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.

5K Community Trail Run comes to Norfolk

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) is reaching out across the district to help support youth education in natural resources. The LENRD is hosting a 5K Run, 1 Mile Walk and Kids Dash fundraiser at Ta-Ha-Zouka Park in Norfolk, NE on Saturday, April 14, 2018.  Join the LENRD for the 4th annual trail run that raises money to educate our youth about protecting the state’s water, soil, wildlife and vibrant Nebraskan landscape through the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) Foundation.  The run kicks off at 9 AM. Runners, walkers and families ready to explore the outdoors will get to enjoy a scenic, out and back run next to the beautiful Elkhorn River.

Each dollar raised goes to several programs the NARD Foundation sponsors. These include programs like FFA, Adventure Camp about the Environment (ACE Camp) and Envirothon. Programs like these provide students of all ages an opportunity for hands-on experiences with our natural resources. The Foundation hands out more than $25,000 every year for this cause.

The 23 natural resources districts move the race to a different area of the state every year to promote natural resources opportunities for our youth through the Foundation. The race also highlights one of 80 multi-purpose recreation areas created by the NRDs across the state. If you’d like to check out other recreation areas, go to www.nrdrec.org.

You can register by going to http://getmeregistered.com/nrdrun. If you’d like to donate, contact the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts at 402-471-7670.

The 5K run raised more than $5,000 last year in Lincoln. In 2016, the run raised more than $4,000 in Omaha. This year, the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District is teaming up with the local community and NARD Foundation with a goal to raise even more.

The state’s NRDs are proud to protect lives, property and future of Nebraska. We encourage the public to come out and support our youth.

Registration Form

NRD Programs Assistant needed

There is a position opening in the West Point office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  The NRD Programs Assistant would provide administrative support work with moderate difficulty and complexity involving a variety of tasks.  Strong computer and communication skills needed.  40 hours per week with excellent benefits.  Send resume' to the Lower Elkhorn NRD, P.O. Box 1204, Norfolk, NE  68702-1204.  Closing date:  March 14, 2018.

Job Description

 

Cover Crop Management workshops to be held in Pierce and West Point

Are you interested in learning more about Cover Crop Management?  There are two educational workshops coming up in Pierce and West Point, sponsored by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD).

The workshop in Pierce will be held at the Lied Public Library, 207 W. Court Street, on Tuesday, February 27th from 9:00 a.m. to noon.  The workshop in West Point will be held at the Cuming County Courthouse, 200 S. Lincoln Street, on Wednesday, February 28th from 9:00 a.m. to noon.

The workshops will begin with coffee and rolls at 9:00 a.m., followed by presentations on soil biology, cover crop management, and much more.  Aaron Hird, NRCS State Soil Health Specialist, will visit about why the biology of our soil is so important.  Dan Gillespie, NRCS No-till Specialist, will discuss cover crop management in corn/soybean rotations, what to seed, when to terminate, and what herbicides to use.  Pam Polenske, Stanton County NRCS, will present information on Client Gateway and how to access your NRCS documents online.

Reserve your seat by calling your local NRCS office or the LENRD in Norfolk.

Workshop Agendas

A public hearing to certify irrigated acres will be held February 22nd

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) will hold a public hearing to certify irrigated acres on Thursday, February 22, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.  The hearing will be held at the Lifelong Learning Center on the campus of Northeast Community College - 601 East Benjamin Avenue 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

No-till, Cover Crops, and Planned Grazing Workshop to be held February 14th

The annual no-till, cover crops, and planned grazing workshop will be held Wednesday, February 14th in the Lifelong Learning Center on the campus of Northeast Community College in Norfolk.

Registration begins at 9:00 a.m. with coffee and rolls provided by the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD).

In the morning session, Jay Fuhrer will present “What’s on your landscape?”  Fuhrer is a Soil Health Specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Bismarck, ND.  He will talk about the grazing and cropping systems we use today and compare them to the systems which built our soils.

Paul Jasa, Extension Engineer with UNL, will also be on hand to present the Rogers Memorial Farm Cover Crop Update.

