LENRD promotes Arbor Day with tree sales

In Nebraska, Arbor Day is traditionally celebrated on the last Friday in April.  The 147th Anniversary of Arbor Day will be celebrated Friday, April 26th.

Since Nebraska is 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 next 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 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Arbor Day.  Seedlings can be purchased in bundles of 25 for $22.  The LENRD staff will be cleaning out the cooler that day, quantities are limited, and everything must go.

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.

USDA announces sign-up period for updated Conservation Stewardship Program

LINCOLN, NE - The deadline for Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) applications to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2019 is May 10, 2019.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to invest up to $700 million for new enrollments and contract extensions in fiscal year 2019. The 2018 Farm Bill made several changes to this critical conservation program, which helps agricultural producers take the conservation activities on their farm or ranch to the next level. 

“CSP continues to be a very effective tool for private landowners working to achieve their conservation and management goals,” said Craig Derickson, Nebraska NRCS state conservationist. “It is the largest conservation program in the United States with more than 70 million acres of productive agricultural and forest land enrolled.” 

CSP is a popular program for Nebraska’s ag producers. Over 5.6 million acres are currently under contract in Nebraska. In 2018, over 550 farmers and ranchers enrolled over 1.3 million acres into CSP.

While applications are accepted throughout the year, interested producers should submit applications to their local NRCS office by May 10, 2019, to ensure their applications are considered for 2019 funding. 

Changes to the Program 

The 2018 Farm Bill authorizes NRCS to accept new CSP enrollments from now until 2023, and it makes some important improvements to the program. These updates include: 

·         NRCS now enrolls eligible, high ranking applications based on dollars rather than acres. For fiscal year 2019, NRCS can spend up to $700 million in the program, which covers part of the cost for producers implementing new conservation activities and maintaining their existing activities. 

·         Higher payment rates are now available for certain conservation activities, including cover crops and resource conserving crop rotations.  

·         CSP now provides specific support for organic and for transitioning to organic production activities and a special grassland conservation initiative for certain producers who have maintained cropland base acres. 

About the Program 

CSP provides many benefits including increased crop yields, decreased inputs, wildlife habitat improvements and increased resilience to weather extremes. CSP is for working lands including cropland, pastureland, rangeland, nonindustrial private forest land and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of a tribe.  

More Information 

For additional information about CSP, contact your local USDA service center

Funds available to plant severe weather damaged acres to cover crops

LINCOLN, NE – To help manage cropland damaged by Nebraska’s severe spring weather, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is providing funds to plant cover crops on cropland acres. Producers are encouraged to apply by May 17, 2019, or June 21, 2019 at their local USDA Service Center. 

Nebraska NRCS State Conservationist Craig Derickson said, “This funding will address resource concerns like erosion and water quality, resulting directly from the March 2019 severe weather damage on cropland acres. Cover crops are an excellent way to provide protection to cropland after conservation work has been completed.  Cover crops can stabilize the soil and improve soil health.”

This funding is available statewide in order to assist the widespread recovery work on cropland acres directly impacted by the severe weather in March.  The highest priority cropland includes land which is unable to be planted with a cash crop and/or harvested in 2019.

Cover crops prevent erosion, improve soil’s physical and biological properties, supply nutrients, suppress weeds, improve the availability of soil water, and break pest cycles along with various other benefits. Cover crops can also potentially be grazed.

Work currently being done to maintain conservation structures as well as sediment removal, debris removal or grading and reshaping can be stabilized and protected from further erosion and damage by planting a cover crop. 

Derickson said, “For Nebraska’s cropland that suffered significant damage, planting a cover crop can be a great way to help protect fields and help restore productivity.”

For more information, visit NRCS at a USDA Service Center, or visit www.ne.nrcs.usda.gov

Introducing the new Extension Educator for the Bazile Groundwater Management Area

Jeremy Milander is the new Bazile Groundwater Management Area Extension Educator for northeast Nebraska.  He will be working with four Natural Resources Districts to develop an educational program aimed at stabilizing the nitrate concentration in groundwater.  Jeremy will also work with a stakeholder group to implement field demonstrations funded by a Nebraska Environmental Trust grant.  

Jeremy grew up near Coleridge, NE and earned his bachelor and master of science degrees in Agronomy at the UNL.  His master’s work included assessing the impact of management practices on the yield components of corn.  He has worked with the soil science program at the Haskell Ag Lab for the past 2 years where he assisted with a cover crop study and a long term tillage and crop rotation study.

