LINCOLN – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will receive $1.2 million in federal grants over the next five years from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help private landowners improve grasslands and croplands for wildlife habitat and agriculture production.
The money was provided through the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The RCPP is a new program in the 2014 Farm Bill managed by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, NRCS forms a public-private partnership that enables private companies, local communities and other partners to invest in efforts that protect natural resources. The purpose of the RCPP is to further the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of soil, water, wildlife, and related natural resources by providing cost-share and incentives to private landowners.
“Game and Parks and partners have a proven track record of successfully implementing USDA conservation programs. It’s exciting to offer additional federal cost-share dollars to Nebraska landowners,” said Alicia Hardin, Game and Parks’ assistant wildlife administrator for the Habitat Partners Section.
Partners on the project include Pheasants Forever, Audubon Nebraska, the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Northern Prairies Land Trust. Staff from each of these partners provides expertise to take projects from concept to completion.
The goal of this National RCPP project, which includes portions of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska, is to create and implement management strategies that provide for the adoption of scientifically proven and culturally acceptable pasture and grassland management practices.
Hardin said the cost-share grant dollars will be dedicated to enhancing grasslands in southeastern Nebraska for livestock grazing and wildlife, such as quail and prairie chickens. She said it also will include the Nebraska Quail Focus Area and two biologically unique landscapes. Opportunities also exist for implementing habitat enhancements on cropland such as buffer strips.
For more information about the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, visit ne.nrcs.usda.gov.