February 22 Board Action

February 23, 2024

Board of Directors Meeting – Press Release on Action Taken
Thursday, February 22, 2024
JEO Updates Central Platte NRD Board on Wood River Flood Reduction Project

JEO Consulting provided an update on the Wood River Watershed flood reduction project plan at the Central Platte Natural Resources District’s (CPNRD) Board of Directors meeting on Thursday.  The project is funded through the USDA-NRCS Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations (WFPO) program. Initially focused on Buffalo, Hall, and Merrick counties, the project expanded to include the Upper Wood River sub-basin after further assessments highlighted the need for additional planning efforts to address flooding impacts comprehensively.

Following the completion of the Environmental Assessment, it was determined that more planning efforts were necessary. The project was upgraded to an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process in February 2023 to ensure a thorough understanding of flooding impacts and potential solutions. The current project plan involves constructing a 150-foot-wide bottom diversion channel near Gibbon. This plan aims to reduce the risk of flooding during a 25-year storm event.

John Petersen, Water Resources Project Manager, JEO Consulting, said the project is still in the planning stage. In March, JEO Consulting plans to present the project design during a Clean Water Act meeting to determine environmental findings. Subsequently, the plan will be submitted to the State NRCS for review, followed by submission to the Federal NRCS office. Petersen said following these reviews, the CPNRD Board will consider whether to move forward with the next phase of the project in March 2025.


Subdistrict 8 Appointment  The Board approved Kevin Werner, Grand Island, to fill the vacancy in Subdistrict 8 on the Board of Directors. The term ends December 2024.

Prescribed Fire Bids  The Board selected Prescribed Pyro LLC, of Broken Bow, to conduct prescribed burns this spring for CPNRD’s Prescribed Burn Program at a rate of $3,100/day for approximately 40 days. The NRD received seven contractors’ bids, with Prescribed Pyro LLC submitting the low bid. In addition to prescribed burns, the crew will assist the NRD with cutting cedar trees on sites previously burned and preparation on sites that aren’t adequately prepped for burning this year.

Variance/Appeals Committee  The Board denied three variance requests from landowners in Polk, Dawson and Buffalo counties.

Dawson County Land Lease  The Board approved a one-year lease for the 2024 growing season on land purchased by the CPNRD for IMP compliance.

Manager’s Report  Lyndon Vogt, General Manager, reported on the following:

  • Monitoring Well The Nebraska Well Drillers have funded a new well to be drilled at Husker Harvest Days. CPNRD has plans to enhance monitoring capabilities by installing telemetry on the well. Visitors to the Raising Nebraska Building will have the opportunity to view water levels displayed at an interactive kiosk featuring the well and the static water levels of the monitoring well installed last year at the Outdoor Learning Area on the fairgrounds. By integrating both wells into the interactive kiosk, attendees can gain a comprehensive understanding of water dynamics in the region.
  • Grants CPNRD submitted three WaterSMART grants to the Bureau of Reclamation. Two will address irrigation efficiency on the three canals that the NRD partners with, and one will meter approximately 100 wells to support the COHYST data on average annual irrigation amounts in the CPNRD.
  • Alda Crane Viewing Deck Renovation of the Alda Crane Deck and walking path will begin in the next couple of weeks.  Renovations will begin on February 19, 2024, and the site will not be accessible until June 1, 2024. Permitting complications did not allow construction to begin until this spring. Project improvements are scheduled to be completed by June 2024. The CPNRD received two grants for the improvements. $250,000 was awarded through the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) administered by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission; in which CPNRD will provide a 20% match. The Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund (NET) awarded CPNRD $75,000 to be used exclusively for repairs on the stream bank near the deck.
  • Integrated Water Management Specialist Two applicants were selected to fill the three-year grant-funded positions. One staff will be housed in the Upper Big Blue and the other will work out of CPNRD with the position being shared with Tri-Basin NRD.
  • Agronomist Position CPNRD is readvertising the shared agronomist position between CPNRD and UNL. This is also a three-year position to assist in gathering data to support Federal cropping models.
  • Water Programs Update This year’s annual event took place in Central City and received several positive comments from attendees. The event was well-attended with an approximate turnout of 50 individuals.

Precision Conservation Report  Darren Cudaback, Precision Conservation Specialist, gave his annual report on the cooperators enrolled in the Precision Conservation Management Program (PCM) in Gothenburg. Cudaback has increased enrollment from 11 customers totaling 18,708 acres in 2021; to 81 customers totaling 128,370 acres in 2023. Specific practices that producers have enrolled in include: Cover Crops with 25 customers (12,214 acres)and No Till/Strip Till with 75 customers (120,772 acres). The program also offers irrigation incentives including sprinkler packages/renozzling, computer shed tool, pivot telemetry, variable frequency drive, autonomous pivots and nitrogen drip. The total investment in the Program has been $899,228 with an average of $11,240/producer.