Jeremy’s office is located at the Lower Elkhorn NRD Office at 1508 Square Turn Blvd. in Norfolk.  Welcome Jeremy!

Jeremy Milander

Jeremy Milander

Senior Scholarships available from the Lower Elkhorn NRD

This year, the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) will be offering two $500 scholarships to graduating High School Seniors within the district.  These scholarships are available for students who are planning to further their education in a natural resources or agriculture related field.  See below for further information, eligibility requirements, and the application form. Scholarship information has been sent to all schools within the district boundaries. The deadline for all scholarship applications is April 26, 2019.

Senior Scholarship Criteria:

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District has established a scholarship program for graduating high school seniors. There are two scholarships available amounting to $500 each for two seniors who are planning to further their education in a natural resources or agriculture related field. To be eligible for a scholarship the student must meet the following criteria:

  • The student must be a graduating high school senior who resides or whose family owns land within the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District.

  • The student must have an overall grade point average of a 2.0, or higher, on a 4.0 grading scale at the end of the first semester of his/her senior year in high school.

  • The student must attend an accredited college, community college or vocational school the semester following graduation.

  • The student must direct his/her course study towards curriculum related to natural resources or agriculture.

  • The student must submit an application to the Lower Elkhorn NRD by Friday, April 26th.

Application Form

Linda Unkel retires after 35 years of service

Linda Unkel of Battle Creek recently retired from the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) after 35 years of service.  She began her career in 1984, working as the LENRD Programs Assistant in the Madison County Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office in Battle Creek.  In 1999, she moved to the LENRD office in Norfolk to continue her role as a Programs Specialist.  She has seen many changes in programs over the years, but has always enjoyed sharing the conservation message and assisting our area producers with their projects.

Linda plans to do some traveling as well as spending time spoiling her 10 grandchildren in retirement. Linda and her husband Dave live on an acreage near Battle Creek.  They have three children, Leanne (Ron) Miller of Lincoln;  Erin (Chad) Rowley of Gretna;  and Jamie (Curt) Wolff of Madison.

LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “We appreciate her commitment to the protection of our natural resources, and for her constant support of our projects and programs over the years.  Congratulations Linda, we wish you the very best!”

Linda.jpg

USDA ready to help Nebraska farmers and ranchers recover from recent blizzards, floods

LINCOLN, Neb. March 20, 2019 – Extreme weather conditions like the recent “bomb cyclone” and the ongoing flooding impacted many farmers and ranchers in Nebraska. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has disaster assistance programs available to help agricultural producers recover from these natural disasters.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Risk Management Agency (RMA) offer programs that help producers recover losses, rehabilitating farms and ranches, and managing risk.  

 Recovering Losses

FSA offers many programs to help producers recover from losses, including the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish ProgramEmergency Forest Restoration Program and the Tree Assistance Program. Producers located in counties receiving a primary or contiguous disaster designation are eligible for low-interest emergency loans to help them recover from production and physical losses.

“FSA has a variety of disaster assistance programs to support farmers and ranchers through times of adversity,” said Nancy Johner, State Executive Director for the FSA in Nebraska. “Once you are able to evaluate your losses, it is important to contact your local FSA office to report all damages and learn more about how we can assist.”

Rehabilitating Farms and Ranches

NRCS provides technical and financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and other conservation programs to help producers recover and build resilience to better withstand future disasters. NRCS plans to direct additional EQIP funds to cope with livestock lost due to flooding in Nebraska. These dollars will help landowners remove and properly dispose of livestock carcasses that are obstructing streams and waterways.

“NRCS can be a very valuable partner to help landowners with their recovery effort,” said Craig Derickson, State Conservationist for the NRCS in Nebraska. “Our staff will work one-on-one with landowners to make assessments of the damages and develop approaches that focus on effective recovery of the land.”

Meanwhile, the FSA Emergency Conservation Program provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters.

Managing Risk

Producers with coverage through federal crop insurance should contact their agent for issues regarding filing claims. Those who purchased crop insurance will be paid for covered losses.  

RMA Regional Director Collin Olsen said, “If you are concerned that you may not be able to get your crop planted, you should contact your crop insurance agent. The agent can provide details on your prevented planting coverage and how and when to file a claim. The Approved Insurance Providers, loss adjusters and agents are experienced and well-trained in handling these types of events.”

 

Compensation is also available to producers who purchased coverage through FSA’s  Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, which protects non-insurable crops against natural disasters that result in lower yields, crop losses or prevented planting. Eligible producers must have purchased NAP coverage for 2019 crops.

Supporting Communities

In addition to helping producers, USDA also offers assistance to local governments and other entities with rebuilding infrastructure and removing debris. The NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program provides assistance to local sponsors with the cost of addressing watershed impairments or hazards like debris removal and streambank stabilization. Interested entities should contact Allen Gehring, NRCS State Conservation Engineer at (402) 437-4037.

More Information

USDA offers a disaster assistance discovery tool that walks producers through five questions to help them identify personalized results of what USDA disaster assistance programs meet their needs. For more information on disaster assistance programs, contact your local USDA service center or farmers.gov/recover.

 

DHHS to provide free water testing March 21-24 for private well owners impacted by flood

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with the Environmental Protection Agency to open a mobile lab in three Nebraska communities that will offer free water testing for private well owners.

Recent flood conditions can pose threats to the quality of private water supplies. Flooded private water wells or wells suspected of being impacted by flooding may need to be tested to ensure that they are safe. Cloudiness or a change in taste or smell are signs of possible contamination. However, if there is any indication that the water supply has been breached by flood waters, even without noticeable changes in taste or smell, residents are encouraged to test their well water.

The mobile lab will be available in:

Fremont – March 21 and 22

March 21 – 2:30-6:30 p.m.

March 22 – 7:30-11:30 a.m.

Location – 2400 North Lincoln St.

Norfolk – March 22 and 23

March 22 - 2:30-6:30 p.m.

March 23 - 7:30-11:30 a.m.

Location – 302 West Phillip Ave.

Verdigre – March 23 and 24

March 23 – 2:30-6:30 p.m.

March 24 – 7:30-11:30 a.m.

Location – 301 South Main St.

Here’s how it works:

·         Pick up a free testing kit at either the mobile lab location during the hours specified or from one of the local health departments below ahead of time

·         Get a water sample from the private well.

·         Bring sample back to mobile lab for testing.

Local health department locations:

·         Three Rivers Public Health Department, 2400 North Lincoln St., Fremont

·         Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department, 2104 21st Circle, Wisner

·         North Central District Health Department, 422 East Douglas St., O’Neill

Nebraskans can also request kits from the Nebraska Public Health Environmental Laboratory to test for coliform bacteria. Order kits online at http://www.nebraska.gov/dhhs/water-test-kits/private.html or by calling (402) 471-3935 between 8 and 5 Monday through Friday.

Water safety is a concern as the flood waters recede

As the flood waters recede and we are able to get back onto our farms and acreages, it is important to think about drinking water safety. Below are two fact sheets that may help to answer your questions. If you need further information, contact your local county Extension office or local NRD office.

Is your private well water safe to drink after a flood?

How to test for Bacteria in a private well

Free Water Testing - mobile lab - March 21st - 24th

Willow Creek Dam 'did what it was designed to do' during historic flood event

PIERCE -- The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) continues to monitor the infrastructure across the area following the historic flooding events of the past week.

LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “Without the investments that previous community leaders put into place years ago, this historic event could have been much worse.  Without the Willow Creek dam 1 ½ miles southwest of Pierce, and the Flood Control Levee protecting Norfolk, these cities would have been under water.”

On average, the Willow Creek reservoir holds back 7,100 acre-feet of water.  As of Friday, March 15th, with the historic flooding occurring across the area, Willow Creek was holding back over 18,000 acre-feet of water.

An acre-foot is a unit of volume commonly used to reference large-scale water resources, such as reservoirs.  It is defined as the volume of water necessary to cover one acre of surface area to a depth of one foot.  An acre-foot is equal to 325,851 gallons of water.  If you take that number times the 18,000 acre-feet of water that Willow Creek held back during the storm, you get 5.86 billion gallons of water.  Sousek said, “When you attempt to visualize that amount of water, you can begin to fully understand how critical this dam is to the area.”

Sousek added, “The Willow Creek flood-control structure continues to do its job.  It’s doing exactly what it was designed to do.  The dam held back water that would have otherwise affected the communities of Pierce, Hadar, and Norfolk as well as the streams along the Elkhorn River and downstream landowners, county roads, and bridges.”

To understand the way the dam functions, we need to explain some of its inner workings.  In the dam at the Willow Creek State Recreation Area, there are 27 pressure relief wells across the earthen structure.  These 27 wells relieve the pressure that occurs naturally as water pressure pushes the water up, similar to an artesian aquifer or well.  The relief wells relieve the pressure on the dam and prevent the water from pushing through and eroding a channel under or near the dam.  The relief wells drain into a collection pipe which drains into another collection pool and then finally ends its journey as it drains into the “stilling basin” which is located on the east side of the dam.  The stilling basin allows the water to slow down before it is released into the channel.  Along with the relief wells there are piezometers on the dam that the LENRD uses to monitor the changes in the water levels.  The piezometers measure the depth of water and how high the underground pressure is pushing the water up.  The LENRD staff use the relief wells, the piezometers, and other variables to monitor the structure to determine if it’s functioning properly.

