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Duck(s)! Biden Inflation Reduction Act Invests in Prairie Potholes

President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act is also a Prairie Pothole Restoration Act. South Dakota will benefit from $23 million of Inflation Reduction Act money aimed at restoring and conserving wetlands:

The federal government plans to spend $23 million to restore and conserve grasslands and wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region, which is known as the “duck factory” of North America and is home to migratory birds, fish and other wildlife.

The money is part of the Department of the Interior’s $120 million in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act to restore ecosystems nationwide.

…The money will help with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service effort to restore and conserve native grasslands and wetlands on over 350,000 acres of existing Waterfowl Production Areas. Those are protected wetlands or grasslands managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service to support waterfowl and other wildlife species – ideally located in breeding or nesting areas, or migratory stopover sites for waterfowl. The areas are open to the public for hunting, wildlife observation, and other outdoor recreation, but they are managed with an emphasis on wildlife conservation.

According to Ducks Unlimited, a waterfowl conservation group, the Prairie Pothole Region is the most important and threatened waterfowl habitat on the continent. The group says many of the potholes in the region have been drained to plant more crops, dried out from drought or degraded by pollutants.

“If we lose those wetlands and grasslands, it’s not just going to impact South Dakota and North Dakota,” said Bruce Toay, who manages conservation programs for Ducks Unlimited’s South Dakota chapter. “It’s going to impact all of North America’s waterfowl” [Joshua Haiar, “Federal Government Awards $23 Million for Prairie Pothole Region,” South Dakota Searchlight, 2023.03.21].

More federal money means more ducks, which means more hunters, which means more sales tax revenue, which means Schoenbeck, Venhuizen, et al. can extend the duration of their newly approved sales tax cut past their four-year sunset clause.

Gee, with this $23M investment, President Biden may be doing more to help cut South Dakota’s taxes than Governor Kristi Noem is.


  1. grudznick 2023-03-22

    Spend $23,000,000 to get back $1,000,000 over 25 years. True libbie math.

  2. Nick Nemec 2023-03-22

    grudz, you are discounting the value of healthy wetlands to the enviroment and society by increasing diversity, recharging aquifers and reducing downstream flooding.

  3. grudznick 2023-03-22

    Ducks are nasty, dirty creatures.

  4. Edwin Arndt 2023-03-22

    Oh, government is fickle. I remember back in the 1950’s, my dad got government
    cost sharing to drain potholes so we could farm them.
    I will make a prediction that I will not witness, but I think that there is a pretty
    good chance that in the next forty years, we will again be draining potholes
    so we can farm them because the world will need more grain. This prediction
    is worth what it cost you.

  5. Donald Pay 2023-03-22

    Land conversion from grassland/wetland in South Dakota’s prairie pothole region is occurring at levels that rival such conversion of rainforest in the Amazon (on a percentage basis). Obviously the Amazon is a much larger area, but prairie pothole environments are highly endangered, and with it waterfowl reproduction.

  6. Edwin Arndt 2023-03-22

    In my area ( Richland county in North Dakota and Roberts county in South Dakota)
    our aquifers are just fine. We have way more water standing around than fifty
    years ago.

  7. All Mammal 2023-03-22

    The Game Fish and Parks guys best put to rest their deranged shooting range complex dreams smack dab in the middle of rare migratory bird stopover wetlands just north of Rapid City and get on task to remedy the cause of the massive fish kill in Huron last month. Greed and blood thirst for total control over water and nature and women are too rampant in SD. Chill out. Allowing beaver and water and women to do their thing will be ok. Let it flow. It knows what it’s doing.

  8. Arlo Blundt 2023-03-22

    I’m for ducks, geese and shorebirds and plenty of potholes, sloughs, and nesting grounds. Period. Keep it wild or bring it back to where it was.

  9. Mark Anderson 2023-03-22

    Well Nick Nemec, 52 years ago Brett Bloomenrader, Don McLaughlin and myself stopped at a pothole north of Highmore. As we scrambled over the top, six ducks flew up, we each shot twice and got all six birds. It would take a grudz to figure those odds but to remake those potholes is worth it. There weren’t any pheasants in those days.

  10. Mark Anderson 2023-03-22

    Bye the way, we had our shotguns in my backseat parked at school. Different time.

