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A Guide to Wetlands Management & Development

South Dakota's Wetlands

South Dakota's Wetlands South Dakota includes diverse land types and habitats. Among them, some of the most productive are wetlands. Due to being located in the Prairie Pothole Region, the state has 1.7 million acres of prairie wetlands.

What is a wetland?

Wetlands can be classified in several ways. They are natural depressional areas capable of holding
shallow, temporary, seasonal, semi-permanent or permanent water. They can also be described as an area of transition between upland and permanent open water. The scientific definition used by federal and state agencies for delineation of "jurisdictional wetlands" is "Those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, floodplains, fens, sloped wetlands, wetland draws and similar areas." (See Wetland Classification Section)

What is a jurisdictional wetland?

A "jurisdictional wetland" is one that falls under state or federal regulatory authority. Wetlands are included under surface water quality regulations, pesticide regulations and landfill regulations in South Dakota. Two federal agencies oversee wetland issues. The Natural Resources Conservation Service has jurisdiction over wetlands on "Agricultural Lands." The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and EPA have jurisdiction over "waters of the United States, including wetlands." (See Section 404 and Swampbuster sections)

How were wetlands formed?

The same glacial processes that formed the prairie lakes also formed most of South Dakota's wetlands. When the glaciers retreated they left depressions, scars and accumulations of glacial drift or debris. The rolling hills, e.g., Missouri or Prairie Coteau, and numerous small lakes, ponds and depressions left by the glaciers are defining characteristics of the Prairie Pothole Region. There are also wetlands located in western South Dakota created by other natural processes.
Anaerobic: Condition under which molecular oxygen is absent
Hydric Soils: Soil which is flooded, saturated, or ponded enough to develop anaerobic conditions.
Hydrophytic Vegetation: Water-loving plants.
Hydrology: Science dealing with the properties, distribution and circulation of water.
Jurisdictional Wetland: One over which federal or state agencies have regulatory authority.

Wetland characteristics

Prairie Potholes reflect the characteristics of their environment. They change from season to season and year to year. Most potholes receive water from snowmelt and rain. Consequently, many wetlands fluctuate in response to wet and dry cycles. Other wetlands are fed by groundwater and have a more stable water level.

Wetlands Values and Functions
1. Flood Control 8. Commercial Fisheries
2. Erosion Control 9. Hunting and Fishing
3. Fish and Wildlife Habitat 10. Recreation
4. Boating 11. Forestry Products
5. Quality of Life 12. Livestock water and Forage
6. Fine arts and Literature 13. Groundwater recharge (can be expanded)
7. Water Quality and Quantity  

Wetlands support a wide variety of plants and animals that have adapted to fluctuating conditions and water levels. Wetland animals and plants also vary with water depth and season. Variations in precipitation, groundwater availability, climate, and plant and animal species have created the great diversity of wetland types in the Prairie Pothole Region. This assortment of habitat and food is the principal reason the Prairie Pothole Region is home to so many migratory birds and other animals.South Dakota's Wetlands

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Next Section -- Wetland Conservation Provisions of the Farm Bill (Swampbuster)

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