The Rocky Mountain Region of WES, in collaboration with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS/ Nebraska State Office) and Headwaters Corporation, hosted an informative luncheon and presentation on the “Wetland Mitigation Banking Program” at the Ramada Midtown Conference Center in Grand Island, NE. WES is developing a mitigation bank with grant funds from NRCS as a part of a pilot program to ensure agricultural producers remain eligible for all USDA programs and in compliance with Swamp Buster provisions of the Farm Bill.

The event was attended by staff from NRCS, WES, and Headwaters. After the presentation the group headed out to the mitigation bank and viewed maps of the developing project, followed by a trip to a river blind to get a closer look at Sandhill Cranes roosting on the Platte.

About the project: Throughout the 1990s, an estimated 74-80% of the wet meadows in the Platte River Valley were drained and turned into cropland, among other things. As a result, functioning wet meadows are now one of the rarest habitat types in the Platte River Valley. Westervelt Ecological Services will focus on restoring and enhancing the historic wet meadow ecosystem at the bank through subtle wetland excavations and native grassland establishment. The bank is a multi-benefit project - in addition to preserving the environmental functions of the wetlands such as flood control, sediment control, groundwater recharge and water quality, it will provide habitat to wildlife, crane viewing, and aesthetics. The site will then be permanently protected by land assurances and managed to control noxious weeds and improve the native prairie ecosystem in perpetuity.