Forestry, Parks & Recreation

Forestry, Parks & Recreation

Parks and Recreation 

As part of its mission to conserve and protect natural resources, the Upper Big Blue NRD has been involved in several large-scale dam and reservoir projects since 1983.  These multi-purpose projects are designed for flood and erosion control, groundwater recharge and used in progressive groundwater research.  

As a result, the additional benefit of these projects is the opportunity for outdoor recreation.  The NRD has developed five recreation areas that are open to the public year round. These sites also provide habitat for wildlife.  Area residents can enjoy activities, such as camping, fishing, boating, hiking, as well as winter sports such as skiing, sledding, tobogganing, snowshoeing, snowmobile riding and ice skating.

Forestry

Conservation Tree Sales

Conservation Tree Sales
Conservation Tree Sales
Under the NRD’s seedling sales program, tree and shrub stock is provided to district patrons at the lowest possible cost. In order to assure quality stock, seedlings are kept in a refrigerated state prior to delivery to the customer. The Forestry Department staff can design custom planting plans, and custom planting can also be arranged through the department. More info at www.upperbigblue.org/Trees.

The Upper Big Blue NRD sells tree and shrub seedlings each winter through early spring. The trees and shrubs are typically planted for farmstead and field windbreaks, and wildlife habitat areas. Trees and shrubs are also planted to develop riparian buffer strips under the Conservation Reserve Program. The NRD staff will plant trees for customers at a nominal cost and can custom design tree and shrub planting plans. The tree planting season generally begins in April and is completed in June of each year.
 

Community Native Grass Resources Program

Community Native Grass Resources Program
Community Native Grass Resources Program
Native Nebraska grasses such as Little Bluestem are being planted through the Community Native Grass Program. The program is designed to establish native grasses in lands surrounding wastewater treatment lagoons, Wellhead Protection Areas, and lands suitable for wildlife habitat improvement. A city, village, or public entity must submit a viable plan for planting. This plan must include the number of acres to be planted, seeding mixture to be applied, planting map, planting completion timetable, and a cost estimate of the total project. The entity must sign an agreement that it will maintain the planting for a five-year minimum. 

Wildlife Habitat Establishment and Improvement

Wildlife Habitat Establishment and Improvement
Wildlife Habitat Establishment and Improvement
The district cooperates with the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission and Pheasants Forever on programs to create and enhance wildlife habitat. Federal agencies administer habitat development programs including the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetland Reserve Program, Partners for Wildlife, and the Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program. State agency programs that the Upper Big Blue NRD works with include: WILD Nebraska, Wetland Initiative Program, Conservation Reserve Program-Management Access Program, Seasonal Habitat Improvement Program, Cooperative Roadside Seeding Program, Upland Habitat Initiative, Wildlife Shelterbelt Program and the Living Snow Fence Program. All of these programs work for the improvement of wildlife habitat by providing nesting, roosting, shelter, and food storage. They also work to control soil erosion and generally enhance the aesthetics of the areas that qualify for program inclusion. 

To learn more about wildlife programs offered by the Upper Big Blue NRD, please review this section of our programs book. 

Community Tree Resources Program for Cities, Villages and Parks

Community Tree Resources Program for Cities, Villages and Parks
Community Tree Resources Program for Cities, Villages and Parks
This program offers financial assistance to communities for the development or improvement of city, village, and park tree resources. Two levels of participation are offered. The first level (CTR-I) encourages cities and villages to develop a new tree improvement program which qualifies them for a “Tree City USA” designation. A higher level of District assistance is available to communities, which make such a commitment. A second level of assistance (CTR-II) is available to cities, villages and other public entities, which have developed a specific plan for tree replacement or new plantings. A five-year plan and an annual budget for tree resources improvement are required.

Corners for Wildlife

Corners for Wildlife
Corners for Wildlife
Corners For Wildlife gives landowners the option of enrolling in a conservation program to help establish wildlife habitat on center pivot corners not capable of sustaining high yields when planted to row crops. Pivot corners containing native grasses and/or trees are not eligible for the program as the goal of the program is to create wildlife habitats where there are none. Corners For Wildlife becomes a win/win situation in which landowners benefit by converting crop-less pivot corners into a wildlife sanctuary and receive payment for doing so. At the same time, wildlife wins because a substantial habitat has been created. Sponsoring organizations of Corners For Wildlife are Pheasants Forever, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the Nebraska Environmental Trust, and the Upper Big Blue NRD.

Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program and WILD Nebraska

Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program and WILD Nebraska
Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program and WILD Nebraska
Through the private lands portion of the Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program (WHIP), landowners receive cost-share assistance to create wildlife habitat and enhance or protect existing habitat. Many of Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts have cooperated with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission from the very beginning to make this an excellent program and partnership. WHIP participants receive varying annual payments depending on the type of habitat created. 

