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Rainwater Basin Joint Venture Receives Nebraska Trust Funding
Nebraska Ag Connection - 06/12/2018

The Nebraska Environmental Trust recently announced a grant of $300,000 for the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture's "Strategic Conservation of Rainwater Basin Wetlands and Upland Buffers" project. The Trust Board announced funding for the project at its meeting on April 5, 2018 in Lincoln. 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 grant allows Rainwater Basin Joint Venture partners to find win-win opportunities that integrate Rainwater Basin Wetlands into farm operations and maximize habitat on publically owned wetlands. On private lands, this project will implement programs to integrate restored wetlands into local operations for haying/grazing. The 2012 drought highlighted the importance of reliable forage resources to maintain Nebraska's cattle industry. Grazing is also beneficial for millions of migratory birds and resident species by promoting desired habitat conditions. Public lands make up less than 1% of the landscape; however, they can contribute to over 50% of the available habitat for migratory birds, if intensively managed.

To facilitate desired habitat conditions, on-site restoration and active management to prevent and control invasive species will be implemented. To increase flooded acres, the construction of supplemental water infrastructure (e.g., groundwater wells, pipelines) and watershed restoration actions will be undertaken. Recent research at University of Nebraska -- Lincoln found, beyond providing habitat for wetland dependent birds, public lands in the Rainwater Basin are some of the most used public lands in the state, enjoyed by hunters and other outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Rainwater Basin wetlands are also important to a suite of at-risk, threatened, and endangered species. Whooping Cranes, Buff-breasted Sandpipers, King Rails, and nearly 20 other priority species identified in Nebraska's Natural Legacy Plan are found here. The Rainwater Basin wetlands and associated uplands do not just provide habitat and recreational opportunities. The wetlands benefit all Nebraskans through the ecosystem services provided by playa wetlands - groundwater recharge, nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, and flood storage - as documented by researchers from University of Nebraska. Actions funded through this grant will help ensure that there continues to be reliable groundwater for both agriculture and municipal uses. To successfully implement this project, Joint Venture partners have leveraged $900,000 in matching funds.

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.

The Rainwater Basin Joint Venture partnership supports collaboration between 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

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