Guest Opinion: Habitat Pays: Connecting Landowners to Resources |

Guest Opinion: Habitat Pays: Connecting Landowners to Resources

Kelly Hepler, GFP Secretary & Lucas Lentsch, Ag Secretary

The rural areas of South Dakota have a lot to offer both residents and visitors from other states and around the world. We enjoy clean air, plentiful water sources and a quality of living envied by many. These things don’t happen by accident.

This past year, your departments of Game, Fish and Parks and Agriculture have been collaborating on the Habitat Pays initiative. Habitat Pays showcases tools currently available to landowners to assist them in determining the best use of their acres, whether it be acres in production agriculture, pasture or habitat. A balanced combination of all of these uses can increase healthy soils, water quality and habitat for a variety of species in our state.

The mission of both departments includes the desire to conserve and protect our state’s valuable resources. Landowners want to maximize their land’s financial potential, but they also share the desire to conserve and protect the land that provides their livelihood.

As a part of the Habitat Pays initiative,, was developed. This website serves as a one-stop-shop for finding state, federal and non-governmental programs that provide cost-share or technical assistance to producers. The website includes contact information for habitat advisors who meet with landowners, learn the goals they have for their operation and advise them about options available to meet those goals. It also features landowner video testimonials of how they are working in concert with their local advisor to enhance habitat on their property. We are proud to showcase a handful of these producers and the work they are doing. These farm and ranch families share their stories and offer insight into how these programs and advisors have been beneficial for their operations.

We know the new year is an important time for producers to make decisions about what their operation will look like for the next year. As you look ahead to 2016, we encourage you to utilize these exciting resources and consider how habitat programs may fit into your plan.


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