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News Release

Nebraska Sandhills to Recieve Conservation Funding

Ritch Nelson

Landowners have until March 17, 2017, to apply for funding through USDA’s “Working Lands for Wildlife” to restore/improve grassland habitat in Sandhills.

LINCOLN, Feb. 24, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated funding to improve rangeland in Nebraska’s Sandhills. Through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Working Lands for Wildlife initiative, eligible landowners will have until March 17, 2017, to apply for funding to install conservation practices that help create or restore wildlife habitat in the Sandhills.

Through the Working Lands for Wildlife initiative, NRCS offers technical and financial assistance to help landowners improve the health of rangelands. This assistance helps producers plan and implement a variety of conservation activities, or practices, that benefit the landscape and many of the game and non-game species that depend on it.

State Conservationist Craig Derickson said, “Nebraska landowners are key to the health and sustainability of our wildlife. The Working Lands for Wildlife initiative will help Sandhills landowners continue to protect one of Nebraska’s most unique natural landscapes.”

Technical assistance is free to producers. The agency’s staff of conservationists work side-by-side with producers to develop a conservation plan. Each plan focuses on implementing conservation practices to improve ranching operations while improving rangelands. These plans provide a roadmap for how to use a system of conservation practices to meet natural resource and production goals.

Financial assistance helps producers pay for the adoption of conservation systems. Common conservation practices include prescribed burning, prescribed grazing, conservation cover and brush management.

According to NRCS, the overarching goal of this initiative is to modify current livestock grazing infrastructure to improve habitat conditions while increasing profitability. NRCS will be working with Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Game and Parks, Pheasants Forever, Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, Sandhills Task Force, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to accomplish this goal.

“When the health of the Sandhills is improved, many species benefit, including greater prairie-chicken, American burying beetle, and sharp-tailed grouse,” Derickson said.

Interested landowners with property located within the sign up area (see map) should visit their local NRCS field office located in the USDA Service Center before March 17.