The Natural Resource Report can be heard every Wednesday at 4:17pm. You will hear the latest from cooperating Natural Resource Districts: Middle Republican, Upper Republican, Lower Republican, Tri-Basin, Central Platte, and Little Blue NRD's. For more information on any of the 23 Natural Resource Districts in Nebraska go here!
It’s that time of year. This week marks the beginning of the NRDs Conservation Tree sales!
As many of you know, the NRDs provide seedlings to landowners at a minimal cost to help establish or improve windbreaks. Since there are twenty-three natural resources districts in the state, each NRD sells the seedlings that will grow best in their area. Orders may be placed from November 1st to April 1st and will be available for spring planting.
Here in the Central Platte NRD, we have over thirty varieties to choose from- including: deciduous, conifers and shrubs. So you may ask- what is our minimal cost? At Central Platte, the cost of twenty-five seedlings is seventeen dollars and fifty cents; or you could order one hundred seedlings for seventy dollars. And if you order before December 31st, then you’ll receive ten percent off of your entire order for seedlings, NRD planting service, and even weed barrier fabric.
And we also offer small acreage packages of 50 seedlings for specific plantings. We have a flowering package, wildlife package and both eastern and western Nebraska packages at only forty-two dollars per package.
John Thorburn, Tri-Basin NRD, with this week's NRD Update.
Natural resources districts are often singled out by scholars and politicians as examples of successful locally controlled resources management, with locally elected boards of directors developing natural resources management plans and regulations that are tailored to local conditions. That is certainly the case, but NRDs don’t work in total isolation from one another.
NRDs are also usually organized based on river basin boundaries. Tri-Basin NRD is unusual among NRDs because we have portions of the Platte, Republican and Little Blue River basins within our district. Local control is important to us, but we need to coordinate our management of shared water resources with neighboring NRDs. Just last night, during the Tri-Basin NRD October board meeting, directors approved a water management plan for the Little Blue River Basin. This plan was developed in cooperation with Little Blue NRD. It is intended to provide the foundation for future planning efforts, particularly an integrated management plan for the basin that will protect both streams and the groundwater that supplies them. The Nebraska Department of Natural Resources and members of the public will also participate in development of this next basin-wide plan. Coordinating management efforts between districts is a key to insuring that water resources are effectively protected for future generations.
If you listen to this program often, you know that the Natural Resources Districts in Nebraska manage many different water issues including water quality, water quantity and flood control. Did you know that we are also responsible for managing grassland? The Central Platte NRD began addressing grassland management issues in 2004 by implementing our Prescribed Fire Program. The NRD fire crew has treated over 18,000 acres in central Nebraska.
Just recently, the Central Platte NRD was awarded a Grassland Conservation grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust to reclaim and preserve up to 12,000 acres of crucial habitat in Dawson County and other areas heavily infested with Eastern Red Cedar. The goal is to remove seed source through mechanical tree clearing and prescribed burning.
The NRD is currently seeking landowners interested in participating in this pilot program and has set up cost share programs, such as deferred grazing, that coincide with management practices needed to ensure the long-term effectiveness in treating these areas.
John Thorburn with Tri-Basin NRD, with the Natural Resources Report.
Heavy spring rains in Colorado, Wyoming and western Nebraska are causing widespread flooding along the Platte River. The Platte River at Kearney has been above flood stage since May 17, and it is expected to remain at that level for at least the next week. The water in the river now is mostly originating from the South Platte River in Colorado, but the North Platte River is flooding as well. Lake McConaughy is expected to be completely full within the next ten days or so, then water will need to be released from the reservoir. Hopefully, South Platte flows will be declining by that time, but there is still a lot of snow in the Rocky Mountains, and that is just starting to melt.
The pioneers used to refer to the Platte as a mile wide and an inch deep. That description of the river is accurate most of the time, but the Platte watershed covers over 84,000 square miles, so widespread rains can accumulate and cause flooding.
Platte river floods have occurred regularly throughout history, but Tri-Basin and other Platte basin NRDs are now working with the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources and irrigation districts to try to reduce the impacts of floods by diverting floodwater into irrigation canals and using it to recharge groundwater supplies.
Cooperation between state and local government, as well as between groundwater and surface water users, to manage water resources is uncommon in most parts of the Nation, but its typical of the way Nebraska’s natural resources districts work to protect lives, property and the future for all Nebraskans.