Sousek continued, “Not only did the dam help to alleviate further damages to downstream landowners, towns, and villages, but it also helped protect the levee in Norfolk.”

He said, “We continue to monitor our structures and remain confident in their worth.  Investments in flood control levees and dams strengthen and preserve communities.”

Thank you to all the volunteers who helped during this unprecedented storm as well as those who assisted the LENRD staff as they monitored the Willow Creek Dam, especially the members of the Pierce Volunteer Fire Department.

The Willow Creek State Recreation Area is owned by the LENRD and is managed by the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission.  To learn more, sign up for our monthly emails.

Willow.Flood.2019.jpeg

Willow Creek Dam, near Pierce, is working efficiently during record flooding

The Willow Creek State Recreation Area is located 1 ½ miles southwest of Pierce.  The dam is the flood control structure that creates the 700-acre reservoir.

Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD), General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “The dam is structurally sound and is working as it should.  The LENRD is monitoring the dam and there are no structural deficiencies.”

The dam protects downstream landowners from flooding, as far south as Norfolk.  Sousek added, “Even with the severe flooding that the area has seen, the dam is functioning efficiently.”

The Willow Creek State Recreation Area is owned by the LENRD and is managed by the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission.

To learn more, sign up for our monthly emails.

Maintenance internships available at our Recreation Areas

Do you know someone who is working towards a career in a natural resources related field? Are they looking for a summer internship? Below is the job description and more information on how to apply for the Maintenance position. There will be at least 2 summer internships available with the district from May until August. Contact the LENRD with any questions at 402-371-7313 and ask for Patty.

Job Description

5th grade students attend 25th Elkhorn H2O Daze in Norfolk

Over 500 fifth graders from a four-county area attended the 25th Elkhorn H2O Daze at the Lifelong Learning Center on the campus of Northeast Community College in Norfolk this week.  The water festival was held Tuesday and Wednesday, March 5th & 6th.  Nine schools participated in the program from Antelope, Madison, Pierce, and Stanton counties.

            "The festival allows the students to get involved in a variety of hands-on activities designed to promote awareness, knowledge and stewardship of our natural resources, especially water," said Julie Wragge, Information & Education Specialist for the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD).  “Over the past 25 years we have been able to reach approximately 12,000 youth, educating them about the importance of protecting and conserving our natural resources.”

            Each student attends five "aquativities" at the event. Participants build their own edible aquifer, launch water rockets, learn how water helps to make electricity, understand how water affects the body, learn about the importance of trees, and join in many other hands-on activities.

            The schools attending this year were: Battle Creek, Osmond, Sacred Heart - Norfolk, St. Boniface - Elgin, St. Paul - Norfolk, Stanton, Zion - Plainview, Orchard, and the Norfolk Middle School.

            Elkhorn H2O Daze is patterned after the Children's Groundwater Festival, the elementary water festival held each year in Grand Island, NE.  There are now 5 water festivals that involve children from the across the LENRD.

            Elkhorn H2O Daze is sponsored by the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD), and Nucor.  Presenters for the festival come from various agencies, including: the LENRD, the University of Nebraska Extension, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Nebraska Public Power District, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, the Nebraska Water & Environment Association, and Keep Norfolk Beautiful.  Funding for this event was made possible by the LENRD and Nucor.

H2O Daze.Bubbleology.2019.jpeg

Summer internships available at the LENRD

Do you know someone who is working towards a career in a natural resources related field? Are they looking for a summer internship? Below is the job description and more information on how to apply. There will be at least 2 summer internships available with the district from May until August. Contact the LENRD with any questions at 402-371-7313 and ask for Brian.

Job Description

LENRD Board moves forward with flow meter compliance notifications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LENRD worked with local authorities to recover accident victim

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

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

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

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

The recreation area will remain closed until further notice.

Maskenthine Lake is CLOSED until further notice

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

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

The lake is closed to the public at this time.

Conservation efforts recognized at Awards Banquet

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

 Outstanding Tree Planter Award

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Outstanding Partnership Award

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Service Awards:

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

Jill Barr

Jill Barr

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