmental education. Each park has a small campground and picnic areas. The three Game Production Areas primarily are for wildlife management; hunting is allowed.