New Kearney High School Arboretum Funding Request Approved by Central Platte NRD

New Kearney High School Arboretum Funding Request Approved by Central Platte NRD


New Kearney High School Arboretum Funding Request Approved by Central Platte NRD

(GRAND ISLAND, NE)  When the new Kearney High School opens its doors this fall, over 350 students in the natural resources, agriculture, science, food and FFA classes will be introduced to a new arboretum.  The Central Platte Natural Resources District’s board of directors approved a funding request in the amount of $2,500 through the Outdoor Classroom Program for creation of the arboretum at their monthly meeting on Thursday.

All 285 trees will be planted by volunteers during a community tree-planting event on May 20, 2016.  With access to both native and winter hardy trees on school grounds, students will be able to be involved in hands-on data collection and analysis of leaf structure and identification, investigations of evolutionary adaptions for seed dispersal, collection and observation of insects and pollination studies.  The trees will be analyzed in long-term studies and their data will be mapped using online mapping programs like ArcGIS.

Project leader Alison Buescher, Life Science teacher, stated that the arboretum will help students “gain an understanding of Nebraska ecology; and will also be available to the art program to learn open air painting techniques and perspectives.”


-Vadose Zone Agreement- The board approved an agreement with the University of Nebraska in the amount of $80,000 to revisit 27 vadose zone core sites originally collected in the 1990s and determine where additional cores may provide the best overall information to characterize nitrate storage and estimated transport rates to the water table.  After Central Platte NRD obtains permission from landowners to collect new core samples, the University of Nebraska will arrange and schedule collections using the Nebraska Conservation and Survey drilling equipment and crew.

The project will help in the development of standardized protocol to collect vadose zone cores by detailing textural descriptions and additional measurements of ammonia, pH, moisture and organic content, and isotope analysis.  Determination of water retention properties and hydraulic conductivity of undisturbed cores will help estimate the rate of travel of nitrate concentration at new sites; and ultimately the evaluation of land use practices on nitrate movement to the water table.

-Violations- Irrigation violation letters were mailed to 36 landowners on April 11, 2016.  A total of 153.6 acres are involved in violations this year which range from 1.03 to 29.11 acres.  The number of violations continues to decrease each year.  There were 72 violations in 2014, 119 in 2013, and 169 in 2012.

-Central Valley Phragmites Control- Rich Walters, The Nature Conservancy, presented updates to the phragmites spraying effort started in 2008.  The project includes 700 landowners who participated in herbicide spraying by helicopter and/or manual spraying of property along the Platte River from Kingsley Dam in Keith County east to Columbus, NE.  Walters reported that 32,300 acres have been cleared successfully and that recent funding requests will allow a maintenance program to continue to treat the Eurasian invasive species.  The Central Platte NRD provides $25,000 annually towards the project.

-Ultrasonic Meter Reading- The board approved cost share in the amount of $100 per field per landowner to assist with the cost of getting an ultrasonic flow meter reading for gallons per minute on wells located within the District’s Phase 2 or 3 Ground Water Management Areas.

-Honey Locust Seedlings- The board voted to discontinue offering Honey Locust seedlings as part of the CPNRD’s Conservation Tree Program due to the negative impact that volunteer seedlings have had on land and soil health within the District.  In an effort to reduce the spread of Eastern Red Cedar, CPNRD staff will work with forestry experts to develop an education plan that will focus on fire risk and land health risks when volunteer cedars are not managed properly.

-Nebraska State Climate Office- Stonie Cooper and Martha Shulski, UNL School of Natural Resources, presented information on the new climate office and their role in serving the NRDs and other agencies in real time climate data collection and public outreach.

-Nebraska Natural Resources Commission (NNRC) Applications- Mick Reynolds, NNRC representative, reported that NNRC approved nearly $11.5 million for 17 projects for funding assistance from the Water Sustainability Fund, created in 2014 through LB1098.  Thirteen smaller projects, each $250,000 or less, were also approved for funding.  A complete list of projects scored is available at:

-Pickup Trade-In- The board approved the winning bid in the amount of $15,886 from Plum Creek Motors of Lexington, NE for trade-in of the District’s 2010 Chevy ¾ ton pickup; and purchase of a 2016 4-wheel drive, ¾ ton full-size Chevy.

-Cost Share- 11 cost share applications were approved through the CPNRD and Nebraska Soil and Water Conservation programs. Practices approved include grassland conservation, urban forestry, tree planting, soil moisture sensors, and well decommissioning in the amount of $38,700.41

-NRCS Report- Brach Johnson, USDA-NRCS acting district liaison, reported that landowners within the Central Platte NRD have submitted 23 EQIP applications and five RCP applications that total $1.53 million for water conservation practices.  Johnson also provided a summary of Natural Resources Conservation Service guidelines for control of ephemeral gully (concentrated flow) erosion in the Central Platte NRD. These guidelines are used for the planning and application of cover crops to treat erosion.

-Go Big Give- Marcia Lee and Kelly Cole, CPNRD staff, provided information on fundraising efforts towards groundwater education through the Go Big Give campaign for the Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival and the Grand Island Groundwater Guardians from April 26-May 3.

-New Logo- The board voted on a new logo for the CPNRD.







  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

  [go big give logo2]  Go Big Give: April 26 - May 3

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