Central Platte NRD to Move Forward with Bids for Proposed Education/Office Building

Central Platte NRD to Move Forward with Bids for Proposed Education/Office Building


GRAND ISLAND, Nebraska –  On Thursday, the Central Platte Natural Resources District’s (CPNRD) Board of Directors approved a contract with JEO in the amount of $470,425 to complete construction documents and bidding/negotiation on the proposed education/office building at the Upper Prairie Silver Moores Flood Reduction (PSM) site northwest of Grand Island. Based on the schematic design and design development, the new office building will be approximately 20,000 square feet in size on the main level with a lower level to match. The final design and bids are expected to be received in approximately six months. CPNRD has $1.7 million available from funds received through the Nebraska Natural Resources Development Fund for the PSM project that were approved by the Commission to be utilized for an education center in October 2022.  The Board’s monthly meeting was held on February 23, 2023, at the CPNRD office located at 215 Kaufman Avenue in Grand Island, NE. 

-Variance/Appeal Committee  The board approved a request from a landowner to transfer water rights from Hall County within the area of the Loup Basin influence, to Howard County within the Loup Basin, pending approval from the Lower Loup Natural Resources District.

-Violation Report  Luke Zakrzewski, GIS Image Analyst, reported that 56 landowners/producers irrigated land totaling 321.7 acres that wasn’t certified, or approved for irrigation through a transfer in 2022. CPNRD has utilized infrared imagery to identify new irrigated areas in the District since 2004 to manage water uses, including the expansion of irrigated acres. The largest violation was 31.56 acres and the smallest violation was less than one acre. 19 of the violations are in Groundwater Management Areas that are in a declining status. Five of the landowners have had previous violations.

-Sensor Based Program  The Board approved a new Sensor Based Management of Fertigation Cost Share Program for the 2023 growing season. The program will provide $11 per acre with a two-year commitment and a maximum of two fields or 320 acres. The goal of the cost-share is to provide financial assistance for landowners/operators to utilize a service that delivers real-time, imagery-based nutrient recommendations directly to users throughout the growing season; encouraging efficient management of nitrogen to address water quality management concerns in the District. To be eligible, land must be pivot or SDI irrigated with priority given to those using a chemigation system. Visit CPNRD’s website at share or contact the CPNRD at (308) 385-6282 to sign up for the program.

-Manager’s Report  Lyndon Vogt, General Manager, reported on the following:
• Groundwater Management Plan Review – Comments were received by the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources. Staff will integrate the comments and bring the Plan back to the Board for approval and a public hearing will be set within the next two months.  Staff is currently editing the Rules and
    Regulations to follow the Plan updates; which will require a separate approval and public hearing process.

• Agronomist Position  Vogt recently attended a meeting with several partners and three other NRDs, to discuss pursuing a grant through the Natural Resources Conservation Service to assist with funding for two shared agronomist positions. The CPNRD would utilize an agronomist to work one-on-one with
    landowners in high nitrate areas of the District, to ensure the producers are aware of the programs available to assist them.

• Legislative Bill 394  Vogt reported on the hearing for LB 394. The bill proposes changes to the calculation of fair market value and severance damages when an entity uses eminent domain. Current law allows for fair market value and all compensable damages suffered by the condemnee. Under the bill, the
   proposal would require agricultural land to receive two times the fair market value of the condemned property. One consequence of the bill, if approved, would be the negative impact on cost-benefit determinations required to construct flood reduction projects.

• Agri-Business Presentation  Vogt reported that he and Courtney Widup, Water Resources Technician, recently presented at the Agri-Business meeting in Kearney on the CPNRD’s Nitrogen Use Efficiency dashboard.

• Sub-District 5 Vacancy  Vogt reported that two applications were received to fill the vacancy in Sub-District 5 that was held by Jim Bendfeldt of Kearney for 17 years. Bendfeldt stepped down from the Board in January for personal reasons. The position is a two-year term to end in December 2024. Mick
   Reynolds, Deb VanMatre, Lon Bohn, and Ryan Kegley were selected to serve on a Search Committee to recommend board members for Bendfeldt’s replacement. The committee will interview the candidates and provide a recommendation for the Board to consider at the March Board meeting.

