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Rainwater Basin Working Lands Program – Working for You, Working for Habitat

Pivot and solar-powered water tank.

Pivot and solar-powered water tank. Photo by E. Nugent

(Posted 9/5/18) Since the early 2000s, the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture (RWBJV) partnership has acknowledged the importance of grazing Rainwater Basin wetlands. Cattle grazing provides disturbance, which promotes desirable, seed producing plants and helps control undesirable plants. Not only does grazing benefit the habitat, it also benefits the landowner by providing grazing income or grazing land for his/her own cattle. However, the cost of installing grazing infrastructure has deterred many private landowners from grazing their wetlands. The RWBJV partnership decided they needed to do something to help.

In 2012, the RWBJV partnership created the Rainwater Basin Working Lands Program to provide cost-share for private landowners or operators interested in grazing their wetlands. The program was paid for by partner funds and grants from the Nebraska Environmental Trust, Nebraska’s State Wildlife Action Plan, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. These leveraged funds allowed the RWBJV partnership to provide 85% cost-share for grazing infrastructure, including perimeter fence, cross fence, ramps for a pivot to cross through fence, livestock wells, and livestock watering facilities. Due to the success of the projects that received grants in 2012, the RWBJV partnership has been able to continue the Program through additional grants.

Since 2012, 38 private Rainwater Basin wetlands have had grazing infrastructure installed. These sites are scattered across 12 counties and total over 3,500 acres. Fence, 49 miles worth, was installed on 31 of the sites and livestock watering systems were installed on 20 sites.

cattle in pasture

Cattle in pasture. Photo by E. Nugent

If you’re interested in the Rainwater Basin Working Lands Program cost-share, please contact Ele Nugent, the RWBJV Habitat Specialist, at 308-382-8112 or eleanor_nugent@fws.gov.