October 22 Board Meeting

JEO Consulting Group Presents Floodplain Maps to Central Platte NRD Board

(GRAND ISLAND, NE)-  Lalit Jha, JEO Consulting Group, explained the new floodplain maps to the Central Platte Natural Resources District (CPNRD) board that were approved by FEMA to integrate flood reduction risks from the Upper Prairie/Silver/Moores Flood Risk Reduction Project. The project was completed in March 2019. The maps can be viewed and downloaded at https://www.grand-island.com/departments/regional-planning/regional-planning/flood-maps

Chad Nabity, City of Grand Island, described his ‘relief’ when FEMA released the Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) in September that consists of seven revised map panels in northwest Grand Island and in Hall County north and west of Grand Island. The LOMR reduces the floodplain and ultimately requirements for flood insurance for 1,600 property owners and new areas to be developed. Project partners include the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, Central Platte NRD, City of Grand Island, Hall County and Merrick County.

OTHER ACTION/AGENDA ITEMS

-Soil Health Agreement  The board approved a subaward agreement with The Nature Conservancy that establishes terms for the $4.4 million Resilient Futures for Nebraska Soil Health initiative through the Resource Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The Upper Big Blue NRD is also partnering on the project to provide central Nebraska producers technical and financial assistance for soil health improvement practices. The funding for the RCPP is provided by USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and matched by companies in the agricultural supply chain.

The goal of the initiative is to improve soil health on 100,000 acres of cropland over the next five years by implementing cover crops, reduced tillage, and diversified crop rotations.  Partners plan to enroll 20,000 acres this first year from December 2020 to March 2021. Payments will vary from $15 to $40 per acre depending on the practice implemented. There is no income cap for the payments and no maximum amount that one farm operation can receive.

A new component for producers is access to the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium. Payments are guaranteed by acre and not tied to carbon storage. Participating companies include Cargill, Target, McDonald’s and others.

Partners plan to register 20,000 acres in the first year with enrollment from December 2020 to March 2021. To learn more about or to enroll in this RCPP program contact: Courtney Widup, Central Platte NRD, widup@cpnrd.org (308) 385-6282.

-Communications Assistant Amendment  The board approved an amendment to extend the subaward agreement for two years with the Nebraska Community Foundation for the joint Communications Assistant position. The position, held by Brody Vorderstrasse, is shared with the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, NRCS and CPNRD.

-Audit Report-  The board approved the 2019/2020 audit as presented by Jake Klabenes, Lutz Accounting.

-Managers Report  Lyndon Vogt, General Manager, reported on the following:

Hazard Mitigation Grant  CPNRD signed an agreement with NEMA to update the Hazard Mitigation Plan. The NEMA grant enables communities within the District to take action to implement mitigation projects that reduce threats from natural disasters. CPNRD sponsored the initial plan in 2010 and updates are required every five years. JEO Consulting was hired to update the plan. To be eligible for emergency funds, each county, community and schools are required to participate in the process.

   -Drainage Improvement Project  An agreement to address long-standing drainage at the Platte Valley Industrial Park and the surrounding area in Grand Island will be considered by the Grand Island City Council and Hall County Board of Commissioners next week. If the agreement is approved next week, CPNRD’s board will likely take action on the agreement at their November 19th meeting.

-Violator Hearings  Three producers who violated cease and desist orders issued in May for the NRD’s Groundwater Quality Management Program will face possible fines to be imposed through the District court process. Court dates have been set for Artie Moller on November 16th in Merrick County, Bernard Katzberg on November 25th in Hall County, and Richard Urban on December 2nd in Polk County.

-Natural Resources Conservation Service  Joe Krolikowski, District Conservationist, gave a report from Lara Schenck, Resource Conservationist, on the Soil Health Demonstration Farms and Ranches Initiative, that included 17 demonstration farm sites across Nebraska to evaluate soil health principles and the impact of cover crops on soil health in different cropping systems. Producers participating in the project received funding for cover crops, crop rotations, and prescribed grazing through EQIP. Contracts are 5-years in length, and provide valuable data concerning the relationship between cover crops and soil infiltration rates, moisture, temperature, structure, biodiversity, grazing management, and crop yields.

These demonstration farms are field scale projects with randomized and replicated plots and are intended to provide large scale system comparisons between treatments. Soil samples and testing are conducted annually by USDA-NRCS staff and analyzed and interpreted through UNL. Results are compiled and reported at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/soilhealth/reports. Treatments included in the farm sites are:
o Cover Crop vs No Cover Crop
o Monoculture Cover Crop species vs Multispecies Cover Crop
o Grazed vs Not Grazed
o Drilled vs Broadcast
o Nitrogen Study
o Cover Crop Mix Comparisons
o Early Termination of Cover Crops vs Late Termination of Cover Crops
o Frost Terminated Cover Crop Species vs Winter Hardy Cover Crop Species
o Companion Cover Crops vs Dormant Seeded Cover Crops
o High Carbon Cover Crops vs Low Carbon Cover Crops
o Economic Data

Krolikowski also announced two new employees including Sara Umstead, District Secretary for the Central City Field Office; and Jackie Luebbe, District Secretary for the Grand Island Field Office.

-Nebraska Association of Resources District (NARD)  Jim Bendfeldt, CPNRD Representative, reported:

NARD Office Update  NARD signed a purchase agreement on Oct. 8, 2020 for an office located at 8100 S. 15th Street in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Nebraska Community Foundation is currently located in the office and will be a tenant of the NARD. NARD’s previous office was burned and looted during the riots near the State Capitol in June 2020. A committee was formed to assist NARD in finding a new office location.

-Husker Harvest Days  Since the event was held virtually, the NARD was not able to distribute 3,500 tree seedlings that are handed out. The Upper Niobrara White NRD and Middle Niobrara NRD distributed the trees to be planted in the Niobrara River valley to help restore the 100,000 acres that burned in a wildfire in 2012.

-Cost-Share  13 applications were approved through the Nebraska Soil and Water Conservation and the Central Platte NRD cost-share programs in the amount of $13,570.62. Practices approved include underground pipe to pivot, brush management, flow meter and well decommissioning.

-Upcoming Board Meetings:  November 19, December 17, January 28

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