NAWCA Small Grants Help Conserve 790 Wetland Acres in PLJV Region

In February, the North American Wetland Conservation Council approved four NAWCA small grants for wetland conservation projects within the PLJV region: Texas Playa Conservation Initiative, Southwest Nebraska Playa Restoration, South Fork Republican River and Kiowa Creek Ranch Wetlands. Together, the projects will restore or enhance 790 wetland acres, including nearly 500 acres of playas, in Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado.

“It is thrilling to see funding going to conservation projects for small dispersed wetlands that are so emblematic of our region,” says Christopher Rustay, PLJV Conservation Delivery Leader. “Not only are these all excellent wetland projects but each are in locations which have not previously seen many NAWCA small grant dollars.”

Texas Playa Conservation Initiative

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and its partners will fill pits in playas in Floyd and Castro counties. The completed work will restore the ecology of playas to benefit waterfowl and other wetland-dependent birds. The partnership will incorporate what it learns in these two pilot counties to restoration efforts throughout the Texas Panhandle.

Southwest Nebraska Playa Restoration

The Bird Conservancy of the Rockies will restore playas in southwest Nebraska in conjunction with other wetland restoration efforts near the South Platte River in Colorado. The project will prioritize playas most at risk of becoming a “fossil” playa and develop an outreach strategy using private lands biologists to visit landowners with high priority playas. Restoration may consist of pit-filling, sediment removal and/or providing grass buffers. A minimum of 97 total acres of playas and buffer in southwest Nebraska and northeastern Colorado will be conserved with three additional partners.

South Fork Republican River

In Cheyenne County, Kansas, several partners will work together to remove invasive species in riparian habitat and an open river channel to provide roosting habitat for waterfowl and benefit other wetland-dependent species. This is part of a larger effort to restore the Republic River in Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska. Russian Olive removal will be followed up with hand spraying resprouts and re-seeding riparian areas with native grass on a site-specific basis. Areas will include the South Fork and St. Francis Wildlife Areas.

Kiowa Creek Ranch Wetlands

Ducks Unlimited will enhance 94.4 acres of wetlands and 752.2 acres of associated uplands on an Audubon Rockies ranch in Colorado to create off-creek livestock watering sources and fencing allowing for rotational and intensive grazing management. Removal of ash and sediment in wetlands from a recent burn and invasive plants will create shallow-water foraging habitat for waterfowl, and additional nesting, feeding and loafing zones. Habitats will include upland seasonal water drainages, seasonal creeks, tributary drainages, and sub-irrigated meadows.

Posted: March 21, 2016