Programs

Programs

Within the NRD, specific programs fall under the supervision of individual departments. These departments are the Water Department, Projects Department, Forestry Department, Administrative Department and the Public Relations Department; with the General Manager and Assistant General Manager overseeing the departments. Because of the intricacies and the inter-relational cohesiveness of managing natural resources, there can be areas of overlapping function and responsibility. For instance, many land treatment programs contribute to surface and/or ground water quality but are not listed under the Ground Water Management Area section. Additionally, many programs that affect water quantity also impact water quality.

The Upper Big Blue NRD works closely with local, state and federal agencies to insure coordination of conservation efforts. A key agency is the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The NRCS often provides planning, technical aid, and inspections for joint projects and programs. NRCS field offices are located in Aurora, Clay Center, David City, Geneva, Hastings, Osceola, Seward, Wilber and York.

At the state level, the NRD frequently works with the Game and Parks Commission and the Department of Agriculture, Environmental Quality and Natural Resources. Under some programs, the District works with both state and federal agencies.

Funding for natural resources conservation may be available to a landowner directly from the federal government. Most of these programs require a landowner to sign a contract of varying duration. Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)—the Farm Services Agency and NRCS—can target locally-identified conservation concerns. Availability of funding for this program varies considerably from county to county, depending on several factors (Please contact your county NRCS office for local information). Other federal programs include the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for wildlife habitat improvement and soil erosion control, the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP), Partners for Wildlife for wildlife habitat enhancement and the USDA-WHIP for habitat development. (Contact the FSA for information about CRP, the NRCS for information about the WRP and USDA-WHIP, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for information about Partners for Wildlife).

State-sponsored conservation programs include the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Private Lands Wetland Initiative for wetland development. The Wildlife Shelterbelt Program, also administered by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, encourages shelterbelt planting. Each of these programs requires the landowner to sign a contract of varying duration.

The District also works with non-governmental groups. In addition to joint programs with Natural Resources Districts like Corners for Wildlife, Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited programs provide incentives for creating habitat.

 

Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Demonstration

Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Demonstration
Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Demonstration
This program encourages producers to improve irrigation scheduling using Etgages and Watermark sensors to determine crop water needs. The Etgage simulates crop water use through evaporation through a ceramic and green canvas membrane. Watermark sensors are used to measure soil moisture in a nearby field to confirm the ETgage’s accuracy. This program began in the UBBNRD in 2005 with a collaborative effort with the University of Nebraska Extension and 18 collaborators. The program is now being implemented in several NRDs and over 2,000 collaborators. The district sells this equipment to irrigators at a reduced cost to encourage adoption of the scheduling practices.

Soil and Water Conservation Cost-share Assistance

Soil and Water Conservation Cost-share Assistance
Soil and Water Conservation Cost-share Assistance
Through the Land Treatment Program, the District has funded 30 soil and water conservation projects with a total cost share of $121,599.41 in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. Funded projects included terraces, sediment control basins, waterways, pasture plantings, and tree plantings for windbreaks and enhancing wildlife. Funding sources for the Land Treatment Program included $71,667.09 from the Nebraska Soil and Water Conservation Program and $49,932.32 from local NRD property tax revenues.  The number of projects in the 2018-2019 fiscal year were a bit lower than recent years due to the challenging weather conditions.

Nebraska Buffer Strip Program

Nebraska Buffer Strip Program
Nebraska Buffer Strip Program
Through the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, the district administers the Nebraska Buffer Strip Program. This program provides cost share funds for landowners to establish vegetative buffer strips along shorelines of wetlands, streams, and lakes. Funding comes from a fee assessed on all pesticides registered for use in Nebraska. 

See the impact of a buffer strip and contact us for more info on installing one on your property. 

Variable Rate Irrigation Pilot Program

Variable Rate Irrigation Pilot Program
Variable Rate Irrigation Pilot Program
With over 10,000 center pivots in our district, we believe that variable rate irrigation can have a significant impact on water use efficiency and may provide water savings. That's why we offer cost share incentives to install VRI equipment. Since the program began in 2017, the NRD has funded 15 VRI projects with a total cost share of $38,315.  These 15 VRI systems are speed control, with funding provided for panel upgrades, EC mapping, variable frequency drives, and prescriptions.

Interested in applying for cost share funds? Contact us.

Private Dams Program

Private Dams Program
Private Dams Program
Through the Private Dams Program the district provides planning, design, and financial assistance for the construction or reconstruction of dams located on private property. In the 2018-19 fiscal year, the district provided cost share assistance for two dams with a total investment of $18,307.95 of district funds.

Interested in taking advantage of these cost share funds? Contact us.

Wetlands Grazing (Rawhide Portable Corral)

Wetlands Grazing (Rawhide Portable Corral)
Wetlands Grazing (Rawhide Portable Corral)
The Rainwater Basin Joint Venture purchased three Rawhide Portable Corrals through a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.  These corrals will be available for use free charge for cattle producers that graze wetlands.  The three corrals will be housed at the Upper Big Blue NRD, the Little Blue NRD, and the Tri-Basin NRD.  Controlled grazing of these wetlands provides a more natural way to manage the ecosystem by providing more diverse plant communities and reducing the use chemical treatments or other mechanical methods to manage these areas.  The Upper Big Blue NRD received the corral in late August 2019 and it was loaned out the day after it arrived.  Two local cattle producers used the corral at four wetland grazing sites during the last week of August.  The Upper Big Blue NRD is planning on hosting a field day later this fall to demonstrate the use of the corral.

Read more about this new equipment or contact us to reserve it for your cattle.

Divots in the Pivots

Divots in the Pivots
Divots in the Pivots
Divots in the Pivots provides a variety of cost-share assistance to landowners with wetlands in the Rainwater Basin to conserve that wetland while improving profitability of the farming operation. Variable rate irrigation, fencing, livestock watering and conservation easements are few of the many options available. The Rainwater Basin Joint Venture is the major partner in this effort.

Wellhead Protection Planning

Wellhead Protection Planning
Wellhead Protection Planning
In addition to Project GROW, a wellfield improvement project in York, the district continues to assist communities to develop Wellhead Protection Area Plans. We also assists communities with implementation of some plan components. These include water sample collection and analysis from rural wells and soil samples collected from the unsaturated zone for nitrates.