The Upper Big Blue NRD and Nebraska Game & Parks Commission cooperate on the WILD Nebraska Program to develop, manage, and enhance wildlife habitat in response to declining wildlife populations. Participating landowners are offered financial assistance to establish new wildlife habitat areas and improve existing habitat locales.

Storm Damage Tree Replacement Program

Storm Damage Tree Replacement Program
Storm Damage Tree Replacement Program
The Storm Damage Tree Replacement Program is designed to encourage replacement plantings of trees and shrubs damaged or destroyed due to tornados, strong winds, hail, and ice storms. The program is designed to encourage plantings which provide public and private benefits. Cost-share funding will be considered for 4’ – 8’ nursery stock replacement trees. This program is not for replacement of trees that have been damaged or have died due to winter kill, disease, or insects. Cost-share through this program is not available for the removal of damaged or dead trees, stump removal or maintenance. 

Parks Program

Parks Program
Parks Program
The Parks Program offers financial assistance to communities for the development or improvement of natural resources in nature areas, campgrounds and park facilities. This program is available for any city, town, county or school located in the district. The district is not considered the lead agency in park development, but will assist in the funding. 
 
The district will consider—on a case by case basis—providing cities and villages with planning and financial assistance for multiuse parks and recreation improvement/development that encourages tree planting, creation of wildlife habitat, open spaces and other enhancements of natural resources.
 
Public use areas that conserve soil and water are to have priority. Sports facilities are to be planned and funded by others.
 
To help reduce damages from flooding, the district promotes publicly-owned linear parks, greenbelts and other open spaces by offering planning and financial assistance to counties, cities and villages. It is district policy to cooperate with county, state and federal agencies in developing public use areas where such activities are consistent with district priorities and goals.

To get started, please contact us.
 
Procedure
Applications are available at the NRD.  Return completed applications to the District for consideration. Include sufficient detail in the application to adequately explain the plans and to justify the expenditure of funds.
 
Terms
  1. The applicant must be a village, town, city, county or school located within the District.  Volunteer groups, service clubs, etc. are not eligible to receive NRD park funds, although their efforts are to be encouraged.  Their participation should be coordinated through the local unit of government making the application.
  2. The applicant is to sign an agreement with the District which includes the following conditions:
    • The applicant will administer the project.
    • The applicant will handle contracts and vendors as necessary.
    • The project will be designed and built to meet appropriate park, safety and building code requirements for public facilities.
    • The applicant has or will acquire title to or long-term lease or easement for the property on which the facility is or will be located.
    • The applicant will operate and maintain the facility.  NRD funds are not available for operation or maintenance.
    • The facility will be for the use and enjoyment of the general public.
    • The NRD funds will be paid to the applicant upon completion of each approved phase of the project and upon satisfactory final inspection and acceptance by the NRD of each phase.
    • The applicant is to proceed in a timely fashion with the project and will submit claims for payment for work completed by July 1 of the current fiscal year.  Failure to do so may result in nonpayment.
    • The applicant will complete the project within five years of the date that the application is approved by the NRD.  Failure to do so may result in nonpayment and cancellation of the NRD’s participation.
  3. The following minimum points must be incorporated in the lease or easement:
    • The time period remaining on the lease must be at least equal to the life of the facility.  An option for renewal would be desirable.
    • The lease cannot be revoked at will by the lessor.
    • There must be a provision in the lease for continued operation and maintenance responsibilities by the sponsor.
    • A legal description and map of the area to be leased must be provided.
    • Both parties to the lease should agree that the land being leased must be retained and used for public outdoor recreation for the duration of the lease or the life of the facility.
    • The lease should state if any non-public uses (for example, grazing or farming) will occur within the limits of the lease.
  4. NRD approval of the application is not contingent upon state or federal financial assistance. However, the applicant is encouraged to make use of state and/or federal funds whenever possible.
Funds Available to Communities
  • NRD Cost-Share:  The district will fund up to 25% of the local share, of the estimated or the actual costs, whichever is less.  A maximum limit of $10,000 in NRD funds can be approved per applicant per year.  The amount of district funds available is dependent upon the annual budget.
  • State Cost-Share:  Funds may be available.  Check with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
  • Federal Cost-Share:  50% grants may be available.  Apply through the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
 

Living Memorial Tree Planting at District Recreation Areas

Families or friends may provide a living memorial by purchasing a special tree to be planted at a district operated recreation facility. The tree is planted and cared for by the NRD and a small sign is erected— with the name of the person memorialized or honored—identifying the kind of tree. The trees are part of a planting plan developed by the district for each recreation area. The NRD is responsible for the tree during its normal life span. Species availability varies depending on the progress of the planting plans and previous purchases. Contact us for more information.