March Board Meeting_Action Taken

March 31, 2023

Mike Wilkens of Gibbon Appointed to Central Platte NRD Board

(GRAND ISLAND, NE) –  The Central Platte Natural Resources District’s (CPNRD) Board of Directors elected Mike Wilkens, Gibbon, to fill the vacancy in Sub-District 5 at their monthly meeting on Thursday.  Wilken’s two-year term will end in December 2024.

-Student Presentation  Bren Vaughan, student at Central City High School, presented her research on the Effect of Stratification Temperature on Germination of Native and Non-Native Grasses. Vaughan provided results from her study that included germinating Western Wheat Grass and Intermediate Wheat Grass to determine possible effects of climate change on pastures.

-10-Year Meter Program  Brandi Flyr, Hydrologist Ph.D., reported the results of CPNRD’s 10-Year groundwater pumping study that included 78 sites district-wide showed that producers are pumping less water than estimated. The program provided flow meters equipped with telemetry, soil probes and weather stations to producers with the goal of collecting raw pumping data.  The program was designed to be voluntary, allowing producers to review their own pumping data and adjust their water use as needed. Flyr showed examples of sites where producers used the data and reduced their water use without impacting yields. The NRD has applied for funding to continue the study through 2034. Flyr said the results will be added to the NRD’s groundwater models to account for water uses and integrated into the Robust Review water accounting budget.

-Natural Resources Conservation Service  Joe Krolikowski, District Conservationist, reported that NRCS recently held their 2023 Local Working Group meeting. The Group discussed the local priorities within the CPNRD and will make recommendations to the NRCS State Conservationist. It was also discussed that NRCS staff are still working through changes and/or new programs that have come with the farm bill, RCPP, or with the IRA program, as well as the new Conservation Assessment & Ranking Tool (CART).  Jason Scholz, Resource Conservationist of Grand Island, reported that there is a possibility that NRCS will receive additional funds for EQIP.  He also reported the deadline to apply for CSP renewals is April 28th and general signup for CRP is April 7th.

-Platte Valley Industrial Park   The Board approved an amendment with Olsson in the amount of $14,200 to complete geotechnical services including a seepage analysis and to subcontract with Augustana University to complete an archaeological study on 15.6 acres of Platte Valley Industrial Park located south of Grand Island.

-Dam Rehabilitation  The Board approved an amendment with JEO Consulting in the amount of $14,000 for additional services required for the rebidding and construction phase of the Jones and Clear Creek dams.

-Elm-Turkey Creek WFPO  The Board approved an amendment in the amount of $78,030 for additional project management, coordination and public involvement due to a one-year extension and additional environmental science work needed to meet updated NRCS and USACE requirements. The funds are available through the $742,500 WFPO grant awarded to Central Platte NRD from NRCS.

The flood risk deduction plan process was initiated in 2021. Hydrologic and hydraulic models were developed to show existing flooding conditions, various flood risk reduction alternatives. The plan area covers the entire Elm Creek Watershed to its confluence with Buffalo Creek south of the Village of Elm Creek; and the entire Turkey Creek Watershed flowing north of the Village of Elm Creek past Odessa and through the City of Kearney.

-NRD App Agreement  The Board approved an agreement with Longitude 103 of Brush, Colorado, to develop an NRD software app in the amount of $38,000. The agreement cost includes the first-year annual service fee and professional services to migrate Central Platte NRD’s current data.

-Observation Well Bids  The Board approved a bid of $53,322.85 from Downey Drilling of Lexington, Nebraska, to construct 13 dedicated observation wells in Merrick County and the eastern portion of the Central Platte NRD.  CPNRD staff measures 450-500 wells throughout the District each spring and fall to monitor groundwater levels as part of the Groundwater Management Program.  The new wells will replace irrigation wells that are no longer accessible to measure.

-Platte River Resilience Committee  The Board selected David Carr, Range Management Specialist, to replace Deb VanMatre as Central Platte NRD’s representative on the Platte River Resilience Committee that manages Phragmites control along the Platte River.

-Platte River Recovery Implementation Program (PRRIP)  The Board selected David Carr to replace Lyndon Vogt on the PRRIP Land Advisory Committee.

-Violation Report  Luke Zakrzewski, GIS Image Analyst, reported that he has been working with the 56 landowners/producers who received a violation notification in February on land that was irrigated without proper certification or through a transfer. He reported that 11 are now in compliance with the NRD’s Groundwater Management Program and the remaining are planning to complete required paperwork.

-Manager’s Report  Lyndon Vogt, General Manager, reported on the following:
* Groundwater Management Plan  A public hearing will be held prior to the May 25th Board meeting to consider the updates to the GWMP.  The NRD is currently in the process of updating the Rules and Regulations for the Plan and will schedule a public hearing to approve the rules when completed.
* Building Committee  Bids have been requested to drill a well at the potential new office site. With no electricity currently at the site, the bid request has been adjusted to give interested bidders additional time.
* CPNRD Staffing  CPNRD is working with UNL on a cooperative agreement to share the cost of an agronomist to work with Dean Krull, Demonstration Project Coordinator, and producers to assist with ground truthing and validating a crop modeling project that the USDA Adaptive Cropping Systems Lab is working on.  The NRD is also working with the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture and Tri-Basin NRD on a grant to share a Water Quality Specialist to promote conservation practices. Both positions would also work directly with our producers with high nitrate issues.
* Central Platte NRD and Tri Basin NRD Joint Executive Meeting   The two NRD committees met on March 13th in Kearney to discuss the Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District excess flow agreement, Nitrogen Dashboard/Longitude 103, and recent cost-share programs approved by both districts.

-Nebraska Association of Resources District  Lyndon Vogt reported that Deb VanMatre, CPNRD Representative, was appointed to the Programs Committee for NARD at their March meeting.

-2024 FY Budget  The Eastern Projects and Western Projects committees reviewed budget requests for the 2024 Fiscal Year and will meet in April to finalize their budgets.

-Cost-Share  The Board approved 16 applications for center pivot incentive, streambank stabilization, sensor-based management of fertigation, and well decommissioning through the Nebraska Soil and Water Conservation and the Central Platte NRD cost-share programs in the amount of 45,288.00.

-Upcoming CPNRD Events
* PSM Birding Event    April 29th from 8:00-Noon at the NRD Prairie Silver Moores Flood Cells near Grand Island

*Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival    May 16th at CCC/College Park in Grand Island

*Upcoming Board Meetings    April 27, May 25, June 29 at the Central Platte NRD office in Grand Island