$23 million to go to Prairie Pothole Region in ND and other states

Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 3:23 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - This week the Department of the Interior announced an investment from the Inflation Reduction Act will go towards wildlife areas. $23 million of the funding will go to landscape conservation and restoration in the Prairie Pothole Region, including North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa.

The Prairie Pothole Region was formed when glaciers from the last ice age receded and left millions of shallow wetlands behind. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported North Dakota originally consisted of nearly five million acres of wetland. It reported the state was down to roughly 2.5 million acres of wetland by the 1980s.

Ben Romans, communications coordinator for Ducks Unlimited for the Great Plains Region, said North Dakota wetlands, and surrounding grasslands, are part of the migratory route that most waterfowl take. Romans said that due to this year’s heavy snow fall, migratory birds will likely be met with prime conditions in North Dakota’s wetlands when they return north.

He said the wetland environment is not only important for the birds, but the potholes can help with things like flood mitigation and water purification. That’s why he expects the Department of the Interior funding to be beneficial to the state.

“I think that what most people might not realize is that when we make improvements, you know, they benefit the whole state. We will have more recreational opportunities. People can get out and hike at a lot of these places that we preserve. So, it will mean a lot in the long run,” said Romans.

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership said the Prairie Pothole Region is recognized as some of the most productive waterfowl habitat in the world.

On average, 1.04 million people hunt waterfowl each year in the United States. There are more than 42,000 waterfowl hunters in North Dakota annually.

The Department of the Interior’s announcement comes as the Endangered Species Act turns 50 years old.