Senior Refuge Member
- Jan 10, 2011
- Reaction score
Kinda late to this game but here it goes. Haying, Grazing, and Fire are all management actions taken by state, federal and private land managers. The money generated by Grazing and Haying on WPA's does not have anything to do with money going to the state of SD. Those dollars are federal dollars and are very restricted on what they can and can't do with it. A portion of the money is allowed to be put back into the property in the form of seed, chemical, fence dugout clean outs or even water wells but only a percentage. They are generally bid out to the highest bidder. With that being said those actions need to be found compatible with what those areas were purchased for ie waterfowl production and not pheasant hunting or even duck hunting. Yes I said duck hunting. Those actions all have to go through the NEPA process to allow a Wetland Management District to use those management tools. Sooo prescribed fire and grazing are usually done during the spring or fall to hurt the root systems of Kentucky bluegrass and smooth brome in your native prairies to allow the native plant community to have a chance. Diverse prairies produce more wildlife including ducks and pheasants. Not only do those diverse prairies help wildlife it has effects on runoff, water infiltration, soil health, water quality, and of course nest success because there is an insect community to feed the ducklings and pheasant chicks. KBG creates a deep litter later that inhibits chicks from making it to brood water. Haying is generally allowed after August 1st. Its a last resort management action but its better than nothing sometimes. Especially if there is a rotation like grazing that leaves different heights of vegetation. So there is research that shows cattle do very little damage to nesting waterfowl and pheasants. And if a nest is destroyed from either action most of the time those birds will re-nest. Its a short term loss for a long term gain. Now if its a golf course its not going to be great for pheasant hunting but its setting up a nesting season for birds that prefer shorter grasses to initiate a nest for next year such as pintails. The native prairie WPA's are going to receive more management that WPA's that are former farm ground. Its part of a management program. I suggest calling the WMD Office that manages that particular WPA and ask questions. But be nice. Don't be a dick. They probably know more than you about land management and wildlife. Its more complicated that you think.There is a WPA near me that was mowed late last summer (the entire property). Now I see this year cattle have just been turned out into it. That is two years in a row it will not be productive (The cattle will leave the grass shorter than the mowing did). Does this management practice make sense? Is this legal? I understand prescribed burns or weed control mowings but it seems waterfowl, upland birds, and hunters sure are getting the short end lately. The pressure situation is unreal on SD public lands anymore. You start mowing and grazing the public lands on a large scale and it really gets dicey.
If this type of "management" is going to continue then SD is going to have to start considering further restricting pheasant licenses for NR's.