Some efforts to convert Rainwater Basins to cropland have been extremely ambitions and costly. The attempt to convert this York County basin included construction of an eight-foot-high ring dike around the wettest portion of the wetland so that runoff from the watershed could be pumped into the enclosure to help dry and protect the surrounding cropped fields. The attempted conversion in the 1960s was a collaborative effort by the three landowners who farmed land adjacent to the wetland. The dike was built with dirt pushed from the adjacent cropland, creating “moats” that helped collect the runoff in these deeper excavations.
Restoration entailed removing the dikes and additional sediment that had accumulated in the wetland from the adjacent uplands. A total of 238,000 cubic yards of material were removed from the wetland footprint. This material was spread on the adjacent cropland and then disked into the crop fields.
Through the Wetlands Reserve Program, perpetual easements were acquired on the 236-acre property at a cost of $318,500. Restoration costs were funded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service ($199,000), Nebraska Environmental Trust ($40,000), and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act ($100,000).
This project highlights the collaborative effort of the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture partnership. Partners in the project include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District, Ducks Unlimited, Nebraska Environmental Trust, and the North American Wetland Conservation Act.
The partners have continued to work with the owners to integrate management into this site. A perimeter fence was constructed with partner funds to facilitate grazing.