Public hearing on Integrated Management Plan is August 23rd

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) and the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NeDNR) hereby provide notice that the LENRD and the NeDNR shall hold a public hearing on August 23, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. at the LENRD office, located at 1508 Square Turn Blvd. in Norfolk, Nebraska.  The purpose of the hearing is to take testimony on the proposed LENRD/NeDNR Integrated Management Plan (IMP) and the proposed controls. The geographic area for the proposed IMP encompasses the entire land area within the LENRD boundary. The geographic area of proposed groundwater controls is where groundwater and surface water are hydrologically connected within the LENRD boundary. The geographic area of proposed surface water controls is the extent of the Lower Elkhorn River Basin that is within the District boundary.

Chapter 7 of the voluntary IMP outlines the two controls for groundwater management and two controls for surface water management that are consistent to meet the goals and objectives of the IMP. These controls are 1) Limits on the development of new groundwater and surface water irrigated acres, and 2) Required measuring devices on certain wells and surface water diversions. The groundwater controls apply to a geographic sub-area of District; a map of which can be accessed in Chapter 5.   The surface water controls apply to the Elkhorn River Basin portion of the District, a map of which can also be accessed in Chapter 5. 

Any interested person may appear at the hearing and present written or oral testimony concerning the proposed IMP and proposed controls.  Individuals with disabilities may request auxiliary aids and service necessary for participation by contacting the LENRD or the NeDNR by August 15, 2018.  Testimony or other evidence relevant to the purposes of the hearing may also be submitted in writing to Lower Elkhorn NRD, 1508 Square Turn Boulevard, Norfolk, Nebraska, 68701, or the Department of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 64676, Lincoln NE 68509-4676, or by electronic mail at dnr.legalfile@nebraska.gov by 5:00pm, August 21, 2018. 

Following the public hearing the LENRD and the NeDNR will make a joint decision within 60 days of whether to implement the proposed IMP with or without modifications and whether to adopt and implement the controls as proposed in the IMP.

Public Notice

Integrated Management Plan

Soil Health Demo Farm - Field Day to be held August 23rd

The Loren Pestel Farm at 57161  834 Rd, Stanton, NE will be the site for the Soil Health Field Day on Thursday, August 23rd from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon.  The morning sessions will educate producers on soil health, cover crops, grazing cover crops, and more!  RSVP to your local NRCS office.  Click on the event flyer for more details:

Event Flyer

Public information meeting for the Integrated Management Plan is Aug. 9

A public meeting will be held on Thursday, August 9th to inform the public about the background, development process, implementation, and what having a Voluntary Integrated Management Plan (IMP) means for water quantity management in the LENRD.  The IMP has been jointly developed for the LENRD and the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources.  The public meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m. in the LENRD board room at their new location, 1508 Square Turn Boulevard in Norfolk.

Meeting Agenda

Notice of Public Meeting

Integrated Management Plan - Draft

LENRD supports river rehabilitation project on the North Fork of the Elkhorn River

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) serves all or parts of 15-counties in northeast Nebraska with a mission of improving the quality of life for all citizens by conserving, developing, and managing all natural resources.

The LENRD Board of Directors met on Thursday, July 26th for their regular meeting.  The board continued their discussion on the City of Norfolk’s Johnson Park River Rehabilitation Project along the North Fork of the Elkhorn River.  LENRD Director, Scott McHenry, of Norfolk, said, “The City’s plan to develop the Riverfront Project will provide more recreational opportunities close to home.  I can’t take a lot of time off during the summer months, so it’s important to me and my family to find things to do locally.”  He added, “I have received a considerable amount of feedback from the people in my Subdistrict in support of this project.”  After much discussion, the board voted 8 to 5 to support the Riverfront Project with the City of Norfolk with a financial commitment of $1.032 million divided out over four years, which will be 1/3 of the project cost.

In other action, the board appointed Aaron Zimmerman of rural Pierce as the new director to the vacant Subdistrict 1 Board of Directors seat.  Nine individuals applied for the position, with one withdrawing before Thursday night’s meeting.  The board interviewed the remaining candidates, with Zimmerman receiving the majority vote in the end.  The other applicants were:  Rick Christiansen of Plainview, Donovan Ellis of Pierce, Tom Nathan of Meadow Grove, Wayne Rasmussen of Plainview, Jay Reikofski of Foster, Aaron Sauser of Tilden, and Roger Tacey of Osmond.

