Game and Parks to Partner with Sandhills Task Force and Others in $4 Million Project

LINCOLN – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and its partners have received a $4 million grant through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to restore grassland and wetland habitats for at-risk species.

A four-year conservation project will take place in the Sandhills and adjacent areas, where wetlands and streams face alteration and channelization. Grasslands also are being encroached on by eastern red cedar, which can reduce the available forage for livestock, increase wildfire risk, reduce stream flow, and degrade wildlife habitat.

A voluntary, incentive-based approach will be used to improve habitat while sustaining resilient ranching communities. The goals are to build capacity, restore wetlands and streams, and remove trees using mechanical tree removal and prescribed fire.

These efforts will benefit the following at-risk species in Nebraska: the greater prairie-chicken, long-billed curlew, American burying beetle, regal fritillary, plains topminnow, and western prairie fringed orchid.

Three new positions will be hired to lead the restoration efforts; they include a Nebraska grassland coordinator, a prescribed fire coordinator, and a project coordinator.

Game and Parks partners in the project are Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever, Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition, Northern Prairies Land Trust, Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, Sandhills Task Force, Santee Sioux Nation, and The Nature Conservancy.

The project includes several areas of the state, including the Santee Sioux Reservation, that connect to grasslands of South Dakota, Colorado, and Kansas.