Wetlands and wildlife habitat in the Rainwater Basin will benefit from $536,615 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 Wetland Habitat Enhancement and Restoration Grant, now in its third and final year, will provide $350,000 to improve and protect migratory bird habitat and wetland function on private and public lands in the Rainwater Basin.
The Joint Venture will receive $51,240 for “Development of Grazing Infrastructure to Support the Rainwater Basin Working Lands Initiative.” This grant will help fund installation of fence and livestock watering equipment to facilitate grazing of abandoned 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. The grant has potential for second- and third-year funding of $102,480 per year.
Third-year funding of $75,000 for the “Rainwater Basin Wetland Management” grant will help with ongoing work to control invasive vegetation such as reed canary grass, river bulrush, and hybrid cattail, which degrade habitat in Rainwater Basin wetlands. The grant provides for measures such as disking, herbicide treatment, prescribed fire, and livestock fencing.
Second-year funding of $60,375 for “Watershed Restoration of Atlanta Waterfowl Production Area” will help Joint Venture partners continue restoration on portions of the 430-acre wetland in southwest Phelps County 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. This grant has a potential for third-year funding of $60,375.
The Nebraska Environmental Trust, using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, awarded total grant funds of $19,491,958 this year to 113 projects throughout Nebraska.