The Nebraska Environmental Trust is funding $950,920 in grants to restore wetland watersheds.
The money comes from the Trust’s annual grant process and will go to the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture (RBJV) to help migratory bird habitat.
Andy Bishop, RBJV coordinator, says when you restore and maintain the wetlands, you also improve the ecosystem for all.
“They really can cycle those ag chemicals that come in from the runoff in the adjacent fields with the plant growth as well as the clay soil,” Bishop explains. “Then that water that comes into those basins are recharged, right down into the aquifers.”
The RBJV works with private landowners, agriculture producers, conservation groups, and local governments across Nebraska.
One of the grant-funded project will transition 1,200 acres of flood-prone cropland to wetlands or grassland buffers.
Bishop says farmers will still be able to pass a pivot over the protected land.
“We really try to approach these as, they’re habitat projects, but we try to find that win-win where it’s both the habitat and the production [agriculture] side, where the wetlands are just part of the operation,” he says.
The Nebraska Environmental Trust is granting nearly $210,000 in support of the Little Blue Natural Resources District’s “Puddles under the Pivots” project.
Bishop says the overall goal of all the grant projects is to ensure a good habitat for millions of migratory waterfowl.
“Most people are very familiar with the central Platte and the half million Sandhill cranes that stage there every spring,” he says. “In the Rainwater Basin, these shallow, playa wetlands are critically important to migrating waterfowl. Annually, we have about 8.6 million waterfowl that use the basin.”
Bishop says the RBJV combines the grant money with a two-to-one or three-to-one match of local dollars.
AUDIO: Mike Loizzo reports [:38]