(Lincoln, NE) – Nebraska’s natural resources districts (NRDs) protect lives, property and the future of Nebraska’s natural resources through a variety of projects, programs and partnerships. Projects and programs range from flood control structures, cost-share funding, tree plantings, and water quality and quantity management. Many of these would not be possible without strong partnerships with other organizations; partnerships that provide opportunities for land owners and provide protection and conservation of Nebraska’s natural resources.
Over the past 40 years Nebraska NRDs have built many different types of partnerships on a local, state and national level. Partners have become friends and are strong supporters of natural resources management. Working with agencies such as the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ), Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NDNR), and the Natural Resources Commission, as well as citizen/environmental groups and landowners, NRDs combine projects and programs to protect Nebraska natural resources. These projects and programs provide flood control to protect lives and property, manage groundwater, prevent soil erosion, plant conservation trees and shrubs, provide education opportunities and other important conservation activities.
“The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is proud to call itself a partner of the NRDs in Nebraska,” said Craig Derickson Natural Resources Conservation Service State Conservationist. “Our legacy of working with local conservation districts dates back to the days of the dust bowl when conservation started getting national recognition. Today, times have changed, and the conservation mission has become more complex. Natural resource conservation at the NRD level now involves policy making and governance of issues that far exceed the scope of typical soil and water conservation, especially in issues such as groundwater management,” said Derickson.
The USDA NRCS is currently working with several NRDs across the state to leverage funding to acquire LiDAR coverage. LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, combines Global Positioning Systems (GPS) with a laser scanner. LiDAR aims a laser beam from an aircraft. It then measures the laser’s return to determine elevations resulting in the efficient collection of highly accurate surface-elevation data for large geographic areas. This information is then used to help restore wetlands and design conservation practices like terraces. This technology can be used by both the NRCS and NRDs to help conserve natural resources across Nebraska.
“The NRDs have also been a key partner by serving as the local sponsor of the watershed projects NRCS has developed across Nebraska. As the local sponsor, the NRDs have worked with area landowners to obtain land rights needed to complete watershed projects,” Derickson said.
“Nebraska is fortunate to have had leaders with the vision to establish natural resources districts (NRD’s) some 40 years ago,” said Derickson. “NRDs are unique to Nebraska because they are governed by locally-elected boards and are based on watershed boundaries that go beyond traditional county lines. The NRD system gives us an advantage – the “Nebraska Advantage” - when it comes to managing natural resources. NRDs rely on locally-elected conservation board members who have the ability, the heart, and the motivation to care for our natural resources,” said Derickson.
The NARD, the trade association for Nebraska's 23 natural resources districts, works with individual NRDs to protect lives, protect property and protect the future of Nebraska’s natural resources. 2012 marks the 40th Anniversary of Nebraska’s unique Natural Resources District system. NRDs are local government entities with broad responsibilities to protect our natural resources. Major Nebraska river basins form the boundaries of the 23 NRDs, enabling districts to respond best to local conservation and resource management needs.