Schuyler 205 Levee Update, Wahoo Creek Cost-share Opportunity, Wanahoo Opening April 1, Last Call for Trees, and more!
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Schuyler 205 Levee Project

Land Rights Purchase Begins This Spring, Construction Set for Fall

Purchase of land rights will begin this spring for a levee project to reduce flooding in the city of Schuyler.

The Lower Platte North NRD will be assisting Schuyler with land purchases needed for levees and channel improvements on a 21/2 mile stretch of Shell Creek north and east of Schuyler. Construction is planned to begin this fall.

Due to cost increases, it is unknown when the second phase of the project, which involves a new 3-mile levee along the Platte River, will be constructed.

Schuyler 205 Levees

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Working for Water Quality: Wahoo Creek

More financial and technical help for conservation work may be on tap for landowners in the Wahoo Creek watershed, thanks to the completion of a comprehensive water quality management plan.

The 517-square-mile Wahoo Creek watershed, which includes the majority of land in Saunders County, was listed as “impaired” by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality in 2007 due to E. coli and other pollutants.  The Lower Platte North NRD led a two-year effort to develop a plan to  address those issues with stakeholders that included local landowners, other government agencies, and JEO Consulting. 

The plan, which was completed in late 2012,  is being reviewed by the Environmental Protection Agency. If approved, the watershed will become eligible for Section 319 funding to help implement a variety of Best Management Practices (BMPs). 

The NRD is anticipating EPA approval of the plan by later this spring and hopes to be able to make funds available for qualifying landowners beginning later this year.

Wahoo Creek Watershed

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Variance Requests Outpacing Available Acres

After several years of fairly low demand, the Lower Platte North NRD has seen a sharp rise in requests for new irrigated acres in the district’s Limited Development Areas.

New irrigation development in those areas (marked in blue on the map) has been limited to 2,500 acres per year since 2008. When the variance application period for 2013 ended last September (hot on the heels of the scorching drought of summer 2012), the NRD had received applications for more than 5,000 acres - more than double the available number.

Irrigation Development Areas

The applications that weren’t ranked high enough to receive allocations for 2013 were rolled over to the 2014 application period. With other applications that have come in since then, the NRD already has requests for more than 4,000 acres for 2014, with six months left in the application period.

So what happens next? The 2014 application period runs until September 15 of this year. All applications received up to that point will be ranked using a standard set of criteria. The highest-ranking applications will receive permits to develop new acres, up to the 2,500-acre cutoff point. Any applications that don't make the cut will be rolled over into the application period for 2015 - assuming that the Lower Platte Basin isn't declared fully appropriated, which could halt all irrigation development and make variance permits a moot point.

We realize this uncertainty can be frustrating for landowners wanting to develop new acres. We ask that you have patience as we work through this process with you. If you have questions about allocation and variance permits, please call us at (402) 443-4675 or email lpnnrd@lpnnrd.org.

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Grass Drills for Rent

The NRD has three grass drills available for rental to landowners for planting native grasses, grains and legumes. The drills are Great Plains No-Till drills with three different seed boxes capable of planting fluffy native grass seed, small seed like alfalfa & clovers, or coarser grain-type seed. 

Rental rates are $10/acre plus a $25/day charge, with a minimum charge of $75. To set up a drill rental, contact one of our local cooperators.

Our drill renters can help potential customers set the drill for the appropriate grass mixtures at the time of rental.

The NRD's grass drills were purchased with grant funds from the Nebraska Environmental Trust. The NRD thanks the Trust for their continued support.

 
Wanahoo Eagle Exclusion Zone

Wanahoo Opens April 1

After a very busy opening season for the Lake Wanahoo State Recreation Area north of Wahoo, NRD and Game and Parks Commission staff have been trying to catch their breath and gear up for the opening of the second season on April 1.  Here’s the latest:

Do Not Disturb (Eagles Nesting!)

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is asking anglers and other visitors to Lake Wanahoo to comply with an exclusion zone implemented to protect the lake’s nesting bald eagles. The exclusion zone is closed to all access from Dec. 1-July 15.

A pair of bald eagles first built a nest at Lake Wanahoo in 2011. They produced two fledglings in 2011 and two more the following year. The nest is located in a large, dead cottonwood in the lake near the boat ramp.

Surplus Land Sold

Three tracts of surplus land from the Sand Creek project were sold in January. A 51.7-acre tract owned by the NRD and located just south of the Lake Wanahoo dam sold for $5,675 per acre ($293,397.50 total). Those funds will be used to pay down the NRD’s loan for the Sand Creek Project.

The two other tracts (40 acres and 62.1 acres) are located north of Prague, around two of the five small upstream dams constructed as part of the Sand Creek project. Those tracts were held by the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission in the NRD’s name. The 40-acre tract sold for $3,600 per acre ($144,000 total) and the 62.1-acre tract went for $3,500 per acre ($217,350 total).

More Info on Lake Wanahoo

Tree Seedling

Last Call for Tree Orders

Time is running out to order trees from the NRD for planting this spring. Order today to be sure you get the species you want this spring!

The Lower Platte North NRD offers more than 40 varieties of conservation trees and shrubs for sale to anyone living in the district. Trees are sold as handplants (planted by the purchaser) or machine plants (planted by the NRD). Seedlings are two years old and approximately 12” to 18” tall. The majority of our stock comes from the Nebraska Forest Service’s Bessey Nursery near Halsey.

Place your order online for handplant trees, or call (402) 443-4675.

Changes for the Viaduct

As of this issue of the Viaduct, we are making some changes to our distribution of the print version. Going forward, there will be two print editions of the Viaduct per year (fall and spring), and they'll be distributed as inserts in area newspapers rather than by direct mail as they were in the past. The print inserts will be available in the Albion News, Ashland Gazette, Columbus Telegram, David City Banner-Press, Fremont Tribune, Newman Grove Reporter, Schuyler Sun, and the Wahoo Newspaper. These changes will allow us to reach a much wider audience.

Current print subscribers can sign up for the email edition of the newsletter, and/or receive the print version in one of the newspapers above.
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