Former GF&P head favors sod saver programFormer South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Secretary John Cooper has asked Ducks Unlimited members to write to Gov. Mike Rounds and ask him to have the state take part in the federal sod saver program to save native prairie.
WATERTOWN, S.D. (AP) — Former South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Secretary John Cooper has asked Ducks Unlimited members to write to Gov. Mike Rounds and ask him to have the state take part in the federal sod saver program to save native prairie.
“We need your help and I wouldn’t be standing up here asking for it if I didn’t think that it was absolutely crucial,” said Cooper, who now works on Missouri River issues as an adviser to Rounds.
Speaking at the Ducks Unlimited state convention in Watertown, Cooper urged the membership to send a short letter saying sod saver is critical “because we are in deep trouble in regard to the loss of grassland habitat in South Dakota.”
Last month, Rounds said he hadn’t decided whether South Dakota should sign up for the sod saver provision of the 2008 Farm Bill, although he did say he was “leaning against it.”
Sod saver would not allow federal farm program benefits for those who plow under native prairies as cropland.
Supporters say the sod saver provision will protect prairie that has not yet been tilled for crops. Governors in a multi-state prairie pothole region each have to decide if their state will participate.
Rounds has said he was waiting for more information from the federal government before making a decision.
The South Dakota Corn Growers Association is on record urging Rounds to reject the sod saver provision. The association said it would apply in the Prairie Pothole Region, covering parts of Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, eastern South Dakota and several counties in north central and central Iowa.
Bill Chase, of the Corn Growers Association, has said sod saver restrictions would place eastern South Dakota farmers at a competitive disadvantage over the long haul. He also said it’s unclear as to what ground qualifies.
In October, a coalition of 26 conservation groups, including the Izaak Walton League, urged Rounds to opt into the sod saver provision.
Ducks Unlimited held its state convention Jan. 31-Feb. 1.