Prior to the board meeting, the LENRD held an Open House Public Hearing from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. regarding the Groundwater Management Area and the possible changes to the proposed Phase 2 & Phase 3 Areas in Pierce County and northern Madison County, due to the elevation of nitrates in the drinking water.  LENRD Assistant General Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “We were pleased with the turnout for the public hearing.  We wanted to inform the public of the possible changes to the management area and work together to formulate plans for the future protection of our groundwater.”  The board will review the testimonies given at the public hearing and will vote on the proposed changes at the next board meeting on Thursday, August 23rd at 7:30 p.m.

Open House Public Hearing to be held July 26th

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) will hold an Open House Public Hearing on Thursday, July 26th from 5-7 p.m. at their new office at 1508 Square Turn Boulevard in Norfolk.  The purpose of the hearing is to receive public comment on proposed amendments to the district's Groundwater Management Area Rules & Regulations.

The LENRD has been monitoring the groundwater across their 15 counties for over 40 years.  In the early ‘90s, a Groundwater Management Plan was established to protect the resource for future generations.  As the monitoring continued, elevated levels of nitrates were detected in portions of Pierce County.  The initial Groundwater Management Plan contained language that informed both the Board of Directors and the general public, of the triggers and potential controls that could be imposed within a Groundwater Management Area, using a phased approach to managing the resource.  Years have passed, and the nitrate levels in some areas are not declining, and additional portions of the District are experiencing elevated groundwater nitrates, including northern Madison County, even with Best Management Practices in place.  High nitrates in our drinking water can have negative health impacts, and some communities within the area have been required to invest significant financial resources to upgrade their infrastructure in order to deliver a safe, reliable source of drinking water.  Therefore, the LENRD is proposing changes to the Groundwater Management Area in an effort to keep the nitrate levels from increasing.

Public Notice

Phase Area Controls - proposed changes in red

Map - proposed Phase Areas

Rules & Regulations - Proposed changes

Board of Directors has a vacant seat

Due to a vacancy on the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) Board of Directors, the Board is now taking applications to fill the remainder of a four year term (2017-2020) for Subdistrict 1. Applicants must be registered voters and reside within the boundary of the subdistrict shown below.  A more detailed map is available at the LENRD office.

Interested persons should contact the LENRD, 1508 Square Turn Blvd, Norfolk NE 68701, 402-371-7313 or email: msousek@lenrd.org

A resume’ should be submitted to the LENRD by July 19, 2018.  

  • A sample resume’ form is available at the LENRD office.
  • Candidates will be invited to address the Board of Directors at the July 26, 2018 board meeting to be held at the LENRD office in Norfolk.  A letter of invitation will be sent to all candidates.

Subdistrict 1 - MAP

Striving to improve the quality of life through the protection of natural resources is LENRD's mission

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) serves all or parts of 15-counties in northeast Nebraska with a mission of improving the quality of life for all citizens by conserving, developing, and managing all natural resources.  The LENRD Board of Directors met on Thursday, June 28th for their regular meeting.

Each year, the LENRD measures the water levels of 240 irrigation wells across the district.  From 2017 to 2018, 42 of the wells measured an increase 2 to 5 feet.  LENRD Water Resources Technician, Dallas Dorey, gave his yearly report at the meeting.  He explained, “Overall, the spring water levels throughout the district increased this year, with the exception of the southeast portion.  Some wells in the southeastern part of the district saw moderate declines.”  More information can be obtained by contacting the LENRD office.

In other business, the board continued their discussion on the City of Norfolk’s Johnson Park River Rehabilitation Project along the North Fork of the Elkhorn River.  LENRD Director, Jill Barr, of Norfolk, said, “The City’s plan to create recreational opportunities along the river could attract more people and businesses to the Norfolk area.  One of the LENRD’s 12 responsibilities is the development and management of recreational and park facilities, and I think it’s important that we keep that in mind when reviewing projects like this.”  The board will continue their discussion of the project at their next committee meeting and budget workshop on July 12th.

