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Integrated Management of the Greater Prairie Chicken and Livestock on the Sheyenne National Grassland

A Focus on Lowlands

Lowlands are a special feature of the SNG ecosystems. They comprise about 14% of the landscape and are well distributed. They are dynamic components of the landscape; changing within years and between years with their boundaries expanding and contracting depending on moisture variations. Prairie chicken use would be expected to change accordingly. The following chart is intended as a discussion format for managing this important habitat component:


Resource Values Management Considerations
  • Used as roosting cover year round so long as not too much water is present.
  • Used by broods if disturbed by mowing, burning, or grazing the previous year.
  • Portions used for nesting if not too wet.
  • Preferred orchid habitat.
  • Used for grazing if disturbed and livestock have access to the early regrowth.
  • A source of hay.
  • An "emergency" source of prairie chicken cover/livestock forage during drought.
  • Habitat for nongame wildlife.
  • Livestock presence seems to deter nesting and brood use, so strive to keep livestock out of managed lowlands until after peak of nesting and brooding.
  • Mowing disturbance is generally more flexible, as far as timing, than burning.
  • Lowlands supporting willows are of more nesting and brood value than those dominated by bulrush and other more aquatic plants.
  • Cattle will tend to graze only in disturbed lowlands and in the regrowth period, creating the possibility for partial lowland management.
  • Mowed lowlands can serve as booming ground sites if cover is short in the fall.
  • Newell (1988b) found broods used areas with >2.5 dm VOR in all summer months.
  • Mow or burn 1/3 each year so that each lowland is disturbed every 3 years?
  • Assign highest priority to lowland management in the best prairie chicken areas in order to "secure" the population.

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