Post-Prairie Dog Rangeland Recovery

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2007: $147,470.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: North Central
State: South Dakota
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Patricia Johnson
South Dakota State University

Annual Reports


  • Animals: bovine
  • Animal Products: meat


  • Animal Production: grazing management
  • Education and Training: participatory research, workshop

    Proposal abstract:

    Sylvatic plague and state, federal, and private control efforts have occurred on tens of thousands of hectares of prairie dog towns in the western part of the NCR over the past two years. Requests from ranchers for information on post-prairie dog grazing management strategies, expected rates of vegetation improvement, and economic consequences are numerous, but sources are virtually non-existent. This project will study vegetation change on former prairie dog towns on 7 cooperator ranches. Former prairie dog towns in 18 pastures will be studied, with nine grazed in summer and nine grazed in fall 2007-2010. Exclosures will be established on the former prairie dog town in each pasture to examine the non-grazing option. Vegetation change over 3 years for each grazing strategy will be evaluated and an economic analysis performed. Results of the study will be presented at field days held on 3 cooperator ranches in 2008 and 2010, at other informational and scientific meetings, and in 2 journal publications, 2 Extension publications, a thesis, and 2 South Dakota State University Beef Reports. The study will be evaluated regarding the science (e.g. scientific review of journal manuscripts), technology transfer (number of producers attending field days and other meetings), and adoption of results by regional ranchers. Short term outcomes include: 1) knowledge of the rate of vegetation change post-prairie dog, impacts of grazing strategies on those changes, and economic costs and benefits 2) 200 ranchers and the scientific community will be informed of post-prairie dog vegetation recovery rates 3) 7 ranchers will measure post-prairie dog forage change Intermediate outcomes include: 1) improved forage production on 7 cooperating ranches and 2) adoption of appropriate post-prairie dog control grazing management strategies by 25 regional ranchers

    Project objectives from proposal:

    • Determine the impact on vegetation recovery of three livestock grazing strategies (no grazing, growing season grazing, dormant season grazing) on former prairie dog towns. Determine the economic costs and benefits of three livestock grazing strategies on former prairie dog towns. Establish monitoring programs on former prairie dog towns and assist cooperating ranchers in learning and utilizing monitoring techniques.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.