LENRD Projects Manager, Curt Becker, announced that the district has worked with the producers across the district and have found that all flow meters have been installed on irrigation wells.  The board instructed the general manager to issue cease and desist orders, if needed, to any landowner that is found to be irrigating without a flow meter as they continue with their inspections across the district.

In other action, the board approved the cost of living salary adjustment of 1.8% for staff and approved the step and grade changes proposed by management for Fiscal Year 2019.  The board also authorized the staff to advertise for the Subdistrict 1 Board of Directors seat that is currently vacant.  Applications are due by July 19th.  More information and a map of the subdistrict is available on the district’s website.

The next board of directors meeting will be held on Thursday, July 26th at the LENRD office at 1508 Square Turn Boulevard in Norfolk.  Prior to the board meeting the district will conduct an Open House Public Hearing from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. regarding the Groundwater Management Area and the possible changes to the proposed Phase 2 & Phase 3 Areas in Pierce County and northern Madison County, due to the elevation of nitrates in the drinking water.  Visit the district’s website for the latest news and updates.

High Nitrates in drinking water are harmful: Phased Groundwater Management Plan designed to address high nitrate levels

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District’s (LENRD) dual concern for groundwater quality and the health of the public; along with the responsibility to enact controls and further implement best management practices to mitigate and prevent groundwater contamination, are the primary reasons the district is considering a modification of the geographic area of the Groundwater Quality Management Area in Pierce and Madison counties.

An Open House Public Hearing will be held on Thursday, July 26th to provide information and to receive feedback on the proposed changes to the Groundwater Management Area along with the controls that could be implemented to protect the groundwater in that area.

Concerns about high nitrates in the district have risen as recent monitoring has shown increasing levels of nitrate concentration in much of the groundwater in Pierce County, when compared with long-term monitoring data from the same area.  Comprehensive sampling of Pierce and Madison County irrigation wells was conducted in both 2015 and 2017, with over 700 samples collected.  The average nitrate concentration of the samples collected was 13 ppm.

Some communities in Pierce County have also been plagued with high nitrates in their drinking water and have had to invest in new infrastructure or other remedial measures to supply safe, reliable drinking water to their residents.

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, leading to death.  Pregnant women and other adults with certain health conditions may also be at increased risk.  Because of these potential health risks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set a maximum contaminant level of 10 parts per million (ppm) for nitrate-nitrogen in public water supplies.

The LENRD’s Groundwater Management Area has a system of four phase levels. The designated boundaries for the phases may follow either natural or political boundaries. The boundaries may be drawn around existing problem areas or potentially vulnerable areas.

"The use of several phases allows the district to adapt different requirements to assorted conditions," said Brian Bruckner, LENRD Assistant General Manager.  He added, “The requirements for an area may change, and are tailored to fit the conditions that exist within a designated phase area."

Nitrates in drinking water are harmful

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) has been monitoring the groundwater across their 15 counties for over 40 years.  In the early ‘90s, a Groundwater Management Plan was established to protect the resource for future generations.  As the monitoring continued, elevated levels of nitrates were detected in portions of Pierce County.  The initial Groundwater Management Plan contained language that informed both the Board of Directors and the general public, of the triggers and potential controls that could be imposed within a Groundwater Management Area, using a phased approach to managing the resource.  Years have passed, and the nitrate levels in some areas are not declining, and additional portions of the District are experiencing elevated groundwater nitrates, including northern Madison County, even with Best Management Practices in place.  High nitrates in our drinking water can have negative health impacts, and some communities within the area have been required to invest significant financial resources to upgrade their infrastructure in order to deliver a safe, reliable source of drinking water.  Therefore, the LENRD is proposing changes to the Groundwater Management Area in an effort to keep the nitrate levels from increasing.  The proposed changes will be addressed in an Open House Public Hearing at the LENRD office, 1508 Square Turn Boulevard in Norfolk, on Thursday, July 26th from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

LENRD continues to partner with the City of Randolph on flood control project

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) has partnered with the City of Randolph on their flood control project for the past 16 years.

