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Little Blue NRD Receives Grant to Improve Rainwater Basin Wetlands

The Little Blue Natural Resources District will receive $135,000 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for a project to improve the function of Rainwater Basin wetlands. This is the third and final year of a three-year grant. The “Watershed Restoration to Enhance Rainwater Basin Wetlands” grant is helping to restore the watersheds of Rainwater Basin wetlands by filling unneeded irrigation re-use pits located in the drainage area of priority basins. Re-use pits can prevent overland flows from reaching the wetland.

As an added benefit, filling unused pits increases farmable acres for producers and also removes an obstacle from their farm field.

Improved wetland function not only provides more habitat for the estimated 8.6 million waterfowl that migrate through south-central Nebraska each spring; it also benefits local residents and producers by contributing to groundwater recharge, which naturally occurs through Rainwater Basin wetlands.

The objective of the project is to fill at least sixty pits in high-priority watersheds. Emphasis is placed on pits that have large storage capacity and are relatively close to affected wetlands.

The Little Blue NRD is a core member of the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, a public-private partnership working to improve and protect wetlands in the Rainwater Basin and habitat in Nebraska’s mixed-grass prairies.

The Nebraska Environmental Trust, using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, has provided over $233 million in grants to over 1,700 projects across the state since 1992, and has awarded $19,491,958 to 113 projects this year.