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.
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.
Contact the Boone County Extension office to register for the Soil Health Conference coming up in Albion on September 6th.
The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) is partnering with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to encourage landowners to participate in the Cover Crop Incentive Program, for land that is currently in a continuous no-till cropping system.
NRCS No-till Specialist, Dan Gillespie, said, “Cover crops enhance rainfall infiltration, drastically reduce soil erosion, and help prevent the development of ephemeral gully erosion in cropland.” He added, “Cover crops may be planted into corn, soybean or small grain fields. Highly Erodible Land (HEL) fields where corn has been cut for silage are not eligible.”
Each participant is eligible to enroll up to 80 acres with a $200 contract minimum.
Participants in this practice should apply at their local NRCS office each year, for up to three consecutive years. Applicants may pick from three cover crop seeding options and three cover crop seed mixture options.
Aerial application or ground application by hi-boy (system that can be used in standing crops) will be performed starting in the last week of August to third week of September. The optimum timing will be at or shortly before soybean and corn plant senescence or yellowing of the lower leaves.
Gillespie continued, “If the producer is not able to get the aerial seeding performed by the third week in September they must no-till drill the cover crop immediately following harvest (by October 25).”
LENRD Projects Manager, Curt Becker, said “Participants may change seed mix alternatives and options during the three year period, but must have approval from the LENRD prior to planting the cover crop.” Becker added, “The producer is responsible for obtaining their own seed according to NRCS specifications and arranging for seeding either by pilot or ground application. Producers also must kill the cover crop per NRCS Cover Crop Termination Guidelines, without inversion tillage.”
Funding is limited, anyone interested in applying for the Cover Crop Program should contact their local NRCS office for more details.
Join us at the Cox Activity Center on the campus of Northeast Community College as we discuss, "Whose water is it anyway?" - Monday, August 28th.
The Willow Creek State Recreation Area, southwest of Pierce, is on Toxic Algae alert. Signs advising people are posted, and the swimming beach is closed. Recreational boating and fishing are permitted, but people are advised to avoid full body contact activities such as swimming and wading. Public areas for camping, fishing, picnics, and other outdoor activities remain open. To find out more about toxic algae, visit the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality website at: www.deq.state.ne.us
A Planned Grazing Field Day will be held Wednesday August 16, 2017 starting at 5:00 p.m. south of Battle Creek, NE. Joyce Reicks, Soil Conservation Technician with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) says, “The grazing field day will provide an opportunity for producers and others to visually learn grazing principles, to help encourage, plan, and implement effective grazing management systems.” She added, “Those attending the field day will be able to see practices implemented and hear successes and challenges from fellow, area producers.”
Grazing plans, proper forage utilization and drought contingency plans will be covered by Nadine Bishop, NE State Range Specialist. Jesse Haen, NRCS Resource Conservationist and Curt Becker, LENRD Projects Manager will cover cost-share available for planned grazing systems and there enhancements. Randy Guill, Farm Service Agency (FSA) CED in Madison County, will cover the FSA livestock programs available and Wayne Ohnesorg, UNL Extension Entomologist, will help answer pasture pest questions.
The first stop at 5:00 p.m., will be a tour and visit at the Charles & Elizabeth Orton farm, located from Battle Creek, approximately 2.5 miles south on Highway 121, to 836 1/2 Rd, then ¼ mile west on north side of road.
The second stop will be a visit to the Brad Prauner farm, from the Orton farm, back to Highway 121, 1.5 miles north to 838th Rd, 2 miles east to 548th Ave, then 1 mile south on west side of road (or from Battle Creek on Hwy 121, south to 838th Rd., east 2 miles to 548th Ave., then 1 mile south on west side of road).
The field day is free, water and cookies will be provided by the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD). For more information, please contact the Madison County NRCS office @ 402-371-5350, Ext 3. Participants should plan on driving their own vehicles to the sites, or plan your own carpooling.
A free scrap tire collection will be held on Friday, August 11, 2017. The Papio-Missouri River NRD, Nebraska Loess Hills RC&D Council and Lower Elkhorn NRD will host the event from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (noon) at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Arlington, NE. The fairgrounds are located on the western edge of Arlington, on the north side of Hwy 30 between Blair and Fremont.
This collection will accept all sizes of car, truck, semi and tractor tires. Each load is limited to 100 tires. No rims will be accepted so ALL tires must be off rim. Tires cannot be accepted from any business which charges a tire disposal fee. Do not leave vehicles unattended in line. Limited unloading help will be available, so plan to unload your own. The collection ends at noon, and the gates will be locked at that time, so be sure to arrive before 12:00 p.m. (noon).
