The RCPP project is being implemented in areas which have been deemed to have the highest concentration 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 counties that result from 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 serve as vital groundwater recharge to the submerged Ogallala Aquifer, are a key focus of this program. Landowners will receive help to restore playas on their own and the surrounding buffers of vegetation around municipal wells and domestic ones. This allows water to flow into the soil and recharge the parts of the aquifers that supply Ducks Unlimited Indiana these wells. The reduction of agricultural water usage is a further goal of GRASP. Strategies to accomplish this aim will include enhancing the efficiency of irrigation and reducing the amount of pumping, removing wells, and converting to dryland cropping.
DU Biologist Abe Lollar says GRASP aligns closely with DU’s conservation objectives in the region of the playa lakes. “These Ducks Unlimited Indiana and adjacent uplands are the most biodiverse hot spots on the landscape, period,” Lollar declares. “They provide food, cover, and resting opportunities for Ducks Unlimited Indiana waterfowl during fall migration, but even more importantly during spring migration. Studies show 95 percent of playas don’t function properly.”
Lollar states that GRASP helps DU establish connections in those communities. “We had a pretty good start with some landowners who wanted to conserve their playas prior to this program,” Lollar says. “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 Ducks Unlimited Indiana locally led, it is locally developed, and it is achieving their local goals.”
Lollar describes the power of RCPP in a succinct way. significance for DU’s goals in a concise 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 Ducks Unlimited Indiana members of their communities.”