Open air Pocket book: Multi-partner research together with North Dakota universities cites grassland advantages – Grand Forks Herald


Study names grassland advantages

GRAND FORKS — Conserving grasslands in the Dakotas generates millions of dollars in annual revenue for beekeepers while improving the abundance of vulnerable bird species, according to a recently published study.

Scientists from the US Geological Survey, UND and North Dakota State University have quantified the economic benefits of grasslands to beekeepers in North and South Dakota. They found annual revenue from beekeeping increased by $7,525 per 10 square kilometers — about 3.9 square miles — in healthy grassland ecosystems. They also examined the non-market value of grasslands for migratory birds and found that grassland bird populations increased by 2% to 7% per 10 square kilometers.

“Our study shows that grassland conservation is a win-win-win for the birds, the bees, and the people of the Dakotas,” said Clint Otto, a USGS scientist and lead author of the study. “These findings underscore the critical importance of grassland to society and may help inform land use policies.”

The new study has been published in the journal Ecological Economics. For more information on land use change in the Prairie Pothole Region, visit the USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center website at

– Report of the Herald staff

USDA awards $829,000 for ND recovery

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has granted $829,000 from the Great American Outdoors Act to improve outdoor recreation opportunities on the Maah Daah Hey Trail and perform maintenance to improve access to North Dakota’s national grasslands.

U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer, RN.D., announced the funding on Wednesday, June 8th. According to a press release from Cramer’s office, the grants will fund the following projects:

  • $650,000 for updates to Civilian Conservation Corps Campground near Maah Daah Hey Trail, Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Bakken Oil Formation. This project will update the campground to accommodate more visitors and create dedicated loops for horseback riders, tent and RV users for the premier campground that connects to the Maah Dah Hey Trail. The project will also expand the main trail, create a dedicated trailhead for equestrian trails, improve parking, install a pressurized water system, and upgrade the pavilion and picnic tables to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards. The grant is expected to cover an estimated $128,000 in deferred maintenance needs.
  • $164,000 for overhaul, spot paving and culvert replacement on seven roads to improve access to the Dakota Prairie National Grasslands. The road improvements will improve safety and better accommodate increased use by permit holders, residents and recreationists who support the local economy. This grant covers an estimated $315,000 in deferred maintenance needs.
  • $15,000 for the Maah Daah Hey Trail Reroute and Trailhead. The project will reroute the trail and improve the trailhead to improve safety and visitor experience. Trail users access the trail by parking on the shoulder of the road in a county driveway. The Maah Daah Hey Trail crosses the 742-2 road on a ridge creating unsafe conditions not only for the user but also for the traveling public. The grant is intended to cover an estimated $12,000 in deferred maintenance needs.

– Report of the Herald staff

NWTF grant in favor of the ND turkey study

GRAND FORKS — Turkey research in North Dakota will benefit from a grant the National Wild Turkey Federation announced this week that will fund seven new research projects in six states for more than $360,000.

According to Susan Felege, professor of wildlife ecology and management in UND’s biology department, the university is collaborating with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department on a study to assess the survival and productivity of disruptive wild turkeys imported from other parts of the world West of North Dakota were brought to the state.

Game and Fish traps and relocates about 200 problem turkeys to turkey habitat wildlife sanctuaries statewide each year, Felege said. The upcoming study will examine nesting activities, causes of death, and infection and exposure rates of translocated turkeys compared to control birds in the project area, the NWTF said in a news release announcing the grants.

The most common areas for complaints in North Dakota are areas south of Medora, the Killdeer Mountains, Grassy Butte, Williston and Riverdale, Felege said. Urban areas like Fargo and Jamestown also sometimes have challenges with turkeys, she said.

The final award letter has not yet been issued, Felege says, but she anticipates project partners will receive about $97,000 in financial support from the NWTF to expand a GPS tagging effort funded by a Wildlife Restoration grant Program (Pittman-Robertson) is supported.

Tagging will begin next winter and will continue for at least the next two seasons, she said.

Other states receiving NWTF grants include Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi and South Carolina, the NWTF said.

-Brad Dokken

Bihrle wins national photo prize

North Dakota photographer Craig Bihrle’s self-portrait of him landing a northern pike in January 2021 won first place in the People category of the 2022 Outdoor Writers Association of America photo contest.

