This capacity building project was made possible through a grant from the Nebraska Bird Partnership in cooperation with Nebraska Environmental Trust. Matching funds were provided by World Wildlife Fund. It was completed spring of 2011.
Project elements included:
- Integrated Habitat Management Plan
- Assessment and Conservation Plan for Prairie Chickens
- Cedar Tree Assessment & Restoration Plan
- Naturalist Training
This project catapulted the Gracie Creek Landowners from a loosely defined group of ranchers into a goal oriented coalition of committed land managers with a common vision of future conservation measures on a landscape scale. This capacity building grant allowed the group to gain needed equipment, education, assessments and consultants to truly utilize this planning stage. The information and measures taken have allowed the landowners to make educated decisions and timelines as they move into the implementation stage of the project.
A major outcome of this project is the Sandhills Stewardship Plan completed by Mr. Al Steuter, Ph.D. for the Gracie Creek Landowners. This plan lays out the vision and goals of the group, makes realistic yet meaningful management recommendations and will serves as a main resource and tool for the Gracie Creek Landowners in the implementation phase of their project.
Highlights of the plan include:
- A commitment by the three ranches to manage their ranches in such a way as to be ecologically and economically sustainable.
- A focus on grassland birds – in particular prairie grouse – as indicators of a healthy native Sandhills prairie landscape.
- A desire to understand the hydrology, channel dynamics and riparian/wetland habitats of Gracie Creek.
- A willingness to use state-of-the-art grazing, fire and haying management technologies to maintain the spatially and temporally dynamic suite of Sandhills prairie habitats.
- An understanding that monitoring of landscape response to management actions is necessary to insure that species, habitat and ranch goals are being met over the long-term.