James H. Mathine
Lower Niobrara NRD
1985 -- Received Bachelor of Science Degree in Agronomy and Agricultural Economics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
I grew up on a farm in Knox County. I began with the Soil Conservation Service in 1984 as a student trainee. Upon graduation from UNL, I worked as a Soil Conservationist in Stanton and later as a District Conservationist in St. James, Minnesota. In 1990, I became the District Conservationist for the Lower Niobrara NRD in Butte, Nebraska.
In February 1997, the Lower Niobrara NRD's Local Work Group conducted a random survey throughout the District to help determine resource needs and concerns within the NRD. The survey indicated that the top three resource concerns were:
The survey overwhelmingly indicated that the greatest need for program and financial assistance to address resource needs was in the areas of soil erosion and rangeland management. Other significant concerns include the need for flood control measures, improved wildlife habitat, and control of agrichemical runoff.
The top three priorities for the Lower Niobrara NRD are:
Soil Erosion Reduction
Water quality/quantity management
Rangeland and pasture land improvement
NRCS provides the technical leadership needed to implement many of the conservation practices used to address those concerns. The major kinds of technical assistance gained from NRCS to help achieve these priorities are:
Development of resource management plans with producers
Completing survey, design, and other field activities in response to producer requests
Oversight of practice implementation and maintenance
To address the resource needs and priorities within the District, the Local Work Group pushed for the acceptance of an EQIP priority area which was funded in 1998 in the northeast portion of the District. NRCS developed 21 long-term EQIP contracts within this priority area during 1998. These contracts totaled over $238,000 and included a wide range of conservation practices. Most scheduled practices were for the purpose of soil erosion reduction and rangeland improvement. Other programs being used include NSWCP, CRP, 319 project area, WHIP, as well as local NRD programs. Most landowners discover that if they have a significant resource concern, NRCS is able to advise them with a specific program or a combination of programs that will solve their need.