Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Originally published in:
North Dakota Outdoors
Official Publication of the
State Game and Fish Department
100 North Bismarck Expressway
Bismarck, North Dakota 58501-5095
The natural areas included in this guide have special qualities found only on undeveloped land. These qualities represent glimpses through a window in time on a portion of North Dakota's presettlement landscape - a "living history."
A perplexed look flies across the faces of Frank and Anne when you ask them about "whatjacallit natural areas." Frank came to North Dakota with his parents around 1910 and Anne grew up on the Missouri River in a town long since gone from state maps and riverbottom.
It's a whole different story when they talk about their farming and ranching and other recollections. Frank in particular had explored all the corners of the state, seeking out trading and bartering opportunities that would take him across new horizons. And he always came back richer for it; usually in farm and household goods, sometimes in wild game, always in stories and outdoor adventures.
The fact of the matter is: Frank and Anne are walking encyclopedias of North Dakota natural areas past and present. The encyclopedic information is filed like an address book by learned and concocted names, under categories of forbearer, fowl and flower. Their recollections fit together into exciting settings overflowing with life.
There are many North Dakotans like Frank and Anne. They include landowners, sportsmen and conservationists like Stella Fritzell who championed state legislation recognizing natural areas; researchers like Hal Kantrud who published the first compendium of state natural areas; and other individuals such as one singularly-gifted photographer named Ed Bry who regularly brought images of these places before our eyes through North Dakota OUTDOORS.
North Dakota has no natural lands in an absolute sense because forces like the periodic fires and free-roaming bison that shaped the Great Plains have disappeared. But for Frank and Anne, the essence of naturalness was in wild animals and plants. Other folks might base judgement on a land's capacity for supporting such natural activities as hunting and fishing.
The natural areas included in this guide have special qualities found only on undeveloped land. These qualities represent glimpses through a window in time on a portion of North Dakota's presettlement landscape a "living history." They also signify diverse arrays of native plants and wildlife that belong together in finely-tuned natural communities, places of inherent beauty and interest, outdoor classrooms for teaching life sciences and earth sciences, outdoor laboratories, and benchmarks against which to gauge landscape changes.
What does this mean to the average citizen? As of 1987, more North Dakotans live in town rather than in the country. The average citizen lives apart from undeveloped land. We are made aware of such changes as we approach the Centennial and make comparisons with the past. To the average citizen, to Frank and Anne and to all of us, natural areas are links to the past and landmarks for the future. They are visible signs that the love and respect of all people endures who have found wild beauty in North Dakota outdoors.
Present day natural areas persist by benevolent land stewardship or by accident. Programs designed to recognize and spur protection of state-significant natural features on private or public lands have been created to maintain these features on the landscape. Nature preserves have been established through North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department and the Nature Conservancy. The State Parks and Recreation Department is mandated by the 1975 North Dakota Nature Preserves Act and Nature Conservancy is a nonprofit national conservation organization whose goal is to protect biological diversity. Closely related wildlife habitat protection has been identified among the goals of the new North Dakota Game and Fish Foundation.
Programs to identify significant natural features on private land and recognize conscientious landowners are also in operation, including:
North Dakota Parks and Recreation
1835 Bismarck Expressway
Bismarck, ND 58504
Phone: (701) 328-5357
Fax: (701) 328-5363
Web Site: http://www.state.nd.us/ndparks
The Nature Conservancy
Cross Ranch Nature Preserve
H.C. 1, Box 112
Hensler, ND 58547
North Dakota Game and Fish Foundation
P.O. Box 2438
Bismarck, ND 58502
Umber, Harold, ed. 1988. Natural areas of North Dakota. North Dakota Outdoors 50(8):2-25.This resource should be cited as:
Umber, Harold, ed. 1988. Natural areas of North Dakota. North Dakota Outdoors 50(8):2-25. Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online. http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/habitat/natareas/index.htm (Version 16FEB99).
Natural Areas Map -- North Dakota map with locations of Natural Areas