Family helps protect nearly 1,000 acres of South Dakota elk habitat

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
The 965-acre Argyle Canyon property is in the southwest portion of the state and adjoins the Black Hills National Forest to the northeast and expands a connected landscape between the forest, the 33,000-acre Wind Cave National Park and the 71,000-acre Custer State Park.

MISSOULA, Mont. — The wildlife values of nearly 1,000 acres in South Dakota elk country are now protected thanks to a conservation-minded family.

"We appreciate and commend the Jarding family for contacting us and entering into a voluntary conservation agreement for the benefit of their land, elk and other wildlife," said Kyle Weaver, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation president and CEO. "This action serves to cement the Jarding’s strong conservation ethic and vision they already maintain."

"Protecting this property was a big dream for our family," said Mike Jarding. "In a time when land is being subdivided at an alarming rate in western South Dakota, we take pride in knowing this piece will be protected indefinitely. It will remain in agriculture production while protecting wildlife habitat and big game travel corridors long after we are gone."  

The 965-acre Argyle Canyon property is in the southwest portion of the state and adjoins the Black Hills National Forest to the northeast and expands a connected landscape between the forest, the 33,000-acre Wind Cave National Park and the 71,000-acre Custer State Park.

The property includes a mixture of prairie grasses, ponderosa pine stands and foothill grassland. About four miles of seasonal streams also cross the property. The surrounding landscape is home to more than 800 elk as well as pronghorn antelope, mule deer, wild turkey, grouse, swift fox and many other species.

"It’s been a group effort working with the Jarding family and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to bring the first Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) agricultural land easement to South Dakota," said Brandon Kottke, NRCS South Dakota easement program manager. "The property offers unique conservation values while allowing the landowner to maintain beneficial grazing management practices."

The Jardings already have their property enrolled in a program that promotes native shrub and tree growth, maintains healthy prairies and improves pollinator habitat.

The Jarding family, NRCS and RMEF provided funding for the project.

Dating back to 1990, RMEF and its partners completed 40 land conservation and access, 122 habitat enhancement, and 15 research projects in South Dakota, practically all of which are in the Black Hills region.