A guest post by Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior
“The most endangered species in South Dakota these days is a young rancher,” Jim Faulstich told me as we sat in the barn of his ranch in central South Dakota. “As we lose the grasslands, we also lose the wildlife habitat and the hunting tradition that is a vital part of our heritage.”
With 6,000 acres of native grasslands and wetlands rich with pheasants, sharptail grouse, prairie chickens, partridge, ducks, antelope, and whitetail and mule deer, Faulstich’s Daybreak Ranch is a special place for both wildlife and hunters.
As his father before him did, Jim runs 500 head of cattle on the ranch and welcomes 100 sportsmen each year to enjoy the abundant wildlife and beauty of the land. Someday, he hopes to pass the ranch down to his son-in-law, Adam, and his grandson, Caleb. But he’s worried. Every year, 50,000 acres of grassland are plowed under in South Dakota.
I sat down with Jim on a windswept day recently to talk about the future of ranches like his and what can be done to preserve South Dakota’s ranching heritage and the native grasslands that are vital habitat to both game and non-game species.