In 2007, a State Wildlife Grant was awarded to the USFWS’ Devils Lake Management District (DLWMD) under the auspices of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s (NDGF) State Wildlife Grant Program (SWG). A partnership was forged between Federal, State and NGO’s to achieve a 1:1 match with these primary objectives;
Objective 1. Restore 600-800 acres of grasslands using diverse, multi-species native vegetation mixtures on priority Waterfowl Production Areas throughout the DLWMD in 2008 – 2011 and beyond.
Objective 2. Continue to monitor the vegetative and bird response to native seeded, restored grasslands in the DLWMD indefinitely.
Objective 3. After 6 to 8 years of data collection, develop a decision matrix for managers to use based on results of monitoring that will help identify grass, forb, and shrub species that provide adequate cover for species of conservation priority and provide the highest likelihood of achieving success for establishment and management.
Objective 4. Actively seek partners to assist in research related to using restoration of grasslands as a method for weed control in North Dakota.
The need for this type of project stem from an increasing desire to increase biological diversity on the landscape, and to test whether sustainability and resilience could be achieved by implementation of a diverse suite of grass and forb species. In addition, grassland nest obligate species were likewise investigated to measure their use and density in these restored landscapes. Past restoration efforts lacked the diversity of species, and included non-native species such as tall and intermediate wheatgrass, alfalfa and sweet clover, and termed dense nesting cover (DNC). The goal of the overall project was to re-create some of the native-dominated grassland habitat that formerly covered most of northeastern North Dakota pre-settlement (i.e. pre 1900). This was accomplished by seeding native perennial herbaceous mixtures on formerly cropped Waterfowl Production Areas managed by the USFWS – DLWMD. Priority areas were selected that provided blocks of wetland and grassland habitat under perpetual protection.