Big Sky Connection - The Prairie Potholes region stretches from Montana to Iowa and is an important habitat for duck populations. An influx of federal funds will protect and restore the region. Comments from two representatives of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership: Joel Webster, vice president of Western conservation, based in Missoula; and Christy Plumer (PLUMM-er), chief conservation officer.
Click on the image for the audio. The Prairie Potholes region is considered some of the most important waterfowl habitats in North America. (DeVane/Adobe Stock)
March 16, 2023 - The Interior Department is investing funds in protecting what some call America's 'duck factory.'
The Prairie Potholes are marshes and wetlands that stretch from Montana to Iowa, created by glacier activity thousands of years ago.
The Inflation Reduction Act enabled the Interior Department to put $23 million toward conserving and restoring the region.
Joel Webster - vice president of Western conservation for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and based in Missoula - said the project gives financial incentive to landowners to protect the landscape in an area heavy on farming.
"If we don't act," said Webster, "there's going to be continued pressure to drain them, to fill them in, to make space for expanded agriculture."
Webster said the Prairie Potholes provide habitat for up to three quarters of the country's breeding ducks. He noted that the region is also an important source of clean drinking water.
Christy Plumer - chief conservation officer with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership - called this a once in a lifetime investment. She said a lot of places across the country, like the potholes, are need in of restoration, especially as the climate changes.
"We're really excited to see this added infusion of federal funds coming in to help thriving communities," said Plumer, "and provide new opportunities for hunting and fishing access."
The $23 million project is part of a larger $120 million investment to rebuild and restore units of the National Wildlife Refuge System.