LENRD Board moves forward with flow meter compliance notifications

All active wells which pump greater than 50 gallons per minute, within the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) boundaries, are required to have a flow meter installed.

The board decided at their January 24th meeting to move forward with sending out compliance notifications to the owners of irrigation wells impacted by the meter installation requirement who have yet to install a meter on their well.

LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “We have been working diligently with well owners in our district to help them understand the installation requirements, and have provided financial assistance to many property owners to incentivize them to install water meters.  Irrigation well owners had a deadline of January 1, 2018, while all other high-capacity well owners had until January 1, 2019 to get their meters installed.”

Sousek said, “We are here to answer your questions and develop a plan.  We know there are cases where excavation may need to occur after the ground thaws, and we are working with those individuals.  If you still need to install your meter, and you haven’t developed an installation timeline and plan with our staff, you will be receiving correspondence that articulates the next steps.”

Those individuals who receive a compliance notification in the mail will have until April 1, 2019 to install their meters, if they wish to irrigate in 2019.  If meters are not installed by April 1, a notice of intent to issue a cease and desist order will follow.  The letter will also provide reference to the consequences that could occur, if a well owner elects to ignore the requirement.

 Sousek continued, “Some individuals may still be asking, why meters?  The board has long supported the use of flow meters as another groundwater management tool by first adopting an installation requirement for any new high capacity well in July of 2007.  After the drought of 2012, it became very evident that we needed to be proactive in the management of our groundwater since numerous in-season shortages were reported across the district, from all types of groundwater users (irrigators, public water supply systems, livestock, and domestic) with a high number of impacts being felt in Madison, Pierce and Wayne Counties during the 2012 irrigation season.  Quantity management sub-areas were delineated within those counties which required the installation of flow meters on irrigation wells.  More recent changes to the District’s Rules and Regulations for Groundwater Management made flow meter installation mandatory on all other high capacity wells effective January 1, 2018 for irrigation wells and January 1, 2019 for other types of high capacity wells located within the District.  With meters installed across the district, we can be better equipped to handle a drought and share the water in a manageable way.  Meters not only protect the farmers, the domestic users, and the cities, but they also protect the resource.”

Sousek said, “The meters protect current water users and allow for the development of new water users.  They provide a fair and equitable measurement that will allow the LENRD to manage groundwater and provide policies that concentrate on sharing our most precious resource among all users.  Should allocations ever be needed, all stakeholders will be treated equally through the meter program.  Meters can also be a very effective learning tool in measuring how much water is needed to grow a crop.”

In other business, eight board members recently took the Oath of Office and settled into their four-year terms.  They are:  Chad Korth, Meadow Grove; Scott Clausen, Norfolk; Scott McHenry, Norfolk; Bob Noonan, Humphrey; Kurt Janke, Wayne; Dennis Schultz, Wisner; Roger Gustafson, Emerson; and Joel Hansen, Wayne.

The board also elected officers for 2019.  Pictured here is the Executive Board: (back row, from left to right): Joel Hansen, Wayne, Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) Alternate; Dennis Schultz, Wisner, Past-Chairman; Scott McHenry, Norfolk, NARD Delegate; David Kathol, Norfolk, Treasurer. (Front row, from left to right): Matt Steffen, West Point, Secretary; Gary Loftis, Craig, Chairman; and Kurt Janke, Wayne, Vice-Chairman.

The next LENRD board meeting will be Thursday, February 28th at 7:30 p.m. at the LENRD office at 1508 Square Turn Boulevard in Norfolk.  Stay connected with the LENRD by subscribing to their email list on their website.

The board also elected officers for 2019. Pictured here is the Executive Board: (back row, from left to right): Joel Hansen, Wayne, Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) Alternate; Dennis Schultz, Wisner, Past-Chairman; Scott McHenry, Norfolk, NARD Delegate; David Kathol, Norfolk, Treasurer. (Front row, from left to right): Matt Steffen, West Point, Secretary; Gary Loftis, Craig, Chairman; and Kurt Janke, Wayne, Vice-Chairman.

The board also elected officers for 2019. Pictured here is the Executive Board: (back row, from left to right): Joel Hansen, Wayne, Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) Alternate; Dennis Schultz, Wisner, Past-Chairman; Scott McHenry, Norfolk, NARD Delegate; David Kathol, Norfolk, Treasurer. (Front row, from left to right): Matt Steffen, West Point, Secretary; Gary Loftis, Craig, Chairman; and Kurt Janke, Wayne, Vice-Chairman.

LENRD worked with local authorities to recover accident victim

UPDATE: The Maskenthine Lake Recreation Area re-opened on January 31st.

