Oct. 24 Board Meeting

PRESS RELEASE
Buyout Options in Flood-Prone Areas Presented to Central Platte NRD Board

(GRAND ISLAND, NE)  – Katie Ringland, chief floodplain manager with the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, presented several buyout options and requirements in flood-prone areas at the Central Platte Natural Resources District’s board of directors meeting on Thursday. Ringland provided information on three Hazard Mitigation Assistance grants that give communities an avenue to purchase flood-prone structures and maintain the land as open space.  Each program provides cost-share that is typically 75% federal and 25% local. The State of Nebraska is the applicant for each of the grants with sub-applicants (local sponsors) that would include state agencies, villages, cities, counties, natural resources districts, some 501C nonprofits, or federally recognized tribes.

Following the March-July 2019 Presidential disaster declaration, Nebraska received approximately $50 million for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program that must be allocated within one year from the date of the disaster declaration.

Two buyout or acquisition options are available for property owners. The first includes property acquisition and home demolition with the second including property acquisition and home relocation. Application requirements needed for each property are the scope of work, statement of assurances, sample of deed restriction, citizenship documentation, voluntary interest documentation, title search, budget, schedule, and benefit cost analysis.

BOARD ACTION ITEMS

-Eastern Project Committee  Chairman Ed Stoltenberg reported that the committee met with area citizens and Wood River Mayor Greg Cramer on October 1, 2019, to discuss what is needed to reduce flooding risks within the town of Wood River due to storm runoff.  Landowners interested in replacing riprap or dirt berms may apply for cost-share through Central Platte NRD’s Streambank Stabilization Program.

The Program is used to reduce runoff and stabilize areas for water quality. Cost-share is 50% of actual costs up to a maximum of $3,000. Applications must be in the name of the landowner and must be approved before the project can be started. The stabilization must be designed by an engineer or the NRCS. The landowner must apply for and receive all necessary Federal and State permits.

Stoltenberg also reported that Amick Acres in Hall County is planning a flood reduction plan.

-Nitrogen Management Compliance  Tricia Dudley, data compliance officer, reported that certified violation letters were mailed to 153 tenants and landowners who have not submitted their Nitrogen Management forms for the Groundwater Quality Management Program. Since the letters were mailed, 21 producers have submitted forms. Dudley will request that Cease and Desist Orders be issued to producers who are in violation at the November 21st board meeting.

Over 900 producers are in Phase II/III program and must file online reports for all crops grown including corn, sorghum, potatoes, beans, alfalfa, and all small grains. The form includes actual crop results for the 2018 crop year and planning for the 2019 crop year.

The annual report forms are due March 31st.  Irrigated acres under a cease and desist order cannot be irrigated until they are compliant with the Program. Potential penalties for violation are the possibility of a fine ranging from $1,000 -$5,000 per violation and/or a loss of irrigated acres, ineligibility for NRD cost-share, and restriction from transferring any irrigated acres. Violators may request a hearing in front of the Board within ten (10) days of receiving the certified Cease and Desist notification.

Over 1,600 forms are received each year. The number of violations has decreased from 244 in 2018 to 153 this year.

-Managers Report  Lyndon Vogt, general manager, reported the following:

* Staff has presented to Leadership Tomorrow in Grand Island and Kearney, Kearney Homebuilders, and Senator Smith’s Infrastructure Event in Hastings this month.

* Senator Ben Sasse recently signed on to the proposed second increment of the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program. All basin state governors, house representatives, and senators have signed on to the extension.

* The Nebraska Department of Environment & Energy (NEE) is accepting applications for the Clean Diesel Rebate Program. Funding is available to assist farmers with the replacement of an irrigation pump diesel engine with an electric motor or connecting a submersible pump directly to the electric grid. Funding is also available to replace older diesel refuse trucks and medium to heavy-duty local diesel freight, delivery, and maintenance trucks. For details, contact (402) 471-4272 or email NDEQ.airquality@nebraska.gov.

*  Olsson and NRD staff have held two meetings for the Groundwater Management Plan rewrite. Olsson is incorporating changes made to the rules and regulations, and new data and insight acquired since the approval of the plan in 1985 including hydrogeologic, climate, and socioeconomic information.

-Natural Resources Conservation Service  Joe Krolikowski, district liaison, updated the board on the Highly Erodible Land (HEL) compliance reviews. In 2017, the NRCS changed policy regarding ephemeral gully erosion to include the statement “Whether eroded soil leaves the field or not, is not part of the criteria to determine compliance or noncompliance.” Each spring, NRCS conducts compliance reviews on a random selection of highly erodible fields to determine if erosion has been adequately controlled. The two factors measured for conservation compliance are sheet-and-rill erosion, and ephemeral gully erosion. Sheet and rill erosion are generally controlled through no-till farming. Ephemeral gullies are small ditches in fields that are often smoothed out with a disc. Discing or smoothing gullies does not fix the problem and it puts farmers at risk of losing USDA farm program benefits.  Krolikowski said NRCS provides both technical and financial assistance to install conservation practices like no-till farming, cover crops, grassed waterways, and terraces to control erosion and will continue granting variances to allow producers one year to fix ephemeral gullies that were not required to be controlled prior to 2017.

-Nebraska Association of Resources District  Jim Bendfeldt reported that he and Dean Edson visited with the Nebraska LEAD Program concerning adding a natural resources focus. The Nebraska LEAD Program began 39 years ago to develop agricultural leaders from Nebraska’s future generations.

-Cost-Share  Six applications in the amount of $22,780 were approved through the Nebraska Soil & Water Conservation and Central Platte NRD cost-share programs for planned grazing, capacitance probe, burn preparation, cover crop, and well decommissioning.

-November Events
Monday, Nov. 11
   The NRD office will be closed on to observe Veterans Day.
Thursday, Nov. 21   Board of Directors meeting at 2:00 p.m. (one week early)
Thurs-Fri. Nov. 28-29   The NRD office will be closed to observe the Thanksgiving holiday.

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