woody habitat

South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Woody Habitat Program

Woody habitat is meant to increase wildlife populations by enhancing their survival. This can be accomplished with woody plantings large enough to ensure survival in the worst possible winter weather and by planting woody plant species that offer wildlife year-round protection from predators. Woody plantings can also provide food for wildlife. Most of the wildlife species of interest live on the ground and woody habitat should be designed to create cover at ground level.

Low-growing trees and shrubs should be planted in most wildlife shelterbelts, but the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks also allows for one or two rows of tall trees to be planted in some shelterbelts for farmstead or livestock wind protection.

Program Guidelines

The goal of the GFP woody habitat practice is to establish large woody plantings that aid wildlife populations by increasing winter survival. Since most resident wildlife lives on the ground, mid-sized trees and shrubs should be planted in most wildlife shelterbelts to maximize wildlife benefits.

Applications consist of sending a tree plan (including landowner contact information) and color aerial photograph noting the project location to the Project Coordinator listed on the bottom of this flyer by November 1. If applications do not meet annual planting objectives, this deadline may be extended. Landowners enrolled in this program retain access control to their property, but are required to allow some sort of hunting and cannot charge a fee.

GFP will reimburse landowners for 75% of costs incurred for planting woody habitat. The maximum GFP payment per planting is $10,000.00. The landowner cannot receive any outside funding for the GFP cost-shared tree rows; but may receive outside funding for other tree rows not funded by GFP.

Woody habitat planting criteria:

  • New plantings must be a minimum of 8 rows wide and at least 1 acre in size.
  • Plantings adjacent to existing tree rows do not need to meet the above width and size criteria, as long as the total number of rows is greater than 8, and the combined acreage is geater than 1 acre.
  • Tall trees may be included in the middle rows only if 4 or more rows of shrubs or mid-sized trees are planted in the outermost rows of both sides of the planting.
  • Blue Spruce, Cottonwood, Russian Olive, and Siberian Elm are not eligible for GFP cost-share.
  • Lands converted from native sod to cropland after 2008 are not eligible.
  • All plantings are subject to approval by GFP Private Lands Biologists.

Eligible shrub and tree species include, but are not limited to:
Shrubs: Buffaloberry, Chokeberries, Currants, Caragana, Cotoneasters, Dogwoods, Elderberry, Gooseberry, Hansen Hedge Rose, Juneberry, Lilac, Mongolian Cherry, Nanking Cherry, Nannyberry, Plums, Sandbar Willow, Sea-buckthorn, Silverberry, Sumacs, Western Sandcherry

Mid-Sized Trees: Amur Maple, Apricot, Aspen, Black Walnut, Buckeye, Cedars, Chokecherry,
Crabapples, Hawthorns, Hazelnut, Junipers, Laurel Willow, Littleleaf Linden,
Mountain-ash, Mulberry, Oaks, Pears, Pin Cherry

Tall Trees (only in plantings with 9+ rows): American Linden, Black Cherry, Boxelder,
Golden Willow, Green Ash, Hackberry, Honeylocust, Pines, Poplar, Siberian Larch,
Silver Maple, Spruces, White Willow

Contract Life

Eligible costs include: trees, shrubs, planting, weed barrier fabric, and installation. Payments will be issued the same year receipts are submitted to GFP. Contracts for woody plantings extend 10 years from the date of planting. Early termination of the contract requires the landowner to fully reimburse GFP the cost-share for the project.

Application Information

The annual deadline for submitting applications for cost-share is November 1 of the year preceding the scheduled planting of the woody cover.

If woody habitat applications do not meet annual planting objectives, this deadline may be extended until planting goals are reached. If applications exceed planting goals, applications will be ranked according to the potential wildlife benefits of plantings and funding will be allocated from highest to lowest ranked plantings until available funding is exhausted.

Demand for these programs is such that funding is reserved for producers who are not involved in any type of fee hunting operation. In addition, because funding for these projects comes entirely from sales of hunting licenses, producers must agree to allow reasonable free public hunting access. However, producers retain and may regulate all hunting access privileges on enrolled lands.

  • Submit the application via email to Brian.Pauly@state.sd.us by including the following:
    • Documentation of tree plan,
    • Color aerial photograph noting the project location,
    • Landowner contact information.

  • The above information can also be mailed to this address:
    • South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, ATTN: Brian Pauly, 895 3rd Street SW, Huron, SD 57350