  11. e platypus onion 2023-03-22

    My shotgun rode the front seat next to gear shift in school parking lots without any problems. Pheasants were plentiful in road ditches.(late 60s/early 70s)

  12. Mark Anderson 2023-03-22

    You know e platypus, there weren’t many pheasants near Highmore but we did ride in the back of a pickup down the roads and shot them when they flew out of the ditch. The ducks were easier. Now there seems to be pheasants everywhere but it’s now an industry in SD. A few years ago I had a plane flight into Sioux Falls, half the passengers were dressed for hunting, a sea of orange. When I flew out a few days later with the same people. They all had coolers full of the most expensive meat in America.

  13. Mark Anderson 2023-03-22

    You know grudz, your lazy analysis comes from Reagan. He was an actor too.

  14. Bob Newland 2023-03-22

    Nick, why do you bother to respond to ANYTHING the coward, Grudznutz, posts?

  15. WillyNilly 2023-03-22

    About 60 years ago 4 boys went out hunting with their firearms in the car. Don’t know for sure what happened but 3 of them brought one in to the hospital with a bullet in his head. Not worth a bird. Always scared me to see a firearm in a car.

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-03-22

    Nick makes a point that also appears in Ecology of Dakota Landscapes: Past, Present, and Future, authored by SDSU horticulturalist emeritus (and my friend!) W. Carter Johnson and Dennis Knight. Healthy wetlands and the diverse species they support provide lots of untallied economic value. Bird, trees, grass, even bacteria add lots of economic value to agricultural operations, far more than the $1M Grudz pulls out of his hat to quantify some slow trickle of sales tax from hunters (GF&P says hunting generates $683M of economic activity each year). Wetlands add economic value beyond agriculture by mitigating floods, improving water quality, managing carbon, and recharging aquifers.

  17. Arlo Blundt 2023-03-22

    I like snipes, cranes, shypokes, great blue Herons and their Lesser cousin, shovelers, red wing blackbirds, and even pheasants, though they are a species introduced from, what the Governor calls, an “evil” country. Though “Chinese” ring neck pheasants really originate in Manchuria and Mongolia, and I don’t think those are people who “hate us, we have some businessmen from Redfield to thank for introducing them to the area around Fisher Grove before WWI. I like Hungarian partridges, though I don’t know if the Governor believes Hungary is “evil”. I like bluebirds, Meadowlarks, finches and sparrows in all their diversity, Robins, Thrashers and any birds that eat bugs. I tolerate Blue Jays most of the time, and will put up with Gaeckels and Starlings, which were introduced from England which I assume the Governor does not believe is “evil”. Wetlands are prime habitat for all these species, and filter the nitrates out of crop land run-off and the discharge from drainage tile. Wetlands are essential to clean drinking water. We’ve just about farmed nature to death on the prairie.

  18. DaveFN 2023-03-22

    Even West River, pheasants were everywhere along a drive from Rapid City to the RC airport in the mid-50s to the mid-60s. As a kid I recall seeing them nesting in hay bales along the road. No more. What happened, who knows?

  19. Nick Nemec 2023-03-23

    DaveFN, pheasant population is dictated by one thing above all others, habitat. Preditor numbers make little difference habitat does. Dense cover provides protection from bad weather and predators. Heavily grazed pasture (most of West River) provides little cover.

  20. Aaron 2023-03-23

    According to the first link, SD resident duck hunters has fallen from 25,000 to 11,000 in about 25 years. SD GF&P is unsure why. This probably won’t reverse that trend IMO.

  21. John 2023-03-24

    While they are at it . . . the Biden administration (and farmers) ought to recharge the ground water – not rush to drain it off.
    Don Cameron’s leading the way. Flood your fields – to save them. Don’t drain them.

    Resident duck hunter numbers are down for several reasons: 1) the intense chemical industrialization of ag lands and waters causes one to question the purity of a diet of waterfowl; 2) the nonsensical increasing criminalization of hunting trespass in the emptying landscape discourages hunters – especially in this era of non-resident land owners, non-local land owners, and contract farmers – finding the “owner” of the hunting rights is far harder than a mere title search. Then the various “owners” too often make conflicting claims to the inquirer of who holds the hunting right. 3) GFP law enforcement is far more concerned with minor law enforcement than with wildlife habitat. Hunters walk into hunting lands, while the GFP drives cross-country trampling the habitat and scaring the wildlife.

  22. larry kurtz 2023-03-24

    The USDA’s APHIS killed some 4,000 ducks last year including some that feed on invasive zebra mussels.

  23. larry kurtz 2023-03-24

    all we are is ducks in the wind.

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