STANTON – Due to the accident that took place at the Maskenthine Lake Recreation Area, north of Stanton, on Sunday, January 20th, the area is closed to the public.  The recreation area is owned and operated by the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD).

LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “Accident victim, Eddie Myrick of Stanton, was recovered from the water at Maskenthine on Thursday, January 24th.  The LENRD would like to thank the Stanton County Sheriff’s Department who brought in the Yankton Dive Team for the search and successful recovery.  We would also like to thank the local volunteers who helped extensively in the search, they would like to remain anonymous.  The thin ice conditions made the recovery process dangerous for all those involved.  We worked as quickly as we could for the family, while keeping everyone as safe as possible.”

Sousek added, “We are very sorry for the family and want to express our condolences.  We hope they can find the peace that they deserve during this difficult time.”

The recreation area will remain closed until further notice.

Maskenthine Lake is CLOSED until further notice

Stanton County Sheriff Mike Unger says a search began Sunday for a 55-year old man at Maskenthine Lake north of Stanton. Sheriff Unger says the man was last seen riding a motorcycle on the ice at the lake. 

Unger says no trace of the man was found Sunday evening, but authorities did find an opening in the ice that may be related. Dive teams have been called in to assist with the search.

The lake is closed to the public at this time.

Conservation efforts recognized at Awards Banquet

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) board of directors honored outstanding conservationists at their annual awards banquet on Friday, January 11th.  The event was held at the Stables Event Center in Norfolk.

 Outstanding Tree Planter Award

The Outstanding Tree Planter Award is presented to individuals within the district who have shown a strong commitment to the planting and care of trees.  The Rodney Wiese family of Oakland were honored as the recipients of the 2018 Outstanding Tree Planter Award.  Rodney, and his wife, Joan, accepted the award, along with their son, Andrew.

The Wiese family was nominated by LENRD Forester, Pam Bergstrom.  Bergstrom said, “The Wiese family has planted so many varieties of evergreens, hardwood trees, and shrubs it is almost like an arboretum at their acreage.  Varieties of trees or shrubs that they couldn’t get from the Lower Elkhorn NRD came from various nurseries around Nebraska.”

Several years ago, the Wiese family purchased the acreage they now live on between Craig and Oakland, and knew they wanted to put in new trees, specifically to enhance and renovate the old windbreaks that blocked the wind from the north and the west in the winter.  In the past 7 years they have planted over 1,200 trees and shrubs and renovated a 2 ½ acre windbreak system all by hand.

When the family renovated the windbreak, they completed a ½ acre at a time by cutting down the old trees with chainsaws and then saving the wood for their fire pit that they utilize for themselves and for the Scouts of America Troops that visit their acreage.  Bergstrom said, “When I even mentioned bringing in a bulldozer, they cringed, not at the price, but at the damage it would do to the understory trees.  In a world where machinery has made it easy to wipe the slate clean and do a complete demolition with a bulldozer; the Wiese family wanted to save the younger trees and incorporate them into the refurbished windbreak.”

Besides trees, the family also put in solar panels to provide electricity to their home and out buildings. Since putting in the solar panels, the family has noticed a decrease in their monthly electric bill and feel good about producing green energy on their acreage.  They also have a large garden on which they do their own version of no-till.  Bergstrom said, “They are very contentious about wildlife and planted a variety of shrubs in rows and thickets that allow for habitat and food sources throughout the year.”

Bergstrom added, “They are very deserving of this award.  We congratulate the Wiese family as the recipients of the 2018 Outstanding Tree Planter Award!”

 

(Photo – from left to right: Andrew Wiese; LENRD Forester, Pam Bergstrom; Rodney Wiese; and Joan Wiese).

(Photo – from left to right: Andrew Wiese; LENRD Forester, Pam Bergstrom; Rodney Wiese; and Joan Wiese).

Outstanding Partnership Award

The LENRD works with various agencies and partners each year as we strive to improve the quality of life for the citizens across Northeast Nebraska.  The Outstanding Partnership Award recognizes excellence in community outreach efforts that highlight our mission of protecting our natural resources for future generations.

At the banquet, the LENRD recognized the Norfolk Area Visitors Bureau for their outstanding partnership, and for their efforts in promoting the LENRD’s projects and programs across the Norfolk Area.

The Norfolk Area Visitors Bureau has been actively pursuing different ways to get people to stop, look, and learn in Northeast Nebraska.  It was about a year ago when Executive Director, Traci Jeffrey, contacted the district about the possibility of partnering to develop a Moon Walk program in our area.  LENRD Board Chairman, Dennis Schultz, said, “We formed a committee with the Bureau and other agencies, and before long we had three Adult Education events scheduled.  The “Stars, Strolls, and S’mores” events were a big hit with over 250 people attending the learning sessions last summer.  The committee has already met with plans for three more events in 2019.”

