The Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District is located in South Central Nebraska and covers nine counties in whole and in part. My administrative area involved five counties within the Upper Big Blue NRD. They include Hamilton, York, Seward, Fillmore, and Polk which entails approximately 1.7 million acres. A majority of the district is heavily irrigated by center pivot systems and gravity systems. Our primary conservation needs involve water conservation initiatives in conjunction with water quality concerns.
We have at our disposal, a variety of efforts taking place to address the district's concern about water quality and water quantity. We have an irrigation specialist on staff who has leadership responsibility in providing assistance to land users in managing and conserving our water resources. The Natural Resources District has a water department that works cooperatively with NRCS in monitoring the needs of the irrigators throughout the district. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program has helped us to address the water quality issue in high nitrate areas within the district. However, the district does have cropland that is subject to high rates of erosion, therefore we also focus on reduction of soil loss on environmentally sensitive lands.
The Nebraska Soil & Water Conservation Program provides cost share incentives for installation of erosion control and water conservation measures. Our district is fortunate to be located in the Rainwater Basin, where migrating waterfowl use the area for temporary feeding and nesting.
Appropriately, we have a focus on wetland preservation and restoration activities in partnership with other local, state, and federal agencies, as well as private environmental organizations. We have a variety of programs that address the needs of many land users throughout the district. The Conservation Reserve Program has been very effective in taking environmentally sensitive cropland out of production and reducing erosion rates substantially.