The 10 county collection area includes Burt, Colfax, Cuming, Dakota, Dodge, Douglas, Sarpy, Stanton, Thurston and Washington counties. Residents and businesses which do not charge tire disposal fees can dispose of tires at this collection. Loads must enter through the east fairground entrance. Loads with less than 20 tires are encouraged to arrive during the last 90 minutes of the collection because this usually results in a shorter wait time for these smaller loads.
Champlin Tire Recycling will process the tires collected during the event. This processing includes repair and retread of salvageable casings, reclamation of tires meeting used tire specifications and the production of park benches, picnic tables and feed bunks. Funding for this free collection is provided through a grant from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. For more information please contact Deborah Ward at the Papio Missouri River NRD (402) 374-1920 ex. 3.
At their July meeting, the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) Board of Directors voted to help the city of West Point with their levee certification project. The city’s current levee along the Elkhorn River is not designed to exceed the current 100-year flood standard. This project will allow West Point to bring its levee into compliance. The project is expected to be finished by 2021 with an estimated cost of $3.5 million. The board voted to provide 50% cost-share with the city for the project.
The board also voted to start a sinking fund for the levee project. LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “We’re looking at $1.7 million over the next four years, so the board has voted to start a savings account now for the project to protect the future of this community.”
LENRD Projects Manager, Curt Becker, said, “This levee project will prevent hundreds of homes and businesses from being placed in the flood plain. We are not only working to protect the community from future flood events, but also to prevent the required annual flood insurance costs.”
In other action, the board directed staff to secure suitable locations for two Automated Data Weather Network (ADWN) stations. The LENRD has the opportunity to obtain equipment for the establishment of additional monitoring locations with no up-front costs. Staff will cooperate with the Nebraska State Climate Office to provide funds to cover the annual maintenance fees as necessary.
The next monthly board meeting will be held on Thursday, August 24th at 7:30 p.m., beginning with the public hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2018 budget.
Do you have weed barrier fabric that needs to be cut or removed from your tree planting? Are you a contractor with equipment that could provide this service?
Join us for a field day discussion on the need and methods of fabric removal around trees in conservation tree plantings. The field day will be Friday, July 28th from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Kalkowski Ranch (2 miles west of Lynch, NE on the south side of Highway 12).
Steve Rasmussen, District Forester with the Nebraska Forest Service (NFS), said, “Cutting or removing the weed barrier fabric needs to be done as the trees grow larger. It is becoming a requirement for trees planted with the USDA Conservation Reserve Program. Many times, removal waits until the trees are large and become constricted by the original cut opening. This can stunt trees later in life, often times leading to a girdling of trees in the windbreak.”
Duty MetalWorks Inc of Brookings, SD will also be on hand to demonstrate a skid-loader implement designed for pulling out and rolling up the fabric from established trees.
The field day is free and is being coordinated by the NFS, local Natural Resources Districts (NRDs), and area USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offices. For more information, contact the Lewis & Clark NRD in Hartington, the Lower Niobrara NRD in Butte, the Upper Elkhorn NRD in O’Neill, or Steve Rasmussen, NFS District Forester at 402.375.0101 or email@example.com
Last summer, Northeast Nebraska residents may have seen a low-flying helicopter with a large “spider web” array of scientific equipment towed about 100 feet below it. The equipment is designed to map geologic structures beneath the earth. Flights were conducted over portions of the following counties: Cedar, Cuming, Dixon, Knox, Madison, Pierce, Platte, Stanton, and Wayne Counties. The helicopter flew lines spaced approximately 3 miles apart over most of the area.
The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) will have the final report from these flights available at their committee meeting on Thursday, July 13th at 7:00 p.m. The meeting will be held in the Lifelong Learning Center on the campus of Northeast Community College in Norfolk. Technicians from Aqua-Geo Frameworks, LLC, will be presenting the information discovered during the exploration of the aquifers, hundreds of feet below the land surface.
LENRD Assistant General Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “The geologic information available from the flights will improve the district’s understanding of the available groundwater resource and potential groundwater/surface water connections in an area of the state made more complex by the presence of glacial deposits.” He added, “Understanding these isolated aquifers will help us to protect the resource and make better management decisions in the future.”
The LENRD planned these flights with grant assistance from the Nebraska Water Sustainability Fund. If you would like to learn more, visit the ENWRA website at www.enwra.org under the “2016 AEM flights” tab.
July 2017 marks 45 years of protecting lives, property and the future of natural resources for Nebraska’s 23 Natural Resources Districts (NRDs). Throughout 2017, the NRDs will be celebrating the success of projects and programs that help protect Nebraska’s natural resources. NRDs are unique because they are governed by locally elected boards and Nebraska is the only state to have this system. A handful of board members, managers and staff have been a part of the system since the NRD creation in 1972.
