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Little Blue District Receives Environmental Trust Grant
Nebraska Ag Connection - 06/08/2018

The Nebraska Environmental Trust announced a grant of $208,870 to support the Little Blue Natural Resources District's "Puddles under the Pivots" project. The project is one of 105 projects receiving $18,301,819 in grant awards from the Nebraska Environmental Trust this year. Of these, 66 are new applications and 39 are carry-over projects. The Trust board announced funding for the project at its meeting in Lincoln.

The Puddle under the Pivots project will restore wetlands and provide compatible solutions that will complement agriculture operations. Grant funds will be leveraged with significant funding from a Natural Resources Conservation Service's (NRCS) Wetlands Reserve Easement Partnership (WREP) grant.

Annually, NRCS requests proposals to develop WREP Special Initiatives. These Special Initiatives focus on innovative approaches that enable tracts, enrolled in the Wetlands Reserve Program, to "fit" into local agriculture operations. In total, this project will transition 1,200 acres of flood-prone cropland to wetlands or grassland buffers.

This project features programmatic flexibility to ensure producers may retain the right to pass a pivot over enrolled acres. In the past, landowners were hesitant to enroll because it would inhibit their ability to complete full rotations if a pivot had to travel over program acres. The $626,600 of Nebraska Environmental Trust funding will be used for wetland restoration, pivot modification, and establishment of grazing infrastructure.

A variety of pivot modification techniques might be used, such as moving the pivot point, integrating track systems, and/or installing low-pressure tires. These modifications will eliminate any impact to the restored wetlands and ensure a pivot can pass over the enrolled acres. Grazing infrastructure (e.g., perimeter fencing, pivot gates, livestock wells) will be established to enable the restored acres to seamlessly transition from flood-prone cropland to forage production. Grazing will maintain the working nature of the lands and maximize habitat conditions. Three of Nebraska's largest pivot manufacturers (i.e., Lindsay, Reinke, and Valmont) have signed on as corporate partners. These companies have committed to developing a cost-share program for pivot modifications and assist with outreach and marketing through their diverse pivot dealer network. These dealers will be able to identify multiple producers that would be good fits for this program and contribute to implementation success.

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the Trust has provided over $289 million in grants to over 2,000 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.

Little Blue Natural Resources District is part of the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture partnership. This partnership 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. For more information visit www.rwbjv.org.

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