March 26 Board Meeting

Board of Directors Meeting     Thursday, March 26, 2020     2:00 p.m. Conference Call

Central Platte NRD Board Votes to Continue Funding for GeoCloud Project

(GRAND ISLAND, NE- The Central Platte Natural Resources District (CPNRD) held its monthly board of directors meeting via conference call on Thursday. The CPNRD’s physical office is closed to the public to monitor the evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation; however, all calls are being answered.

Action Items

-Nebraska GeoCloud Project   The board approved the 2020 GeoCloud Interlocal Cooperative Agreement to continue the project through 2022 in the amount of $6,800. The annual project collects airborne geomagnetic imagery with the intention to correlate that data with sub-surface geology and hydrogeology.  Central Platte NRD has been a partner since 2016 when the project was initiated as a joint effort with the following NRDs: Lewis & Clark, Lower Elkhorn, Lower Platte North, Lower Platte South, Nemaha, Papio-Missouri River, Lower Loup, Upper Elkhorn, and Twin Platte. Other partners include USGS, Aqua Geo Frameworks, and the University of Nebraska’s Conservation and Survey Division.  The project received $247,437.60 from the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission in December of 2016; that funding period will conclude on June 30, 2020.

-Monitoring Well Bids   The board awarded Sargent Irrigation the contract to construct 18 monitoring wells in the amount of $107,971.15. The monitoring wells will be drilled within one year in Buffalo, Custer, Dawson, and Frontier counties to provide additional data for the District’s Groundwater Management Program. Four bids were received.

-Platte River Resilience Fund   The board appointed Deb VanMatre, Gibbon, to represent CPNRD on the Platte River Resilience Fund Advisory Committee. The fund will implement long-term funding for invasive phragmites and potential future invasive species on the streams and tributaries of the Platte River.

-Platte River Recovery Implementation Program  The board appointed General Manager Lyndon Vogt to replace the current appointment of Mark Czaplewski on the Land Committee.  Marvion Reichert, Elm Creek, is the alternate representative. Czaplewski will retire on March 31, 2020, after 23 years of service with the Central Platte NRD.

-Financial Report   The March financial report was approved. Total accounts payable are $262,490.16.

-Cost-Share  Cost-share requests were approved for underground pipeline, center pivot incentives, grazing deferment, streambank stabilization, soil moisture sensors, and well decommissioning through the CPNRD and Nebraska Soil & Water Conservation Programs. The 13 requests were approved in the amount of $41,257.60.

Non-Action Reports

-Grant Awards for Crane Viewing Area  CPNRD has received two grants to assist with rehabilitation of the Plautz Crane viewing site in Buffalo County at the intersection of Elm Island Road and Lowell Road. The site consists of two elevated wooden viewing decks, a 1,650-foot trail, and a parking lot to provide a safe area for the public to view Sandhill and Whooping Cranes as they migrate through Nebraska in the spring. In the mid-1990’s, CPNRD was a partner in building the site to increase public safety by reducing the extra in-flow of traffic and cars parking on nearby county roads which are heavily used by local residents. The site is also a great way to increase public awareness of Nebraska’s Platte River wildlife. The two grants received are:

     Recreational Trails Program (RTP)  $259,500.00 from the RTP administered by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, CPNRD is required to contribute a 20% matching share. CPNRD will remove the nearly 1,660 LF deteriorated asphalt nature trail and replace it with an 8’ wide, 6” thick concrete trail and pave the 1,033 square yard gravel parking lot with 8” thick concrete.

     Nebraska Environmental Trust  $50,000 from NET to be used exclusively for repairs on the streambank near the viewing decks. The NRD will remove two large trees, install 2,700 LF of erosion control silt fencing, install 803 ton of quartzite riprap on the southeast side of Lowell Road bridge, install 600 willow stakes (live pole plantings) for a natural, ecologically-friendly bank stabilization, and 0.6 acres of seeding and mulching once the new nature trail has been reconstructed.

-Primary Election  The following directors have refiled for the CPNRD board of directors: Jay Richeson, subdistrict 1; Dwayne Margritz, sub-district 2; Marvion Reichert, sub-district 3; Lon Bohn, sub-district 4 for 2 years; Jim Bendfeldt, sub-district 5; Mick Reynolds, sub-district 6; Jerry Wiese, sub-district 7; LeRoy Arends, sub-district 8; Doug Reeves, sub-district 9, and Barry Obermiller, sub-district 10. Non-incumbent Eric Davis, Kearney, filed for Subdistrict 4; Keith Stafford did not refile.

-Platte River Recovery Implementation Program  Mark Czaplewski, biologist, provided a report on the Program’s Governance Committee’s (GC) recent meeting in Kearney that included discussion on the Upper Platte Basin Robust Review results and Second Increment planning. Nebraska is in full compliance with its New Depletions Plan and is achieving Milestone 9 of the Program’s extension document. Future Robust Reviews are planned for 2023 and 2027.

The Program’s Executive Director’s office discussed the 2019 “State of the Platte” report, the Independent Science Advisory Committee’s response to it, and plans on how to move forward with review and update of Platte River target flows. Jason Farnsworth, executive director, was appointed as the Program’s Fund Advisory Committee member to the Platte River Resilience Fund.

-Manager’s Report   Lyndon Vogt, reported that most employees started working from home on March 16th and the physical office is closed to walk-in traffic. All employees have computers and internet access and are using Microsoft Teams to communicate and assist each other and the general public. The staff has continued to take phone calls and assist everyone that needed to drop off or sign paperwork. Vogt said the NRD will operate under these restrictions and continue to re-evaluate the situation concerning the Coronavirus spread.

-Preliminary Budgets  The Eastern Projects, Western Projects, Cost-Share, and Information/Education proposed budgets for Fiscal 2021 were provided to the committees.

-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)  Joe Krolikowski, district conservationist, provided a report on the FY2021 Local Working Group (LWG) meeting that was held recently. The LWG recommends to the NRCS State Conservationist how conservation programs would be used most effectively in their area by evaluating and prioritizing the resource concerns through their NRD. These recommendations include special target areas, cost-share rates, conservation practices to receive assistance, and funding needed. This workgroup allows local input into how Federal dollars are spent in their area and across the state.

The LWG recommendation from this year’s meeting was to continue with all the current programs available. Since the demand for financial assistance has remained high relative to available funds, a gradual adjustment in some payment rates will provide more broad access to the available funds.

Lara Schenck, resource conservationist, provided a report on the Grand Island office. This spring, the Nebraska USDA-NRCS mailed postcards to 6,484 producers in high priority watersheds across the state to promote NRCS programs and specifically targeted conservation practices that improve water quality such as: cover crops, irrigation water management, nutrient management, and conversion from flood to pivot or subsurface drip irrigation systems. The postcards yielded 61 applications for EQIP, three applications for CStwP Classic, and one application for CStwP Renewal.

The ranking deadline for 2020 CStwP Renewal applications is April 24th, while the proposed deadline for 2020 CStwP Classic applications is May 29th to allow producers to enroll in the CStwP Classic sign-up if their application does not receive funding through the CStwP Renewal sign-up. The ranking deadline for 2020 CWtwP Classic applications is June 26th.  Currently, the Grand Island Field Office has 35 active EQIP contracts, five active CStwP-Grassland Conservation Initiative (GCI), and five active CStwP contracts.