The Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, located in the Northern Great Plains of north-central South Dakota, contains a mosaic of habitats important to numerous species of game and nongame wildlife. Approximately half of the lands within the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation are in trust status, with overall management belonging to the Tribe. Habitats on Trust lands consist mostly of mixed-grass prairie, cedar river breaks, hardwood riparian draws, and agriculture/conservation reserve fields. Some wetlands and stock-dams are scattered throughout the Reservation and livestock grazing is the primary land use.
The vegetation of the lands west of the Missouri River within the exterior boundaries of the Reservation can be characterized as a mixed grass prairie with scattered woody vegetation in drainages and along the shoreline. The common grass species are western wheatgrass, green needlegrass, needle-and-thread, and blue grama with many forbs such as scarlet globemallow, American vetch, prickly pear, fringed sagewort, scurfpea, wild parsley, wild onion, and gumbo lily also present. Stands of warm-season grasses like little bluestem exist on north-facing slopes, occasionally intermingled with big bluestem, indiangrass, and prairie sandreed.
The Missouri River on the eastern boundary of the Reservation contains primarily 4 prairie woodland types. These woodland types include green ash, bur oak, Rocky Mountain juniper and plains cottonwood. Trees and shrubs commonly associated with green ash and bur oak woodlands include box elder, American elm, common chokecherry, Saskatoon serviceberry, American plum, and western snowberry. Other common woody vegetative species on project lands include skunkbush sumac, wild rose, and hackberry.
Cottonwood woodlands, primarily associated with willow, used to dominate the Missouri River bottoms, but most have been lost due to the inundation of this habitat following the construction of Oahe Dam. The only extensive native stands of cottonwood within the Reservation boundaries are in the tail waters of the Moreau and Cheyenne rivers.
The Cheyenne River Game, Fish and Parks conduct habitat restoration projects within the Reservation for all species of wildlife. The primary habitat practices implemented involve riparian restoration, native grassland management, wetland creation/restoration, upland tree planting, dense nesting cover development, and food/cover plot establishment.
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREAS
Most of habitats managed for wildlife by the Game, Fish, and Parks are managed through cooperative agreements with individual range unit operators. In addition, GFP manages some areas solely for wildlife and their associated habitats.
Approximately 100 acres were donated from the LeBeau lease on Beaver Creek to the GFP. This riparian zone will provide excellent wintering habitats for game and nongame species in the near future. GFP has already completed several large habitat improvement projects in this area.
Hehaka (elk) Reserve
The Hehaka Reserve was established by the CRST Game, Fish and Parks in 1993. Approximately 3,000 acres have been set aside not only for the management of an elk herd, but also for numerous other game and nongame species. For more information on our elk reserve, go to the elk page.
MISSOURI RIVER HABITAT MITIGATION
The “Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, and State of South Dakota Terrestrial Wildlife Habitat Restoration Bill” was passed into law under Title VI of the Water Resources Development Act of 1999. As of 17 August 1999, the Act is Public Law 106-53. This legislation provides mitigation of the impacts to terrestrial wildlife habitat from the construction of 2 Missouri River main stem dams, Lake Oahe and Lake Sharpe, authorized under the 1944 Flood Control Act. The Act transferred U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ recreation areas and lands along the Missouri River to the State of South Dakota, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. It also establishes trust funds for the State and Tribes to fund habitat restoration and development work and ensure the future operation and upkeep of recreation areas along the Missouri River.
In June of 2002 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers transferred over 30,000 acres of land to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to be held in Trust status for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.