Encroachment of Eastern Red Cedar Trees is a Major Challenge
The Nebraska Conservation Roundtable welcomed the Big Game Conservation Association last December. Since 2014, the Conservation Roundtable has strived to be a cohesive voice for conservation as well as create dialogue and foster collaboration among members. In addition, we serve as a resource for policy makers for the complex conservation issues impacting Nebraska’s fish and wildlife. The Conservation Roundtable has identified key challenges in Nebraska that are beyond the resources of any one organization to address. Among these challenges are the encroachment of eastern red cedar trees, grassland conversation and invasive species.
600% Increase in Nebraska Cedar Forest Over the Last 30 Years
Last January, the Conservation Roundtable took their concerns about cedar tree encroachment to the Nebraska capital. In conjunction with the Cedar Task Force and Prescribed Fire Council, we hosted a breakfast for Nebraska Senators. This gave us the opportunity to share our united concern. Cedar spread happens slowly and often goes without notice. But over the last 30 years, cedar forest has increased 600% in Nebraska. When scattered cedar trees transition to a forest, they reduce grassland dependent wildlife, reduce forage production, reduce stream flow and increase wildfire risk. It is estimated that given the current rate of spread, it will cost Nebraskans 15 million annually just to prevent more grasslands from becoming a cedar forest. Many senators heard our message, and there is hope for continued dialogue among policy makers.
Engaged in National Issues Too
The Conservation Roundtable also engages on national issues. Last December, Nebraska’s Congressman Jeff Fortenberry introduced Recovering America’s Wildlife Act with Congresswoman Dingell from Michigan. Many members of the Conservation Roundtable, including the Big Game Conservation Association, have signed on their support. If passed, the bill will redirect $1.3 billion in existing royalties annually from the development of energy and mineral resources on federal lands and waters to conserve the full array of fish and wildlife. In Nebraska, funding will improve and create habitat for wildlife on both public lands and private lands through voluntary incentives. It will support research to inform species’ management decisions, it will support conservation education and will also fund wildlife related recreation in local communities, cities and State Parks.
Wildlife Diversity Program Manager
Nebraska Game & Parks Commission