The Oregon Trail Community Foundation awarded a $10,000 grant to Ducks Unlimited to support acquisition of the Tottenhoff property and an associated restoration project. The Tottenhoff property comprises 256 acres along the Platte River in Scotts Bluff County, a priority area for DU because of its value to migrating waterfowl. The property has additional value because it is adjacent to an existing wildlife area, Spotted Tail Wildlife Habitat Area (WHA), which is owned and managed by the Platte River Basin Environments (PRBE).

“We are pleased to have the Oregon Trail Community Foundation join us as a significant partner in our efforts to restore and protect valuable Platte River waterfowl habitat,” said Steve Donovan, DU manager of conservation programs. “We are excited about the Tottenhoff property acquisition; it is an ideal addition to the Spotted Tail Complex, with abundant opportunities for wildlife habitat restoration and management.”

Activities on the property will include restoring a long wetland slough and enhancing associated upland grasslands. Project partners are also looking at the possibility of restoring a trout stream. DU will eventually transfer the property to PRBE, a Scottsbluff-based non-profit conservation organization that owns and manages several properties along the North Platte River and in the Wildcat Hills. The property will be open to a variety of public uses, including hiking, hunting, bird watching and fishing.

“Adding this property to the Spotted Tail WHA will extend its boundary to include more than two-and-a-half contiguous miles of Platte River habitat,” said Hod Kosman, director of PRBE.

DU and PRBE worked hard to raise funds and organize partners for the Tottenhoff acquisition and restoration project. The Oregon Trail Community Foundation grant and pledges from the Nebraska Environmental TrustPheasants Forever and other partners were used as matching funds to leverage a $1 million grant through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). The NAWCA grant was recently awarded to PRBE and will be used to help restore the Tottenhoff property and fund other wetlands conservation projects along the Platte River.

Kosman says the NAWCA grant program has been a key source of funding for wetlands conservation efforts along the Platte River over the last 10 years. “It is important that Congress appropriate adequate funding for the NAWCA program in the upcoming fiscal year,” Donovan said.

NAWCA is an effective program that leverages non-federal funds and fostering local partnerships to protect, restore and enhance wetland habitats throughout North America. Congress is currently considering budget proposals for the NAWCA program for federal fiscal year 2014.

Logo courtesy Ducks Unlimited

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