Nebraska Partners for Fish and Wildlife
Project Profile: Kugler Farms - Riverine and Wet Meadow Habitation Restoration
Contact: Kenny Dinan, 308-382-6468, ext. 13
In 2003, Lane Kugler, on behalf of Kugler Farms, began discussions with numerous Platte River partners regarding the restoration of approximately 190 acres of wet meadow and riverine habitat they owned and managed along the central Platte River in Nebraska.
In the late 1930s Mr. Kugler's grandfather purchased the land, and it has remained in the Kugler family for the past four generations. The project area had become overgrown with undesirable woody vegetation and invasive species, and the historic wetland features had become filled with sediment, reducing the quality and quantity of these specialized habitat types. Lane Kugler shared, "I love to sit and listen to my Grandparents tell all the old stories. Somehow, those stories engrained a love of wildlife in me forever. They told me what the Platter River used to look like before it had any trees, and about the millions of birds they would watch. Cranes, waterfowl, just about every kind of bird you can imagine." The overall goal of the Kugler family was to restore and enhance riverine habitat along the Platte River for fish and wildlife species native to the area.
By the fall of 2003, the Kugler family entered into partnership agreements with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Platte River Whooping Crane Maintenance Trust, Ducks Unlimited Inc., Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, The Nature Conservancy, Nebraska Environmental Trust, and the Platte River Habitat Partnership to complete the first phase of this restoration project. Subsequent agreements were entered into by the above-mentioned partners during the summers of 2006 and 2009 to complete additional phases of the project. To further meet the Kugler Family's long-term conservation goals for this parcel of land, the Kuglers entered into a conservation easement with Ducks Unlimited, Inc. through their Platte River Initiative in 2009 to ensure this area would provide valuable habitat in perpetuity.
Since the restoration was completed trumpeter swans, sandhill cranes, white pelicans and bald eagles have been spotted. Mallards, gadwalls, widgeons and other paddle ducks are moving back into the area, as well as wading birds like the dowitcher, snipe, and greater and lesser yellowlegs. Marsh hawks, northern harriers and short-eared owls are some of the birds of prey that have been restored to this area. Killifish and plains topminnows are two of the fish species that have found their way back, and the river is now primed for river otters due to the restoration of the ecosystem, and the abundance of wildlife now found on the Kugler Farms' section of the central Platte River.
The Kugler family's dedication to the stewardship of this 190-acre parcel of Platte River habitat enables the restoration work to be maintained and contribute toward their long-term goals of conserving, restoring, and enhancing this area for native wildlife species that rely on the river, and protecting the area for future generations to enjoy.