The Norfolk Area Visitors Bureau has also been a big promoter of our Recreation Areas.  Schultz continued, “When people are looking for things to see and do, the Bureau has always recommended the Willow Creek State Recreation Area near Pierce as well as the Maskenthine Lake Recreation Area near Stanton.  We appreciate their support of our area projects.”

As Norfolk continues to grow, and we look for more recreational opportunities closer to home, the Norfolk Riverfront Project has taken center stage.  The Bureau was very instrumental in gathering support for the project and working with the Lower Elkhorn NRD to secure funding for this endeavor.  Schultz said, “This is an exciting project, not only for Norfolk, but for the citizens across our district, and we are proud to be a partner!”

Executive Director, Traci Jeffrey, and Marketing Coordinator, Stacie Wilken, accepted the award on behalf of the Bureau.  Schultz added, “We want to thank you for your continued partnership and we look forward to working with you well into the future as we strive to improve the quality of life for the residents of our district.  Congratulations!”


(Photo – from left to right: LENRD Board Chairman, Dennis Schultz; Marketing Coordinator, Stacie Wilken; Executive Director, Traci Jeffrey; and LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek).

(Photo – from left to right: LENRD Board Chairman, Dennis Schultz; Marketing Coordinator, Stacie Wilken; Executive Director, Traci Jeffrey; and LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek).

Service Awards:

Jill Barr, of Norfolk, was honored for her years of service to the district.  Barr was on the board of directors since 2016.

Jill Barr

Jill Barr

Chairman Schultz added, “Congratulations to all of our winners tonight.  We thank you for your hard work and continued efforts in protecting our natural resources.”

LENRD is going digital!

You will receive the last printed edition of the Directions newsletter in your mailbox very soon!  The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District is discontinuing the printing of their newsletter.  To stay connected with the NRD, subscribe to their monthly emails to receive the latest news, agendas, and deadlines on important topics that affect northeast Nebraskans and our precious natural resources.  Just type your email address into the box to the right of this article. The Lower Elkhorn NRD serves all or parts of 15-counties in northeast Nebraska.  Subscribe today and stay connected with the NRD!

Public hearing relating to the district's Groundwater Management Area will be held December 6th

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) will hold a public hearing on December 6, 2018, at 7:00 p.m. at the LENRD office, located at 1508 Square Turn Blvd. in Norfolk. The purpose of the hearing is to take testimony on amendments to Rules (1) and (17) of the District’s Groundwater Management Area Rules and Regulations as approved by the District on January 24, 2013 and made effective February 25, 2013. No changes or amendments are being proposed at this time to Rules (1) and (17) and this hearing is being conducted to comply with a provision contained within Section 17.9 of the Groundwater Management Area Rules and Regulations for the Enforcement of the Nebraska Groundwater Management and Protection Act.

The geographic area impacted by this hearing includes all of Battle Creek, Union, and Warnerville Townships in Madison County, all of Cleveland and Clover Valley Townships in Pierce County, all of Brenna, Chapin, Hancock, Plum Creek and Strahan Townships, and Sections (25) through (36) of Hunter, and Sections (25) through (36) of Wilbur Townships in Wayne County, all of which are located within the LENRD boundary.

Any interested person may appear at the hearing and present written or oral testimony relevant to the purpose of the hearing. Testimony or other evidence relevant to the purposes of the hearing may also be submitted in writing to Lower Elkhorn NRD, or by electronic mail at lenrd@lenrd.org by 5:00 pm, December 6, 2018.

Public Notice

Groundwater Management Area - Rules #1 & #17

LENRD Board approves applications for new irrigated acres

Earlier this fall, landowners within the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) boundaries, had an opportunity to apply for new irrigated acres for 2019.

LENRD Assistant General Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “The board voted to accept applications for standard variances from selected portions of the District.  We received 145 applications for new irrigated acres during the sign-up period, which was open between September 4th and October 3rd, 2018.”

The board voted at their November meeting to approve up to 2428 acres in the Hydrologically Connected (10/50 Area), and to approve up to 2515 new acres in the Non-Hydrologically Connected (Non 10/50 Area), under the district’s standard variance process.  Recommendations for approval were determined by using the variance scoring process which has been utilized by the District on previous occasions.  Eligible applications are scored and ranked from highest to lowest, and approvals made until the available acres have been allocated.

