Hastings – The Rainwater Basin Joint Venture presented three Wetland Stewardship Awards at the annual Informational Seminar on February 6. The award recognizes significant contributions to wetland and habitat conservation in the Rainwater Basin and Nebraska’s mixed-grass prairie region.
Livestock producer Bart Jacobson of Funk received the award for his participation in the Working Lands Initiative. Through this voluntary program, he installed fence, pivot gates, and a solar well to establish grazing on a seasonal wetland that will also provide habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, and upland birds. His nomination said: “Bart is a conservation leader. He manages his land to make a living and he manages his land so his children will hear the sound of pheasant in their lifetime…He has a strong conservation ethic and believes that wildlife and habitat have a place in his farming/ranching operation.”
Laurel Badura of Kearney also received the award. Badura is a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, working with landowners who wish to voluntarily participate in projects to restore or improve Rainwater Basin wetlands. Before 2009, she was District Manager of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Wildlife Division – Habitat Partners Section, and also worked with private landowners in that capacity. For the past four years she had played a key leadership role on the Joint Venture’s Private Lands Workgroup. Her nomination for the award noted “the true passion that she brings to restoring critical habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.”
The third award recipient was Bob Bettger of Fillmore County. Bettger has been a member of the Joint Venture’s Management Board since 2008 and has served as the board’s chair or co-chair for most of that time. He is also the Rainwater Basin representative to the multi-state Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative. RWBJV coordinator Andy Bishop said, “Bob provides exemplary leadership. Being a local producer, he is able to provide feedback on the suitability of our conservation initiatives in our region’s agricultural landscape.”