PCM is a program that serves farmers by providing economic analysis of on-farm conservation practices. The program aims to help farmers understand the economic values of adopting practices such as cover crops, nutrient timing, and tillage practices. PCM originated from the Illinois Corn Growers Association, making up the conservation arm of the entity. PCM is funded by the USDA NRCS – Regional Conservation Partnership Program. Along with applied economics, water quality outcomes and carbon sequestration values are generated.

Violation Report  Luke Zakrzewski, GIS Image Analyst, reported that 50 violation letters were mailed to landowners/producers who irrigated land that wasn’t certified or approved for irrigation through a transfer in 2023. Zakrzewski said 39 of those violators have contacted the NRD to resolve their violation. In March, the Board will consider issuing cease and desist orders on violations that have not been resolved.

Natural Resources Conservation Service  Joe Krolikowski, District Conservationist, provided a summary of activities or current happenings at NRCS field offices throughout Central Platte NRD and the state:
FY 2024 Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) NRCS staff are working through the assessing and ranking process for all the FY24 applications on file. Once ranking is completed, NRCS will begin extending contract offers to the highest-ranked applications until all funds are allocated. This process can sometimes extend into August or September.

  • FY 2024 Conservation Stewardship Program (CStP) Contract renewals are being prepared. Applications are being processed for CSP IRA applications, 2024 CSP Classic applications for the fund pool in FY24. The obligation deadline for these new CStP Classic contracts is not set currently.
  • FY 2024 Conservation Reserve Programs (CRP) Farm Service Agency (FSA) is holding a general signup that ends July 31, 2024. Contracts expiring in September may reenroll. NRCS is responsible for conducting all field visits and then producing all the conservation planning and contracting documents for their program.
  • FY 2024 National Food Security Act Compliance Review Preparation is close to getting started across the State. Anyone who owns land and receives USDA benefits is subject to compliance spot checks. These tract numbers are randomly selected each year out of the database in Kansas City. If a tract of land in the FSA database is carried as Highly Erodible Land or has Wetlands identified on it, the tract is subject to a random compliance spot check. Tracts reported to a USDA Service Center by a Whistleblower, if valid, are also subject to compliance spot checks.

Carrie Thompson, Resource Conservationist, provided the following written report for the Lexington Field Office: Dawson County has 21 active CSP contracts and 37 active EQIP contracts. 2024 applications include 51 EQIP and 13 CSP. The EQIP IRA has 5 pre-approved applications for pivots, livestock pipelines and tanks, prescribed burning and burn preparation. The CSP IRA has 4 pre-approved applications totaling 7,500 acres; practices include- cover crops, nutrient management, tree/shrub plantings, and pollinator plantings.

Nebraska Natural Resources Commission (NRC)  Mick Reynolds, Middle Platte Basin Representative, reported that two appointments are open to serve on the NRC including Groundwater Irrigator and Public Power representatives. Those interested should visit Governor Pillen’s website at and submit an application for Executive Appointment. Reynolds also reported that since 2015, the Water Sustainability Fund administered by the NRC, has completed 45 projects totaling $27,076,911.74. Presently there are 58 active projects totaling $81,309,338.30. Applications for projects may be submitted from March 16 to March 31 annually.

Cost-Share Applications 18 applications were approved totaling $38,024.74 through the Nebraska Soil & Water Conservation and the Central Platte NRD cost-share programs. Practices approved were tree planting, burn preparation, center pivot incentive, pipeline to pivot and well decommissioning.  

Primary Election  Kelly Cole, Administrative Assistant, reported that as of February 21st, incumbents have refiled in all of the NRDs subdistricts, except for Subdistrict 7. The non-incumbent deadline is March 1st. CPNRD has 21 members on the board of directors who serve four-year terms, with two directors in each of the NRD’s 10 sub-districts and one at-large director.  Directors in the same sub-district are elected in alternate election years.

Upcoming Board Meetings
Board Retreat: Central Platte Natural Resources District will hold its Board of Directors’ retreat at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 29, 2024, at the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument in Kearney, Nebraska.  Discussion will include director/NRD responsibilities, NRD projects and programs. No action will be taken.

Monthly Meetings:
 March 28, April 25, May 23
Central Platte NRD’s Board of Directors meetings are held at 2:00 p.m. at the CPNRD office located at 215 Kaufman Ave in Grand Island.