Cedar Invasions Threaten Nebraska Grasslands

Article reprinted from journalstar.com Eastern redcedar, commonly called “cedar” or “juniper” is a tree native to much of Nebraska. However, it has been rapidly expanding into locations and habitats where it was formerly rare or unknown. Cedar has already expanded into many areas of the Great Plains, converting vast areas of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas from productive grasslands to impenetrable forests. This rapid expansion is moving north into Nebraska. During the past decade, an average of 38,000 acres of Nebraska’s range lands and forests has been converted to cedar forest each year. Why should we care about the encroachment of this native tree into formerly cedar-free landscapes in Nebraska? The rapid spread of cedar is a serious ecological and economic threat, and addressing it poses challenges that dwarf the capacity and resources of any one agency or organization in Nebraska. Cattle production declines as much as 75 percent after grasslands are invaded by cedar. Cedars shade out grasses beneath their canopies, directly removing grass available to cattle, while also reducing grass health and species diversity. Cedar invasion also affects the ability to reduce the risk of, and suppress, wildfires. Cedar invasion reduces water availability because of its increased water use and interception compared to range grasses and forbs. Cedar may also change stream and river channels and alter flows. Scientific evidence from the southern Great Plains documents catastrophic collapses in the biodiversity and abundance of birds, small mammals and pollinators endemic to grasslands following juniper invasion. The Nebraska Conservation Roundtable recently listed cedar as a primary threat to conservation of natural resources. The increasing threat of cedar invasions is...

Crop ET Study Approved

CPNRD Approves Crop Evapotranspiration Study with UNL (GRAND ISLAND, NE) – The Central Platte Natural Resources District’s board approved an amendment with UNL in the amount of $343,259 to continue the Nebraska Water and Energy Flux Measurement, Modeling and Research Network (NEBFLUX) study at their monthly meeting on Thursday.  The Project has been measuring actual evapotranspiration rates of various vegetation surfaces by utilizing advanced techniques to measure surface energy fluxes, microclimatic variables, plant physiological parameters, soil water content, surface characteristics, and their interactions for various vegetation surfaces in the CPNRD since 2007.  The information collected is used for CPNRD’s Groundwater Management Program; which is based on crop water use, or consumptive use. This amendment extends the project through June 2020. OTHER ACTION/AGENDA ITEMS -Bioblitz Request  The board approved a request from Kearney High School (KHS) and the University of Nebraska-Kearney (UNK) in the amount of $1,000 to design and develop a wetland to be named the Kearney Outdoor Learning Area (KOLA). On April 22, 2017, KHS and UNK students will collect, analyze, and record ecosystem and natural resources data in an area south of KHS to be transformed into a wetland later this year.  The BioBlitz will allow students to establish a baseline of data by which to measure ecosystem and wildlife changes over the years. -Non-Disturbance Agreement  The board approved a non-disturbance agreement with SoCore Energy, Chicago, so that their project, located south of the Kearney Northeast Flood Control Project’s easement area, can move forward. -Contract Modification  The board approved a change order on the Upper Prairie/Silver/ Moores Flood Control Project in the amount of $344,000 to remove...

Excellent Progress-Flood Control

Excellent Progress Being Made on CPNRD’s Flood Control Project- CPNRD Board Meeting Updates The Central Platte Natural Resources District’s board saw timelapse footage of the progress being made on the Upper Prairie/Silver/Moores Flood Control Project during their February board meeting on Thursday.  Jesse Mintken, assistant manager, reported that Van Kirk Brothers Construction of Sutton, Nebraska, began construction in mid-January with excellent progress given the moderate winter.  The Project’s detention cells, located approximately five miles west of Grand Island at the Cornhusker Army Ammunition Plant, are currently under construction. The overall footprint will be 540 acres. Equipment for this major construction includes four scrapers that hold 20 cubic yards, two excavators, four dump trucks that hold 30 cubic yards, a bulldozer and a road grader.  Soil excavated from both cells will be spoiled on site. Mintken said the north detention cell, located on Airport Road, (SCLL4N-E Addition) is nearly completed.  An additional 71,500 cubic yards has been excavated to form this cell.  The southern portion of Phase I (SCLL4-S Phase I) includes approximately 815,000 cubic yards. It is located at Capital and Schauppsville.  Periodic seeding and mulching will take place to ensure that permit requirements are met and that proper erosion control measures are implemented.  The contractor expects to be completed by the end of May if the weather cooperates. Mintken said Phase II is expected to be constructed this coming summer 2017, along with a levee system located at the northwest corner of Grand Island.  The bid letting on that portion of the flood control project will take place in mid-spring. OTHER ACTION/AGENDA ITEMS -Irrigation Violations  Luke Zakrzewski, GIS...

