The Fecht conservation easement project was completed in 2008. The tract is located in Kearney County, between Minden and Holdrege, Nebraska. The landowner approached Ducks Unlimited with a request to restore grasslands and wetlands on land that was being used as irrigated cropland. The landowner was interested in utilizing the property as pastureland and protecting it through the sale of a perpetual conservation easement. DU combined funds from a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant and a Nebraska Environmental Trust grant to complete the purchase of the easement. Wetland restoration work was completed in November 2008. The upland areas of the site have been re-seeded to native grasses. The project will permanently restore about 30 acres of wetlands and 35 acres of native grassland.
Conservation easements are routinely used by Ducks Unlimited as a tool to accomplish our habitat goals. In the Rainwater Basin, conservation easements are particularly beneficial. Grazing and haying are very compatible with managing "early successional" wetlands. This type of wetland is generally rich in annual plants that produce abundant quantities of seeds eaten by waterfowl during spring migration. The grazing and haying treatments provide the "disturbance" that is needed to maintain plant communities in an early successional state. Without this disturbance, wetlands generally become choked with cattails and reed canarygrass within a few years, greatly diminishing their value as waterfowl habitat.