Ducks Unlimited and partners will complete 44 habitat protection and restoration projects in Nebraska and Kansas, thanks to three North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants. More than $2.9 million in NAWCA funding will be combined with nearly $6 million in funding from 25 partners to restore or enhance almost 2,500 acres in the Rainwater Basin and central Platte River of Nebraska. The projects included in these grants will provide high quality foraging habitat for thousands of waterfowl and waterbirds during fall and spring migration, and year-round habitat for other wetland-dependent wildlife.
"Nebraska wetlands are some of the most important fall and spring stopover for waterfowl in the Central Flyway, but much of the wetland habitat has been lost due to wetland conversion to other land use, which forces birds to concentrate on fewer and fewer wetlands," said John Denton, manager of conservation programs for Nebraska and Kansas. "Past wetland loss and the constant threat of wetland conversion make every acre conserved using these grant and partner funds that much more important."
Since 2001, NAWCA has invested more than $16 million in grant funds for wetland protection and restoration of habitat in Nebraska. Ducks Unlimited and its conservation partners match NAWCA funds at least dollar for dollar and frequently at two to three times the amount. Project areas include the Darr Strip, Ayr Lake and Bohlen wildlife management areas, as well as the Craig tract of the Platte River. At Darr Strip WMA and the Craig tract, work will involve invasive tree removal and channel renovation, which will restore 74 acres of riverine wetlands in the Darr Strip WMA alone. More than 200 acres of wetlands are scheduled for restoration at Ayr Lake WMA. At the Bohlen WMA, DU will fill in an old irrigation pit that currently diverts water from the wetlands. Plans also include purchase and restoration of a 650-acre tract of property along the Platte River, just east of Grand Island.This tract is being purchased with $350,000 from NAWCA and just over $1 million of match from the Prairie Plains Resource Institute, a non-profit organization based in Aurora, Neb.
The North American Wetlands Conservation Act of 1989 was passed, in part, to support activities under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. It provides competitive, matching grants to organizations and individuals who have developed partnerships to carry out wetlands conservation projects in the United States, Canada and Mexico for the benefit of wetlands-associated migratory birds and other wildlife. Program funding comes from Congressional appropriations; fines, penalties and forfeitures collected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918; the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act of 1950; and interest accrued on the fund established under the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937.
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.
Becky Jones Mahlum