Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
|43d. Forested Buttes||Level IV Ecoregion|
|Home||The Northwestern Great Plains
ecoregion encompasses the Missouri Plateau section of the Great
Plains. It is a semiarid rolling plain of shale, siltstone, and sandstone
punctuated by occasional buttes and badlands. Native grasslands persist
in areas of steep or broken topography, but they have been largely replaced
by spring wheat and alfalfa over most of the ecoregion. Agriculture
is limited by erratic precipitation patterns and limited opportunities
The Forested Buttes of northwestern South Dakota, outliers of more extensive buttes in Montana, stand 500 feet above the surrounding plains. On closer inspection, the seemingly flat-topped mesas offer a landscape of eroded knobs, hoodoos, and grassy toeslopes capped by ponderosa pine. The higher elevation, locally increased moisture, and variable aspects in the dissected topography are conducive to tree growth. Green ash, boxelder, snowberry, and upland juniper grow in the draws. Cattle, buffalo, mule deer, and antelope share the rangeland.
Area (square miles): 232
Surficial Material and Bedrock
Order (Great Groups)
Precipitation - Mean annual (inches)
Potential Natural Vegetation
Ponderosa pine, Rocky Mountain juniper, snowberry. Green ash in drainages. Little bluestem dominates the grasslands.
Land Use and Land Cover
Logging, grazing on National Forest land.