Covering 1.6 million acres of South Dakota wetlands, marshes, uplands, and croplands, the Wolsey Crane Stopover Area was designated as an IBA by our Dakotas IBA Technical Committee in 2014. This decision was made after a Sandhill crane telemetry study completed by USGS Northern Prairie Research Center in Jamestown, ND verified Wolsey's importance during Sandhill crane migration. Each spring, 125-175,000 Sandhill cranes use this IBA for rest and foraging on waste grains.
Wetland protection laws and regulations are largely lacking within the Great Plains, this is true as well for Wolsey. Most of the acreage within the Wolsey IBA area is held privately, making it essential for Audubon and conservation organizations to stand up for habitat protection and restoration. Therefore, Audubon Dakota is embarking on a conservation campaign that will support a long term management plan for this critical crane habitat. The campaign aims to protect 22,000 acres by raising $19 million through both private donations and grants - including those provided through the North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA). We will apply for the first NAWCA grant in 2016 to jump start our conservation efforts at Wolsey IBA to guarentee that Sandhill cranes and other wetland birds have suitable stopover habitat for years to come.