The city has experienced flooding of varying severity for a number of years with the most recent significant flooding damage occurring in June of 1984 from the Middle Logan Creek in Cedar County.

Due to a narrow channel that runs directly through the city, the creek can easily flood during a storm event.  Over the years, numerous homes and other structures have been erected in close proximity to the channel, and are subsequently situated in the flood plain.

As the result of past studies and recognizing the high cost of other options for flood control, the city of Randolph requested the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) to investigate the problem in June of 2002, and they became the leaders in the project.

LENRD Projects Manager, Curt Becker, said, “After looking into many alternatives, the most cost-effective option is the widening of the channel for protection from flooding.  This project will allow for most of the city, but not all, to be taken out of the flood plain.”

City Administrator, Kelsey Backer, said, “After reviewing the study by the USACE, there is still the possibility that 6 homes could be affected by the channel widening.  If so, residents would be compensated for the fair market value of their property and/or relocation assistance.  However, it’s possible that none of the homes will be affected as they look into other options with city owned property, including a park and a street.”

Backer added, “There have been two votes on the flood control project and the majority of the community support the project and realize the necessity for it.  We will continue to partner with the USACE and the LENRD to protect our town, our homes, and the future of our community.”

In April of 2017, the LENRD board authorized the creation of a sinking fund for the project. Becker, said, “The LENRD is planning to allocate $500,000 per year over the next 4 years, in order to meet our share of the total project, and to protect the future of this community.”

This past February, an inter-local agreement was signed between the LENRD and the City of Randolph for the Flood Risk Management Study for the Middle Logan Creek.  The study will propose channel improvements for their flood control plan.

Becker, added, “The completion of this flood control project will in essence remove numerous homes and businesses from within the flood plain.  We are not only working to protect the community from future flood events, but also to prevent the required annual cost associated with expensive flood insurance.”

Coalition focuses on protecting Nebraska water users

NRDs & NeDNR Coalition Adopts Basin Plan to Protect Water Supplies

The Lower Platte River Basin Coalition, which includes all seven Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) in the Loup, Elkhorn, and Lower Platte River Basins, and the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NeDNR) has, after several years of work, adopted and now initiated implementation of a voluntary basin-wide water management plan that sets criteria for managing new water development in the Lower Platte River (basin). The jointly-developed plan implements goals and objectives that work to protect the existing domestic, agricultural, and industrial water uses in the Basin.  The Coalition partners worked to use the best available science to evaluate the balance of supply and demands in the Basin that begins in Nebraska’s water-rich sandhills and ends at the confluence of the Platte and Missouri Rivers, covering more than 25,000 square miles, or nearly one-third of Nebraska.

This unique Basin provides water for irrigation that sustains the area’s agricultural economy, drinking water for more than half of Nebraska’s residents, as well as other important industrial and instream water demands.

“This proactive partnership worked to voluntarily develop a plan for the future conjunctive management of the groundwater and surface water systems in this important river basin,” Russell Callan, General Manager, Lower Loup NRD, said.  “Nebraska’s locally-driven groundwater management system, through NRDs, is a unique and strong approach for our state. This comprehensive basin-wide plan is another example of local and state jurisdictional entities working in partnership to protect all of Nebraska’s water users, protecting lives, Nebraskans’ property and our economic future, Callan said

For more than 45 years, locally-elected NRD boards have successfully worked to address local groundwater quantity and quality management challenges. Water managers have recognized that what occurs in the sandhills of the upper portions of the Loup and Elkhorn Basins impacts the Lower Platte River Basin near Lincoln and Omaha’s water supplies in the lower portion of the Basin. Likewise, changes in a variety of water demands in the lower part of the Basin can impact the upper portion of the Basin. This Basin planning effort improves the collaboration between groundwater and surface water jurisdictions and managers across the whole Basin and establishes a framework for continually assessing impacts and identifying opportunities for more efficient uses of Nebraska’s water. The plan also encourages local NRD and stakeholders to work together with the state to consistently gather and share data, apply technical analyses that will be used for long-term monitoring, and establish benchmarks to maintain water sustainability across the entire Basin.

