NET grants to fund Platte River habitat restoration

Ducks Unlimited restoring wetlands along the river

 Fast Facts:
•    Ducks Unlimited restoring degraded Platte River habitat
•    Nebraska Environmental Trust funding four restoration projects
•    Restored wetlands will allow habitat to carry more waterfowl
•    DU will remove sediment and invasive vegetation, install water-control structures 

LINCOLN, Neb. – May 24, 2016 – The Nebraska Environment Trust (NET) awarded Ducks Unlimited four grants to restore miles of degraded wetland habitat along the North Platte and South Platte rivers. The four grant projects will provide more food and shelter for the millions of birds who funnel through Nebraska each spring and fall.

"The restoration will increase the properties' capacity to provide wetland habitat in Platte River sloughs," said John Denton, DU's Nebraska manager of conservation programs.  

DU will make the wetlands functional again through shallow excavations to get rid of sediment, installing water-control structures, planting grass buffers around wetlands and removing invasive tree species. The work will also benefit people in the area by improving water quality, providing ground water recharge and giving the local economy a boost through the use of local contractors.

Although no NET dollars were used for easements or acquisitions, the properties are protected through Ducks Unlimited easements. The land is protected through "bargain-sale easements" where the landowners have donated most of the cost of the easements.

"Given that nearly 99 percent of land is in private ownership in Nebraska, we must work with private landowners to achieve our goals and benefit wildlife and the environment," Denton said. "These properties are prime examples of protecting and restoring habitat on private land for the benefit of all."

The Ducks Unlimited restorations are part of the 118 projects receiving more than $18 million in Nebraska Environmental Trust grant awards this year. Of these, 69 were new applications and 49 were carry-over projects.

The NET trust board granted DU $240,000 for the North Platte River Invasive Species and Wetland Restoration project to restore two parcels of land in Scotts Bluff County that will provide additional sensitive wetland environment along the North Platte, listed as a priority area in all four major continental bird plans. The project will restore 4,272 linear feet of backwater sloughs, 3 acres of emergent marsh and remove invasive tree species on 68 acres of riparian habitat. Without using NET funds, DU will protect 583 acres of North Platte River habitat, including almost 2 miles of river front.

NET awarded DU $137,000 from the trust for the Maxwell South Channel Wetland Restoration project to restore 204 acres of Platte River wet meadow habitat in Lincoln County owned by Ducks Unlimited as part of the revolving habitat strategy. The habitat is degraded by sediment and undesirable trees, particularly dense eastern red cedars. There is also a channel of the Platte River badly invaded by other undesirable vegetation, including phragmites and cattail. Livestock fencing and watering structures will be installed to help maintain this area.

The Tubs Springs Protection and Restoration project involves a property close enough to Scottsbluff to be under threat of drainage for development once it is sold. Waterfowl use was once substantial on this property, but the property is cattail-chocked and has numerous Russian olive thickets, stagnant water levels and excessive sediment. Ducks Unlimited is protecting the 82-acre property via a DU-held conservation easement, without NET funds. Restoration of the marsh wetland habitat is next, with the help of a $45,458 trust grant.

The NET trust board awarded $130,000 to restore degraded river and alkaline wetland habitat as part of DU's Platte River Ranch Protection and Restoration project. The project will improve 2.33 miles of North Platte River frontage in western Nebraska by restoring 40 acres of emergent wetland habitat. Without NET funds, DU will acquire a bargain-sale working lands easement to protect 262 acres of the ranch. DU protected the other 698 acres of the property in 2013.

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the Trust has provided over $250 million in grants to more than 1,900 projects across the state. Anyone – citizens, organizations, communities, farmers and businesses – can apply for funding to protect habitat, improve water quality and establish recycling programs in Nebraska. The Nebraska Environmental Trust works to preserve, protect and restore our natural resources for future generations.

Ducks Unlimited and partners are matching every NET dollar with more than $3.

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13.6 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.


Media Contact:
Becky Jones Mahlum
701-355-3507
bjonesmahlum@ducks.org