Ducks Unlimited is promoting livestock grazing along the Platte River and Rainwater Basin. DU recently installed fencing and livestock wells on numerous federal and state lands, Ducks Unlimited revolving lands and private conservation easements containing wetlands.
The prairies and wetlands of the Great Plains evolved through disturbances including drought, flooding, fire and grazing by large herds of bison and other large herbivores. Since these large herds no longer roam the Plains, cattle are used as a surrogate to replicate past vegetation disturbance and promote desired habitat conditions.
"When cattle graze on vegetation, the resulting ecological processes promote diverse, resilient and productive grassland and wetland vegetation that provides the necessary nutrients for migratory birds," said John Denton, DU manager of conservation programs for Nebraska and Kansas. "With the right timing and grazing intensity, undesirable plant species that choke out wetlands, such as reed canary grass, river bulrush and cattails, are set back while seed-producing annual plants such as smartweed and barnyard grass are promoted."
Grazing is a cost-efficient management tool that reduces management costs compared to mechanical treatments or other management that would otherwise be needed to maintain habitat quality. Allowing grazing on these lands maintains them as productive working lands, which is supported by local farmers and ranchers. The income generated on Ducks Unlimited revolving lands from grazing is reinvested in habitat conservation.
Partners in this program include U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District, North American Wetlands Conservation Council, Nebraska Environmental Trust, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Rainwater Basin Joint Venture and private landowners.
Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, DU is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, with special events, projects and promotions across the continent. Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org. Connect with us on our Facebook page at facebook.com/ducksunlimited, follow our tweets at twitter.com/ducksunlimited and watch DU videos at youtube.com/ducksunlimitedinc.
Jennifer P. Kross