THE
THREATS

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CONVERSION

The biggest threat to this region is plow-up (conversion) for row crop agriculture for crops such as corn, soy, and wheat. Across, the entire Great Plains, 2.5 million acres were lost to conversion from 2015-2016. During the same span of time in the Northern Great Plains alone, 700,000 acres of grasslands were plowed under. From 2014-2015 more acres of grassland in the Northern Great Plains were lost to conversion than the Brazilian Amazon lost forest during the same year.

Surface Runoff

It is estimated that conserving threatened grasslands could save 1.7 trillion gallons of water that otherwise would be lost to surface runoff. This is the equivalent of around 4% of the total flow volume of the Missouri River Basin. When grasslands are plowed for agriculture and native plants are removed, water that would normally be pulled deep into the soil by the roots of prairie plants instead runs off into streams and rivers along with excessive amounts of soil (sedimentation). This loss of water affects wildlife, sustainable agriculture, and downstream communities that rely on these systems for drinking water and healthy fisheries.

Increased Surface Runoff

Plowprint

Originally the region was a sea of rich grasses, watersheds and wildflowers. Today, demand for agricultural commodities and new, drought resistant bioengineered crops, encourage the degradation of native grasslands and drain waterways and watersheds. This plow-up of native grasslands will continue to reshape the landscape and push out wildlife if conservation is not considered.

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ENERGY DEVELOPMENT

Energy development pressure in the Northern Great Plains comes from both traditional (oil, gas, and coal) and renewable sources. Some of the nation's largest coal reserves exist in the region, and wind energy development is growing across every state in the NGP.

Oil and Gas Development

Advances in oil and gas extraction allow industry to tap into parts of the region where resources were once too difficult and expensive to access. The oil and gas industry is taking advantage of these new technologies and breaking ground from the Dakotas to areas as far west as the Rockies. In North Dakota, the Bakken Shale Formation has produced over a million barrels per day in recent years. The incredible amount of oil underlying the Bakken has led North Dakota to become the second highest oil producing state in the country after Texas. As technology continues to improve, oil and gas development will continue to boom in the region, fragmenting the grasslands and threatening its wildlife.

Energy Development

Potential Oil & Gas Development areas

Wind Energy Development

Wind energy's increasingly competitive prices and federal and state policies meant to drive its development have led to a wind boom across the NGP. In 2013, South Dakota generated 26% of its energy from wind while North Dakota and Wyoming generated 15.6% and 8.4% respectively.

Energy Development

Potential Oil & Gas Development areas

Potential Wind Development areas

FRAGMENTATION

Energy development pressure in the Northern Great Plains comes from both traditional (oil and gas) and renewable sources. Also, wind energy development is growing across every state in the NGP.

Fragmentation

From seasonal migrations across state or country boundaries to moving between nesting and feeding grounds, wildlife need the freedom to roam for survival. Development, roads and fences, habitat clearing and invasive plant species restrict the ability of wildife to adapt, travel, find food, and mates.

THE
SOLUTIONS

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