Watchable Wildlife Grant Reports from 2014-2015

Wings & Weeds

Red Road Herbs Retreat and Learning Center LLC

Red Road Herbs Retreat & Learning Center LLC hosts “Wings & Weeds,” a celebration of butterflies and their habitat, annually on the last Sunday in August. The beauty and grace of butterflies are intrinsically fascinating. They are a colorful way to educate the public about the importance of pollinators and conservation of their habitat. This event also provided educational opportunities on butterfly gardening and the science of butterflies, as well as viewing opportunities along a 200 yard habitat trail with native plants and trees. “Wings & Weeds” is a free event and open to the public.

“Wings & Weeds” is a wildlife watch of butterflies that included a guided tour on a 200 yard habitat trail, with several observation areas, along a creek and tree-lined wetlands. The event also included educational activities on ways to establish and preserve wildlife watch areas.

Educating the public about the importance of pollinators is the purpose of this event. Citizen-based conservation of habitats for butterflies and other pollinators is demonstrated and encouraged. “Wings & Weeds” included a guided tour by Rachel Liester, herbalist and Nebraska Master Naturalist, a habitat trail with 10 (ten) markers next to native plants/trees. The markers also have photos of a butterfly attracted to that species. The tour included a map and details about each butterfly and plant, as well as an informative discussion on how each plant is used by pollinators and humans.

South Sioux City

Crystal Cove Wildlife Viewing Project

Crystal Cove has become one of the primary recreational areas in South Sioux City, drawing a large number of residents and visitors of all ages throughout the year. The goal of this project is to provide educational opportunities for the public, as well as mitigating the lasting impacts that visitors have on the delicate ecosystem that exists at Crystal Cove. Utilizing underwater viewing cameras, linked to local Wi-Fi Crystal Cove has been able to allow students in the class room, those unable to access the outdoors, and those who enjoy watching wildlife, the opportunity to learn about and appreciate nature in its natural state without compromising the ecosystem that exists.

On site, the city was able to construct a viewing blind, as well as a building dedicated to watching the wildlife via these cameras. The newly constructed building contains three monitors that show live feeds of areas under the crystal clear water of the lake, as well as strategic locations on dry ground in the park. Visitors are able to view life under the water, activities not normally seen, which both educates and entertains visitors to the park, as well as those watching remotely. In the future the city will expand this project in several ways to attract many different species of shorebirds, migrating birds as well as the local mammal, reptile and amphibian populations in the area.

Kearney Visitors Bureau

Sandhill Crane Awareness and Promotion

In 2015 the Kearney Visitors Bureau was able to update the current sandhill crane videos and created a series of educational videos about why the cranes migrate along the Platte River. These series of question and answer videos (explained by Rowe Sanctuary volunteers, their director Bill Taddicken, Fort Kearney State Historical Park and Recreation Area Superintendent Gene Hunt and other staff) were uploaded to the bureau’s website, You Tube, and other social media outlets in the fall. They were also able to place photo frames that portray these videos at the State Visitor Center located in Kearney’s Archway.