ND shares in wetland restoration fund for ‘Prairie Pothole’ region

Submitted Photo Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil, or is present at or near the surface of the soil, all year or for varying periods of time, including during the growing season, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Photo from Adobe Stock.

Funding priorities under the federal Inflation Reduction Act continue to roll out, and they include a new effort for North Dakota and surrounding states to restore and rebuild wetland areas.

The Interior Department has announced $120 million in investments for key segments of America’s wildlife management systems. For the Northern Plains, it means protecting Prairie Potholes, which are shallow wetlands where duck populations and other wildlife have been threatened.

Ben Romans, Great Plains region communications coordinator for Ducks Unlimited, said it goes beyond trying to help a single species. 

“We’re looking to protect waterfowl and keep ’em in the sky,” Romans acknowledged. “We’re also in the business of preserving natural grasslands. A lot of these places around wetlands are nesting habitats for birds, deer.”

He pointed out the areas have faced threats from development, as more farmers sell their land. Some $23 million has been earmarked for landscape conservation and restoration in parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Montana. The investment comes at the same time the Endangered Species Act turns 50.

Christy Plumer, chief conservation officer for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said much of the investment will quickly go to landowners who want to protect sensitive, low-lying wetlands on their property, but still use the upland sections for growing crops, ranching and other needs.

“So, you know, I think a program like this provides that blend of opportunities for willing landowners to do great conservation work, while also thinking long term about the economic vitality of their farms and their ranches,” Plumer noted.

In addition to restoring habitat and increasing land resilience, Plumer emphasized the Prairie Potholes project will also mean environmental justice for historically disadvantaged communities. Nationwide, the money aims to address climate adaptation for species and provide more data collection in making landscapes more resilient.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today