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...

Want to Sell or Lease Water for Next Year?

The Central Platte Natural Resources District (CPNRD) has started the pre-approval process for the Groundwater Exchange Program, which provides a way for producers to buy or sell water use for the upcoming irrigation season. During the pre-approval process, staff verifies that all participants are in compliance with CPNRD’s Rules and Regulations, document whether the participant is acting as a buyer or seller, the location and amount of water use, and whether the buyers want to purchase water for irrigation or for streamflow. Those interested in participating must be pre-approved by November 23, 2016. The online bid window for those pre-approved will be open from December 1 through December 9, 2016.  Buyers and sellers will go online to the CPNRD Exchange website with the personal ID that staff has provided to them.  Sellers will enter the amount that they would like to receive for their water use, and buyers will enter how much they are willing to pay. Central Platte NRD and the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources have partnered in the financial cost to develop an algorithm that selects the best matches based on information that each seller and buyer enters- such as the price, location of water, and the depletion to the river.  The program then generates a report of all the matched exchanges.  The NRD’s Rules and Regulations regarding the transfers of groundwater irrigated acres are built into the computer program. Bids are based on acres, consumptive use, and streamflow depletion to the Platte River. The National Economic Research Associates (NERA) is the consulting firm who developed the computer program, accepts the bids, and provides CPNRD with...

Upcoming Board Meeting

The Central Platte NRD board of directors will meet at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 27, 2017. Please check back for a preliminary agenda. June Board Action Upcoming Board Meetings: August 31: August board meeting at 1:00 p.m. & Duane Woodward’s Retirement Open House 3:30-5:50 p.m. September 28 at 2:00 p.m. October 26 at 2:00 p.m. *Board meetings are held at 2:00 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month (unless stated otherwise) at the CPNRD office located at 215 Kaufman Avenue, Grand Island NE 68803.   Contact the CPNRD staff at (308)...