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Wetland Resources of Eastern South Dakota


The mere mention of the word "wetland" in coffee shops and other gathering places on the prairies today brings out emotions and opinions that run the gamut from saving them all to draining them all.

To some people, what we do with wetlands has been, and still is, a personal choice, a matter of exercising individual rights on private property. To others, wetlands are community resources that provide values that touch all of society. They contend that what is done to and about wetlands is a community decision regardless of ownership. Herein lies the controversy we have experienced over wetlands on the prairie -- a resource which provides societal benefits, yet is privately owned.

The owners of prairie wetlands, like landowners everywhere, are possessive of their rights and options to make the most of their investment or inheritance. They jealously guard their right to determine the fate of the resources they own. Those interested in the public benefits of wetlands are equally motivated to ensure that wetland values are defended. Where this debate will lead is a matter of speculation.

Before landscape-level decisions about land use, and in this case wetland use, can adequately be addressed, all parties involved will be better equipped to defend their position if they know the extent of the resource, where it is, factors of quality, and something of the social interests in this resource.

Dr. Johnson and Dr. Higgins have done a masterful job of bringing together a state-of-the-art inventory of eastern South Dakota's wetland resources and have made comparisons of several factors of the nature of the wetlands found in the glaciated region of South Dakota. They have also included in this paper a history of some of the social and economic issues surrounding wetlands on the prairies, wetlands use and misuse, and the issues that make up the wetland controversies of the region.

Wetland Resources of Eastern South Dakota is an essential reference for those concerned about the future of wetlands and wetland policy in South Dakota and beyond. Armed with the information contained in this publication, decision makers at all levels will be informed on the number, size, and distribution of wetlands in eastern South Dakota. People working on the landscape level or on an individual ownership level will find this unique publication a valuable tool.

Carl R. Madsen
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Brookings, S.D.

GIF - The Carl Madsen Estate
The Carl Madsen estate includes wetlands from all three Cowardin et al. (1979) systems found in South Dakota: palustrine wetlands including an 11 acre restoration; Lake Campbell, a lacustrine wetland; and a riverine wetland.

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