The Wetlands America Trust has acquired a 160-acre property adjoining Real Waterfowl Production Area (WPA) located 3 miles north of Fairmont in the Rainwater Basin (RWB) of Nebraska. This property will round out the WPA and allow more cohesive management of the wetlands in the area. These types of land acquisitions are a high priority for DU and its partners in Nebraska. The Real WPA round-out property is significant because it contains a large amount of the wetland footprint of the adjacent Real WPA, which is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
Prior to acquisition, the FWS struggled to manage and restore the wetlands on the WPA. Essentially, FWS could not pump water, fill in pits, plug ditches or alter the hydrology of the neighboring property. Now, with DU's acquisition of the property and partnership with FWS, they are now able to restore the wetland's functions and manage the wetland holistically to maximize waterfowl habitat.
The Real tract currently contains an unusually large water-reuse reservoir measuring more than one-third-mile long that has drastically altered the hydrology on both tracts and has been devastating to the natural functions of the basin. DU will restore up to 80 acres of RWB wetland by filling the reuse pit. DU will then transfer the wetland and adjacent grassland buffer to the FWS and possibly use the remaining cropland as trade land to acquire high priority RWB wetlands or other round-outs of publicly owned basins nearby.
DU is working in the RWB to purchase these round-out properties and transfer them to public entities. This practice not only increases quality habitat, but also increases public access and recreational opportunities.