More funding for Nebraska habitat and public hunting

NAWCA grant for Central Flyway to conserve 2,600 acres

GRAND ISLAND, Neb.- Dec. 8, 2015 - Ducks Unlimited and partners will have additional dollars for wetland conservation in Nebraska through a second North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant for the Central Flyway.  Nebraska projects will restore habitat on more than 2,600 acres in the Rainwater Basin.

The "Central Flyway Mitigation Corridor II" grant will conserve more than 5,400 acres of habitat in both Kansas and Nebraska through restoration, enhancement, and protection. More than $1.2 million in matching contributions were leveraged to request more than $816,000 in NAWCA funds. DU and partners are completing work on an earlier NAWCA grant that included 44 protection and habitat projects in both states.  Read More

The Nebraska projects include a large-scale disking and spraying program on 2,226 acres. This work, done on federal, state and private land, will get rid of overgrown wetland vegetation.

"The wetlands turn into a jungle if you don't do something to disturb them every few years. They revert to large, undesirable vegetation, like cattails, which chock out plants that provide more food for waterfowl and other birds," said John Denton, manager of Ducks Unlimited's conservation programs in Nebraska and Kansas.  "Historically, disturbances such as fire and grazing by bison, took care of the problem, but disking and spraying are the most efficient means in the current landscape."

Much of the work is on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) lands, so they contributed greatly to the program.

Another big project under this grant will replace water control structures at the Sacramento-Wilcox State Wildlife Management Area (WMA), one of the largest in the Rainwater Basin. DU will install new pumps to allow the state to pump water onto wetlands in the spring and fall on this Phelps County WMA, which serves as  a refuge and public hunting area.  The Nebraska Environmental Trust helped fund the project with partner assistance from NGPC and the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture.

A third Rainwater Basin project involves removing sediment from wetlands in the Shypoke State WMA in Seward County.  NGPC completed the first phase of this project in 2013, installing a new water delivery system.

"Over time Rainwater Basin wetlands fill with sediment, due to runoff from agricultural production. This work will remove that excess sediment because it hinders the plant growth," Denton said. "Taking out the excess sediment and NGPC's previous investment will produce better annual plants for waterfowl in the spring."

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, 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.

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Becky Jones Mahlum

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