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NWTF improves habitat health along the Republican River

by Jared W. McJunkin, NWTF conservation field supervisor – western region

Nearly $500,000 worth of scheduled projects will improve 730 acres for wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, bald eagles and other wildlife in Nebraska.

In 2009, the NWTF secured a $100,000 Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) grant to restore riparian areas – or areas near rivers and streams – along the Republican River in southern Nebraska.

The rich bottomland along the Republican River supports agricultural practices that can sustain large numbers of wild turkeys, white-tailed deer and other upland wildlife.

Our partners will provide more than $400,000 in matching dollars to fund at least 18 projects that will directly improve more than 1,000 acres and indirectly improve a much greater area.

Projects are focused on planting warm season grasses, installing fences, planting trees and shrubs and removing invasive trees including eastern red cedar and Russian olive, which invade riparian areas and outcompete native species such as cottonwoods.

Cottonwoods provide important habitat for a variety of game and non-game wildlife including sensitive species like bald eagles.

Riparian areas also offer prime roosting habitat for wild turkeys in many areas across the country, provide excellent winter cover for a variety of wildlife, and serve as important migration corridors. Without routine management, riparian areas can decline in quality and become dominated by small-diameter, undesirable trees.

The NET was established in 1992 to conserve and restore the natural environments in Nebraska by providing grant money from Nebraska Lottery funds. This effort was in partnership with landowners along the river, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the NWTF Nebraska State Chapter.

Projects have occurred on private lands and increased cost-share rates to 90 percent, leaving only 10 percent of the total costs to landowners. In many cases, landowners have not only provided cash match but also have spent many hours of their own time ensuring the success of the projects.

These projects are excellent examples of the power of partnerships, with the NWTF, NET and NRCS working to support landowners interested in improving the riparian habitat on their properties.

Private lands dominate many states including Nebraska and coordinated efforts such as this with private landowners are critical to the future of wildlife management.

For more information about riparian restoration or to get involved with the NWTF's work in Nebraska please contact Jared McJunkin at

To learn more about the NWTF's work nationwide, visit




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