06 January 2011

Expansion Proposed for Nebraska Wetland District

A expansion of the wetland and grassland habitats for migrating birds managed in the Rainwater Basin in southern Nebraska is being considered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Courtesy map.

The federal agency proposes to increase its acquisition goal to 38,177 acres from the current target of 24,000 acres. Additional areas would be acquired through purchase from willing sellers (9000 acres) or protection using perpetual conservation easements (5000).

The district currently encompasses 26,528 acres, which includes 4,505 acres "donated by or obtained from other agencies, primarily the Farmers Home Administration."

Three factors will influence the acquisition of property, according to a fact sheet:

  • the number of privately owned wetland acres that affect management of adjoining acres owned by the Service or the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
  • the energy needs of waterfowl and the ability of the regional wetlands to provide the needed calories, amino acids and minerals
  • the need to provide more separation between wetlands to reduce the likelihood of large outbreaks of avian cholera

Two public meetings are to be held on the proposal:

Holdrege, Nebraska on January 11, 2011
Clay Center, Nebraska on January 12, 2011

Public comments can be submitted until January 31, 2011. The comments received will be used to prepare a "draft environmental assessment and land protection plan for the proposed expansion."

The district was recognized as a "Landscape of Hemispheric Importance" for shorebirds in April 2009 by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.

The Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District was established in 1963.

Newspaper article on the public meeting in Clay County.