CPNRD Provides Funds for Outdoor Classroom at Dodge Elementary

The Grand Island Independent: Thursday, February 16, 2017 8:43 pm By Robert Pore   robert.pore@theindependent.com In a ceremony on Thursday morning at Dodge Elementary School, Marcia Lee of the Central Platte Natural Resources District presented a check for $1,667 to create a monarch butterfly habitat at the school. The NRD board recently approved an application from the Grand Island Public Schools’ Success Academy for the program. The outdoor classroom will be a joint project of the Success Academy, Dodge Elementary, Skills Academy and the Roots & Shoots program. The students will use the outdoor classroom to apply the scientific method in real-world observation and data collection. Also at the event, it was announced that the GIPS Roots & Shoots clubs will host Jane Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and a United Nations messenger of peace, for a public presentation at 7 p.m. March 9 at the Grand Island Senior High auditorium. The event will be free but will require a ticket. Tickets will be available starting at 8 a.m. Feb. 21 at the GIPS Kneale Administration Building. Goodall is well-known for her nearly six decades of research on the wild chimpanzees of Gombe National Park, where she made the discovery that chimpanzees make and use tools, redefining human understanding of animals. In 1977, Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute to advance her work around the world. In 1991, she founded Roots & Shoots, the institute’s global program that guides young people in nearly 100 countries in becoming conservation activists. She now speaks about the threats facing chimpanzees, environmental crises and her reasons for hope. In her books and...

College Scholarship Apps Due March 15

CPNRD-Ron Bishop College Scholarship Applications Due March 15 The Central Platte Natural Resources District is accepting applications until March 15, 2017, for the CPNRD-Ron Bishop College Scholarship Program. Each year the CPNRD provides 10 students majoring in a natural resources field with $1,000 scholarships.  The NRD’s Programs Committee ranks applicants according to their major and grade level, with the highest rankings going to those already enrolled in college and pursuing a natural resources career.  Students must also reside within CPNRD boundaries; which reach from Gothenburg to Columbus along the Platte River.   Map | Application Some of the careers that qualify: -Agriculture: Business Representative, Engineer, Inspector, Agronomist, Applied Science/Diversified -Biologist -Engineer: Civil, Mechanical, Chemical -Conservationist, Resources Management -Environmental Educator -Geographic Information Systems Specialist -Geology Engineering -Grazing Livestock System -Hydrologist, Hydrogeologist -Mechanized Systems/Soil and Water Conservation -Rangeland Management -Soil Conservationist/ Soil Engineer -Vocational/Agriculture Educator -Water Resources Specialist -Other related careers Applications are available on the CPNRD website at: cpnrd.org/cpnrd-school-page or by contacting Marcia Lee at (308) 385-6282 or email: lee@cpnrd.org. Central Platte NRD is one of 23 separate Natural Resources Districts created by the Nebraska Legislature in 1972 to protect the state’s natural resources.  The CPNRD strives to protect groundwater and surface water, reduce flood threats, conserve soil health, create and protect wildlife habitat, and educate children and adults to use natural resources...

Feb 9 CPNRD Water Conference

Credits Available at CPNRD Water Programs Conference on February 9th  Program Flyer Attendance at Central Platte Natural Resources District’s Water Programs Conference next Thursday replaces the requirement for landowners to take the Nitrogen Management Certification Test for the NRD’s Groundwater Quality Management Program.  Continuing Education Credits (4 credits) have also been applied for through the NHHS for professional Water Well Contractors License. CPNRD staff and guest speakers will report on groundwater level readings, results from current water usage research, and using CPNRD’s irrigation websites. Al Dutcher, Nebraska State Climate Office, will discuss where dryness issues are most prevalent and whether those areas will be a precursor to localized dryness Jessie Winter, Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, will present the NDNR’s INSIGHT website; and Joe Krolikowski, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service will present new cost share programs available to landowners. The conference will take place from 9:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 9, 2017 at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds, 1400 E. 34th St in Kearney, NE.  The public is invited to attend.  There is no registration fee and lunch will be catered by Luke & Jake’s Bar-Be-Q.  RSVP is requested for lunch count by calling the CPNRD office at (308) 385-6282 or email Marcia Lee at: lee@cpnrd.org. Updates by CPNRD staff will include: -Groundwater Levels & Real-Time Water Usage Results- Duane Woodward, engineering hydrologist -2 & 10 Rule, Groundwater Exchange Program- Jesse Mintken, assistant manager -Certified Acre Website- Luke Zakrzewski, GIS image analyst -Online Crop Reporting Form-Sandy Noecker, data compliance officer -Project SENSE Results- Dean Krull, CPNRD/UNL demo projects coordinator -Social Media- Marcia Lee, information/education specialist -Platte River Program, Legislative...