The afternoon program will include more information from the morning speakers, along with Dan Gillespie, NRCS No-till Specialist for Madison County.  Dan will talk about cover crop management in corn/bean rotations, what crops to seed, and when to terminate.

Lunch will be provided at noon.  The workshop will end at approximately 3:00 p.m. and is sponsored by the NRCS and the LENRD.  Reserve your seat by calling your local NRCS office or the LENRD at 402.371.7313 by February 8th.

Workshop Agenda

LENRD Board to release the approved applications for new irrigated acres

Landowners within the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) boundaries, had an opportunity to apply for new irrigated acres for 2018.

LENRD Assistant General Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “After much debate last fall, the board voted to take applications for standard variances district-wide.  Applications for nearly 24,000 new irrigated acres were received during the sign-up period, which was open between November 15th and December 15, 2017.”

The board voted at their January meeting to approve up to 2,390 new acres in the Hydrologically Connected or 10/50 Area, and to approve up to 2,530 new acres in the Non-Hydrologically Connected or Non 10/50 Area under the district’s standard variance process.

Bruckner continued, “Staff will now go through the process of contacting the landowners with both approved and non-approved acres.”  After the landowners have been properly notified, the approved list will be available to the public, sometime in February.

In other business, the Board approved an amendment to the LENRD Rules and Regulations for the Management of Groundwater, which will add a new Rule 18 – Transfers of Water Uses.  The addition of this rule will allow the district to consider requests for the transfer of certified acres within the district.  Bruckner said, “Numerous factors will be weighed when evaluating each request, but it will provide both landowners and the district with an additional tool for the management of water resources in the district.”

The board also brought discussion of the Drought Management Plan to a vote at their January meeting and approved adoption of the Drought Management Plan into the LENRD’s Groundwater Management Plan.  Approval of this Plan will merely provide the district with a mechanism to define and categorize drought conditions within the district, and outlines some general response mechanisms that could be utilized in response to each designation.  At the suggestion of the board, the Plan will also integrate real time monitoring well data and a November 1st date for the establishment of any subsequent groundwater controls (for irrigation purposes for the following growing season) as components of the plan.  Most importantly, future effort will be required to develop implementation mechanisms that could be employed by the district to effectively protect groundwater supplies for all groundwater users, during a prolonged period of drought.  LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “This is a working document that will be utilized, if and when a drought situation occurs.  It gives the district a place to start.”

In other action, the board approved the amended Recreation Area Rules and Regulations.  One of the amendments kept the current policy in place which does not allow alcohol at the Recreation Areas owned by the LENRD, which includes Maskenthine Lake, near Stanton; Maple Creek Recreation Area, near Leigh; and the Willow Creek State Recreation Area, near Pierce.

The district is inviting the public to attend the Bazile Groundwater Management Area Winter Open House & Informational Meeting at the Osmond City Auditorium on Wednesday, February 7th.  The Open House is from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Various topics of the day will include the role of the NRDs, health and drinking water, best management practices, as well as soil fertility and cover crop programs.  Contact the LENRD for more information.

The next LENRD board meeting will be Thursday, February 22nd at 7:30 p.m. in the Lifelong Learning Center on the campus of Northeast Community College in Norfolk.

Our Water + Our Land + Our Health = Our Future

A major push is underway by the four Natural Resources Districts that share in the protection of the Bazile Groundwater Management Area (BGMA) to help inform citizens and gain participation with solutions that will address serious health risks associated with excessive levels of nitrate and other chemicals in local aquifers and area soils.

A public open house is scheduled for Wednesday, February 7, at the City Auditorium in Osmond, NE between the hours of 11 AM to 2 PM.  A lunch meal will be provided to participants.

Martha Rhoades, Ph.D., from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will provide a feature presentation that shares the findings of a recent study showing that there are elevated incidents of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, and birth defects for people within the BGMA and some other parts of Nebraska, due to excessive levels of commercial fertilizer components such as nitrate and herbicides such as atrazine.