“The fact that seven locally elected boards with varying local priorities were able to voluntarily sit down with the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources and develop a plan that works to protect all water uses now and for the future, as a foundation to grow our economy, while also ensuring our most precious natural resource is protected, is a valuable outcome for all water users in the state,” said Jeff Fassett, Director of NeDNR.

Results from the water balance study that was developed by the Coalition indicated that, on an average annual basis, supply in the Basin exceeds the existing demands. Recognizing the opportunity this presents, but also wanting to be always aware of periodic droughts and protective of the long-term sustainability of the Basin’s water supply, the Coalition partners developed a measured, incremental approach to allowing additional new uses. The adopted plan developed targets for allowable development at no more than 10% of the current identifiable long-term average excess waters during the first five-year increment of the plan. It is up to each local NRD board, along with NeDNR, to determine if and how they want to allow for the development of any new groundwater and surface water uses. The plan also lays out a process for annual collection and reporting of important data that will be used to monitor the plan’s implementation. Each member will report to the Coalition annually on any new water uses and their associated streamflow depletions or projects developed to mitigate streamflow depletions.

“While this first increment uses the best science available today, an incremental approach ensures we will continue to use the best available science,” Mike Sousek, General Manager, Lower Elkhorn NRD, said. “We want Nebraskans to benefit from the available excess water, but we also want to avoid a situation where we exceed the available secure and reliable water supplies. This careful, incremental approach and annual reporting will allow us to continually assess changes, adapt, and adjust as needed to ensure existing users are protected,” Sousek said.

While the long-term historic Basin streamflows highlight the overall positive balance in the Basin, unfortunately, much of the identified usable supplies occurs during the non-peak water use season, or fall and winter months, when demands for the excess water are much less. But to water managers in the Basin, this average excess supply represents an opportunity for implementing more effective management strategies going forward.

“This plan is a proactive approach to address sound water management, which is the number one priority in the world,” said John Winkler, General Manager, Papio-Missouri River NRD.  “By capturing and storing some of the water during the non-peak period, those flows can be retimed for delivery during the peak demand periods, not only helping to meet demands during times of drought or when dry conditions warrant, but also mitigating flood potential during extreme excess flow events,” Winkler said.

Other efforts by the Lower Platte South, Lower Platte North, and Papio-Missouri River NRDs, in partnership with the Metropolitan Utilities District (MUD), the Lincoln Water System, and NeDNR are looking at opportunities to further address drought periods and when peak demands overlap periods when streamflows are at their lowest.

“The Basin-Wide Plan is really a step forward for everyone in the Basin,” Paul Zillig, General Manager, Lower Platte South NRD, said.  “In conjunction with our own drought mitigation planning, the plan allows for potential upstream development, while protecting existing and future municipal, industrial, and instream water demands downstream.”

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The Lower Platte River Basin Water Management Plan Coalition is a collaborative working arrangement of the seven-member NRDs (Upper Loup, Lower Loup, Upper Elkhorn, Lower Elkhorn, Lower Platte North, Lower Platte South, Papio-Missiouri River) and the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, created to adopt, implement and maintain the Basin-wide Water Management Plan.  The Coalition, now entered into their second interlocal cooperative agreement, focuses on water use policies and practices that contribute to the protection of existing surface water and groundwater uses while allowing for future water development. The Coalition provides the flexibility for NRDs to work cooperatively and with NeDNR in ways they would not be able to individually.  To learn more about the Coalition, visit https://lprbc.nebraska.gov 

Lower Elkhorn NRD receives Nebraska Environmental Trust grant for monitoring project

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) recently announced that they will receive $65,720 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for the “Lower Elkhorn Real-Time Monitoring Well Network Telemetry Project” project.  The Trust Board announced funding for the project at its April meeting in Lincoln.  The project is one of the 105 projects receiving $18,301,819 in grant awards from the Nebraska Environmental Trust this year.  Of these, 66 were new applications and 39 are carry-over projects.

The LENRD is committed to the conservation of groundwater and recognizes the significant value a reliable groundwater source has for its constituents.  In an effort to proactively manage and conserve groundwater, the LENRD proposes the Lower Elkhorn Real-Time Monitoring Well Network Telemetry Project.  LENRD Assistant General Manager, Brian Bruckner, explains, “The ability to utilize real-time data when making management decisions is necessary for the LENRD to proactively manage the groundwater supply in northeast Nebraska.  This project will result in real-time access to groundwater level data by any individual with internet access.”

The Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment (ENWRA) and the University of Nebraska Conservation and Survey Division (CSD) fully support this effort, and are committed to providing assistance to the LENRD for this project.  This grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust will enable the LENRD to install telemetry equipment on its established groundwater well monitoring network at 45 well sites.  In return, the LENRD will install and maintain all components of the project, including all staff time and travel costs and any subscription fees or web platform development fees.  The LENRD will also purchase 14 replacement transducers.  These transducers have reliably provided data to the LENRD, but require periodic replacement to ensure that accurate data continues to be collected.  ENWRA will purchase and install one telemetry system and purchase two replacement transducers for the nested well site, as well as assisting the LENRD with data processing and evaluation.  CSD will contribute staff time and resources to evaluate well sites and provide a detailed aquifer description.  The partnership between the LENRD, NET, ENWRA, and CSD will result in an innovative method of collecting and disseminating vital groundwater level data to all entities and individuals that can utilize the information when making management decisions.

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the Trust has provided over $289 million in grants to over 2,000 projects across the state. Anyone – citizens, organizations, communities, farmers and businesses – can apply for funding to protect habitat, improve water quality and establish recycling programs in Nebraska.  The Nebraska Environmental Trust works to preserve, protect and restore our natural resources for future generations.

Lower Elkhorn NRD office moves to new location May 24th

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) will soon have a new home.

LENRD Board Chairman, Dennis Schultz, said, “It wasn’t an easy decision to make because of the district’s longtime, strong partnership with Northeast Community College, but the need to be as fiscally responsible as possible is what led the board to approve the purchase of the former Sterling Computer building at 1508 Square Turn Boulevard in Norfolk.”

The district will be moving out of its offices in the Lifelong Learning Center (LLC) on the campus of Northeast Community College, which has been its home since the center was constructed 20 years ago.  The office will be closed to the public on Thursday, May 24th and Friday, May 25th as they move to their new location.

LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “The LLC has been a great location for us to grow and expand our programs.  Our lease with the college recently came up for review and the board felt savings to the taxpayer could be realized by relocating.”

Sousek said, “With our increasing workload, this location will allow for future growth.  The new space has ample storage as well as a building for vehicles and equipment on-site.  More importantly, over the next 10 years the district will realize $500,000 in savings just in operation and maintenance costs by making this move.  In the end, the taxpayer will be the real winner with this change."

He continued, “We want to thank Northeast Community College for serving as the district’s home for two decades.  We hope our move provides new opportunities for the college in creating available space at the learning center for other potential partners.”

Sousek said the staff and directors are looking forward to making a smooth transition to the new facility while providing the same high-level of public service to the citizens of the district.  He said, “We plan to be moved in and open for business at our new location on Tuesday, May 29th.”

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Scholarships offered to youth attending 4-H & NRD Camps

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) is accepting applications for 4-H & NRD summer camp scholarships from youth throughout the 15-county district. The LENRD will reimburse the winning applicants for their camp registration fee.

Scholarships are available for various 4-H and NRD sponsored camps around the state, including the Nebraska Range Youth Camp, and the Adventure Camp about the Environment (ACE Camp).

4-H scholarship winners must register for the camp of their choice, arrange for their own transportation and pay all fees.  The LENRD will reimburse the registration fee after the scholarship winners send camp attendance verification to the LENRD office.

Any 4-H member who would like to apply for these scholarships should contact their local Extension office for more information and an application form.  All applications must be received by Friday, May 25th.

For more information, and a complete listing of all area camps, visit the University of Nebraska Extension 4-H web site at:  www.4h.unl.edu

ACE Camp

Scholarship Application

Watershed projects bring Nebraska estimated benefits of $80 million per year

Support Soil and Water Stewardship Week - April 29-May 5 – Share Pictures of What Water Means to You

In honor of Soil and Water Stewardship Week’s theme “Watersheds, Our Water, Our Home,” the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are celebrating the watershed projects that benefit Nebraska. Through the 900+ watershed projects the NRDs and NRCS have developed together, over $80 million in average annual damages from flooding and erosion are prevented every year.