Bruckner continued, “District staff will be generating letters to all applicants to inform them on the status of their request (whether they were approved or denied), with those letters being generated and mailed next week .”  After the landowners have been properly notified, the list of applicants who were approved may be made available by submitting a public records request.

In other action, the board approved the allocations for the designated Quantity Management Subareas across the district for 2019.  Bruckner, said, “Each year, the board must determine the annual groundwater allocation amounts for the Wayne and Madison County Quantity Management Subareas for the upcoming crop year.”  The board voted to set the 2019 allocation amounts at:  18 acre-inches per irrigated acre for gravity/flood irrigation systems, 13 acre-inches per irrigated acre for subsurface drip irrigation systems, and 14 acre-inches per irrigated acre for all other irrigation systems in the Eastern Madison County Quantity Subarea, and 17 acre-inches per irrigated acre for gravity/flood irrigation systems, 12 acre-inches per irrigated acre for subsurface drip irrigation systems, and 13 acre-inches per irrigated acre for all other irrigation systems in the Wayne County Quantity Subarea.

In other business, the board approved 9 Community Forestry Incentive applications for a total cost of $32,867.95.  The communities receiving grants this year include:  Madison, Norfolk, Pender, Pierce Public Schools, Pilger, Wakefield, West Point, West Point Public Schools, and Wisner.

The board also voted to schedule a public hearing to be conducted on December 6, 2018 at 7 p.m. to receive comments and testimony from the public on Rules 1 and 17 of the District’s Groundwater Management Area Rules and Regulations.  The public hearing will be at the LENRD office at 1508 Square Turn Boulevard in Norfolk.

Job opening for an educator to assist with nitrate issues in northeast Nebraska

UNL Extension is looking for an Extension Educator to provide regional leadership in the Bazile Groundwater Management Area (Knox, Pierce, and Antelope Counties), and develop focused, comprehensive educational programs that utilize available agricultural technologies to improve irrigation and nitrogen management for corn-soybean rotation cropping systems that halt the rising trend of nitrate-nitrogen concentrations in groundwater.

Do you have the drive to help us with critical water and nitrogen management issues facing crop producers? Can you be a strong regional expert and develop focused, comprehensive learning opportunities on topics such as rainfed and irrigated crop production systems to reduce nitrate contamination of groundwater, use of cover crops, and crop residues to build resiliency and protect soil and water resources?

This is a permanent, full-time, UNL faculty position and will be located in Norfolk at the Lower Elkhorn NRD office. This individual will work in collaboration with four Natural Resources Districts, State and Federal Agencies, and Agribusiness professionals to develop and deliver educational programs for rainfed and irrigated cropping systems programs. The goal is to halt the rising trend of nitrate-nitrogen concentrations in groundwater through implementation of improved technologies and management practices.

Review of applications will be December 3rd, 2018.

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Position Description

Public Hearing to certify irrigated acres is November 8th

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District will conduct public hearings and certify irrigated acres on November 8, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. These hearings will be held at the District office located at 1508 Square Turn Boulevard in Norfolk.  The attached list of individuals are those who have fields in the Certification Hearing.  If questions arise, please contact Mike Murphy at 402-371-7313.

Fields to be Certified

Public Hearing Policy

Contested Hearing Form

Managing your soil moisture bank

After an early start to harvest most farmers found themselves waiting for the rain to quit.  What can a producer do to be productive? How about planning a cover crop planting?  It really is never too late to plant a cover crop!

The plentiful to excess autumn rainfall amounts highlight another benefit that cover crops will provide, which is using excess water.  Why is that important right now you may ask?  As our soil moisture profile fills during this post-harvest time frame it leaves less room in the “soil moisture bank” for storing off-season precipitation.

Managing the soil moisture bank becomes even more important going into the spring when we typically receive heavier rainfall amounts and there is no crop growing to use the moisture.  The risk in this scenario is that when excess rainfall percolates through the root zone and out of the reach of crop roots, it takes crop nutrients with it.  You may have spread fertilizer in the fall as part of your fertility program and not end up getting the value out of it.

Getting the jump on establishing another living root system in the soil before next year’s cash crop is planted is a big benefit as well.   Mycorrhizal fungi depend on living roots exuding plant sugars for their survival.  These fungi are important players in the soil biology, living in and around plant roots and providing water and plant nutrients from the surrounding soil in exchange for the liquid carbon in released plant sugars.

A “mycorrhizal handshake” occurs when the cash crop seed germinates into a soil with the mycorrhizal fungal system already growing in it.  The mycorrhizae colonize the growing seed and protect it from pathogenic fungi in the soil.  The plant recognizes the mycorrhizal fungi as beneficial and begin to funnel carbon in the form of plant sugars to it to encourage their symbiotic relationship.