The open house also provides an important opportunity for individuals to sign up for available grant funding to use toward best management practice (BMP) tools and technology to reduce the levels of nitrate in our soil and water.   There is an urgency for people interested in receiving USDA grant funds because of the application deadline is February 16th.  Individuals will be able to apply for these funds at the open house meeting.

This issue affects people on private wells and community water systems alike.  Information on other best management practices will be provided for urban and rural landowners. 

Reports provided by agricultural producers in each of the four NRDs is also demonstrating that despite efforts of efficiency, too much fertilizer is still being applied in many fields throughout the Bazile Groundwater Management Area.  This over application is not only costing producers thousands of dollars in wasted fertilizer, it directly impacts soil health and is not correlating to greater yields.   Natural precipitation and over irrigating then causes excessive levels of nitrate to leach into the aquifer.

The Bazile Groundwater Management Area is 756 square miles consisting of portions of Antelope, Knox and Pierce counties along with portions of the Upper Elkhorn, Lower Elkhorn, Lewis and Clark, and Lower Niobrara Natural Resources Districts.

For more information about this meeting and these topics contact:  the Lower Elkhorn NRD at 402-371-7313.

Winter Open House - Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Prescribed burn workshop ignites efforts to equip land stewards with tools for success

Pheasants Forever, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and Lower Elkhorn NRD will host a basic prescribed burn workshop on Tuesday, January 30. The workshop will be held at the Lifelong Learning Center in Norfolk from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Generally, individual landowners interested in prescribed fire lack necessary training or resources to achieve their goals independently. “It takes the time and coordination of many people working together to successfully and safely complete a prescribed burn” according to wildlife biologist Scott Schmidt.  For this reason, Pheasants Forever, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and other conservation partners led an effort to educate, empower, and align land stewards who share a common goal: to increase the health of the land as Mother Nature intended, with fire. Workshops equip participants with a basic understanding of how to use prescribed fire safely and effectively. Topics such as fire behavior, prescribed burning techniques, writing burn plans, equipment use, and smoke management are presented by experienced natural resource managers and wildlife biologists.

Prescribed burn associations provide “next step” opportunities to gain experience with hands-on involvement. Dan Kathol, president of the Lower Elkhorn Prescribed Burn Association, meets with members to ensure that prep work and burn plans are complete before the spring burn season. Kathol said, “We will need to combine as many burns into a single day in order to get as many burns done on a day when the weather is conducive.” In 2017, the burn association had a record 27 burns totaling 2,260 acres in northeast Nebraska.

While landowners often seek their assistance, prescribed burn associations are not a work-for-hire operation. Like any other volunteer group, success depends on members who are willing to lend their time and resources to accomplish mutually beneficial goals for everyone involved. It’s a neighbor-helping-neighbor model. Burn association members must attend a basic burn workshop and participate in at least 1-2 burns each year. A small favor to ask, considering the benefit of having access to an 81-member network and a mobile prescribed burn trailer, complete with about $28,000 worth of burn equipment.

To attend the prescribed burn workshop in Norfolk, visit the events page at www.NebraskaPF.com or call Ashley at 308-850-8395. A $10 registration fee covers the classroom training, workshop materials, and lunch. Please register by January 24, 2018.

Since 2008, a total of 118 workshops have increased prescribed fire knowledge among 2,791 attendees thanks to the collaboration of Pheasants Forever, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Nebraska Environmental Trust, and other conservation partners throughout the state.

Workshop Flyer

Lower Elkhorn NRD Board votes to move office to new location

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 an office building at its Dec. 21 meeting.”

This means the district will be moving out of its offices in the Lifelong Learning Center on the campus of Northeast Community College, which has been its home since the center was constructed 20 years ago.

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

The 14 board members present at the meeting voted unanimously to purchase the former Sterling Computer building at 1508 Square Turn Boulevard in Norfolk.  The cost for the office building is $1.2 million, with $954,000 already designated by the LENRD board in a sinking fund for the purchase.  The district will borrow $400,000 for a term of one year to complete the purchase.

