South Dakota Private Lands Program

South Dakota GFP Private Lands Programs


Since land in South Dakota is about 90% privately owned, the South Dakota Dept. of Game, Fish and Parks focuses a lot of attention on managing wildlife and their habitats on private land.  And, since most wildlife occur on private land, a lot of attention is given to encouraging hunting access on private land. 

GFP has limited funding to manage habitat and hunting on private lands and it all comes from hunters and anglers.  To stretch the funding, GFP has developed programs that take advantage of or improve programs already available to landowners.  In addition, the department also maintains partnerships with a number of government and private organizations.

The best example of a program we build upon to stretch the funds is the Conservation Reserve Program administered by the USDA.  Most of the practices listed below have been tailored to either improve or expand the values provide by CRP.   For instance, a landowner may enroll and plant a field in CRP and may then choose to put in a food plot, a shelterbelt and then make a little money for opening the land for public hunting.  GFP has practices to help in all of these areas.  Take a look at our practices, and if you are interested, call your local Wildlife Conservation Officer or the other contact listed with the practice. 

Click on the links below for a brief description of each practice, or click on the links to the left for a complete fact sheet on each practice.

Schedule of Landowner Workshops and Agenda (watch for updated schedule this fall)

Cost Share Programs For Wetland and Grassland Habitat

New Continuous Conservation Reserve Program Practice CP-37 Duck Nesting Habitat Initiative

Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Habitat Biologists

Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologists work in the same capacity as a NRCS employee would.  They make contacts with private landowners, assist them with habitat planning and filling out conservation program applications. 

Habitat Practices

Dense Nesting Cover Establishment
Food Habitat Plots Establishment
Habitat Fence Construction
Native Warm Season Grass Establishment
Woody Habitat Projects

How to Design A Pheasant Management Area (pdf file)


Dense Nesting Cover Establishment
Dense nesting cover, or DNC, is a mixture of cool season grasses (those that green up early in the spring) and legumes, like alfalfa and yellow sweetclover.  DNC is the cornerstone habitat type for many species of wildlife.   Species, like pheasant, use it for nesting, rearing their broods, roosting and loafing.  DNC is really just high quality nesting cover designed to maximize nesting activity and reproductive success.  A lot of the Conservation Reserve Program lands in South Dakota are established with a DNC mixture.  For more information of assistance with DNC, go to the Fact Sheet

Food Habitat Plots Establishment
Although food is normally available to wildlife in the form of waste grain and weed seeds, there are times when a well placed food plot is an important wildlife management tool.  Food is an important attractant for wildlife.   Animals will often readily move to good food sources.  This fact makes food plots useful for attracting and keeping wildlife in areas where we want them.  For instance, we might want to attract pheasants into an area with very good quality wintering habitat to maximize survival through the winter.  Food plots work well for this.   For more information or assistance, go to the Fact Sheet.  

Although food is normally available to wildlife in the form of waste grain and weed seeds, there are times when a well placed food plot is an important wildlife management tool.  Food is an important attractant for wildlife.   Animals will often readily move to good food sources.  This fact makes food plots useful for attracting and keeping wildlife in areas where we want them.  For instance, we might want to attract pheasants into an area with very good quality wintering habitat to maximize survival through the winter.  Food plots work well for this.   For more information or assistance, go to the .  

Habitat Fence Construction
Important habitats often require protection from livestock.  In special cases GFP will help landowners protect these habitats by helping to pay for the cost of constructing a fence.  For more information or assistance, go to the Fact Sheet

Native Warm Season Grass Establishment
Once, a large portion of eastern South Dakota consisted of a grassland community that was very tall and did most of its growing in the middle of summer.  Now most of that type of habitat has been replaced by cornfields, but some folks are interested in reestablishing native warm season grasses for several reasons.   One reason is wildlife habitat.

It's hard to find better winter roosting habitat for resident wildlife than native warm season grasses.  The stems are rigid and tend to stand up to a lot of weight from snow.  NWSG plantings are also important to some species for nesting, brood rearing, loafing and even as a source of food.  For more information or assistance, go to the Fact Sheet

Woody Habitat Projects
The best example of how the department uses someone else's program to stretch funding while making the practice better for wildlife is our new woody planting practice.  Landowners normally can receive cost-share funding from the USDA to plant woody species. But, because most of South Dakota is naturally a grassland community, trees have a hard time competing with grasses and weeds for sunlight, water and nutrients.   In order to allow the woody plants a chance to develop a canopy closure, it is important to eliminate grass and weed competition by tilling, applying landscape fabric or even using chemicals in some cases.

USDA's tree planting programs always require that new trees be maintained weed-free for the first growing season.  GFP's cost-share assistance extends that care through the end of the fourth growing season.  For more information or assistance, go to the Fact Sheet


Contact South Dakota Private Lands Program


South Dakota Game Fish and Parks
523 East Capitol Avenue
Pierre, South Dakota  57501
Phone: (605) 773-3381


 

Service Area

Statewide Program in:
  • South Dakota

Office Locaters



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