Native range and pasture lands account for over 50% of South Dakota’s total land mass of approximately 48 million acres. Around 2 million acres of South Dakota’s lands are publicly owned, with the remaining 91% in private ownership. Over 17,000 family-owned and operated ranches depend on these lands to provide grazing for approximately 4.05 million beef cattle and 255,000 sheep. Livestock production is a critical component of the state’s economy, accounting for approximately $3.2 billion in total cash receipts (Census of Agriculture National Agriculture Statistics Service, 2017). Land managers need tools and techniques to help them monitor rangeland condition, improve utilization of rangeland resources, control invasive species, and develop management plans to respond to challenges resulting from drought and other natural disasters.
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