BISMARCK, ND (KFYR) – The Prairie Pothole Country that spans North Dakota is at the heart of what was once the largest expanse of grassland in the world. It supports the reproduction of large waterfowl populations.

The area is set to transform over the next three years thanks to on-the-ground conservation projects led by Ducks Unlimited and Trout Unlimited, supported by $150,000 from Tractor Supply Co.

“Cleaner water, cleaner air, grasslands, wetlands, waterfowl, other wildlife. It’s for everyone,” said Tanner Gue, conservation programs manager for North Dakota.

The project will cover 30,000 acres of private, working land in North Dakota.

“For our company, North Dakota is part of our origin story. It is therefore important that as a company we honor our history and the region of the world that is so unique and has its own unique history of all the people who live there and work the land and continue to contribute to the progress of the North Dakota,” said Roian Atwood, senior manager of sustainability at Tractor Supply Company.

Conservationists say they will reduce tillage, plant various cover crops and manage grazing practices.

They say these practices help ground-nesting birds, produce cleaner water for people, help environments resist drought, and can also maintain land productivity for farmers and ranchers.

“To help them manage their resources more efficiently, for their herd, or their crops, or their soil, or their water, but in doing so, by helping people be more efficient in their operational goals, we are also facilitating the habit grasslands and wetlands conservation,” Gue said.

Work will begin this year.

Over the next three years, the groups will also work to sustain wetlands along the Gulf Coast of Texas.

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