Another benefit is weed suppression provided by the cover crop early in the season.  We have all heard the saying “The best herbicide is plant canopy”.  Cover crops get an early fall start and take off growing again as soon as soil temps get to a little as 35 degrees in the spring.  Save some money on herbicide…spend it on cover crops.

Anyone who chose to aerially seed or broadcast into standing cropland this fall is likely very pleased with their results as the cool and wet conditions have really favored good growth.  The cover crop will be using some of the excess moisture, helping to dry the soil out and provide a more trafficable field condition for harvesting.  Earlier seeding makes the use of multi-species mixes more effective as the sunlight and growing degrees available decline rapidly in the fall.

What can you plan to do now?  Get your crops harvested and hit the field with a drill as soon as you can.  The later start in the fall can be managed by letting the covers grow a little longer in the spring.  Plant your crops into the living cover crop, a process called “planting green” and let both the cover and cash crop grow at the same time for a period of time.  That period will be determined mostly by soil moisture usage by the two.  This is how you manage your soil moisture bank.

At the end of the day, a field planted to a cover crop planting will always enjoy an added level of protection from sheet and rill erosion and gully erosion.  Look at it as an insurance policy for your land as well as your purchased and applied inputs. 

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District and USDA-NRCS offer some attractive financial incentives for trying cover crops on your farm.  Stop in or call them for more information on one of the latest and greatest beneficial soil conservation practices.

Marty Marx from Wayne aerially applied a multi-species cover crop with a helicopter seeding service August 31. Benefitting from Mother Nature’s plentiful rainfall, the cover crops surface-germinated and are set to provide a wide range of benefits from soil erosion prevention and regenerating his cropland soils to managing his soil moisture bank. The jump start the cover crops get also allow them to sequester unused crop nutrients, provide a mycorrhizal environment for the germinating seeds and early season weed suppression.

Marty Marx from Wayne aerially applied a multi-species cover crop with a helicopter seeding service August 31. Benefitting from Mother Nature’s plentiful rainfall, the cover crops surface-germinated and are set to provide a wide range of benefits from soil erosion prevention and regenerating his cropland soils to managing his soil moisture bank. The jump start the cover crops get also allow them to sequester unused crop nutrients, provide a mycorrhizal environment for the germinating seeds and early season weed suppression.

Pender High School takes first place at the Northeast Area FFA Land Judging Contest

The Northeast Area FFA Land Judging Contest was held Tuesday, October 2nd near Oakland.  462 students from 24 high schools registered that morning at the Burt County Fairgrounds in Oakland before traveling to the testing site at Summit Lake.

A team from Pender High School finished first with the top score of 789 points.  Team members are:  Kelcie Bartlett, Sarah Krueger, Liberty Baker, and Jessica Krueger.

Another team from Pender High School placed second with a score of 760.  Third place went to Norfolk High School with a score of 756 points.  Wisner-Pilger and West Point-Beemer came in 4th and 5th.  The top 6 teams that will participate in the state competition are from Pender, Norfolk, Wisner-Pilger, West Point-Beemer, North Bend, and Blair.  The State Land Judging competition will take place in the Wahoo area on Wednesday, October 17th.

The top individual award went to Charles Schmedding of Pender with a total score of 298.  Kaleb Hasenkamp of West Point was second, Kelcie Bartlett of Pender was third, Ryan Gaughen of North Bend was fourth, and Sarah Krueger of Pender came in fifth.

The site provided good diversity in soils and landscape positions for the students.  The contest helps the students make informed decisions regarding soil utilization in the future.  Scoring was completed the following day at the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) office in Norfolk.

The high schools participating were:  Arlington, Allen, Blair, Emerson-Hubbard, Howells-Dodge, Humphrey, Laurel-Concord-Coleridge, Clarkson-Leigh, Logan View, Lyons-Decatur Northeast, Madison, Norfolk, North Bend, Oakland-Craig, Pender, Pierce, Randolph, Schuyler, Scribner-Snyder, Stanton, Tekamah-Herman, Wayne, West Point-Beemer, and Wisner-Pilger.

The LENRD, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Oakland High School, and the Nebraska FFA Land Judging Committee organized and sponsored the contest.

NE Land Judging Summit Lake Oct 2, 2018.7.jpg

Groundwater Management Area expands in Pierce and Madison Counties

NORFOLK -- The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) has been monitoring the groundwater throughout the district for over 40 years.  In the early ‘90s, a Groundwater Management Plan was established to protect the resource for future generations.

