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Woody Habitat Establishment

Quality woody cover is needed to ensure winter survival of resident wildlife species during the harshest winter weather. The goal of the woody habitat component of the GFP private lands program is to increase wildlife populations by enhancing their winter survival. Dense woody plantings of shrubs and small trees can also provide protection from aerial predation. When mast producing species of trees and shrubs are incorporated woody plantings also provide food for wildlife.

Most of the wildlife species of interest live on the ground and woody habitat should be designed to create cover at ground level. Consequently, only low-growing trees and shrubs should be planted in most wildlife shelterbelts. However, to accommodate alternate objectives such as providing farmstead wind protection, GFP program guidelines allow for 1 or 2 rows of tall trees to be planted in some shelterbelts. In addition, no woody habitat applications will be funded when trees and shrubs are to be planted in native prairie or other rangeland.

The annual deadline for submitting applications for cost-share is November 1st of the year preceding the scheduled planting of the woody cover. If applications exceed planting goals, applications will be ranked according to the potential wildlife benefits of plantings and funding will be allocated from highest to lowest ranked plantings until available funding is exhausted.

To enroll in this practice you will need to develop a woody-planting plan with your local forester, local wildlife conservation office, or local district conservationist. GFP is responsible for reviewing the management plans before the contract can be signed. Each contract must have an outline of the work schedule and cultivation payment schedule for a 10-year period (the life of the contract). Payments are processed in October with cost share expected by November 1.

GFP Woody Habitat Program Guidelines
  • GFP will reimburse producers for 75% of costs incurred for planting woody habitat for wildlife. Alternate cost-shares received by producers will be subtracted prior to calculating the GFP 75% reimbursement.
  • GFP payment per producer per year is $3,000 unless at least one shelterbelt to be planted is 8-12 rows wide and at least 3 acres, then the payment maximum is $4,000.
  • If at least one shelterbelt is 13 or more rows wide and at least 5 acres, the cost-share maximum is $5,000.

Woody wildlife habitat planting criteria are as follows:

  • At least half of all rows planted in each woody habitat planting must be shrub, cedar or juniper rows.
  • Sites must be fallowed the year prior to planting
  • Woody plantings that are less than 3 acres and less than 9 rows wide may only contain shrubs and mid-sized trees.
  • Shelterbelts that are at least 3 acres may include 1 or 2 rows of tall trees as long as at least 4 rows of shrubs and/or mid-sized trees are planted immediately adjacent to each side of the tall tree row(s).
  • Cottonwoods may not be planted in any woody habitat planting.
  • No woody habitat plantings will be funded in native prairie or rangeland
  • South Dakota law (SDCL 41-2-23) requires that reasonable public hunting shall be provided when habitat management funds are expended on private lands.
  • Demand for these programs is such that funding is reserved for producers that are not involved in any type of fee hunting operation.
  • Applications consist of sending a planting description and aerial photograph noting the project location to the Project Coordinator at Game, Fish and Parks, 895 3rd St., Huron, SD 57350

Wildlife Partnership Programs

Cost Share Habitat Pactices

Eligible Species

American Plum
Golden Currant
Silver Buffaloberry
European Cotoneaster
Peking Cotoneaster
Skunkbush Sumac
Mongolian Cherry
Western Sandcherry
Nanking Cherry
Redosier Dogwood

Mid-Sized Tree

Eastern Red Cedar
Rocky Mountain Juniper
Common Chokecherry
Amur Maple
Siberian Crabapple
Bur Oak
Siberian Apricot
Hansen Hedge Rose
Manchurian Apricot
Manchurian Crabapple
Arnold Hawthorne
Ussurian Pear
Amur Honeysuckle

Tall Tree

Green Ash
Ponderosa Pine
Austrian Pine
Scotch Pine
Silver Maple
Blue Spruce
Black Hills Spruce
White Spruce
White Poplar
Siberian Elm
Russian Mulberry

Contact a GFP Wildlife Habitat Biologist...

For more information on any of these programs.