The RCPP project is being implemented in areas which have been deemed to have the highest amount of breeders in the area, Chatham notes. “So, if we can get out here on the landscape through this partnership and conserve habitat in high-priority areas with high densities of breeding pairs, that will mean more ducks, healthier wetlands, less soil erosion, and happy producers whose bottom line is being improved,” Chatham explains.
In the western part of Kansas The groundwater recharge as well as Sustainability project (GRASP) is in the process of ramping up to address water supply problems in Wichita as well as Greeley County that are a result of the declining levels of water in the Ogallala Aquifer. GRASP has been awarded $1.4 million from RCPP and an additional $1.5 million from the project’s partners, such as DU along with the Playa Lakes Joint Venture. Playa wetlands, that are essential groundwater recharge for the submerged Ogallala Aquifer, are a key focus of the project. Landowners will receive help to restore playas on their own and the surrounding buffers of vegetation around municipal wells and domestic ones. This will allow water to run into the soil and recharge the parts of the aquifers that supply the wells. The reduction of agricultural water usage is a further goal of GRASP. The efforts to achieve this goal include increasing the efficiency of irrigation by Ducks Unlimited Georgia pumping, closing wells, and converting to dryland-based cropping systems.
DU Biologist Abe Lollar says GRASP aligns closely with DU’s conservation objectives in the Playa Lakes region. “These wetlands and adjacent uplands are the most biodiverse hot spots on the landscape, period,” Lollar states. “They provide food, cover, and resting opportunities for waterfowl during fall migration, but even more importantly during spring migration. Studies show 95 percent of playas don’t function properly.”
Lollar says that GRASP assists DU to strengthen its connections in those communities. “We had a pretty good start with some landowners who wanted to conserve their playas prior to this program,” Lollar remembers. “We got together with community leaders along with a few producers and some of the big employers who provide jobs. Before we even walked out the door, people were saying they wanted to do a RCPP project. I think that’s because they recognized that it is locally led, it is locally developed, and it is achieving their local goals.”
Lollar describes the power of RCPP in a succinct way. significance to the DU mission in a succinct manner: “The flexibility of the program encourages more producers to get enrolled in conservation. It isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. It can be adjusted and tailored to meet local needs so that it makes the most sense for the resource, producers, and other members of their communities.”