- Associated Press - Sunday, June 28, 2015

GIBBON, Neb. (AP) - A key piece of riverfront property is now being integrated into the Rowe Sanctuary in central Nebraska.

The Kearney Hub reports (http://bit.ly/1LwhXhZ ) the National Audubon Society had been trying to acquire the land for roughly 40 years before last summer’s purchase. The land filled in a gap in the riverfront land the group maintains near Gibbon.

The area is frequented by several hundred thousand sandhill cranes and other migratory birds every year. The cranes dine in Nebraska farm fields each spring before continuing on to arctic breeding grounds.

Rowe Sanctuary Director Bill Taddicken said the newly acquired 590 acres gives the facility about 4½ miles of contiguous riverfront and adjacent land. And the farmhouse has been expanded to provide lodging for volunteers during the crane migration.

The purchase was celebrated at an event on Friday.

“This property had been on the priority list for Audubon since 1974,” Taddicken said.

The land is important because of its location near the sanctuary and because it holds one of the largest crane roosts in that section of the river.

When the Audubon Society bought the land it had an assessed value of $2.4 million. The money came from a combination of sources, including government grants and private foundations and donors.

The plan for the new land is still evolving, but Taddicken said the sanctuary will continue leasing 80 acres of irrigated cropland, 20 dryland acres and a meadow for grazing to neighbors.

Outside of the crane migration, the farmhouse might be rented out for retreats, family reunions and other gatherings.

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Information from: Kearney Hub, http://www.kearneyhub.com/

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