The Oregon Trail Community Foundation awarded Ducks Unlimited a $5,000 grant on Oct. 22 to expand public access on the Frey Wetland Complex in Morrill County, Neb.
The grant moves Ducks Unlimited closer to acquiring 198 acres of critical wetland habitat to maintain public access to one of western Nebraska’s biggest wetland complexes for all to enjoy.
“It’s part of adding to the quality of life we have in this area. Ninety-seven percent of Nebraska’s lands are privately owned, and with this one (Frey Wetland Complex), they don’t have to have permission to use the land,” said Hod Kosman, OTCF member.
The wetland complex near Bridgeport is one of the largest open-use tracts in western Nebraska at 702 acres, used heavily by waterbirds throughout the year.
“There is a parking area, and people can walk into the complex,” Kosman said. “When the ducks and birds are migrating, it’s a sight to see how many thousands of birds can use the complex.”
Restoration of habitat in the region will ensure adequate food resources for migration and optimal water resources to create habitat for thriving populations. Protecting existing wetlands and restoring additional acres are critical to the future of waterfowl and wildlife that visit the area or call it home. Additionally, the region’s residents, the water quantity and quality in the state, flood mitigation for the region, and the tourism dollars brought to Nebraska through bird watching and waterfowl hunting will benefit.
The Platte River Basin Environments, Inc. (PRBE) owns most of the complex. Wetlands America Trust, Inc. (WAT), a land trust affiliated with Ducks Unlimited, owns the 198-acre tract as part of its Revolving Land Program. The program does not permit long-term ownership of property. Ducks Unlimited and partners are raising funds to purchase the tract and transfer ownership to PRBE.
Ducks Unlimited and PRBE have already raised $273,000 of the $603,922 needed to make this transfer possible. DU has invested more than $44 million in Nebraska to conserve more than 88,000 acres in the state.