The LENRD is charged with the responsibility and authority to implement controls as necessary to both protect and remediate groundwater quality.  Concern for groundwater quality and the growing health concerns for the public, as well as the desire to further implement best management practices to prevent groundwater contamination, are the primary reasons the district has expanded the geographic area of the Phase 2 & 3 Groundwater Management Area in Pierce and northern Madison Counties.

Concerns about high nitrates in the district have risen as long-term monitoring has shown increasing levels of nitrate concentration in much of the groundwater in Pierce County, and most recently in small portions of northern Madison County.  Results indicate that of the approximately 40% of the registered wells sampled in Pierce County, the average nitrate-nitrogen level is 11.7 parts per million (ppm).  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set a maximum contaminant level of 10 ppm for nitrate-nitrogen in drinking water supplies.

Several health concerns are related to the consumption of high nitrate water.  Nitrates can be particularly harmful to infants under six months of age.  Excessively high nitrates can lead to methemoglobinemia, a condition that is commonly known as “blue baby syndrome” in which there is a reduction in the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood, potentially leading to death.  Pregnant women and other adults with certain health conditions may also be at increased risk.  Preliminary results from another study also indicate a potential positive link between groundwater nitrates and the incidence of birth defects and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Actions taken in the Phase 2 Area by agricultural producers and the LENRD will help to protect and improve groundwater quality. The following are requirements for the Phase 2 Area.  The UPDATED changes are in bold italics:

·         Fall and winter application of commercial nitrogen fertilizer is prohibited between October 15 and March 15

·         Operators who apply commercial nitrogen must be certified by the LENRD

·         Submittal of annual field reports to the LENRD by March 15th of each calendar year

·         Require deep soil sampling (24 inches) in fields planted to continuous corn (Each sample should represent no more than 80 acres)

·         Require irrigation water sampling once every four years

·         Defines nitrogen fertilizer as a chemical compound in which the percentage of nitrogen is greater than the percentage of any other nutrient in the compound and, when applied, results in an average application rate of more than twenty-five (25) pounds of nitrogen per acre over the field to which it is being applied.

·         Any single application of commercial nitrogen fertilizer in excess of 80 pounds per acre is prohibited

·         Require use of LENRD approved nitrogen inhibitor or stabilizer if applying more than 50 pounds of commercial nitrogen in any single application (after March 15) and provide documentation to verify use along with proper application rate

Actions taken in the Phase 3 Area by agricultural producers and the LENRD will help to protect and improve groundwater quality. The following are requirements for the Phase 3 Area.  The UPDATED changes to the existing rules and regulations of a Phase 3 Area are in bold italics:

  • Continue all Phase 2 Area controls

·         Require use of LENRD approved nitrogen inhibitor or stabilizer if applying more than 50 pounds of commercial nitrogen in any single application (after March 15) and provide documentation to verify use along with proper application rate

  • Defines nitrogen fertilizer as a chemical compound in which the percentage of nitrogen is greater than the percentage of any other nutrient in the compound and, when applied, results in an average application rate of more than twenty-five (25) pounds of nitrogen per acre over the field to which it is being applied.

  • Any single application of commercial nitrogen fertilizer in excess of 80 pounds per acre is prohibited

  • Require deep soil sampling (24 inches) in all fields planted to corn (regardless of crop rotation) (Each sample should represent no more than 80 acres)

  • Require the development and adherence to a LENRD approved Nutrient Management Plan

  • Require annual irrigation water sampling

The effective date of the adopted changes is October 15, 2018.

“These changes are the product of several months’ worth of effort between the District staff and our Board of Directors, and while these changes will require some adjustments for area producers, the feedback thus-far has mostly been positive,” said Brian Bruckner, LENRD Assistant General Manager. “The District takes the responsibility for groundwater management seriously, and is equally as committed to working cooperatively with landowners and producers as their actions are key to a long-term solution.”

“The District encourages any citizens with further questions about the Groundwater Management Area to contact the LENRD office or visit our website for more information,” added Bruckner.  “We are seeking reasonable solutions to natural resources issues through increased communication and education.”

Updated Area Map

Lower Elkhorn NRD requests proposals for Flow Meter Maintenance

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to provide inspection and preventative maintenance services for all propeller-driven, analog display irrigation well flow meters (Propeller Meters) installed in the District. This project includes the provision of all labor, equipment and expertise to perform preventative maintenance services for an estimated 776 flow meters located within the District by April 15, 2019.

These inspection and preventative maintenance services include, but are not limited to: a physical examination and evaluation of proper flow meter installation and operation; removal of the flow meter to evaluate the condition of the propeller and bearings; reinstallation of the meter after greasing its bearings and replacing the saddle gasket; documentation of all inspection; maintenance findings and activities through photos and reports in a format provided by LENRD; and application of an LENRD maintenance sticker to the Propeller Meter. The LENRD will supply grease, gaskets and other preventative maintenance supplies for this project.

