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BISMARCK, ND – Nov. 3, 2023 – On Nov. 2, as part of the agency's investment in climate-smart agriculture practices, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced its awarding Ducks Unlimited (DU) $52 million to support projects with farmers, ranchers and landowners in four key areas of the U.S., and of that amount, $10 million will support the Kansas Nebraska Wetland Initiative.

Operating under the USDA's Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), DU hopes to create a new, flexible, and cost-effective wetland and riparian restoration, management, and protection program that fills a niche for Kansas and Nebraska ag producers willing to invest in their land.

"Under this initiative, our goal will be to address some of the changes the landscape has endured from drought, drainage, and dewatering, by creating habitat that sustains several wildlife species, not just waterfowl," said Ele Nugent, DU's manager of conservation programs in Nebraska. "It's going to take a lot of time and effort, but our staff has the knowledge and expertise to get it done. Thanks to our project partners for supporting this initiative and to USDA for funding our proposal. We're all excited about the opportunities this investment affords."

Much of both state's historic wetland acres have been lost and many existing wetlands are in poor condition or have functionality issues like drainage or are overrun with invasive species. When wetlands work correctly, they are a critical resource for farmers and ranchers, wildlife, and the climate, and it’s one reason why the initiative aims to fund projects currently missed by similar programs for a multitude of reasons.

"Our proposal is to capture many of the projects that wouldn't be delivered otherwise, and leverage RCPP funds against partner dollars to reduce landowner cost-share," said Matthew Hough, DU's manager of conservation programs in Kansas. "This program means great things for Kansas and Nebraska. Not only will we have more latitude to complete work that's valuable to wildlife and a producer’s bottom line, but we'll also have a chance to replace some of the region's historic wetlands that have been lost over the years and enhance and protect those that remain."

Other organizations like the Audubon Great Plains, Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Playa Lakes Joint Venture, Ranchland Trust of Kansas, Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, Syracuse Dairy, Twin Valley Weed Management Area, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are partnering on the initiative. The projects will increase carbon sequestration in soils, reduce nitrogen loss, and help capture atmospheric carbon, as well as aid flood water storage, reduce the effects of erosion, and increase migratory waterfowl habitat.

"Over the last 86 years, DU has learned the tremendous value in partnering with producers to create the best outcome for both waterfowl and people," said DU CEO Adam Putnam. "The partnership-driven, incentive-based agricultural practices supported by these grants will make meaningful improvements to water and soil quality, biodiversity and habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife, all while helping increase the productivity and sustainability of the land. We applaud this historic investment and look forward to helping transition these dollars into the landscape."

For a full list of the projects receiving RCPP funding, visit the USDA's website, here

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing wetlands, grasslands and other waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has restored or protected more than 16 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science, DU's projects benefit waterfowl, wildlife and people in all 50 states. DU is growing its mission through a historic $3 billion Conservation For A Continent capital campaign. Learn more at

Media Contact:
Ben Romans
(208) 761-7775