Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

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

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District

P.O. Box 8

Funk, NE 68940

Date:  May 31, 2011

Ronnie Sanchez (308) 263-3000

Nick Kaczor (303) 236-4387   

 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Release Draft Environmental Assessment and Land Protection Plan Regarding the Proposed Expansion of the Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District

 

Public Scoping Comments on the Environmental Assessment and Draft Land Protection Plan Will Be Accepted Until July 1, 2011

 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today issued the draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and accompanying Land Protection Plan (LPP) for the proposed expansion of the Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District.  The Rainwater Basin is a region of shallow marshes and other wetlands located south of the Platte River in south-central Nebraska. The EA and LPP outline the actions necessary to establish the area, and analyze the potential impacts of increasing the acquisition goal of the district. The outcome of the assessment will be to determine whether the Service should proceed with the expansion.

 

The proposal is to expand protection of the Rainwater Basin to further the protection of critical wetland and grassland habitats for migrating birds. The Service is proposing to increase the acquisition goal from 24,000 acres to 38,177 acres. This would be accomplished by acquiring interest in approximately 9,177 acres by fee-title and 5,000 acres by establishing perpetual conservation easements. These lands would be acquired from willing sellers only. 

 

The Rainwater Basin is internationally known for its spectacular bird migrations.  Surveys and other research over the past 50 years have documented the international importance of Nebraska’s Rainwater Basin region for all types of birds during the migration season. Millions of ducks and geese depend on this area, as 50 percent of the continental mallard population, 30 percent of the continental pintail population, and 90 percent of the mid-continent white-fronted goose population use 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.  It is estimated that between 200,000 and 300,000 shorebirds migrate through the Rainwater Basin in the spring.

 

The Service would like to receive public comment on the draft EA and LPP as part of the 30 day review period. The EA and LPP documents are available for review and comment on the Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District’s website (http://www.fws.gov/rainwater), or at the regional planning website (http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/planning/).  Written comments concerning the EA/LPP are welcome and should be submitted to the email or mailing addresses indicated below by July 1, 2011.

 

For more information or to provide comments, contact:

 

Ronnie Sanchez, 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 x103

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-