Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District
Flocks of birds at Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District
Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District presently includes some 22,864 acres of wetlands south of the Platte River near Kearney, Nebraska. Plans are on the table to increase the size of the refuge to 38,177 acres through a mix of fee-title purchases and perpetual conservation easements. Contained within the Wetland Management District are a number of Waterfowl Production Areas, areas more intensively managed for the benefit of the birds.
Rainwater Basin is a complex of wetlands scattered across 17 counties in south-central Nebraska. This is an area of shallow basins that provide feeding and resting areas for millions of migrating birds in the spring and fall migration seasons. A couple hundred years ago, huge herds of bison roamed through the area. Between the bison and naturally occurring wildfires, the wetlands were kept virtually open and inviting for the migratory birds. Since the bison are now gone and wildfires are extensively controlled, Fish & Wildlife Service personnel work to keep the wetlands in the state preferred by the massive flocks of ducks, geese and other waterfowl who pass through.
Hunting, fishing and trapping are allowed under the regulations of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. There are black-tailed prairie dogs in places on the property and they must be left alone as they are a Candidate Species under the auspices of the Endangered Species Act. Horses are not allowed on the property, nor is camping or campfires. Motorized vehicles (including ATVs) are confined to established roads and parking lots only. Electric-powered and non-powered boating is allowed if engaged in permitted public use activities. Hiking, wildlife observation and photography are allowed from sunrise to sunset.
Cutting hay for the birds at Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District
Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District area map
Lower photo of Rainwater Basin WMD courtesy of Phyllis Cooper, US Fish & Wildlife Service
Location map courtesy of the US Fish & Wildlife Service