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Trust Supports Improving Wetlands Habitat, Recharging Aquifer
Nebraska Ag Connection - 05/20/2019

The Nebraska Environmental Trust recently announced a grant of $420,000 to support "Western Basin Restorations: Improving Waterfowl Habitat, Recharging the Aquifer, and Improving Water Quality." The Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, an affiliated fund of Nebraska Community Foundation, will implement the project. The Trust board announced funding for the project at its meeting in Lincoln. This is the first year of the grant award, with a potential for second-year funding of an additional $162,750. The project is one of the 117 projects receiving $19,501,444 in grant awards from the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 2019. Of these, 85 are new applications and 32 are carry-over projects.

The Ogallala Aquifer is the lifeblood of Nebraska. This underwater, freshwater reservoir provides drinking water for Nebraska residents and ensures profitable irrigated agriculture. Playa wetlands, like those in the Rainwater Basin, recharge the aquifer. Partners will leverage $782,000 in matching funds to restore 1,565 acres of playa wetlands at five Waterfowl Production Areas (Cottonwood, Funk, Johnson, Linder, Victor Lakes) in Phelps and Gosper Counties. The restoration activities will ensure these wetlands have sufficient storage volume for 3,000 acre-feet of supplemental water deliveries without negatively impacting adjacent landowners. Restoration will allow Tri-Basin Natural Resources District to deliver 3,000 acre-feet of water annually to these wetlands. The restored wetlands will provide habitat for millions of migrating waterfowl as well as recharge and improve water quality in the aquifer. Target delivery dates are scheduled after Nov. 15 each year. Deliveries will be through newly installed infrastructure that will convey water from Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District canals during a seven-day period. This project is a unique win-win in that multiple agencies are working together to provide habitat for migratory birds, improve drinking water for area residents, provide sustainable water for irrigation, and contribute to in-stream flow targets for the Platte River System.

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the Trust has provided over $305 million in grants to over 2,200 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.

The Rainwater Basin Joint Venture collaborates with private landowners, agriculture producers, conservation organizations, non-profits and government agencies across Nebraska to protect, restore and enhance habitat for millions of migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, and other wildlife. Nebraska Community Foundation serves as the financial management entity for the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture. For more information visit www.rwbjv.org.

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