A Monthly Publication of the Nebraska Environmental Trust
Dave Heineman, Governor
Board of Trustees
In This Issue:
Executive Director's Corner
Summer is flying by and we are preparing for our third quarter board meeting which is a two day meeting, being held in Holdrege on July 18th and 19th at the Super 8 Motel. We will kick our two day meeting off with a morning tour of several Rainwater Basin projects hosted by Andy Bishop with the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture.
I attended a prescribed burn workshop held in Kearney this week that had over 100 attendees. There was a lot of interesting information presented, including that you get a better kill on cedars if you wait for the air temperature to warm up in the spring and that night burns can be very effective, but can cause logistic problems. It was good to hear from landowners and see how their production numbers increased dramatically when cedar trees were removed from the landscape. With the wildfires from 2012 still fresh in everyone’s minds, there is some justified hesitation across the State, but hopefully Nebraskans can see the potential in the use of fire as a management tool. Education and training are key to addressing the issues along with good research on the results of controlled burns.
Have a safe summer.
Mark A. Brohman
Public Information and Education Mini-Grants Update
The Nebraska Academy of Sciences (NAS) received nine applications for the second quarter 2013 PIE minigrant program. Applications were received from King Science and Technology Center, Introduction to Zoology; Five Rivers Resource, Conservation and Development, Weed Pocket ID Guide; Southeast Flagship Initiative-Northern Prairies Land Trust, Restoration of Nebraska’s Oak Woodlands; Conestoga High School, Switching to Sustainable; Nebraska Alliance for conservation and Environment Education, Nebraska Environmental Literacy Youth Assessment; Pheasants Forever, Train the Trainer Prescribed Fire Program; University of Nebraska-Lincoln, NaturePalooza; Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Sensory Safari: Inclusive Science Education for all Learners; and Northeast Nebraska Juvenile Services, INC., Garden Project.
Four grants were awarded to: Five Rivers Resource, Conservation and Development, Weed Pocket ID Guide; Conestoga High School, Switching to Sustainable; Pheasants Forever, Train the Trainer Prescribed Fire Program; and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, NaturePalooza.
Several projects were completed the past quarter. The Nature Conservancy distributed 288 books, “Have You Seen Mary” across the state to elementary schools. It is a book about the sand hill crane population in Nebraska.
Drawings sent in by students who read Have You Seen Mary? with their teachers. “If we take care of the river, the cranes will come every year,” wrote one third-grader.
The Wachiska Audubon Society reported on their “Prairie Days, Discovering the Tallgrass Around Us” project. Over 250 students and adults participated in three schools. Here is a quote from their report, “The Prairie Discovery Days are all about introducing students, teachers, parents, and community members to the importance of prairies in our world. Wachiska is striving for this – understanding, appreciation, and stewardship of our tallgrass prairie ecosystems that are nearly gone. With help from the Nebraska Academy of Sciences and the Nebraska Environmental Trust’s PIE mini-grant, we were able to accomplish a great deal.”
Crane Trust Launches Conservation-Training Program to Improve Habitat Restoration Along the Platte
The Crane Trust has launched a major habitat conservation and training initiative to advance the restoration of important habitat for cranes and other migratory birds along the Platte River in south-central Nebraska. The innovative new Crane Trust program is called REACH (shorthand for Research Experience to Achieve Conservation of Habitat) and is being led by Crane Trust Director of Science Dr. Mary Harner.
"I couldn't be more excited about the new program and the long-term benefits for habitat conservation on the Platte," says Harner. "In essence, the REACH program combines hands-on training and field experience for college interns with the pressing need for targeted resources to evaluate and continually improve our conservation practices—and to communicate those outcomes with key audiences."
With core funding from the Nebraska Environmental Trust, the Crane Trust has recruited six college interns to start this summer under the guidance and tutelage of Crane Trust staff and other research/conservation partners. Under the new program, students will work and live at the Crane Trust's Wild Rose Ranch located on the Platte River in south-central Nebraska. Collaboration with other conservation partners will take them to a variety of locations in the state to broaden their range of experience and training.
REACH Program interns Katie Saxton, Julia Clymer, and Laine McCall conducting a bird survey on recently restored grassland on Crane Trust property.
Harner explains that the program will focus on three principal areas:
1) Evaluating habitat restoration and enhancement activities along the Platte River in conjunction with conservation partners.
2) Sharing different conservation strategies and their outcomes with the research community, conservation partners and other key audiences to further conservation gains through improved resource management practices.
3) Providing emerging conservation leaders with important training and background related to the rich natural history of the Platte River and other Nebraska ecosystems.
"Because the need for habitat restoration and maintenance is so large, it's imperative that we do everything we can to ensure effective and efficient outcomes with the resources we have," says Harner. "One of the most exciting aspects of the Crane Trust's new REACH program is that it cuts across so many lines, providing vital feedback at every turn. That's important for the ecosystem and at-risk species. It's also important for improving program efficiency and collaboration and for nurturing a new generation of conservation leaders."
While the initiating program grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust is for two years, the Crane Trust envisions that the program will continue beyond the duration of the grant as a self-sustaining resource for both the academic and conservation communities with support from the Crane Trust, regional colleges and conservation partners.The Crane Trust was established in 1978 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and maintenance of critical habitat for cranes and other migratory birds along the Platte River through scientific study, habitat management, community outreach and education. Over the years, the Crane Trust has received funding from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for select conservation projects.
-July 18 - 19, 2013 (Thursday/Friday) - 3rd Quarter Board Meeting, Location: Holdrege.
- July 25-26, 2013 - Innovations on the Land Symposium- Private Conservation for the Public Good, Embassy Suites, Lincoln NE. For more info, visit: http://innovationsontheland.com/
- August 23 - September 2, 2013 - Nebraska State Fair, Grand Island.
- September 7, 2013 - World O Water Festival, Omaha.
- September 10-12, 2013 - Husker Harvest Days, Grand Island
- September 21-22, 2013 - Ponca Outdoor Expo, Ponca State Park