May 22, 2014Contact: Andy Bishop, CoordinatorRainwater Basin Joint Venture308-382-8112
Wetlands and wildlife habitat in the Rainwater Basin will benefit from over $652,000 in Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund grants awarded to the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture. The Rainwater Basin’s wetlands provide migration habitat for millions of geese and ducks each spring, as well as hundreds of thousands of shorebirds, and endangered whooping cranes. They also provide flood storage, nutrient cycling, recreational opportunities, groundwater recharge, and pasture.
The Wetland Habitat Enhancement and Restoration Grant, now in its second year, will provide $350,000 to improve and protect migratory bird habitat and wetland function on private and public lands in the Rainwater Basin. The grant has a potential for third-year funding of up to $350,000.
In addition, the Joint Venture will receive $87,838 in third-year funding for “Development of Grazing Infrastructure to Support the Rainwater Basin Working Lands Initiative.” This grant helps fund installation of fence and livestock watering equipment to facilitate grazing of abandoned wetlands on private land in the Rainwater Basin. Grazing provides a potential for economic return on flood-prone lands while helping to improve wetland bird habitat.
Second-year funding of $75,000 for the “Rainwater Basin Wetland Management” grant will help to control invasive vegetation such as reed canary grass, river bulrush, and hybrid cattail, which degrade habitat in Rainwater Basin wetlands. The grant provides for measures such as disking, herbicide treatment, prescribed fire, and livestock fencing, and has a potential for third-year funding of $75,000.
The “Western Rainwater Basin Waterfowl Production Areas” grant will provide $89,411 to improve 291 acres of wetland habitat at Gleason WPA in Kearney County, and to restore wetland function and 188 acres of habitat at Victor Lakes WPA in Gosper County.
First-year funding of $50,375 for “Watershed Restoration of Atlanta Waterfowl Production Area” will help Joint Venture partners restore portions of the 430-acre wetland in southwest Phelps County by filling abandoned irrigation pits in the surrounding watershed. Removal of unneeded pits can provide additional farmable acres; also, water that previously collected in the pits can flow instead to the wetland, improving habitat.
The Nebraska Environmental Trust, using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, awarded total grant funds of $21,750,000 this year to 132 projects throughout Nebraska.
The Rainwater Basin Joint Venture is a public-private partnership composed of conservation agencies, local government bodies, non-profit organizations, and individuals working cooperatively to protect and restore wetlands and other native habitats in Nebraska’s Rainwater Basin and mixed-grass prairie region. More information is at http://rwbjv.org.
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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.