Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region


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

 September 25, 2007

Contact:  Larry Klimek, 712-642-4121, ext 5401


Nebraska’s Papio-Missouri River Natural Resource District Receives

National Land Protection Award


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will present the National Land Protection Award to the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resource District (District) on October 4th at the 20th annual National Land Conservation Conference to be held at the Adams Mark Hotel in Denver, Colorado. Jim Becic, Environmental Coordinator will accept the award on behalf of the District.


The award was established in 2001 by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Division of Realty to recognize a private citizen, group, organization, corporation, or public agency and their employees or volunteers, for their significant contribution to land protection for fish and wildlife resources in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


“I’m pleased to recognize the District for their outstanding conservation work that resulted in wetland restoration and the donation of 2,000 acres to the Service to establish Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge near Omaha, Nebraska,” said Eric Alvarez, Realty Division Chief, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  “This acreage, along with development of roads, trails, kiosks, fencing, fishing piers, and interpretive facilities has a value of $6 million.  In 2005, the District donated an additional 700 acres valued at more than $1 million.”


The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District is a local conservation agency in Nebraska with broad responsibilities to protect and enhance the state’s natural resources. The District’s mission is to wisely conserve, manage and enhance soil, water, wildlife, and forest resources for the good of all people residing within the District's boundaries.  Much of the funding for the District’s resource management programs and projects comes from property taxes collected in the area served by the District.  


The Papio-Missouri River District is unique and has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the conservation of the soil, water, and wildlife resources along the Missouri River Corridor.  Working in partnership with the Corps of Engineers, the District restored and renovated wetlands along the Missouri River that were previously lost due to Corps channelization for navigation.  Their efforts have produced significant habitat improvements for fish and wildlife and have provided public recreation benefits for present and future generations of Americans. 


A $6 million wetland renovation project completed by the District in 1996 returned more than 2,000 acres to riparian wetlands and native vegetation.  As part of the project, the District developed recreation facilities including hiking trails, canoe launches, fishing access, and educational interpretation of the natural resources with input from the Service.  The restoration of the 2½ mile long chute (old river channel) in conjunction with the Corps of Engineers, and the subsequent donation of the land and infrastructure to the Service marked the beginning of the Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge.  In 2005, the District restored the Nathan’s Lake property and donated an additional 700 acres to the Service for inclusion in the refuge.   


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 97-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 548 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.


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