Senator Maurice Kremer introduced and the Nebraska Legislature enacted Legislative Bill (LB) 1357 in 1969 to combine Nebraska’s 154 special purpose entities into 24 Natural Resources Districts by July 1972. The original 24 NRDs’ boundaries were organized based on Nebraska’s major river basins which allows for better management practices to be applied to similar topography. In 1989, the Middle Missouri NRD and the Papio NRD were merged into one, becoming the Papio-Missouri River NRD which resulted in the current 23-NRD system.
“Nebraska’s 23 NRDs have been addressing natural resources issues and concerns with local solutions for 45 years,” said Mike Sousek, General Manager of the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) in Norfolk.
Nebraska's NRDs are involved in a wide variety of projects and programs to conserve and protect the state's natural resources. Sousek added, “NRDs are charged under state law with 12 areas of responsibility including flood control, soil erosion, and groundwater management. While all NRDs share the 12 main responsibilities, each district sets its own priorities and develops programs to best serve local needs and to protect Nebraska’s natural resources for future generations.”
NRDs are local government entities with broad responsibilities to protect our natural resources. Major Nebraska river basins form the boundaries of the 23 NRDs, enabling districts to respond best to local conservation and resource management needs. To learn more about Nebraska’s NRDs visit www.nrdnet.org or your local NRD website at www.lenrd.org
Another flow meter has been added to the approved list by the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) Board of Directors. At their June meeting, the board approved the inclusion of the McCrometer Duramag flow meter. There are now 8 approved flow meters that producers can install on their irrigation systems prior to January 1, 2018. The district is also offering cost-share of $500 per flow meter to producers who apply for the funding by this Friday, June 30th. Contact your local NRCS office or the LENRD office to apply.
LENRD Assistant General Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “These incentives are available for producers on a first-come, first-served basis. There is enough grant money to cost-share on 3,000 meters. Therefore, it’s very important that producers apply at their local NRCS office or the LENRD office by June 30th.”
LENRD Projects Manager, Curt Becker, said, “A list of the approved meters as well as a list of the LENRD Certified Flow Meter Installation Contractors can be found on the district’s website. These contractors have already completed the required flow meter installation training.” Becker added, “If you do not want to become certified to install your own meter, you must select a certified installer from the list.” If you would like to be trained to install your own flow meter, please contact the LENRD.
In other action, the City of Pierce requested financial assistance for the construction of a test well to be used to evaluate site feasibility for the potential construction of a new Public Water Supply well. The board voted to approve the request of $5,000 for the construction of the well through the LENRD’s Public Water Supply Test Well Cost-Share Program. LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “We’re always looking for ways to help our communities, especially in finding a safe drinking water supply. This is a good program for the cities and towns across our district, and it also gives us an opportunity to utilize the test well for water quality monitoring purposes.”
In an effort to remain proactive in the management of our groundwater, flow meters are required on all active irrigation wells within the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) by January 1, 2018.
The LENRD secured grants to assist landowners with the expense of this requirement. Funding is limited, and the deadline to apply for cost-share is Friday, June 30th, 2017. Contact your local NRCS office or the LENRD to apply.
The LENRD received a grant from Nebraska’s Water Sustainability Fund (WSF), administered by the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission, to assist landowners with the purchase of flow meters. With the WSF grant, the LENRD will pay producers $500 per flow meter. All producers who have installed flow meters on or after November 25th, 2015, or producers who have yet to install their flow meters, can apply for the $500 incentive payments until the funds run out. Application for the flow meter cost-share can be completed by visiting your local NRCS office or the LENRD office in Norfolk.
LENRD Assistant General Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “These incentives are available for producers on a first-come, first-served basis. There is enough grant money to cost-share on 3,000 meters. Therefore, it’s very important that producers apply at their local NRCS office or the LENRD office by June 30th, 2017.”
The LENRD has approved seven meters for installation. LENRD Projects Manager, Curt Becker, said, “The change in our Groundwater Management Area rules and regulations also requires anyone installing a flow meter within the LENRD to attend an installation training session to become a certified installer.” A list of the approved meters as well as a list of the LENRD Certified Flow Meter Installation Contractors can be found on the district’s website. These contractors have already completed the required flow meter installation training. Becker added, “If you do not want to become certified to install your own meter, you must select a certified installer from the list.” If you would like to be trained to install your own flow meter, please contact the LENRD at 402.371.7313.
Landowners in northeast Nebraska have until June 16, 2017, to apply for funding.