These economic numbers are based off the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act benefits for each watershed project NRCS and the NRDs have worked on together since 1954 and indexed up to 2018 dollar values. Before these watershed projects were built, an economic analysis was conducted. These projects were required to reach a cost/benefit ratio threshold high enough to receive funding. This careful planning has resulted in a tremendous return on investment over the past 60 years.

The watershed dams constructed through the Federal Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program are working to protect Nebraskans from flood damage. Watershed Program project results include watershed protection, flood prevention, erosion and sediment control, water supply, improved water quality, fish and wildlife habitat enhancement, wetland creation and restoration, and public recreation.

“This partnership between the public, NRCS, NRDs, Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Environmental Quality has been vital in Nebraska’s long-term success,” said Dean Edson, Nebraska Association of Resources Districts executive director. “We all work with landowners every day. Without these projects and their willingness to improve their land and prevent potential flooding, Nebraskans could potentially be dealing with flood damage costs on their properties and in their homes every year.”

NRCS and the NRDs work with landowners to install flood control measures like small dams, grade stabilization structures and apply conservation practices such as reduced tillage, terraces and waterways.  These flood prevention and conservation practices work together throughout the watershed to catch and slow runoff from heavy rains preventing damage to infrastructure, homes, cropland and roads. 

Craig Derickson, state conservationist with NRCS said, “The Watershed Program in Nebraska has been a perfect partnership between Federal and State agencies working together to protect natural resources. This year’s watershed theme for Soil and Water Stewardship Week provided a great opportunity to remind Nebraskans of the benefits these watershed structures provide.”

Soil and Water Stewardship Week is April 29th – May 5th, and the NRDs and NRCS are calling on YOU to show us what water means to you! Snap selfies and fun pictures of how you value the water you use. Tweet us @NebraskaNRCS and @NebraskaNRDs. “Like” us on Facebook at Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts and the Lower Elkhorn NRD.

During Soil and Water Conservation Week, the NRDs and NRCS encourage all Nebraskans to spend time outside appreciating our natural resources and especially our “Watersheds, Our Water, Our Home.”

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LENRD promotes Arbor Day with tree sales

In Nebraska, Arbor Day is traditionally celebrated on the last Friday in April.  The 146th Anniversary of Arbor Day will be celebrated this Friday, April 27th.

Being the birth state of Arbor Day, it’s only appropriate that the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) promotes tree-planting programs each year.  The LENRD will have tree seedlings available for purchase this Friday in celebration of Arbor Day, at the Maskenthine Lake Recreation Area, north of Stanton.  From Norfolk, the lake is located 10 miles east on highway 275 and then 2 miles south on Ridge Road.  Signs will direct you to the LENRD Tree Distribution Center (approximately 2 miles north of Stanton).  The Center will be open from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Arbor Day.  Seedlings can be purchased in bundles of 25 for $22.

LENRD Forester, Pam Bergstrom, said, “Plant a tree to protect your property and the future.  Our parents did it for us, and we should return the favor for future generations.”

Contact Bergstrom at the LENRD office, 402-371-7313, if you have questions about your trees or if you need further assistance.

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Cover Crop Management in a Late Spring By: Dan Gillespie, NRCS No-till Specialist

After a long dry fall of 2017, Old Man Winter held on longer than we are accustomed to this spring.  Whether your purpose for planting a cover crop was for erosion control, soil moisture management, nutrient sequestration, grazing, or nitrogen fixation, the growth we hoped for largely has not fulfilled our expectations.  Many producers who invested the time and money into seeding cover crops are scratching their chins and wondering what they can do for cover crop management in this late spring. 

What sort of options are there for extending the spring growth period to achieve the goal?  The choices range from terminating before planting as you have always done to simply waiting to plant a little later.  In between those choices is an option called “planting green”.

Planting green means planting your cash crop into a cover crop that is still alive and letting the cash and cover crop grow at the same time, for “a period of time”.  The management issue will be deciding how long that “period of time” is.  Optimizing moisture in the soil profile is what you will base your decisions on.

