has served as vital waterfowl migration habitat for centuries.
The river winters high densities of mallards and Canada
geese and provides one of the last crucial stop-over sites in the spring before birds head for the nesting grounds.
Despite significant loss of flows and available wetland habitat, the Platte
continues to be essential to the Central Flyway population of geese and ducks.
One of the main tools DU is using to protect Platte River
habitat is conservation easements. A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a private landowner and Ducks Unlimited where development rights are voluntarily restricted, preserving the property in its natural and undeveloped state while remaining in private ownership.
Benefits to the landowner may include estate, income and property tax benefits while still retaining ownership and property rights. Most importantly, a conservation easement provides landowners "piece of mind" knowing their river ground will provide valuable habitat forever, leaving a legacy for future generations.
Ducks Unlimited recently completed another conservation easement in Dawson County, protecting a 190-acre property consisting of high quality waterfowl habitat. Adjacent to Darr Strip WMA, the newly acquired easement adds to a larger contiguous block of habitat dedicated to wildlife long-term. This valuable Platte River ground is unique in that extensive tree clearing and slough restoration have already been completed where the addition of the conservation easement ensures that the dedication and resources invested in the property by the landowner will be protected in perpetuity. While great strides have occurred towards maximizing the habitat for ducks, future restoration and ongoing management are scheduled to further improve the property for migrating waterfowl. The conservation easement was not possible without the funding assistance from the North American Waterfowl Conservation Act, Nebraska Environmental Trust, and the dedication of the landowner to preserving habitat for ducks and geese that visit Nebraska each migration.
Currently, Ducks Unlimited has protected over 1,400 acres through conservation easements on the Platte River, with an additional 3,200 acres to be protected in 2008.