About Us

Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District is a management office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It was established in 1963 when the Service began acquiring critical migratory waterfowl habitat in southeastern Nebraska. Today, 63 individual Waterfowl Production Areas have been purchased, most of them with Federal Duck Stamp dollars.

The ancestral homelands of the Pawnee (Pâri) and the Jiwere, this geographic area, called the Rainwater Basin, is a complex of wetlands scattered throughout a 21-county area. The wetlands are shallow basins that provide resting and feeding areas for millions on birds during spring and fall migration. Historically, bison and wildfire kept the wetlands open with annual plants growing during dry summer months and droughts. With bison gone and wildfires controlled, management is done to keep these wetlands in a condition favored by ducks, geese, and other water birds.

Our Mission

Each unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System is established to conserve native species dependent on its lands and waters. All activities on those acres are reviewed to ensure they are compatible with the purpose of the refuge. 

Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District's purpose is to assure the long-term success of the breeding waterfowl population through the acquisition, restoration, conservation, and management of wetlands and potholes, while providing habitat for other migratory birds, threatened and endangered species and other wildlife.

Our History

The Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District was established in 1963 with the purchase of land on what is now Massie Waterfowl Production Area. A Service acquisition office located in Hastings from 1962 to 1971, helped acquire more than 14,000 acres. From 1963 until 1966, Valentine National Wildlife Refuge, more than 200 miles away, managed these waterfowl production areas. The District was created in 1966 with only one person to manage all of the Waterfowl Production Areas. The District held the name of Hastings Wetland Management District until its name changed to Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District in 1981.

Other Facilities in this Complex

Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District and Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge are managed out of the Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District office.  Both Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District and Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge have similar habitat conservation needs, and combining these areas assists in providing consistency and effectively utilizing human and capital resources for both locations.