Nearly 1,000 landowners in Nebraska have
joined with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through its Partners for Fish and Wildlife
Program to restore fish and wildlife habitat on their lands. Through the Partners Program,
the Service provides technical and financial assistance to help farmers and ranchers
realize their goal of making their land a better place for fish and wildlife while
sustaining profitable farming and ranching.
The Partners for Fish and Wildlife
Program was first implemented in Nebraska in 1991 and has been growing ever since. Since
the early 1990's, approximately 1,000 projects have been accomplished, resulting in a
substantial amount of habitat restored for Federal trust species (i.e., migratory birds
and threatened and endangered species).
Nebraska is located in the heart of the
central Great Plains, and its wildlife resources are highly diverse and very dynamic. The
Partners Program works with farmers and ranchers to restore wetlands, stream and river
corridors, prairies, grasslands, and other important fish and wildlife habitat.
In Nebraska, the predominant wetland
restoration and enhancement techniques involve restoring the natural hydrology through the
blocking of drains, breaking tiles, filling in concentration pits, removing sediment,
installing grass buffers, installing fences along stream corridors, and addressing
problems throughout the watershed. Wetland enhancement activities include working with the
landowners to better manage the wetland through the use of grazing, haying, discing, and
Upland and riparian areas are restored
and enhanced through the installation of cross fencing, providing alternative sources of
water, and the development of grassland/grazing management plans. Prairie restoration
along the central Platte River involves the conversion of cropland to a high diversity
mixture (e.g., 100 to 200 species) of local harvested native grasses and forbs.
The Partners Program in Nebraska
identifies priorities based on numerous criteria including:
- Habitat loss
- Future threats
- Habitat functions and values
- Benefits to federal trust species
- Land ownership and partners goals and
Nebraska's landscape, and thus its
wildlife resources, are very diverse and vary due to their geographic location, hydrology
and other physical properties. In Nebraska, the Partners Program focuses its efforts in
ecosystems or watersheds where our efforts will accomplish the greatest benefits. A high
priority is given to projects located in three major geographic focus areas of
international importance to wildlife: the Rainwater Basin area of
south-central Nebraska, the Big Bend reach of the Central Platte River and the Sandhills in
north-central Nebraska. Additional important habitat complexes of importance in Nebraska
include the Missouri River, Eastern saline wetlands and the North Platte River Valley
which contain important habitats for migrating, wintering and breeding fish and wildlife.
The priorities for the Nebraska
Partners Program are developed in coordination with our partners including the Nebraska
Game and Parks Commission, The Nature Conservancy, Rainwater Basin Joint Venture,
Sandhills Task Force, Platte River Whooping Crane Maintenance Trust, Ducks Unlimited and
numerous other groups and organizations. The overall priority of the Nebraska Partners
Program is to continue to develop successful partnerships with private landowners and
other agencies and organizations to improve habitat on private land through Nebraska.
Our target species include the whooping
crane, sandhill crane, lease tern, piping plover, waterfowl, shorebirds, grassland nesting
birds and native fish and mussels.
The long-term goals of the Nebraska
Partners Program are to protect and restore Federal trust species habitats on private
lands and to contribute to the conservation of biological diversity through the careful
selection, design and implementation of restoration projects.