30 April 2013

Spoonbill Flats Selected for Name the WPA Contest

A birdly moniker is the new name for a wetland area in the Rainwater Basin following the announcement of the winner of a contest.

Spoonbill Flats Waterfowl Production Area, submitted by Andrew Nelson, a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, was selected by staff of the Fish and Wildlife Service, the area management agency.

Nelson had previously hunted at the wetland area, said Ronnie Sanchez, project leader of the Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District.

Spoonbill is a "slang" name used to refer to the Northern Shoveler, a common duck in the area.

Rainwater Basin "challenge coin"

Nelson received a commemorative challenge coin and a card for his name being selected.

"We had 143 name suggestions that were contributed to this office for the contest," Sanchez said. They varied in age. We had some very young individuals that mailed in a name suggestion. The youngest was four years old, with several that would have been in grade school (K-5). The entire Wilcox-Hildreth middle school -- about five miles from the location -- also participated. I would think it was roughly 50/50 kids versus adults.

"Name suggestions came in from across the state ... from Scottsbluff in the west to Omaha in the East and many points in between," he said.

"It was really tough to narrow down the names as there were some really good suggestions. Some folks even sent in a justification as to the meaning behind the name suggestion. Some were meant to be funny, others reflected a name of plant or a wildlife species found in Nebraska, a few had ties to early Native Americans such as the Pawnee who first inhabited this region. Many were trying to pay tribute to fellow Nebraskans that have worked to help conserve and promote our natural resources. One tribute was for a young boy who loved the outdoors, but ultimately his time was cut short due to a brain tumor. Even though his name was not selected I personally every time I drive by our walk on the WPA will always refer to it as McConnell's Marsh."

To learn more about the importance of all Rainwater Basin Wetlands visit the district web site. A map and associated details for the Spoonbill Flats WPA is expected to be available in early May, Sanchez said.

Spoonbill Flats is a 162-acre WPA southwest of Hildreth in Franklin County, Nebraska. The FWS purchased the land in 2012 from Ducks Unlimited, using Land and Water Conservation funds, along with funds from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and DU.