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Don’t Miss the 23rd Annual RWBJV Info. Seminar on February 1, 2018

(Updated 1/12/18) Join landowners, agricultural producers, conservation professionals, congressional staff, researchers, and students for a day of education and networking about conservation in Nebraska. The 23rd annual Rainwater Basin Joint Venture Informational Seminar will be held on Thursday, February 1, 2018 at the Hotel Grand Conference Center in Grand Island, Nebraska.

The seminar is FREE for landowners and producers. For all others, a $40 fee covers registration, lunch, and snacks. The annual RWBJV Habitat Stewardship Awards will be announced during lunch.

Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. on February 1. Pre-registration ends January 26,2018. However, registration will be available the day of the event.  Register NOW online or by, contacting Niki Messmer by email (niki.messmer@rwbjv.org) or phone (308-382-8112).

As every year, presentations are designed to be highly informative and useful. You will learn about programs that combine wildlife and habitat conservation with agricultural and livestock production, wetland management techniques, variable rate irrigation, how to take advantage of conservation funding, and much more. The schedule is below. To view and print a flyer, click here.

8:30 - 9:30         Check-in (Coffee, tea, muffins, etc. available)

9:30 - 9:45         Welcome - Andy Bishop, Rainwater Basin Joint Venture Coordinator


9:45 - 10:30       Learning about People to Better Manage Wildlife

The future of wildlife populations requires understanding the people who act as wildlife stewards. We explore the role of human dimensions in wildlife management and what it means for Nebraska.

           --Christopher J. Chizinski, PhD, Asst. Professor, Human Dimensions of Wildlife Management, UNL

10:30 - 10:40      Break

10:40 - 11:25      Some Thoughts on the People of the Rainwater Basin

We will explore how two groups of people - hunters and landowners - perceive, and in some cases, use the ecosystem services provided by the Rainwater Basin.

                        --Joseph J. Fontaine, USGS Nebraska Coop. Fish & Wildlife Research Unit, UNL

11:25 - 11:35      Break


11:35 – 12:10

An Application of Economics & Environmental Planning: The Impact of Variable Rate Irrigation Technology on Net Farm Income - Mallard Room

An economic analysis of investing in variable rate irrigation (VRI) in conjunction with wetland restoration. Increased grazing opportunities are critical for economic feasibility, although additional caveats exist.

--Karina Schoengold and Hannah Janda, UNL

RWBJV Water Plan - Pintail Room

The Rainwater Basin Joint Venture Water Plan out­lines multiple strategies to increase ponded habitat on private and public wetlands in the Rainwater Basin region.

            --Dana Varner, RWBJV and Randy Stutheit, NGPC

Forage Production in RWB Wetlands - Goose Room

Grazing wetlands can be beneficial for both land­owners and wildlife. We quantified the amount and quality of available wetland forage throughout the year to assist in development of grazing plans.

--Heidi Hillhouse, UNL

12:10 - 1:15 Lunch & Awards Presentation


1:15 - 1:50

Navigating Trade-offs when Managing for Multi-Species Avian Communities - Mallard Room

We use a community of grassland bird species to illustrate the strategic optimization of multiple work­ing goals under social, economic, and ecological constraints and explore the costs and benefits using game birds as ‘surrogate species’ in multi-species conservation and management plans.

--Erica F. Stuber, UNL, and Joseph J. Fontaine, U.S. Geological Survey

Migratory Bird SAFE - Pintail Room

An overview of the SAFE program, specifically the enrollment criteria, application process, reverse auction approach for determining compensation, and potential restoration activities.

--Greg Resisdorff, FSA

Cattle Producer’s View of Animal Health when Grazing in Wetlands - Goose Room

Maintaining animal health is challenging when graz­ing wetlands. Common issues include hoof rot, pink eye, and biting insects. Today’s talk will highlight unique solutions our operation uses to address these issues.

--Brian Shaw, Landowner

1:55 - 2:30

Nebraska Wetland Condition Assessment - Mallard Room

A study of five types of Nebraskan wetlands focusing on generating long term monitoring data for soils, water, vegetation, and land use practices.

--Cody Dreier, UNL

“Divots in the Pivots” Regional Conservation Partnership Program - Pintail Room

Divots in the Pivots restores habitat in Nebraska’s Rainwater Basin and continues economic sustainability to agriculture. Best management practices ensure efficient irrigation on productive cropland while restoring and promoting wetlands.

--Dave Eigenberg, Upper Big Blue NRD

Integrating Grazing on Wetlands: Considerations for Developing Grazing Plans - Goose Room

A good grazing plan consists of seven basic com­ponents: goals and objectives, forage inventory, livestock inventory, feed/forage balance, grazing schedule, contingency plan, and monitoring plan. Every grazing plan should be site specific and flex­ible. This talk will describe items to consider when developing a grazing management plan.

--Nadine Bishop, NRCS

2:35 - 3:10

Use of Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) for Playa Wetland and Monitoring Assessment - Mallard Room

This study uses the UAS-based multispectral sensors, thermal imaging cameras, and oblique photogrammetry technology to map wetland inundation dynamics, wildlife distribution and plant community conditions on playa wetlands.

--Zhenghong Tang, Oiao Hu, Wayne Woldt, Jacob Smith, III – UNL

Pitfill Decision Model - Pintail Room

Wetland water budgets developed using actual weather and soils data can be used to evaluate the hydrologic effects of filling irrigation reuse pits in the upland areas of playa basins.

--Nate Garrett, NRCS

Grazing, Spraying, Pumping, and Fire: Keeping it Simple with Proven Management Actions on Public Wetlands - Goose Room

This presentation describes the who, what, when, where, why, and how public and private lands can be managed to enhance Rainwater Basin wetlands focused on migrating waterbirds.

--Brad Krohn, USFWS; Chuck Lesiak, NGPC (retired); and Rick Souerdyke, NGPC

3:15 - 3:50

Agrichemicals in the Rainwater Basin: Presence, Timing, and the Potential for Toxicity to Amphib­ians - Mallard Room

We tested for the presence of agrichemicals in Rainwater Basin wetlands, drainages, and irrigation-reuse pits and assessed the potential toxicity of one of these, azoxystrobin, to larval amphibians.

--Michelle L. Hellman, UNL

Early Rainwater Basin Technical Studies: A Trip Down Memory Lane with Mike and Randy - Pintail Room

Wetland investigations associated with the 1980s inter-agency Advanced Identification Initiative are presented. Studies included waterfowl time budget, vegetation characterization and functional assess­ment. Linkages to the RWBJV are also discussed.

--Michael C. Gilbert, Army Corps of Engineers (retired) & Randy G. Stutheit, NGPC

The Conservation Process: A Landowner’s Perspective - Goose Room

Hear a landowner’s view of the conservation process including easement enrollment, restoration, infrastructure construction, and future plans to integrate the restored site into an agriculture operation.

--Tyler Fitzke, Landowner and Ele Nugent, Habitat Specialist, RWBJV