Working Grassland Habitat Programs

Second Century Working Lands Habitat Program

The Second Century Working Lands Habitat Program provides a short-term, working lands conservation alternative to cropping marginal lands anywhere in South Dakota by adding important grassland habitat for wildlife to the landscape while also providing forage for livestock by allowing program acres to be managed with haying and grazing. 

Participants in the Second Century Working Lands Habitat Program agree to establish a grass and flower mix on cropland acres for 5 years, and in return receive free seed and a one-time payment of $150 per acre at the beginning of the contract. Starting during the second growing season, participants can hay or graze the enrolled lands between August 1 and March 1, with annual haying limited to either half the enrolled acres every year, or the entire acreage every other year.

Lands enrolled in the program are not required to be open to unlimited public hunting, although these acres are eligible to be enrolled in the Walk-In Area public hunting access program through GFP. Currently, landowners interested in enrolling their Second Century Working Lands Habitat acres in the Walk-In Area program can receive a one-time, up-front signing bonus of $10 per acre, per year to provide free public hunting access. On top of the signing bonus, they also receive the annual access incentive payments provided through GFP’s Walk-In Area program.

Frequently Asked Questions

South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Programs

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks' works with landowners and other conservation partners to implement grassland conservation practices on private lands across the state. Projects are designed to benefit a variety of wildlife species dependent upon these habitats while meeting the needs and management goals of landowners.

Partnerships with private landowners have been vital in the delivery of hundreds of projects benefitting wildlife and ranching operations. Successful partnerships with the ranching community are rooted in a common goal - sustainably managing South Dakota's grassland resources to support both livestock and wildlife.

GFP cost share options available to private landowners through the below practices:

Pheasants Forever & SD Corn Saline/Sodic Soil Program

Landowners that have identified saline or sodic issues in their fields will receive a 1-time payment of $150 per acre and a FREE seed mixture that has been developed by PF Farm Bill Biologists. Landowners will be responsible to plant the affected area. Landowners retain the ability to either hay or graze the site between July 15th and March 1st. This contract is in effect for a period of 5 years, and if broken the producer will be required to repay the rental payment and cost of seed.

USDA Grassland CRP

As of September 2015, a new type of CRP signup is available. Grassland CRP is a working lands form of the program. Participants will be able to annually graze, hay, or harvest seed from enrolled grassland acres according to a conservation plan.

Existing grassland or cropland that will be seeded back to grassland is eligible for in the program.

Annual rental payments can be up to 75% of the county average grazing rate.

Applications can be offered year round and will be ranked against all others in the nation on designated dates to determine which applications are accepted into the program.

United States Fish and Wildlife Service Partners Program

The “Partners for Fish and Wildlife” program is administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and provides a variety of technical and financial assistance options for grassland conservation on private and tribal land.

Typical conservation practices include grazing management and grassland restoration.

USDA Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers in order to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation or improved or created wildlife habitat.

USDA Conservation Stewarship Program (CSP)

CSP helps agricultural producers maintain and improve their existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation activities to address priority resources concerns. Participants earn CSP payments for conservation performance; the higher the performance, the higher the payment.

USDA Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) Agricultural Land Easements

The ACEP is a new program that consolidates three former programs: Wetlands Reserve Program, Grassland Reserve Program and the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program.

NRCS provides financial assistance to eligible partners for purchasing Agricultural Land Easements that protect the agricultural use and conservation values of eligible land. In the case of working farms, the program helps farmers and ranchers keep their land in agriculture. The program also protects grazing uses and related conservation values by conserving grassland, including rangeland, pastureland and shrubland. Eligible partners include Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs.

Under the Agricultural Land component, NRCS may contribute up to 50 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement. Where NRCS determines that grasslands of special environmental significance will be protected, NRCS may contribute up to 75 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement.