Buses roll July 18-19 for the South Dakota Grasslands Coalition's 5th annual bus tour for ranch operators and other grassland management aficionados. Headquartered out of Watertown's Best Western Ramkota Hotel, the cost is $50/person and the registration deadline is July 10. For more info, contact Justin "Judge" Jessop at 605-280-0127.

This year, the tour begins near Lake City in northeast South Dakota and includes stops at two diverse grassland management operations along with lands owned by The Nature Conservancy.

The tour, designed to provide info on grassland management and conservation, includes visits to:

  • the 2,300-acre Neil Bien Ranch, which has incorporated a successful working operation with wildlife and grass management, and wetland restoration;
  • the Tekrony grass-banking project, a partnership between The Nature Conservancy and adjacent private landowners that will allow managed grazing on two Conservancy preserves while the landowners rest their land;
  • The Nature Conservancy's 7-Mile Fen, a 230-acre preserve of tallgrass prairie, pothole wetlands and a fen community, one of two Conservancy fen-wetland preserves in the area;
  • and the Rick Smith Ranch, widely recognized as a leader in pioneering innovative grazing techniques.
-- Joe Roybal