This IBA is a an excellent example of prairie
pothole – mixed-grass prairie on the Missouri Coteau, a glacial moraine, in
north-central South Dakota. Because of the bouldery rough surface, most of the area
has never been plowed. There are thousands of
wetlands, from small ephemeral marshes to large lakes, within the IBA
border. The north end of the IBA is the Samuel H. Ordway Prairie, owned and
managed by the Nature Conservancy. Most areas on the west side are conserved as
Waterfowl Production Areas, owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The
rest of the IBA is under private ownership, but much of this is protected by
conservation easements, to ensure the area remains a renowned ‘duck factory’
and functioning prairie ecosystem.
Areas not protected by conservation easements or
federal/land trust protection are susceptible to overgrazing, wetland drainage,
being plowed under, or haying too early in the summer. Non-native invasive
plants, such as yellow toadflax, also are a concern in the IBA.
The northern sections are owned by The Nature
Conservancy while some of the western sections are owned by the federal
government. The rest is owned by individual ranchers.