Sousek said the new home for the LENRD offers several advantages that were important to board members.

“There’s room to expand at the new location.  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,” Sousek added.  “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."

Sousek said the NRD staff is 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.

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

Public hearing on obtaining a permit to appropriate water is this Thursday

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) will conduct a hearing on Thursday, December 21st at 7:30 p.m. at their office located in the Lifelong Learning Center on the campus of Northeast Community College.  The hearing is being held to receive public comments as to whether the LENRD Board of Directors should authorize and make an application to the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources for a permit to appropriate water for instream flows in the lower portion of the Elkhorn River in Madison, Stanton, Cuming, Dodge and Washington Counties.  Persons needing special accommodations to attend, monitor, or participate in this public hearing should contact the LENRD at lenrd@lenrd.org or call 402.371.7313 prior to the public hearing.

Public Notice

Application for a permit to appropriate water                  for instream flows

Public Hearing on water transfer rule is December 21st

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) will hold a public hearing on Thursday, December 21st at 7:30 p.m.  The purpose of the hearing is to receive public comment on proposed amendments to the LENRD’s groundwater management area rules and regulations (Rules).  The hearing will be in the LENRD board room in the Lifelong Learning Center on the campus of Northeast Community College in Norfolk.

LENRD Assistant General Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “With this amendment, the LENRD proposes to adopt a new water transfer rule that would allow the district to consider transfer of certified irrigated acres and other uses of water within the district. The proposed changes to the Rules do not include the designation of or a modification to the boundaries of the LENRD’s groundwater management area. The entire district will be impacted by these proposed modifications to the LENRD’s Rules.”

Any interested person may appear at the hearing and present written or oral testimony concerning this matter.  Testimony relevant to the purposes of the hearing may also be submitted in writing (prior to the close of the hearing) to the LENRD.

Public Notice      

Full text of proposed amendments

Farmers can apply for new irrigated acres until December 15th

Farmers within the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) boundaries, have an opportunity to apply for new irrigated acres for 2018.

At their October meeting, the LENRD board voted to allow up to 2,500 acres of new groundwater irrigation development in the Hydrologically Connected Area (10/50 Area), and to allow up to 2,500 acres of new groundwater irrigation development in the Non-Hydrologically Connected Area (Non 10/50 Area) under the LENRD's standard variance process for 2018.

The board is receiving applications for Standard Variances until December 15th, 2017.

LENRD Assistant General Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, "Standard variance requests will only be considered for approval from areas within the district that fall within the top five Potential for Development categories on the map provided by Flatwater Group.  Standard variances will not be available in the Quantity Subareas already defined."

Map - Potential Development - 2018

Standard Variance - Application Form 2018

LENRD to hold Open House Public Hearing regarding Drought Management Plan

The public is invited to an open house public hearing concerning the Drought Management Plan for this area.  The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) will hold the hearing on Tuesday, November 21st from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the Lifelong Learning Center on the campus of Northeast Community College in Norfolk.

The Drought Management Plan defines drought locally and identifies processes to respond to and manage the impacts of future drought events.  The open house public hearing will allow for public comment regarding the proposed integration of the Drought Management Plan into the LENRD’s Groundwater Management Plan.  The public is encouraged to spend as much or as little time as they like at the open house public hearing and it is important to note that written or oral comments carry equal weight in the decision-making process.  The hearing is the first in a multi-step decision process, and consideration of the adoption (or modification) of the proposed changes will be determined at a later date.

LENRD Assistant General Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “If adopted, the integration of the goals and objectives of the Drought Management Plan into the Groundwater Management Plan, would allow the district to respond to the challenges of an acute drought situation.  The geographic area impacted by the modifications to the District’s Groundwater Management Plan is district-wide, all or parts of 15 counties in northeast Nebraska.”

LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “The LENRD is taking proactive steps to reduce the impacts of future drought events.  One of these steps is the development of the Drought Management Plan.”  He continued, “We must ensure that we protect the water resources of all current users in the district because this is the law.  The protocol we are proposing for determining drought in the district is considered to be the most accurate method in the world.”

