Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 418 East Broadway, Bismarck, ND 58501
Since 1961, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been acquiring an interest in wetlands by obtaining easements for waterfowl management rights. To date, the Service has made about 11,000 individual contracts, which prohibit the burning, draining, or filling of about 320,000 ha of wetland in North Dakota. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel check all easements annually and actively enforce the provisions of the easement contracts. The first easement violations were detected in the fall of 1963. The number of violations increased dramatically in the 1970's and early 1980's as a result of increased crop production and high wheat prices. A dramatic decrease in the number of violations has been observed since the mid-1980's and continues into the early 1990's. This decrease seems to be a direct result of active enforcement, favorable court decisions, and the "Swampbuster" provision of the 1985 farm bill. Grassland easements and Farmers Home Administration easements are now being obtained, which will provide for some new enforcement challenges in the future.