U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Division of Refuge Planning
Mountain-Prairie Region

Completed Plan Contacts

The Service completed this plan
in 2007.



Rainwater Basin Wetland
Management District

73746 V Road
Funk, Nebraska


Rainwater Basin Wetland
Management District

P.O. Box 8
Funk, Nebraska 68940


308 / 263 3000



Comprehensive Conservation Plan

Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District



The comprehensive conservation plan sets the management and use of the Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District for 15 years. Historically, this district in southern Nebraska was part of the northern grasslands of the Great Plains. Agriculture and development have replaced 99 percent of the grasslands and 90 percent of the wetlands with cropland. Still important to migratory birds, this area is used by 90 percent of the continental population of white-fronted geese, nearly 50 percent of the continental mallard population, and 30 percent of the continental northern pintail population.

The Service established Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District (1) for conservation purposes, (2) as waterfowl production areas subject to the Migratory Bird Conservation Act except the inviolate sanctuary provisions, and (3) for any other management purposes for migratory birds.

  • Established in 1963.
  • Consists of 61 waterfowl production areas (24,210 acres) and 35 conservation easements (2,476 acres).
  • Encompasses 15 counties in the Rainwater Basin of Nebraska: Adams, Clay, Cuming, Dodge, Fillmore, Franklin, Gosper, Hall, Hamilton, Kearney, Phelps, Polk, Saline, Seward, and York.

The 1958 amendment of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act of 1934 allowed the Service to acquire waterfowl production areas and grassland and wetland easements. The Service has purchased some of the more prominent remaining wetlands using revenue from the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (Duck Stamp) Program. The first wetland was purchased in 1963; land acquisition continues today.

A 2011 land protection plan increased the goals for conservation easements and fee-title lands in the district.

District wetlands are shallow basins that provide resting and feeding areas for millions on birds during spring and fall migration. Spring migration begins in late February with the arrival of white-fronted geese, snow geese, and northern pintails and ends in May with teal and shorebirds. Some common shorebird species in the district's waterfowl production areas are Wilson's phalarope, pectoral sandpiper, and common snipe. The district lands, located immediately south of the Platte River, complement the river in providing spring migration habitat for 500,000 sandhill cranes.

Image of the plan cover showing a flock of northern pintail ducks landing in a marsh.

Plan cover showing northern pintail ducks in a district wetland. Photo copyright Mike Vesey.

Common mammals across the district are white-tailed deer, coyote, American badger, Virginia opossum, and kangaroo rat.Each of the waterfowl production areas was previously farmed; thus, management focuses on restoring the areas to native grasslands with the highest diversity of grassland and wetland plants possible. Grassland and wetland conservation easements generally prohibit wetland drainage, grassland conversion, and development. The easements allow livestock grazing for manipulation of vegetation to improve habitat for migratory birds.

Major actions in the comprehensive conservation plan follow:

  • Maintain and create conservation partnerships with landowners, outdoor enthusiasts, private individuals, and the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture to improve the chances of success in protecting and restoring important habitat for migratory birds.
  • Remove shelterbelts and other undesirable trees to increase the quality and expanse of wetland and grassland habitats.
  • Make infrastructure changes to improve water management and quality throughout the district.
  • Construct a new headquarters and visitor contact station to improve work and safety conditions for district staff.


Comprehensive conservation plan (CCP)
CCP 2007 (17 MB PDF)

By section, for faster download:
Approval, contents, summary (1 MB PDF)Chapter 1, introduction (3 MB PDF)
Chapter 2, the district (7 MB PDF)
Chapter 3, district resources and description (3 MB PDF)
Chapter 4, management direction (3 MB PDF)
Appendixes (2 MB PDF)

Draft CCP and environmental assessment (EA)
Draft CCP and EA 2007 (9 MB PDF)

By section, for faster download:
Contents, summary (1 MB PDF)
Chapter 1, introduction (2 MB PDF)
Chapter 2, the district (2 MB PDF)
Chapter 3, alternatives (1 MB PDF)
Chapter 4, affected environment (3 MB PDF) Chapter 5, environmental consequences (1 MB PDF)
Chapter 6, implementation of the proposed action (1 MB PDF)
Appendixes (2 MB PDF)