For erosion control it is optimum to grow a cereal rye cover crop to a 14 to 18-inch height.  The plants will have more lignin or carbon in the stem and endure longer into the growing season.  Your goal is to have the cover crop maintain surface cover that can deflect the impact of raindrops on bare soils until crop canopy is achieved.

Soil moisture management with cover crops comes into play in excessive rainfall springs and low areas that are problematic every year.  In either situation, the key is to monitor rainfall received and soil moisture used as the cereal rye can remove a lot of moisture quickly when temperatures warm up and growing conditions are excellent.

If grazing is your goal you may want to consider selecting a shorter season maturity cash crop that allows you to plant a little later in the spring.  With good management you may be able to graze the cover crop to your desired level, remove the livestock, then plant your corn “green”.  Let the cover crop regrow to the stage where it will uptake herbicide effectively and then burn it down.  Excessive spring rainfall may lead to some tracking by livestock so having a backup plan in case that develops is advisable. 

If you planted a multi-species cover crop with an overwintering legume component you would ideally want to let the legume grow until nitrogen is being fixed for corn plants to use.  That again could require either a shorter season variety allowing later planting and/or planting green as discussed earlier.

Newcomers to no-tilling corn into cover crops into lower organic matter soils may want to consider terminating a cereal rye cover crop a little earlier to avoid any allelopathy issues or excess moisture and nutrient competition to the corn plant from the grass cover crop.  In furrow pop up fertilizer and/or starter fertilizer with extra nitrogen will help mitigate the early nutrient competition.

Plant corn a minimum of 2 ½” deep into the cover crop and make sure you have sufficient down pressure to close the seed furrow.  The more you increase your soil organic matter with no-till and cover crops, the easier your soil is to work with. 

Planting soybeans green into a cereal rye cover crop is the easier part of the continuous no-till and cover crop system.  Soybeans are a legume and tolerate competition from the grass cover crop well.  Planting soybeans 2 ½” deep into the living cereal rye root system that is supporting an active arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi population will allow the beneficial fungus to colonize the germinating bean roots and protect them from other pathogenic fungal diseases.

The biomass from the cereal rye with aggressive living roots combined with the existing corn residue makes for a carbon charged growing season.  The rye has sequestered the leftover nitrates from the corn crop, so the soybean plants go to work immediately fixing nitrogen. This is the leg of the corn/soybean rotation where you can increase soil organic matter more.

Some cover crop is always better for the soil than no cover crop.  A cereal rye cover crop with just 12 inches of growth can have a root system 24 to 36 inches deep so there will be soil health improvement benefits from the cover crop at all stages of growth.  The link between the sun and soil is the living plant with roots exuding the plant sugars created by photosynthesis that feed the soil biology.  The more time there is living roots in the soil the more your soil thrives.

 John Frey plants corn “green” into 18” tall cereal rye near Albion.  Planting green allows you to get more growth and benefit out of the cover crop in a year where growing conditions for the cover have not been optimum

John Frey plants corn “green” into 18” tall cereal rye near Albion.  Planting green allows you to get more growth and benefit out of the cover crop in a year where growing conditions for the cover have not been optimum

A public hearing to certify irrigated acres will be held April 26th

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) will hold a public hearing to certify irrigated acres on Thursday, April 26th, 2018 at 7:30 pm.  The hearing will be held in the Lifelong Learning Center on the campus of Northeast Community College in Norfolk.  The attached list of individuals are those who have fields in this certification hearing.  If you have any questions about this hearing or the certification process, contact Mike Murphy at the LENRD office, 402-371-7313.

Acres to be Certified

Public Hearing Policy

Contested Hearing Form

NRD 5K/1 Mile Fun Run & Kids Dash cancelled due to blizzard warning

The Nebraska Association of Resources District’s annual 5K/1 Mile Fun Run & Kids Dash set for Saturday, April 14, 2018 on the Cowboy Trail in Norfolk has been cancelled due to the expected snow storm.

The NARD and the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) urge residents to take all necessary precautions to stay safe during the expected storm event.

Thank you to everyone who sponsored the run and donated to the Foundation, which supports youth interested in pursuing careers in natural resources.

In lieu of the event, the NARD Foundation will donate to the Norfolk Rescue Mission.