2020 Nebraska Natural Legacy Conference:

A Decade of Connections on the Landscape

Welcome to the 10th Annual Nebraska Natural Legacy Conference: A Decade of Connections on the Landscape webpage. This conference was hosted on Zoom from October 19–23, 2020.

Presentations were recorded and are available for public viewing at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission YouTube page. You can also view the schedule below to get an idea of the sessions and presentations from the conference.
The Nebraska Natural Legacy Project is the blueprint for conservation of at-risk species and landscapes in Nebraska. The annual conference covers research, education, and management, with presentations from field biologists, graduate students, and conservation practitioners. See our sessions and presenters below for more details.

Questions can be sent to or 402-471-5708.

2020 Award Winners

Agenda at a Glance

All Times Central Time (CDT)

Session Details

All abstracts/summaries can be found here, alphabetized by presenter’s last name.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Welcome & Plenary Session: A Decade of Connections on the Landscape

9:00 – 9:20 am Welcome and Natural Legacy Awards Presentation:
Melissa Panella, Wildlife Diversity Program Manager, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission
9:20 – 9:45 am Conservation Funding Legislation: Accomplishments and Opportunities: Sean Saville, Alliance for America’s Fish & Wildlife Campaign Manager, Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies
9:45 – 10:45 am β€œA Decade of Connections on the Landscape” Roundtable Conversations, featuring the following Plenary Presenters:
— Gerry Steinauer, Botanist/Ecologist, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission
— Nicole Fleck-Tooze & Sara Hartzell, Special Projects Administrator & Park Planner, City of Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department
— Lindsay Rogers, Education Division Administrator, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission
— Gerald Mestl, Retired Missouri River Program Manager, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission
— T. J. Walker, Habitat Partners Section Assistant Division Administrator, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission
10:45 – 11:30 am β€œA Decade of Connections on the Landscape” Roundtable Q&A, featuring the above listed Plenary Presenters, with questions from the moderators and questions from the audience


Highlights of Long-Term Project Efforts

12:30 – 1:00 p.m. Jim Locklear, Lauritzen Gardens – More than a pretty place: A decade of conservation at Lauritzen Gardens
1:00 – 1:30 p.m. Nicole Fleck-Tooze and Sara Hartzell, Lincoln Parks and Recreation – Prairie Corridor on Haines Branch
1:30 – 2:00 p.m. Molly Haas Wavada, Pheasants Forever Inc. – Nebraska Natural Legacy Digitization Project
2:00 – 2:30 p.m. Chris Helzer, The Nature Conservancy – Conservation ain’t gonna work if no one cares but us


Agriculture and Wildlife: A Mutually Inclusive Endeavor

3:00 – 3:30 p.m. Andy Little, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Precision conservation: Increase farm profitability while conserving soil, water, and wildlife
3:30 – 4:00 p.m. Adam Janke, Iowa State University – Back to by products: Promises and opportunities for layering benefits of water-resource conservation to restore farmland wildlife in the Corn Belt
4:00 – 4:30 p.m. Cortney Schaefer, Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, and Krystal Bialas, Natural Resources Conservation Service – Integrating agriculture into Rainwater Basin wetland management
4:30 – 5:00 p.m. Jenny Prenosil, Pheasants Forever, Inc. and Quail Forever, and Matt Steffl, Nebraska Game & Parks – Conservation Stewardship Program practices and benefits to at-risk species

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Fisheries Research and Conservation

9:00 – 9:30 a.m. Brett Roberg, Nebraska Game & Parks – Beyond the banks of Nebraska’s coolwater streams
9:30 – 10:00 a.m. Thad Huenemann, Nebraska Game & Parks – Pallid sturgeon reaching new places in Nebraska: Recent developments in research and a story about community involvement
10:00 – 10:30 a.m. Melissa Wuellner, University of Nebraska at Kearney – Fish community changes following fall drawdown in canal and its tributary stream
10:30 – 11:00 a.m. Ted Bartels, Nebraska Game & Parks – Nebraska Mussel Program: Propagation, reintroduction, and augmentation

Prescribed Fire Culture, Cooperation, and Strategies for Success

12:30 – 1:00 p.m. Jennifer Corman, Northern Prairies Land Trust – Bringing fire back to the forest in north-central Nebraska
1:00 – 1:30 p.m. Ben Wheeler, Pheasants Forever Inc. – Large controlled burns: An opportunity for cross-boundary cooperation and landscape scale conservation
1:30 – 2:00 p.m. Caleb Roberts, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Is the Nebraska Loess Canyons ecoregion one of the greatest conservation success stories in the Great Plains?
2:00 – 2:30 p.m. Dillon Fogarty, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Rethinking grassland conservation strategies in an era of woody encroachment

Environmental Education Session

3:00 – 3:30 p.m. Jamie Bachmann, Northern Prairies Land Trust – Teacher report: Legacy in Environmental Education Discovery (LEED)
3:30 – 4:00 p.m. Monica Macoubrie, Nebraska Game & Parks – The Great Outdoors- Indoors
4:00 – 4:30 p.m. Jessica McAdams, University of Nebraska Omaha – Audubon Omaha: Engaging college students in watching wildlife
4:30 – 5:00 p.m. Lindsay Rogers, Nebraska Game & Parks – Strategically moving forward: Nebraska Game and Parks’ Education Strategic Plan

Screening of β€œGreen Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time” Movie

7:00 – 8:30 p.m. The first full-length documentary film ever made about legendary conservation thinker Aldo Leopold, β€œGreen Fire” explores Leopold’s extraordinary career and his enduring influence – tracing how he shaped the modern conservation movement and continues to inspire projects all over the country that connect people and the land. The hour-long documentary will be screened, with brief discussion before and after the showing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Avian Monitoring Efforts and Plants for Birds

