Ducks Unlimited has secured a perpetual conservation easement on the Double Dog Ranch on the South Platte River in Nebraska between Paxton and Sutherland. The easement will protect almost two miles of the Platte River, which provides critical migration and wintering habitat to waterfowl. One mile of this property is directly across the river from DU’s first conservation easement in Nebraska, which means that DU has now perpetually protected both sides of the river in that location.
DU’s goal is to provide food rich migration habitat in Nebraska during spring migration because it will help influence reproductive success and ultimately increase waterfowl populations that migrate south each fall. The protected habitat will provide important staging, roosting, loafing and foraging habitat to thousands of waterfowl. This is particularly important during spring migration when waterfowl need adequate foraging and resting habitat to replenish energy reserves depleted during long migration flights.
Research has shown migration habitat has a direct link to reproductive success in the prairie pothole region. The Platte River has realized dramatic habitat loss over the years, largely as a result of the construction of dams in the upper watershed that hold back floodwaters, depriving the river of its natural ability to control invasive plant species and recharge wet meadow and wetlands. The Double Dog Ranch conservation easement and the planned habitat enhancement projects on the site will help ensure that waterfowl always find adequate habitat on the river to meet their needs. The Nebraska Environmental Trust and the North American Wetlands Conservation Council are important partners in this effort.