Nebraska Environmental Trust Grants Will Improve Rainwater Basin Wetlands

Wetlands and wildlife habitat in the Rainwater Basin will benefit from $412,855 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 pasture, flood storage, nutrient cycling, recreational opportunities, and groundwater recharge.

The Joint Venture will receive $51,240 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 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. This is the second year of a grant that has potential for third-year funding of an additional $102,480.

The “Strategic Conservation of Rainwater Basin Wetlands and Upland Buffers” grant will provide $250,000 to restore and improve wetlands on public lands and to help integrate privately owned wetlands into agriculture operations through grazing and haying.

Third-year funding of $60,375 for “Watershed Restoration of Atlanta Waterfowl Production Area” will help Joint Venture partners continue restoration on parts of the 430-acre Phelps County wetland 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 $18,799,900 this year to 118 projects throughout Nebraska.