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) entered into an agreement with the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District to help farmers improve irrigation water management, reduce soil erosion and install conservation practices through the Lower Elkhorn Water and Soil Conservation Initiative. This Initiative is available through the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
Producers in the northeast Nebraska 15-county Initiative area (see map) originally had until mid-October to apply, but the sign up has been extended to June 16, 2017. Producers should visit one of the NRCS offices located in the Initiative area to apply.
Robin Sutherland, District Conservationist in the Stanton NRCS field office said, “This Initiative is a great opportunity for farmers and ranchers to receive financial and technical assistance to make their operations more productive and sustainable.”
Through the Initiative, NRCS and the Lower Elkhorn NRD work together to provide financial and technical assistance to help farmers apply soil and water conservation practices like flow meters, irrigation water management, nutrient management, as well as adopt soil health practices like no-till and cover crops on eligible cropland.
Nucor and the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) have teamed up to create further awareness in the schools about the importance of recycling. They developed a contest a few years ago called, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Beyond.” Students in grades K-4 are invited to tell their story about how they recycle, in the form of a poster, video, radio spot, coloring book, song, news column, or any other creative way.
The 2017 contest winners were Susan Fehringer’s 3rd grade reading group from Pierce Elementary, and Stacie Baumgart’s 2nd grade class from Humphrey St. Francis. They created videos showing how they learned about preserving nature’s resources by reusing and recycling. Both classes won a trip to the Tree Adventure at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City.
On May 11th a chartered bus took the winning classes and staff to Arbor Day Farm for a fun-filled day of learning. They toured parts of the farm and were able to enjoy the Tree Adventure as well as the guided trails and tree houses. They also received t-shirts from the sponsors that they wore on the trip.
LENRD Information & Education Specialist Julie Wragge said, “Taking the students to Arbor Day Farm is always inspiring for me. Not only did the students learn about J. Sterling Morton and his legacy, but they were able to use their 5 senses to understand how important trees are for our future.”
Fehringer said, “We had a TREE-mendous day. We felt so lucky to be able to win your contest and go on this exciting field trip. We spent some time talking about our favorite things and what we learned. It was a wonderful experience.”
Baumgart said, "It was truly the best field trip I have ever been on. My students were fascinated with our tour, the immensity of it all, and the countless outdoor nature activities they got to explore and play on all day. It was one of the best learning experiences for my kids and so fun for myself to experience through their excitement."
Grace McPhillips, 2nd grader at Humphrey St. Francis, said, "I loved all the trees that J. Sterling Morton planted. He wanted to help the earth have clean air and families have trees. It was really really fun with the hammocks in the tree forts and my friends and I played house."
Wragge added, “I am very excited about our partnership with Nucor. This has been an awesome opportunity for the students across Northeast Nebraska. We want to encourage our teachers and students to start thinking about ways they can help their schools and communities become greener and be prepared to tell us in next year’s contest.”
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 or the LENRD office for more information and an application form. All applications must be received by Friday, May 26th. 4-H scholarship winners will be notified the week of May 29th.
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
At its April 27, 2017 monthly meeting, the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) Board of Directors held a public hearing to consider amending its rules to require flow meters on public water supply, commercial, industrial and livestock wells designed to pump more than 50 gallons per minute. The Board approved these changes, which become effective on May 26, 2017. The amended rules require flow meters to be installed on these wells by January 1, 2019.
LENRD Water Resources Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, "The high-capacity wells in the district join irrigation wells in the requirement to have flow meters installed. Irrigation wells must have flow meters installed by January 1, 2018."
Mike Sousek, LENRD General Manager, said, "Thursday's decision makes the groundwater management rules more equitable across the district. The board made the decision that instead of focusing everything on agriculture, we need to look at all the stakeholders. If your well pumps more than 50 gallons per minute, you will need a meter installed."
Sousek added, "We're going to start working with the communities in our district, explaining the next steps. This will be a benefit to them in the long run. When a drought hits, especially a multi-year drought, it affects everyone."
The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) board and staff recently celebrated the retirement of Assistant General Manager, Ken Berney, of Stanton. Ken has been on the staff at the LENRD for almost 40 years.
Ken's leadership has been so important for the future of our district. He has formed lasting relationships with, not only his co-workers, but with the numerous partners and agencies that have worked with the LENRD since 1972. The knowledge that Ken is taking with him is priceless! Thank you Ken for your commitment to the protection of our natural resources, and for your constant support of our projects and programs. We wish you all the best in retirement. We miss you already!
In Nebraska, Arbor Day is traditionally celebrated on the last Friday in April. The 145th Anniversary of Arbor Day will be celebrated this Friday, April 28th.
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. Small acreage packages will also be available for $44.
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.