-Assistant Manager’s Report  Jesse Mintken, Assistant Manager, gave an update on current projects including flood reduction studies. These studies are in the initial two-year phase of the process to outline projects that could benefit the watersheds. Learn more about the projects at:
•  Lower Wood River Watershed in Buffalo, Hall, Merrick Counties - Landowner information meetings will be scheduled to discuss flood risk reduction alternatives being evaluated in the Wood River Watershed, focusing on areas near the municipalities of Gibbon, Shelton, Wood River, and Alda. Multiple proposed
    projects have been identified in these areas for review, and no final decisions have been made. Potential projects include, but are not limited to diversion channels, channel and ditch widening, levees or berms, and roadway modifications.

•  Spring/Buffalo Creek Watersheds in Dawson County - Reviewing Chapters 1, 2, and 3 of the plan to revise alternative and economic analyses; coordinate with NRCS and USACE on alternative screening and preferred alternative; analyze Spring Creek 19-B as part of the alternative moving forward; finalize
    preferred alternatives for each site; prepare and submit Preliminary Draft Plan-EA to CPNRD and NRCS for review.

•  Elm/Turkey Creek Watersheds in Buffalo, Dawson Counties - Upcoming Timeline: Additional Wetland Delineations by May 2023; NRCS/USACE 90% draft to local NRCS by July 2023; initial submittal to national NRCS by August 2023.
Other project updates: 

Platte Valley Industrial Park – Partnership with City of Grand Island, Hall County, Grand Island Economic Development. Currently working on land rights negotiations.
Alda Crane Viewing Site  NET & RTP Grants – Permitting scheduled for spring 2023, bidding scheduled for spring/summer 2023, and construction expected in summer 2023. Requested and received an extension for timeframe from NET from 06/30/24 to 07/31/24.
Dam Rehabilitation – Held a pre-construction meeting on December 9 for Jones Creek and Clear Creek in Polk County; rehabilitation currently on-going; anticipated project completion of April 2023.

-Programs Budget  The Programs Committee discussed budget items for the NRD’s 2023/2024 cost-share and information/education programs and will review final numbers in April.

-Natural Resources Conservation Service  Carrie Thompson, Resource Conservationist of Lexington, showed photos of prescribed burn preparation in Dawson County. Thompson reported that upcoming prescribed burns to encourage rangeland restoration include three producers deferring their rangeland in preparation for burning in 2024 totaling 834 acres. Future burns: in 2025- 1 burn for 993 acres; in 2026- 1 burn for 550 acres; in 2027- 1 burn for 2,240 acres. Funding provided through CPNRD- NSWCP funds, CPNRD Prescribed Burn Cost-Share and the new Grassland Conservation Grant.

Joe Krolikowski, District Conservationist, reported that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making funding available for agricultural producers and forest landowners nationwide to participate in voluntary conservation programs and adopt climate-smart practices. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provided an additional $19.5 billion over five years for climate smart agriculture through several of the conservation programs that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) implements. NRCS is making available $850 million in fiscal year 2023 for its oversubscribed conservation programs: the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

The IRA funding includes an additional $8.45 billion for EQIP, $4.95 billion for RCPP, $3.25 billion for CSP, and $1.4 billion for ACEP. The increased funding levels begin in fiscal year 2023 and rapidly build over four years. These additional investments are estimated to help hundreds of thousands of farmers and ranchers apply conservation to millions of acres of land. Additionally, the IRA provides $300 million to quantify carbon sequestration and greenhouse gases (GHG) through the collection and use of field-based data to assess conservation outcomes. Information gained will be used to improve practices and technical assistance to customers. To apply, contact your local USDA NRCS office.

-Nebraska Natural Resources Commission  Mick Reynolds, Middle Platte Basin Representative, reported that applications will be accepted from March 16-31 through the Water Sustainability Fund. He also reported that there are two vacancies on the Commission for a groundwater representative and a public power representative. The positions are Governor-appointed.

-Cost-Share  Applications for well decommissioning, center pivot incentive, planned grazing, prescribed burns, urban forestry and tree planting practices were approved in the amount of $59,417.90 through the Nebraska Soil and Water Conservation and the Central Platte NRD cost-share programs.

-Upcoming Board Meetings  The Board changed the March and June meetings to the fifth Thursday of the month. Upcoming meetings will be held March 30, April 27, May 25 and June 29.