Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

December 27, 2010

Contacts: 
Gene Mack (308) 263-3000, ext. 102
Nick Kaczor (303) 236-4387 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Host Public Meetings Regarding the Proposed Expansion of the Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District

 Public Comments Will Be Accepted Until January 31, 2011
Public Information Meetings Will Be Held In Holdredge and Clay Center, Nebraska

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is proposing to expand protection of the Rainwater Basin to further the protection of vital wetland and grassland habitats for migrating birds. The Service is proposing to increase the land acquisition goal from 24,000 acres to 38,177 acres. The Service would accomplish this goal by acquiring interest in approximately 9,000 acres by fee-title and 5,000 acres by establishing perpetual conservation easements. We would acquire these lands would be acquired from willing sellers only. 

Nebraska’s Rainwater Basin is internationally known for its spectacular bird migrations.  Biological surveys and other scientific research over the past 50 years have documented the international importance of the Rainwater Basin region for all types of migrating birds. Millions of ducks and geese depend on this area, as does half the continental mallard population, a third of the continental pintail population, and nearly all of the mid-continent, white-fronted goose population uses the region during spring migration.  In addition, over 329 species of birds have been observed within the Rainwater Basin including 35 species of waterfowl and 40 species of shorebirds.  The Service estimates that between 200,000 and 300,000 shorebirds migrate through the Rainwater Basin in the spring.

The Service wants to hear from the community about this proposal and will hold two meetings about the proposed Rainwater Basin expansion January 11 & 12, 2011 at various locations (see meeting schedule below). At the meetings, the public will be able to meet with Service personnel, learn more about the proposal, and provide input into the planning process. These meetings will be forums for sharing ideas and issues about proposed land conservation efforts. We also encourage the public to comment through letters, emails, and phone calls to the local or regional contact listed below.  Comments and information received will help determine the appropriate level of environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act to develop the land protection plan for the proposed expansion of the Rainwater Basin.

The Service encourages individuals or group representatives to call, write, or request information on upcoming meetings with us to discuss this proposal and their perspectives on the future of the Rainwater Basin.  We will accept public scoping comments until January 31, 2011.  In addition, the Service will provide another opportunity to comment on the forthcoming Land Protection Plan for the Rainwater Basin in the spring of 2011.

You can also visit the project website for more information – http:/www.fws.gov/rainwater

The meetings will begin at 6:30 pm with the doors open at 6 pm for those who wish to meet one-on-one with Service personnel at the following dates and locations:

January 11, 2011
Super 8 Motel
420 Broadway
Holdrege, NE 68949

January 12, 2011
4-H Activity Center
Clay County Fairgrounds
701 North Martin Avenue
Clay Center, NE 68933

For more information or to provide comments, contact:
Gene Mack, Wetland Management District Manager
Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
P.O. Box 8
Funk, NE 68940
RWB_comments@fws.gov
308 / 263-3000 x102

Nick Kaczor, Planning Team Leader
Division of Refuge Planning
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
P.O. Box 25486, DFC
Denver, Colorado 80225
RWB_comments@fws.gov
303- 236-4387

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.  We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation—known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

-FWS-