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DU to restore thousands of acres of habitat in Nebraska’s Rainwater Basin

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DU receives grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust

LINCOLN, NE – May 28, 2008 – Ducks Unlimited will soon restore more than one

thousand acres of native grasslands and wetlands in Nebraska’s Rainwater Basin. DU announced today it will receive $153,641 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for the Rainwater Basin Habitat Restoration Project. The project is one of 77 projects receiving $14,798,718 in grant awards from the Nebraska Environmental Trust this year.

The Rainwater Basin Habitat Restoration Project will permanently restore 442 acres of seasonal wetlands and 1,101 acres of native grassland. Restoration work will include planting native grasses and forbs on recently retired cropland, plugging drain ditches to improve wetlands and filling wetland drainage pits to restore natural topography.

Millions of migratory birds that descend upon the Rainwater Basin during spring and fall migration will benefit from this project. Several rare and at-risk species also use wetlands in the area. In addition, the project will increase the quality of ground and surface water, decrease soil erosion, improve air quality and increase outdoor recreation opportunities.

The project covers five distinct tracts of land in three counties. Two of the properties will be transferred to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to provide important public access areas for recreation. A third is part of DU’s Verona complex and also open to public recreation. The last two properties are part of DU's Revolving Lands Program where properties are restored, protected through conservation easements and sold to conservation-minded buyers. Future owners of the properties will be able to use these lands for haying and grazing purposes, insuring that rural economies remain an important component of the project. The conservation easements require the restoration and maintenance of native grasslands and wetlands, providing significant benefits to migratory birds and resident wildlife species.

Funds from the Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund will be used help pay for restoration costs. DU partners will provide 65 percent of the overall project costs.
The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 1992. This year the Nebraska Environmental Trust and the Nebraska Lottery are celebrating 15 years of partnership in making Nebraska a better place. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the Trust has provided grants to 1,035 projects across the state. Anyone can apply – citizens, conservation organizations, communities, businesses and individuals that want to protect Nebraska’s natural habitat, improve water quality or quantity or find better ways to manage our waste. The Nebraska Environmental Trust works to preserve, protect and restore our natural resources for future generations. Visit the Trust’s website at: www.environmentaltrust.org.
 
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands – natures’ most productive ecosystem – and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.

Media contact: Jennifer P. Kross, 701-355-3515
Becky Jones-Mahlum, 701-355-3507

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