Water Purchase Credits Available to Producers Following Central Platte NRD’s Approval to Proceed With Conservation Easement

Water Purchase Credits Available to Producers Following Central Platte NRD’s Approval to Proceed With Conservation Easement


Water Purchase Credits Available to Producers Following Central Platte NRD’s
Approval to Proceed With Conservation Easement

(GRAND ISLAND, NE) – Producers in the Central Platte Natural Resources District’s (CPNRD) may soon have more options to purchase water credits following the board’s approval on Thursday to proceed with a 320-acre conservation easement to implement a wetland mitigation bank in Buffalo County. Westervelt Ecological Services is the entity who will implement the wetland; while working closely with the CPNRD, Nebraska Resources Conservation Service and the Nebraska Audubon, who owns property that surrounds the potential wetland.  James Huntwork, regional liaison for NRCS, reported that there is a need for a wetland mitigation bank in central Nebraska to restore, create or enhance wetlands.  The Wetland Mitigation Program provides the opportunity for farmers and ranchers to purchase credits from wetlands mitigation banks to compensate for the impact of lost wetlands; while maintaining eligibility for other USDA programs.

The Nebraska Board of Education Lands & Funds (BELF) serves in the dual capacity of both land owner and manager of the property.  In Nebraska, rents are collected on 3,200 agricultural leases and 250 mineral leases. BELF was established by the Nebraska Constitution to serve as Trustee of lands contributed to the State in 1867 by the federal government. As Trustee of these lands, the Board is bound by fiduciary duty to its beneficiaries---Nebraska’s K-12 public schools. The net income from the Trust is deposited in the Temporary School Trust Fund, which is distributed annually to the K-12 public schools statewide on a per-pupil basis.


-Election  The board elected Jim Bendfeldt, Kearney, as the new chairman of the board.  Mick Reynolds, Wood River, was elected vice-chairman.  Former chairman, Ed Kyes of Central City, and vice-chairman, Jim Bendfeldt, had both served the maximum two consecutive, two-year terms.  Board members also selected committees to serve on this year.  The following committee chairmen were selected: Jerry Wiese-Eastern Projects, Marvion Reichert-Western Projects, Bob Schanou-Programs and Jay Richeson-Water Resources.

-Erosion & Sediment Control Program  The board approved proposed changes to the NRD’s Erosion and Sediment Control Program, following a public hearing held prior to the board meeting.  The new plan includes changes made to the Erosion and Sediment Control Act in May 2015 that adds sheet and rill erosion, ephemeral gully erosion, changes governing authority, allows NRDs to petition the District Court for a Cease and Desist Order, removes 90 percent cost share previously required for NRDs to provide for erosion control practices, and updates soils within the District.

-Cease & Desist Hearings  The board set three public hearing dates for producers in Phases II/III who have not submitted their Groundwater Quality Management forms for the 2015-2016 crop year; and are now out of compliance with the Program.  Approximately ten percent of the NRD’s 800 producers in the Phase II/III areas are out of compliance.  The hearings will be held on February 13, 16 and 17 starting at 9:00 a.m. at the CPNRD office in Grand Island.  Non-compliance with a Cease & Desist Order would result in a lawsuit filed in District Court with a maximum penalty of $1,000-$5,000 per day.

-Outdoor Classroom Program  The board approved an application from the Success Academy to create an outdoor classroom for butterfly monarch habitat at Dodge Elementary in Grand Island in the amount of $1,666.75.  Students from Grand Island Senior High’s Success Academy, Dodge Elementary, Skills Academy Elementary, and the Roots & Shoots Program will partner in the project.  They will use the scientific method to conduct real world observation and data collection in the monarch butterfly habitat.  Vlcek Gardens, Chapman, will provide project design and construction.  Pheasants Forever will present lessons for students to apply their knowledge in field observations by participating in national Monarch Butterfly field studies.  The outdoor classroom will cover approximately 800 square feet, with implementation to be completed this spring.  CPNRD has provided funding towards 14 outdoor classrooms since 2001.

-Variance Request  The board denied a variance request from Platte County.

-Groundwater Recharge/Water Quality Project  John Engel, HDR of Omaha, presented an update on the feasibility study in the Wood River and South Loup drainage systems to enhance recharge and/or augment stream flows in northern Buffalo County.  Engel said despite recharge gains in other areas of the state, the study area has historically had declines and has been declared impaired by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.  The study focused on alternatives to add 10,000 acre-feet of water annually to the area, located in Ground Water Management Area (GWMA) 8 of the Lower Loup NRD and GWMA 9 of the Central Platte NRD.  Engel presented six screened alternatives which included options to implement augmentation wells, diversions, allocations, intentional recharge, delivering storage water, and diversion pumping.  The study included alternatives for groundwater, irrigation canals, the Wood River, South Loup River, Middle Loup River, and the Platte River.  Engel will present his findings to the Lower Loup NRD in February.

-Upper Prairie/Silver/Moores FCP  Jesse Mintken, assistant manager, gave a progress report on the flood control project located in northwest Grand Island.  Mintken reported that 70,000 cubic yards of dirt have been removed for the channel and detention cells; and tree removal has been completed.  Construction on this phase is expected to be completed in May 2017; with the entire project scheduled for completion in 2018.

-Legislative Report  Mark Czaplewski, biologist, reported that the 2017 Legislative session convened on January 4th and is set to close on June 2nd.  There are 17 new senators with 70 percent of the Unicameral’s 49 members with two years of experience or less.  Czaplewski reported that 40 bills were reviewed at the Nebraska Association of Resource’s Districts Legislative Session this week.  Bills of particular interest to CPNRD include: LB 22 recommends a $330,000 reduction to the Water Sustainability Fund; LB 98 would extend levy authority for NRDs, general manager Lyndon Vogt will testify in support of this bill; LB 646 would create an extreme weather preparedness task force and strategic action plan; LB 664 would prohibit a political subdivision from using taxes to employ a lobbyist.

-Nebraska Natural Resources Commission  Mick Reynolds, was elected as the Middle Platte River Basin representative on January 6, 2017.  Reynolds has served as representative since 2013 and will serve another four-year term.

 -Cost Share  The board approved 19 applications for brush management, center pivot incentive, tree planting, grassland conservation, grazing deferment, flow meters and well decommissioning through the Nebraska Soil and Water Conservation and CPNRD cost share programs in the amount of $68,760.34. 

 -Upcoming Events

February 7: Prescribed Burn Training, Callaway NE.  RSVP (308) 872-6831

February 8: Prescribed Burn Training, Brady NE.  RSVP (30) 535-8080

February 9: Prescribed Burn Training, Eustis NE.  RSVP (308) 324-5501

February 10: Prescribed Burn Training, Wood River NE.  RSVP (308) 385-6282

February 9: CPNRD Water Programs Conference, Buffalo County Fairgrounds
                      9:30-3:00 p.m.  No cost, lunch provided.  RSVP (308) 385-6282 or lee [at]

February 13, 16, 17:  Cease & Desist Hearings starting at 9:00 a.m., CPNRD office

February 23: CPNRD Board of Directors meeting

March 20: Presidents Day observed.  CPNRD office closed.

March 30: CPNRD Board of Directors meeting





  Marcia Lee

  Information/Education Specialist
  Central Platte Natural Resources District

  215 Kaufman Ave  |  Grand Island NE 68803
  Tel: (308) 385-6282

  Protecting Lives • Protecting Property • Protecting the Future