Lower Elkhorn NRD Approves Budget

Lower Elkhorn NRD Approves Budget


NORFOLK, Nebraska – Do you know who to turn to when you’re ready to update your windbreak? Who do you call when the quantity of your groundwater is limited?  When your soil is unhealthy and you’re looking for ways to improve your land’s profitability, who can you trust to help? Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) were created almost 50 years ago to conserve, develop, and manage our natural resources.

Each of the 23 NRDs manage a conservative budget with 12 main areas of responsibility to protect our future.  The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) covers all or parts of 15-counties in northeast Nebraska, with its headquarters office located in Norfolk.

LENRD General Manger, Mike Sousek, said, “Our board and staff work diligently to leverage local tax dollars as efficiently as possible.  By bringing in grants and other funding for our projects, we continue to save taxpayers millions of dollars all while managing and improving the quality of the resources we use every day.”

The LENRD’s total operating budget for fiscal year 2022 is estimated at $11.5 million, with only $4.3 million in revenue from the property tax levy.

Sousek continued, “We’re using less than ½ of our taxing authority.  That means the citizens of this district receive almost a 70% return on their investment. We’re working hard to keep the levy low, year after year, for our local taxpayers.” Sousek added, “We’re here to protect you and your resources, but keeping your taxes low is another part of our job.”

The operating budget was approved by the LENRD Board of Directors at their September 9th meeting with a tax request of $4,382,016.  The estimated levy, based on the property tax request, is 2.3236 cents per $100 of valuation, which is a decrease of 5% from the fiscal year 2021 levy of 2.4367 cents per $100 of valuation. For example, if a person owns a $300,000 house, the taxes owed to the LENRD would have been $73.10 in 2021 and will be approximately $69.70 in 2022.

Some of the major expenditures for FY 2022 are: Levee and Flood Protection Projects - which include the City of West Point’s Flood Control Levee, the City of Randolph’s Flood Risk Management Project, the City of Pender’s Flood Control Project, and the Elkhorn River Jetty Project near Scribner - $1,620,500;  the North Fork River Restoration Project - $1,032,000; Water Resources Programs - $514,700; Project Construction, including flood related repairs and the Willow Creek Artesian Pressure Mitigation Project - $847,500; and Conservation Cost-Share programs, including the Bazile Groundwater Management Area Project and Willow Creek Best Management Practices - $425,000.

The LENRD is also moving ahead with the Watershed Flood Prevention and Operations (WFPO) funding from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to complete the Maple Creek Watershed Plan to evaluate potential flood prevention, watershed protection, and agricultural water management projects.  Four communities are located within the watershed: Leigh, Clarkson, Howells, and Nickerson.

The LENRD received a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) to expand groundwater monitoring in Pierce County.  Maintaining a safe drinking water source is one of the most important priorities of the LENRD. The Bazile Groundwater Management Area (BGMA) also received a grant from NET for year 3 of their demonstration sites for the groundwater nitrate reduction project.  This project is a vital step forward in stabilizing, and eventually reducing, nitrate levels within the BGMA.

Through a grant from the Nebraska Association of Conservation Districts, the LENRD was able to hire a Conservation Planner to operate out of the Pierce NRCS office and assist in working with landowners to implement Best Management Practices (BMPs). The LENRD also has received a Section 319 grant from the Nebraska Department of Environment & Energy to provide supplemental cost share for select BMPs within the Willow Creek Watershed.

Sousek added, “We’re proud to give the funds back to the local taxpayers through our projects and programs.  We’re working responsibly within our budget as we continue to meet the challenges of protecting our natural resources for the future.”

To learn more about the 12 responsibilities of Nebraska’s NRDs and how your local district can work with you and your community to protect your natural resources, visit and sign up for our monthly emails.  The next board of directors meeting will be Thursday, Sept. 23, at the LENRD office in Norfolk at 7:30 p.m. and on Facebook Live.