North Dakota - Prairie Potholes

State: North Dakota

Every spring, millions of ducks and geese pass through the Prairie Pothole Region to nest in the grasslands. After glaciers from the last ice age receded, they left behind the largest grassland in the world, the Great Plains of North America. Millions of shallow ponds formed wetlands that are now known as prairie potholes. These wetlands are globally significant because their rich habitat supports breeding populations of migratory waterfowl.  In some regions, 50 to 90 percent of the potholes have been degraded or converted to agricultural land or energy development.

Draining and development cause a loss of 100,000 acres of wetlands each year. Sportsmen organizations are working to restore damaged wetlands and create lasting protections for the Prairie Pothole Region through both legislative and administrative actions. With such a rapid rate of loss for wetlands, and pressure to drill for oil and gas, there is an urgent need for administrative guidance on wetland protection. Our flights took us over the true prairie potholes to the east of Bismarck.