Game and Parks Awarded Grant to Conserve At-Risk Species in South Central Nebraska

GRAND ISLAND – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has been awarded a grant to work with conservation organizations and private landowners to conserve wetlands on two parcels of land in south-central Nebraska.

The conservation efforts are geared toward the endangered whooping cranes, the threatened eastern black rail, and more common area bird and wetland species.

Wildlife Division Administrator Alicia Hardin says the federal grant, awarded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, won’t go to Game and Parks directly, but will help to benefit other groups with the commission’s help.

“The money comes to Game and Parks, and then we turn around and pass it through to other conservation entities. In this case, the Crane Trust and the Wetlands America Trust. They will be working with these landowners to conserve the wetlands.”

The 380 total acres acknowledged by the award are in two separate parcels: one 285-acre plot along the Platte River in Hall County, and 95 acres in the Rainwater Basin in Clay County. The Nebraska Crane Trust will be partnering with the landowner in Hall County, and the Wetlands America Trust with the landowner in Clay.

Hardin says the award is special because it strikes a balance between preservation, conservation, and public-private partnership to benefit both Nebraska’s wetlands and the species that call them home.

“The land will remain working land, so what’s cropland will stay as cropland, what’s being hayed can continue to be hayed, but they will be conserved for whooping cranes, black rails and other species.”

A timeline for conservation efforts between Game and Parks, the landowners, and the two organizations is as yet unestablished, though Hardin and the commission remain optimistic that work on various projects will happen as soon as the incoming award money changes hands.