The arid basins and prairies of Wyoming lie in the rain shadow of our great mountain ranges. The shortgrass prairie of eastern Wyoming and Colorado are also that is left of this native grassland type. Buffalo grass and drama grasses typify the shortgrass prairie. The short grasses grow on the arid, wind blown prairies of the Rocky Mountains front.
Water on the shortgrass prairie is limited to a few potholes filled from early snow melt, holding water in early summer. Man has pumped water, using windmills creating summer long water for livestock and wildlife. Some to the buttes in the area also provide spring and seep water.
The life line for wildlife on the prairies, however, are the rivers, like the Belle Fourche, providing water year-long. The winding Bell Fourche bisects a myriad of coulees and breaks and places water within daily travel distances of large numbers of wildlife. Large cottonwoods and lush vegetation grow near the banks of the river, providing food and shelter for the pronghorn antelope, jackrabbits, sage grouse, mule deer and other wildlife that live on the shortgrass prairie.
Water, especially in arid areas, is an essential element in maintaining Wyoming's abundance and diversity of wildlife.