Ducks Unlimited has permanently protected more than 400 acres of important waterfowl habitat, including almost 1 mile of Platte River wetlands, thanks to the generosity of Lou and Carmen Kleager from Scottsbluff. Three years ago, the Kleagers first approached DU about the concept of permanently protecting their Scotts Bluff County property with a conservation easement. The property includes a mix of Platte River wetlands, forested riparian habitat, native grassland and irrigated cropland.
Located only a few miles outside of Scottsbluff, a real threat exists that the property could be converted in the future to other uses not so friendly to the diverse mix of wildlife that inhabit the site, including thousands of waterfowl that stop here each spring and fall. Lou and Carmen were determined this wildlife resource should forever enable future generations the opportunity to enjoy the same benefits they have received from this wonderful habitat. After three years of careful planning and preparation, Ducks Unlimited will hold the easement and be responsible for ensuring the important natural resources on this property will be protected forever.
"This is a good deal for everyone involved," Lou Kleager said.
Jonas Davis, DU's regional biologist in Nebraska, couldn't agree more. "Conservation easements are the most important tool available to us that will permanently protect important waterfowl habitat along the Platte River," Davis said. "Without passionate, conservation-minded landowners like the Kleagers, we could not accomplish our habitat goals on the Platte River."
DU biologists and engineers are also working with the Kleagers on a wetland enhancement plan to further improve and expand the existing waterfowl habitat on the property.
Conservation easements are an important tool used by DU to protect waterfowl habitat along the Platte River and in other important landscapes around the country. Donated conservation easements offer landowners the ability to protect natural resources on their properties and provide certain tax benefits in many instances. Through conservation easements, DU has now protected over 4,600 acres of habitat along the Platte River in Nebraska alone.