Welcome to North Dakota’s Ransom County…”A Destination for all Seasons!” The seven natural wonders of Ransom County in North Dakota make up a unique tapestry in one of North America’s most natural prairie lands. Our local communities also offer a wide variety of cultural and heritage events throughout the year that provide a diverse mix to both our visitors and residents. Whether you enjoy nature hikes, birding, a night out at one of the events at the historic Lisbon Opera House or a rodeo in Ransom County, be assured there is always something unique to do in our communities! Thank you for visiting Ransom County’s Turkey Tour web site.
SHEYENNE NATIONAL GRASSLANDS
Sheyenne National Grasslands in Ransom County, North Dakota is an oasis for the greater prairie chicken, the sharp-tailed grouse, Western prairie fringed orchid, native tall grass prairie and rare species of butterflies, the Dakota Skipper and the Regal Fritillary among others. The North Country National Scenic Trail crosses through the grasslands.
NATIVE TALL GRASSES
The Sheyenne National Grasslands comprise approximately 70,180 acres in Ransom County, North Dakota and is the only remaining tallgrass prairie in public ownership in the United States. This is associated with the 64,769 in private ownership located in both Ransom and Richland Counties of North Dakota.
Because tall grass prairie in eastern North Dakota was so productive and easily converted to agricultural use, it is now one of the most endangered habitat types in the world. Less than two percent of the surface area in this region remains in prairie, with another seven percent disturbed and planted back into hay land (e.g. brome grass and alfalfa. ) Less than three percent of the surface area remains as lakes and wetlands. Forests along major river systems constitute another two percent. The Sheyenne National Grasslands, home to more that 40 sensitive plant and animal species, holds the bulk of remaining native tall grass prairie in the state. (Source: USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center)
According to the Grassland Heritage Foundation, “The reasons for the declines are believed to be the result of fragmentation of habitat and the loss of wintering and breeding habitat over the last 150 years. Most of the tallgrass prairie has been converted to agriculture (only 1% remains today). And fires, which once burned the prairies regularly, have been suppressed, allowing trees and shrubs to replace grassland.”
GREATER PRAIRIE CHICKEN
The Sheyenne National Grasslands located in Ransom and Richland counties contains the largest population of the greater prairie chicken in North Dakota.
This area and surrounding lands also provide habitat for two unique butterfly species, the Dakota Skipper and the Regal Fritillary.
The Dakota Skipper is an example of a healthy prairie. The North Dakota State Forest Service launched a new restoration proposal in 2005 to bring back more of the native grasses and wildflowers in the Sheyenne National Grasslands.
The butterfly depends on high quality, undisturbed mixed and tall grass prairie habitat and is very sensitive to disturbance.
Of 1,200 plant species in North Dakota, 850 can be found on the Sheyenne Grasslands, such as the threatened western prairie white- fringed orchid and the beach heather. Other populations of the western prairie white-fringed orchid exist, however the population found in the grasslands is one of the largest known to exist. For additional information about the threatened western prairie fringed orchid, click on the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center study
Less than 1,000 feet
The Grassland Visitor Map is available from the Grassland office located in Lisbon, ND.
From the North
If you are coming from the north, east or south, take Interstate 29 to the Colfax exit (#37), go west to Highway 18, then go 2 miles south to Highway 27, then go west 8 miles to a sign pointing south to McLeod.