Central Platte NRD to Receive NET Grant for Grassland Conservation

Central Platte NRD to Receive NET Grant for Grassland Conservation


(GRAND ISLAND, NE)- David Carr, range management specialist, announced that the Nebraska Environmental Trust board selected the Central Platte NRD's grant request as a finalist to reclaim and preserve up to 12,000 acres of crucial habitat in the Loess Canyons in the western part of the District. The goal is to remove Eastern Red Cedar seed source through mechanical tree clearing, prescribed burning and grazing deferment. Carr's announcement was made at the Central Platte NRD's recent board of directors meeting. Partners in the project include the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission. The funding recommendation is $259,245 per year for three years.


-Cease & Desist A Cease & Desist hearing date was scheduled for Thursday, April 23, 2015, at 1:00 p.m. for a Dawson County landowner who is out of compliance with the CPNRD's Rules and Regulations.

-Transfer Request A transfer request from a Buffalo County landowner was denied. The transfer was in conflict with the Groundwater Management Program's rules and regulations.

-Water Transfer Project The board approved participating with the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NDNR) in the development of a platform model for water transfer options. The NDNR will provide the funding for the project.

-Ice Jam Landowners The Eastern Projects Committee heard a request from Loyd Luehr, who had flooding damage near Shoemaker Island during ice jams this winter. Mark Czaplewski, CPNRD biologist, was asked to take Leuhr's concerns to the PRRIP Governance Committee at their June meeting in Denver.

-Gibbon Drainage Jess Hulbert, Olsson Associates, reviewed what the City of Gibbon has accomplished towards drainage issues and explained what needed to be completed to solve remaining issues. The committee directed staff to facilitate a meeting with the City of Gibbon, Buffalo County and the CPNRD to address the remaining drainage problems.

-Johnson Lake Seeding The board approved a request to purchase seed in the amount of $1,200 to seed the Hike & Bike trail at Johnson Lake.

-Eastern & Western Joint Meeting A subcommittee of the Eastern and Western Projects was formed for continued discussion on snagging and clearing agreements.

-Scholarships The board approved 10 college scholarships in the amount of $1,000 for students who are majoring in a natural resources field. The recipients include:
CENTRAL CITY: Isabella Gomez, Mitchel Herbig; GRAND ISLAND: Mitchell Baker, Holly Green, Elizabeth Lutz; WOOD RIVER: Carson Schultz; GIBBON: Brett Bendfeldt; KEARNEY: Maranda Kegley, Isaac Richter; GOTHENBURG: McKinley Harms.

-Detention Cells The board approved two change orders for the Upper Prairie/Silver/ Moores Flood Control Project. The amount of $2,285.77 was approved for construction of PCUL 1 and $2,699.77 was approved for construction of PCUL 2. Both dry dams are now complete.

-NARD Video- The board approved $3,000 to be included in the Fiscal 2016 budget for a video to air on Nebraska Educational Television (NET) that would tell the history and functions of Natural Resources Districts. The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts is coordinating the video.

-NRCS- James Huntwork, USDA-NRCS district liaison, reported on the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)-Ogallala Aquifer Initiative (OAI) proposal for CPNRD. For FY 2015, the OAI will refocus its efforts to target geographic focus areas to support local plans and strategies to address groundwater management. Huntwork said $8 million has been made available to fund proposals submitted from each of the 8 states in the initiative area. Fund allocation decisions should be completed by mid-April 2015.

-Legislation- Mark Czaplewski, biologist, reported that the Governor signed LB 142e into law which created and funded the Aquatic Invasive Species Program to be operated by the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission. The goal is to prevent and mitigate damage caused by aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels and silver carp. Also signed into law was LB 164, giving NRDs the option to adopt either annual or biennial budgets; and LB 207 which amends the Chemigation statutes to mirror language in the Nebraska Groundwater Management Act of not less than $1,000/day and not more than $5,000/day for violations. 

Czaplewski said that one of the last hearings before the Appropriations Committee involved debate of LB 537, which would add funding to the Natural Resources Development Fund to finish off projects that were approved early last year including the CPNRD's Prairie/Silver/Moores Project. The bill received support from NRD managers of six previously approved projects, Senator Watermeier (bill sponsor) and former Senator Tom Carlson. The bill was not prioritized and a recent Nebraska Supreme Court ruling regarding significant state Medicare funding obligations have left such funding calls somewhat up in the air. 

On the National news front, Czaplewski reported that Senator Fischer held a field hearing on the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule in Lincoln in March. Central Platte NRD and the NARD submitted comments in opposition of WOTUS. Czaplewski said that if adopted in its current form, federal agencies would essentially have control over all water in the U.S.

Czaplewski also noted that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service designated the Northern long-eared bat as a "threatened" species, with its range including most of Nebraska.

-Platte River Program- Mark Czaplewski also reported that the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program (PRRIP) has expended approximately $85.2 million, starting into the eighth year of the Program. The 2015 budget was set at $26.5 million with approximately $18 million dedicated to implementation of the Program's water plan. The J-2 Reregulating Reservoirs funding are the bulk of those dollars. Czaplewski said that Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District officials reported that the J-2 environmental, geo-technical and engineering studies are ongoing.

-Recycling Request- Steve Hart and Shauna Petzold, City of Kearney, requested funding for a TeeMark Paint Can Crusher in the amount of $12,261.00. The crusher would be used in the new Household Hazardous Waste Facility to be located near the Kearney Area Recycling Center. Hart and Petzold also requested annual maintenance funding. The board will make a decision on the request during the April board meeting.

-Cost Share- The board approved 21 cost share applications for center pivots, soil moisture sensors, surge valve, pipeline, tree planting, prescribed burn and well decommissioning in the amount of $44,686.24.