The Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Matt Lohr visited Nebraska last month. During his first time in Nebraska as chief, Lohr visited several field sites and locations throughout eastern Nebraska including a visit to Kirkpatrick Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in York County.
The Kirkpatrick Basin area is a 396 acre wetland managed by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission with help from project partners that include the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, Ducks Unlimited, and the NRCS.
During Chief Lohr’s visit to Kirkpatrick Basin WMA, landowners, Kim Siebert and Gayle Marsh, shared their conservation success stories and experiences working with the project partners. Kim Siebert, a local cattle producer, grazes his cattle in the Kirkpatrick Basin each year as part of a public/private collaboration to promote desired habitat conditions at the site. Kim is also working with private landowners in the area to establish grazing infrastructure on wetlands enrolled in NRCS wetland programs. The Rainwater Basin Join Venture has provided cost-share for grazing infrastructure on both the public and private lands. Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District is also supporting these activities by providing producers with the use of a portable tube, chute, and alley system to make grazing these sites more convenient. Marsh is a fourth-generation farmer in Giltner. Since 2010, Marsh has been working with the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture to protect and restore 50 acres of wetlands on his property while increasing the profitability of his operation. This project also included cost-share for integration of Variable Rate Irrigation. These upgrades reduce irrigation inputs over the wetland by precisely applying water to portions of the field based on crop water needs. This project has increased annual net profitability of his operation. The Marsh tract served as the project template that supported 10 additional wetland projects with improved irrigation practices and grazing infrastructure as part of the “Divots in the Pivots” Regional Conservation Partners Program, available through NRCS.
The visit to Kirkpatrick Basin showcased how the Joint Venture and other Nebraska conservation partners work together to find ways to assist farmers and ranchers.
Other locations on Chief Lohr’s trip included stops at the Lower Platte NRD’s environmental education building at Lake Wanahoo, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Rogers Memorial Farm, and conversations with Dean Edson, Executive Director of Nebraska Association of Resources Districts, Jim Reedy, NRCS State Technology Engineer, and NRCS Soil Health Specialist Aaron Hird.