The Spring 2016 meeting took place in Rapid City, South Dakota, May 5th and 6th. We received updates on critical issues and heard about the amazing work that individuals and groups are doing for prairie conservation. Some of that included the use of drones to distribute oral vaccine to prairie dogs in order to combat plague; changes in land management, both good and bad, from the decline in oil production on public lands in North Dakota; working with ranchers on a variety of issues from water management to creating grassland bird habitat; and efforts to maintain genetic diversity in bison herds.
Presentations included Shaun Grassel who shared information on research and conservation on Lower Brule with a focus on pronghorn and badger work, and local rancher and South Dakota Grasslands Coalition member Pat Guptill, who shared his grassland management strategies for combating drought, improving cattle grazing and wildlife management.
Our field trip included a tour of Badlands National Park and Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, hearing about plague management for prairie dogs and expanding habitat for bison restoration. We learned about public, private, NGO land exchanges from Corissa Krueger of The Nature Conservancy and a private land investment model that is bringing bison to the Conata Basin