9:00 – 9:30 am Joel Jorgensen, Nebraska Game & Parks – Interim evaluation of breeding bird response to oak woodland restoration at Indian Cave and Ponca state parks
9:30 – 10:00 am Stephen Brenner, Nebraska Game & Parks – Declines of black-billed magpie (Pica hudsonia) and black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) in the north-central United States following the invasion of West Nile virus
10:00 – 10:30 am Jason Thiele, Nebraska Game & Parks – Surveys for burrowing owls (and other at-risk species) in the Keya Paha Watershed of Nebraska and South Dakota
10:30 – 11:00 am Amanda Hegg and Cacey Wilken, Audubon Nebraska – Plants for Birds at Audubon Nebraska

From the Field: Public Land Management and At-Risk Species Considerations

12:30 – 1:00 pm Rick Arnold, Nebraska Game & Parks – Forest management and partnerships in the Pine Ridge of Nebraska
1:00 – 1:30 pm Brad Seitz and Rick Souerdyke, Nebraska Game & Parks – Wetland management in south central Nebraska Rainwater Basin
1:30 – 2:00 pm Chad Taylor, Nebraska Game & Parks – Habitat stewardship of Medicine Creek Wildlife Management Area
2:00 – 2:30 pm Kelly Corman, Nebraska Game & Parks – Returning disturbance processes to Wildlife Management Areas: Designing management infrastructure

Butterfly Surveys and Landscape Considerations for Pollinators

3:00 – 3:30 pm Mercy Manzanares and Jon Soper, Nebraska Department of Transportation – Β Pollinator pathways: Habitat connectivity for pollinators and wildflowers on Nebraska roadsides
3:30 – 4:00 pm Rae Powers, Xerces Society & NRCS – Pollinator habitat in Nebraska: The Xerces Society/NRCS partnership and beyond
4:00 – 4:30 pm Cody Dreier, Nebraska Game & Parks – Summary of 2020 Nebraska Game & Parks Butterfly Survey
4:30 – 5:00 pm Annie Krueger, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Milkweed and agriculture: Host plant selection and impacts for insecticide sensitivity for monarch caterpillars

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Saline Wetland Conservation and Salt Creek Tiger Beetles
(5 talks)

9:00 – 9:30 am Ted LaGrange, Nebraska Game & Parks – Historic perspective of the saline wetlands
9:30 – 10:00 am Steve Spomer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Insects of the saline wetlands
10:00 – 10:30 am Devin Krafka, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium – Salt Creek tiger beetle rearing: Fishing with no bait
10:30 – 11:00 am Dan Schulz, Lower Platte South NRD – Restoration of saline wetlands and highlights of the Marsh Wren Wetland project
11:00 – 11:30 am Tom Malmstrom, Lincoln Parks & Recreation – Saline Wetlands: Opportunities and barriers

Landscape Level Success Stories and Theories for the Future

12:30 – 1:00 pm Krista Lang and Chance Brueggemann, Northern Prairies Land Trust – Restoring oak woodlands in the landscape
1:00 – 1:30 pm Kyle Schumacher, Northern Prairies Land Trust – Core areas of habitat in the Verdigris-Bazile BUL
1:30 – 2:00 pm Conor Barnes, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Overcoming a rigidity trap and retooling our natural resources framework to address rapid environmental change on the Great Plains
2:00 – 2:30 pm Mazbahul Ahamad, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Economics of scaling up brush management

Community Science Session and Panel Discussion

3:00 – 4:00 pm
*encompasses two sessions
Roundtable discussion: Community science opportunities in Nebraska – featuring Nebraska Bumble Bee Atlas (Katie Lamke), Know Your Well (Daniel Snow), Amphibian Conservation (Caitlin Leary), and Nebraska Bird Month (Jamie Bachmann)
4:00 – 4:30 pm Louise Lynch-O’Brien, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – The ABCs of data validation for community science
4:30 – 5:00 pm Pam Eby, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium – Which APP is ap(propriate)?

Friday, October 23, 2020

Mammal Conservation and Current Threats
(5 talks)

9:00 – 9:30 am Sam Wilson, Nebraska Game & Parks – The successful restoration of river otters in Nebraska
9:30 – 10:00 am Jeremy White, University of Nebraska Omaha – Arrival of white-nose syndrome and subsequent decline of northern long-eared myotis (Myotis septentrionalis) in eastern Nebraska
10:00 – 10:30 am Sarah Nevison, Nebraska Game & Parks – Smile, you’re on canid camera: A new technique to age live swift foxes
10:30 – 11:00 am Robert Zink, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – The threat to Nebraska deer from chronic wasting disease
11:00 – 11:30 am Todd Nordeen, Nebraska Game & Parks – History of bighorn sheep in Nebraska

Research on Grassland Strongholds and Prescribed Fire Utilization

12:30 – 1:00 pm Rheinhardt Scholtz, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – The last remaining intact grasslands on Earth
1:00 – 1:30 pm Victoria Donovan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Fighting fire with fire in the Great Plains
1:30 – 2:00 pm Alison Ludwig, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Screening landcover types on a shifting landscape that supports the endangered American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus)
2:00 – 2:30 pm Ben Wheeler, Pheasants Forever Inc. – Retiring prescribed fire: Letting the smoke finally dissipate on this common management practice


Bumble Bee and Honey Bee Research and Management

3:00 – 3:30 pm Katie Lamke, Xerces Society – Nebraska Bumble Bee Atlas
3:30 – 4:00 pm Judy Wu-Smart, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Current pollinator conservation research and education through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Bee Team
4:00 – 4:30 pm Sheldon Brummel, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Applied management of honey bees
4:30 – 5:00 pm Courtney Brummel, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Beekeeping management with alternative hive structures