These inspection and maintenance activities will be performed during the non-growing season, which is from October through April. Payment for these services will be negotiated between the District and the contractor but not more frequently than monthly for each completed inspection.

The District is seeking to have the Propeller Meters within Antelope and Madison counties serviced (see the map attached). Proposals are for the two counties collectively; bids for each county separately will not be accepted.

The full RFP is attached.  If you have any questions please contact Austyn or Curt at the LENRD office (telephone number (402) 371-7313 or by email at ahouser@lenrd.org or cbecker@lenrd.org).

Proposals must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, October 12, 2018 to the NRD office.

Request for Proposal - map

LENRD Board adopts voluntary Integrated Management Plan

Being proactive in the conjunctive management of  groundwater and surface water is what led the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) Board of Directors to implement a voluntary Integrated Management Plan (IMP) for the protection of the resources.  The citizens of the LENRD depend on abundant water resources for domestic, agricultural, and industrial uses, all of which contribute to the economy of the district.  Water resources are also important for wildlife habitat and recreational uses such as fishing, hunting, boating, and swimming.

In early 2012, the LENRD board took action to initiate development of a joint voluntary IMP with the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NDNR), to provide a needed framework for wise, long-term management of finite water resources.

In 2013, the NDNR and the seven NRDs that make up the Lower Platte River Basin, formed the Lower Platte River Basin Coalition.  The Coalition’s mission is to coordinate efforts to protect the long-term balance of the Basin’s water uses and water supplies.  A primary action of the Coalition was to voluntarily develop a Lower Platte Basin Water Management Plan, which was adopted by all parties as of January 10, 2018.

The LENRD continued to move forward with their individual plan, and developed a Stakeholder Advisory Committee consisting of representatives from: Agriculture, Industry, Public Water Supply, Domestic well owners, Environmental, as well as County and City officials. This Committee met in 2014 and 2015 to help prioritize goals and action items of the IMP.  The district continued to work with the NDNR to develop a working draft over the next several years.

The NDNR and the LENRD jointly held a public meeting to discuss and answer public questions on the IMP on August 9, 2018.  A public hearing was then held on August 23, 2018, where public testimony on the final version of the plan was recorded.  After reviewing the testimony, the LENRD board voted to approve the IMP at their September 27th board meeting.

LENRD Assistant Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “The purpose of this voluntary IMP is to achieve and sustain a long-term balance between water uses and water supplies.  Protection of existing users is also a major factor since there is still available water in the Basin, and the District is continuing to add new users on an annual basis. This will be achieved through coordinated management of hydrologically connected groundwater and surface water resources.  The voluntary IMP is considered a proactive approach to protecting available water supplies to better ensure that the resource will be available for future generations and also makes the District eligible to apply for grant funding through the NDNR Water Sustainability Fund.”

In other action, the board authorized LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, to sign the contract with JEO Consulting Group to update the District’s Hazard Mitigation Plan.

The board also authorized the signing of an interlocal agreement for obtaining seedling trees and shrubs with the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts for the LENRD’s Conservation Tree Program.

In other business, staff was authorized to solicit bids for flow meter maintenance on mechanical meters in Madison and Antelope Counties for 776 meters and will sign a contract with the lowest responsible bidder.

The next committee meeting will be held on Thursday, October 11th at 7:00 p.m..  The next board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, October 25th at 7:30 p.m. at the LENRD office in Norfolk.

Community Forestry Workshops in Norfolk September 25th

The Norfolk Tree Advisory Board, Nebraska Forest Service, and Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) will host two workshops in Norfolk on Tuesday, September 25, 2018.

The afternoon workshop will be held at the Norfolk Public Library on Riverside Boulevard from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and will focus on the arboretums across northeast Nebraska and how they were established.  Arrive around 1:00 p.m. and register for door prizes.  Justin Evertson with the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum will start the afternoon off and talk about how communities can establish their own arboretum and what services the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum provide.  He will also talk about some tree plantings that are happening right here in northeast Nebraska and how your community can get in on the future plantings. We will follow that up with Arboretum Curators from arboretums across northeast Nebraska giving quick overviews of their sites and talk about the trees they have planted and the challenges and successes they have had. Pam Bergstrom with the LENRD will talk about how to promote and advertise tree projects and plantings within your own community.  She will also talk about ways the LENRD has promoted their own arboretum at Maskenthine Lake and other promotions that local communities have done.  

