Lincoln, NE – May 24, 2019 – The Loess Canyons Rangeland Alliance will receive $140,000 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for the Grassland Stewardship with Prescribed Fire project. The Trust Board announced funding for the project at its meeting on April 4, 2019 in Lincoln. The project is one of 117 projects receiving $19,501,444 in grant awards from the Nebraska Environmental Trust this year.
The Loess Canyons is a 338,000-acre mosaic of largely unfragmented mixed-grass prairie and wooded canyons. With deep, fertile soils, this landscape is a valuable forage resource where family-owned ranchers are stewards of the land, cattle and the 29 unique species of concern that thrive there. The Loess Canyons is identified as a Biologically Unique Landscape by the Nebraska Natural Legacy Project and as a focus area for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.
The canyon landscape has been overrun by invasive eastern red cedar trees; some properties are over 70% covered, causing a decline in Nebraska's grasslands. The Grassland Stewardship with Prescribed Fire project plans to assist landowners and burn associations to restore ecological resiliency and rangeland productivity in the Loess Canyons by empowering landowners with the knowledge, funds, and technical assistance to remove cedars, create firebreaks, defer grazing, and work with local burn associations to return fire to the ecosystem. Timing is critical to maintain the current synergy between landowners, burn associations, and resource professionals as they aspire toward the goal of burning 33,000 acres per year.
The Loess Canyons Rangeland Alliance (LRCA), private landowners, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Twin Platte Natural Resources District, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and others have an effective and successful partnership in place to restore grasslands within the Loess Canyons. The LCRA seeks to expand this partnership to do over $1,000,000.00 worth of restoration, resulting in over 4,000 acres of invasive trees removed and to facilitate 30,000 acres of prescribed fire using grants and matching funds.
The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the Trust has provided over $305 million in grants to over 2,200 projects across the state. Anyone can apply for funding to protect habitat, improve water quality and establish recycling programs in Nebraska. The Nebraska Environmental Trust works to preserve, protect and restore our natural resources for future generations.