The full text of the proposed amendment is on page 105 of the Groundwater Management Plan, which is available at the LENRD office in Norfolk and on the district’s website.

Individuals with disabilities may request auxiliary aids and service necessary for participation by contacting the LENRD by November 14, 2017.  Testimony relevant to the purposes of the hearing may also be submitted in writing (prior to the close of the hearing) to the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resource District, 601 E. Benjamin Avenue, Suite 101, Norfolk, Nebraska 68701.

For more information on this planning effort, contact the LENRD at 402-371-7313 or lenrd@lenrd.org

Public Notice - November 21st Hearing

Proposed Amendment to the Groundwater Management Plan - November 21st Hearing

Drought Management Plan - DRAFT

LENRD to receive applications for new irrigated acres beginning November 15

Farmers within the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) boundaries, will have an opportunity to apply for new irrigated acres for 2018.

LENRD Assistant General Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “After much debate during their October meeting, the board discussed allowing for the approval of standard variances district-wide, utilizing a map entitled “Classification 4” provided by the Flatwater Group, and only allow consideration for approval of parcels that fall within the top five categories from the Potential for Development map legend.”

The board voted 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 2018.

The board established a sign-up period to receive applications for Standard Variances.  The district will receive applications for standard variances between November 15, 2017 and December 15, 2017.

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.”

Standard variance requests will only be considered for approval from areas within the district that fall within the top five Potential for Development categories on the Classification 4 Map, as provided by Flatwater Group.  Standard variances will not be available in the Quantity Subareas already defined.

In other action, the district is preparing for a public hearing regarding their Drought Mitigation Plan.  The public hearing will be Tuesday, November 21st from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.  The November board meeting will follow at 7:30 p.m. in the Lifelong Learning Center on the campus of Northeast Community College in Norfolk.

Standard Variance Form - 2018

MAP - LENRD Irrigation Development Areas - 2018

MAP - Potential Development

A public hearing to certify irrigated acres will be held on September 28

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) will hold a public hearing to certify irrigated acres on September 28, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. The hearing will be held at the Lifelong Learning Center on the campus of Northeast Community College - 601 East Benjamin Avenue 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

LENRD approves a lower tax levy for fiscal year 2018 budget

The 2018 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 24th meeting with a tax request of $4,270,002.  The budget of all expenditures shows a 5.52% decrease of $477,863 from last year.

The estimated levy based on the property tax request is 2.327 cents per $100 of valuation, which is a 2.74% decrease from the fiscal year 2017 levy of 2.401 cents per $100 of valuation.  For example, if a person owns a $100,000 house, the taxes owed to the LENRD would have been $24.01 in 2017, and will be approximately $23.27 in 2018.

LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “It’s becoming more difficult to continue decreasing the tax levy year after year.  This is the 6th year in a row for a decrease in property tax asking.  This year valuations flat-lined, and our levy asking decreased 2.74%, which is a historic low for the district, the lowest tax levy in 45 years.”

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.

Sousek, added, “We are working together to create a budget that not only addresses our 12 responsibilities, but that also focuses on improving the quality of life for the citizens across our district.  We are doing more with less, by focusing on efficiencies and streamlining processes to protect our natural resources.  With multiple flood protection projects coming down the pipeline, I am proud of the budget the board has put together.”

In other business, the board members voted to schedule a public hearing in November to receive public input regarding the proposed integration of the LENRD’s Drought Mitigation Plan into the Groundwater Management Plan.  The hearing is the first in a multi-step process, and consideration of the adoption (or modification) of the proposed changes would proceed at a later date.  If adopted, the integration of the goals and objectives of the Drought Mitigation Plan into the Groundwater Management Plan, would allow the district to respond to the challenges of an acute drought situation.  The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, November 21st in the Lifelong Learning Center on the campus of Northeast Community College in Norfolk.  Sign up for emails and special reminders for all upcoming meetings and events in the upper right hand corner of this website.