Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District manages conservation easements
on about three dozen tracts of land scattered throughout eastern
Nebraska. Most of them are located within the Rainwater Basin
region. All but three of those tracts were transferred from Farmers Home
Administration during the early 1990s. The owners of the properties at
that time were unable to make agriculture sustainable on the low-production
lands. No additional easements were obtained until 2009 when two tracts
were purchased from Ducks Unlimited.
The conservation easements are part of the National Refuge System. The
title for each property remains in private ownership. The conservation
easement however, places restrictions on what the land can be used for.
The most common restriction prevents the landowner from developing the
land--either by building homes or by farming. Livestock grazing is
allowed on nearly all easements.
Conservation easements can be a good alternative for low farm ground that
has poor production or gets flooded frequently. The tracts obtained from
Ducks Unlimited will have the wetlands restored and the upland reseeded to
grassland. Once grasses are established, the land will be sold to a
private landowner for agricultural use, primarily grazing and
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Prescribed burning is used to remove old vegetative growth, release nutrients back to the soil, decrease woody and other invasive and undesirable plant species, increase warm season grasses and forbs, and reduce the amount of organic matter (litter) on the soil surface.