south dakota Habitat conservation foundation

Mission: To be advocates of habitat stewardship, collaborate with community partners and be conservation leaders to benefit all of South Dakota.

The South Dakota Habitat Conservation Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization that works to improve wildlife habitat and water quality in South Dakota. The Foundation evolved from the South Dakota Habitat Conservation Fund Board established in 2014 to manage a permanently endowed habitat fund through the South Dakota Community Foundation as one of the 8 recommendations of the 2013 habitat summit.

The Foundation is governed by an independent Board of Directors; consisting of a maximum of 20 members that were initially appointed by the governor. The Board of Directors determines how funds are spent from the Foundation and work collaboratively with non-government conservation partners and government agencies like the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks and USDA’s National Resource Conservation Service to put programs and dollars on the ground.

Ways to Give

  • Endowed donations can be given to the Habitat Conservation Fund at the South Dakota Community Foundation through their website or by contacting them directly. Only the earnings are available for expenditure by the Foundation each year. Donate today.

  • Spendable donations intended to be spent at the discretion of the Foundation board can be given by mailing a check to: SD Habitat Conservation Foundation Inc, 523 E Capitol Ave, Pierre, SD  57501.

Contributions to both the South Dakota Community Foundation and the South Dakota Habitat Conservation Foundation are deductible for income tax purposes to the maximum extent allowed by law. Please call 605.773.4503 if you have questions about making a contribution.

The below projects represent examples that may receive funding through the Foundation:

  • Match for federal grant programs designed to address specific natural resource needs in South Dakota.

    • Examples include, but would not be limited to: Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

  • Provide incentive payments or cost-share assistance to promote the use of conservation practices on “working lands” such as crop rotations, cover crops, grazing management, and prairie restoration for grazing and wildlife.

  • Projects that improve or create pollinator habitat on public and private lands while providing quality habitat for upland nesting birds. Habitat established would address critical needs of annual life cycle for both pollinators and other wildlife species.

  • Assist landowners in identifying acres which over the long-term do not meet economic minimums and could be better suited as wildlife habitat by utilizing “precision farming” technologies.

  • Provide supplemental incentives for enhanced activities of the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) for improving habitat quality on private lands.

  • Projects that address soil health and water quality issues in an agricultural landscape while creating wildlife habitat.

  • Utilization of Conservation Opportunity Areas outlined in the South Dakota Wildlife Action Plan as a reference to help focus conservation efforts and resources.

2016 Grant Awards Update

Board Members

Christine Hamilton, President
Steve Halverson, Secretary/Treasurer
Jeff Scherschligt
Doug Balvin
Tony Bour
Larry Ness
Tim Kessler
Les Lindskov
Terry Schultz
DeLon Mork
Dick Muth
Jack Theeler
Kelly Hepler, Ex Officio Board Member
Barry Jensen, Ex Officio Board Member

Foundation Created

Board members were originally appointed by the Governor to manage the endowed fund at the Community Foundation.

In addition to managing that fund, $350,000 in funds was authorized by the State Legislature in 2015 for projects, provided the board could raise matching funds. The Legislature required that the funds they authorized were to be spent, not endowed. The board raised those matching funds and the State funds were secured by the board in early 2016. A total of $611,000 was granted to 12 projects through a competitive grant program for projects throughout South Dakota in 2016.

In 2016, board members elected to form a nonprofit organization from the existing board so they could accept tax deductible, spendable donations and manage those donations directly. The South Dakota Community Foundation will continue to manage endowed contributions with the Habitat Conservation Foundation making periodic recommendations for grants from available earnings from these endowed funds.

In 2018, board members will participate in a series of strategic planning sessions designed to identify future priority projects.

To promote, develop and enhance habitat stewardship.


To be advocates of habitat stewardship, collaborate with community partners and be conservation leaders to benefit all of South Dakota.

: We believe that fostering and developing partnerships leads to successful conservation outcomes.
Accountability: We believe in delivering transparent and measurable results through the facilitation of projects and programs.
Stewardship: We believe in the advocacy of habitat resources for current and future conservationists.

Board Meetings and Other Information