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Rainwater Basin Joint Venture Receives Grants for Habitat Programs

May 12, 2008

     The Rainwater Basin Joint Venture has been awarded three Nebraska Environmental Trust grants in 2008, benefiting programs to restore and protect wetlands and habitat in south-central Nebraska's Rainwater Basin region.

     The Nebraska Environmental Trust provides grants to organizations and communities state-wide to help protect and preserve Nebraska's natural resources.

     The South-Central Nebraska LIDAR project, coordinated by the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, will provide highly-detailed topographical data of landscape that includes the Rainwater Basins, and the central Platte and Republican rivers. LIDAR (Light Detection Ranging) uses laser technology to delineate watersheds by detecting the slight variations in elevation that characterize much of the Rainwater Basin region. This information will help in planning and design of wetland conservation projects by Joint Venture partners. Other organizations that will benefit from the data include the Platte River Recovery and Implementation Program, and a consortium of Natural Resources Districts. The NET grant, totaling $588,000 over two years, will be matched by $800,000 in federal dollars from the U.S. Geological Survey and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

     The Joint Venture will also receive a $346,474 grant for a Working Landscape Easement project that will restore and permanently protect over 300 acres of wetlands and grassland in Fillmore County. The easement protects the restored grassland from being plowed or developed, and the wetlands from being drained, but permits grazing and haying. The NET grant is intended to match a federal grant from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.

     The Trust also awarded $300,000 for the third year of the Joint Venture's Wetland Habitat Restoration and Protection grant, which provides for a wide variety of habitat projects throughout the Rainwater Basin region. "The Nebraska Environmental Trust is extremely important to the Joint Venture," said coordinator Steve Moran. "It's key to our ability to carry out the number of conservation projects we have, and serve the farmers we work with on a timely basis. The resource need is greater than can be funded by the Joint Venture, or even by Joint Venture partners."

     The Rainwater Basin Joint Venture is a public-private partnership created through the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. It is composed of conservation agencies, local government entities, non-profit organizations, and individuals, each contributing their expertise and resources to the protection and restoration of wetland habitat in the Rainwater Basin, a region that stretches from Gosper County in the west to Butler, Seward and Saline counties in the east.