Post / Craig Bihrle

BISMARCK — Craig Birhle, a longtime photographer and communications director for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department who retired in June 2020, recently won first place in the People category of the Outdoor Writers Association of America’s 2022 Photo Contest.

Bihrle’s winning entry is a self-portrait of him landing a northern pike through the ice. To take the photo, Bihrle says, he set up a GoPro camera on a tripod and left it on in continuous mode, which he turned on while fighting the pike.

He was fishing alone on Lake Helen in Kidder County on January 12, 2021 when he caught the fish and took the award-winning photo.

“I’ve had a few place winners at this contest over the years, but never a first place, and it may be the first photo from North Dakota to take first place in a category,” Bihrle said in an email.

One of the three judges in the category said the following about Bihrle’s winning entry:

“Good composition, exposure, saturation… could live up to the ‘action’ category too.”

The same photo received an honorable mention in the recreation category of the North Dakota governor’s photo contest, said Bihrle, who worked for the Department of Wildlife and Fish for 33½ years.

“Competitions are very subjective and the judging criteria vary depending on the category definition,” he said. “That’s the nature of competitions.”

-Brad Dokken

Leave baby animals alone, watch out for deer

BISMARCK — As every year around this time, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department is asking people to leave baby animals alone and keep an eye out for deer when driving along roads.

It is common for people with good intentions to want to raise and rescue orphaned baby animals. Whether it’s a fawn, duckling, cottontail, or songbird, it’s better to leave them alone, says Game and Fish.

Often hatchlings are not abandoned or abandoned, and the mother is likely to be nearby. Young wild animals are deliberately isolated from adults to protect them from predators.

Every time a young wild animal has human contact, its chances of survival decrease significantly. It is illegal to take wild animals home, and captive animals that later return to the wild will struggle to survive unless they have learned survival skills.

A baby animal should only be picked up if it is in an unnatural situation, such as B. a young songbird found on a front door. In this case, the young bird can be moved to the nearest suitable habitat.

People should also stay away from adult wildlife, such as deer or moose, which may migrate to urban areas. The crowding stresses the animals, which can lead to a potentially dangerous situation.

Drivers should also watch out for deer along the roadway. Over the next few weeks, hatchlings disperse from their home ranges, and as the deer become more active during this time, the likelihood of deer-to-deer collisions increases.

– ND game and fish department

  • According to a press release from the Office of US Sen. Kevin Cramer, RN.D., the US Department of the Interior has awarded North Dakota more than $2.3 million from the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund for outdoor recreation projects across the state. The funds are approved by Congress through the LWCF, and the state of North Dakota then allocates the grant funds to support local public park projects, conservation efforts, and expanded access to outdoor recreation statewide. The North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department manages LWCF funds in the state.
  • Bismarck’s Mitch Estabrook recently landed the new North Dakota state record fish in the buffalo species category. Estabrooks used archery equipment to take down the 60-pound buffalo on Friday, May 6 at Heart Butte Reservoir, also known as Lake Chida. The previous record archery-equipped buffalo weighed 57 pounds, 8 ounces and was also taken from Heart Butte Reservoir on May 5, 2017 by Derek Larson of Mandan.
  • Four state parks in Northeast Minnesota — Split Rock Lighthouse, Bear Head Lake, Fall Lake, and Tettegouche — have been ranked among the top 10 camping destinations in the Midwest by popular camping app The Dyrt. Other parks on the list of the best Midwest Camping Destinations included Wyalusing and Devil’s Lake State Parks in Wisconsin, Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio, Turkey Run State Park and Sun Outdoors Lake Rudolph in Indiana, and Mackinaw Mill Creek in Michigan. Split Rock Lighthouse State Park was ranked #1, Bear Head Lake State Park was ranked #2, Fall Lake State Park was ranked #6, and Tettechouche was #7. Cottonwood Campground in Theodore Roosevelt National Park was the only site in North Dakota listed among The Dyrt’s top 10 camping destinations in the Great Plains region.
  • US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland this week issued an executive order phasing out single-use plastic products on Home Department-managed properties by 2032. The order also directs the ministry to find non-hazardous, environmentally friendly alternatives to single-use plastic products, such as compostable or biodegradable materials or 100% recycled materials. Single-use plastic products include plastic and polystyrene food and beverage containers, bottles, straws, cups, cutlery, and single-use plastic bags intended for single use and disposal.

– compiled by Brad Dokken