In the evening, the public is invited to join us at the Skyview Lake Arboretum and meet at the north shelter just off the 18th Street and Maple Street entrance.  From 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. you will get a chance to talk one on one with tree experts about tree problems you may be having, what tree to plant in your yard, or to identify diseases, insects, or tree species from samples you bring with you.  At 6:00 p.m. lace up your walking shoes as we will take a walking tour of Skyview Lake Arboretum and stop to talk about certain trees and point out trees that are doing well and should be considered for your next tree planting project.  Don’t forget to bring comfortable walking shoes, a notebook with pen or pencil, and water.

These two workshops are being provided by the City of Norfolk, Nebraska Forest Service and the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District and are free to the public.  If you plan on attending the afternoon workshop, you will need to register. To register for the afternoon workshop, please contact Sheila Schukei at 402.844.2034.

Community Forestry Workshop - afternoon session

Tree Workshop - Skyview Lake - 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Walk in the Woods held in West Point

It was a beautiful day to get outside and learn about trees!  That’s what 130 fourth graders found out at the 10th Annual Walk in the Woods held on Wednesday, September 5th at the West Point City Park.  The event is usually held at Wilderness Park in West Point, but the recent rainfall made conditions there too wet.  The hands-on learning day was moved into town and focused on the importance of trees, wildlife, and prairie.  Students from West Point-Beemer Elementary, Guardian Angels Catholic School in West Point, St. Paul Lutheran School in West Point, and Wisner-Pilger Elementary attended the event.

Pam Bergstrom, Forester with the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) said, “This experience gives students the opportunity to learn about trees and nature by observing and learning through their senses rather than just reading or being taught about it in a classroom.”

Steve Rasmussen, District Forester with the Nebraska Forest Service (NFS) said, “This continues to be a very good program to teach youth about our natural resources right in their backyard.  The students get physical education, science, history, and math all in one morning session.”

The Walk in the Woods event is sponsored by the Nebraska Forest Service, the Great Plains Society of American Foresters, and the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District.  Other presenters and volunteers included staff from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission.

Walk in the Woods4 - 2018.jpg

Sign-up begins Sept. 4th for new irrigated acres

Farmers within the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) boundaries, will have an opportunity to apply for new irrigated acres for 2019.

The LENRD board voted, at their August meeting, to allow up to 2,500 acres of new groundwater irrigation development in the Hydrologically Connected or 10/50 Area, and to allow up to 2,500 acres of new groundwater irrigation development in the Non-Hydrologically Connected or Non 10/50 Area under the district’s standard variance process for 2019.

LENRD Assistant General Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “The board voted to allow for the approval of standard variances district-wide, from areas that fall within the top five Potential for Development categories as provided on the Classification 4 Map provided by Flatwater Group.”

Bruckner added, “The board suggested an annual limit on the amount of groundwater withdrawal from wells associated with approved variances, determined by board policy, which is subject to future modification if conditions warrant.  In addition, a minimum soil score of 90 must be met for any standard variance to be considered for approval.”

The board established a sign-up period to receive applications for Standard Variances.  The district will receive applications for standard variances between September 4th, 2018 and October 3rd, 2018.  Contact the LENRD for more information.

Map

Application Form (available Sept. 4th)

LENRD approves a lower tax levy for fiscal year 2019

The 2019 fiscal year budget for the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) once again calls for a lower tax levy.

The operating budget was approved by the board of directors at their August 23rd meeting with a tax request of $4,272,728.  The budget of all expenditures shows a 6.39% decrease of $451,300 from last year.

The estimated levy, based on the property tax request, is 2.314 cents per $100 of valuation, which is a slight decrease from the fiscal year 2018 levy of 2.327 cents per $100 of valuation.  For example, if a person owns a $100,000 house, the taxes owed to the LENRD would have been $23.27 in 2018, and will be approximately $23.14 in 2019.

LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “It’s becoming more difficult to continue decreasing the tax levy year after year.  This is the 7th year in a row for a decrease in property tax asking.  Last year, we reached a historic low with the lowest tax levy in 45 years.  Even with the 0% increase this year, we are expanding our public awareness of our 12 responsibilities and have more projects and programs on the table to meet the challenges of natural resources management head on.”

The funds received by the LENRD are returned to the citizens of the district, through projects, programs, and studies across all or parts of 15-counties in northeast Nebraska.  Some of these conservation benefits include:  water quality and quantity programs such as groundwater management, flood control, and nitrate management; as well as erosion control, cost-share to landowners who apply for conservation practices, recreation areas and trails, urban recreation and community forestry programs, and many other benefits that protect our natural resources.  A copy of the budget documents can be found at: