McCook Daily Gazette
CURTIS, Nebraska -- The Middle Republican Natural Resources District voted unanimously to send letters of support for Resource Conservation and Development to all five Nebraska U.S. Senators and Representatives.
During a regular monthly meeting Tuesday night at the Curtis Memorial Community Center, the board agreed to ask that delegates vote against any resolutions that would defund the RC&D.
Along with their support for the RC&D, the MRNRD also will reiterate their need and support for the Watershed Fund. The program supports area development, rebuilding dams and other ecological fixes.
One project, site 80a on the Hitchcock and Hayes County line, is still in progress and could be jeopardized by federal cuts.
Roger Stockton provided information at the MRNRD board's request and answered various questions about what would be done if funding is pulled. He said he was unsure of what may happen or to what extent projects such as Save Swanson Lake would be affected.
"RC&D has received $50.73 million every year since 2003 to support 375 districts throughout the U.S.," said Stockton.
Buck Haag, board chairman, lamented that "we all want the national budget cuts, but not our [budgets]."
Other board members said that while the national budget cuts were important, the programs that the RC&D provide to the area waterways and to the MRNRD is vital in order to help keep the district in compliance with the Kansas / Nebraska compact and keep evasive vegetation species from overrunning the natural vegetation.
The board also voted unanimously to allow Riverside Irrigation Co. a variance request on supplemental wells similar to the variance approved for Frenchman Irrigation.
A variance request by Geraldine Clark was tabled by the board in order to obtain more information about the history of water use on the land.
The board showed interest in Riverside Irrigation's possibility of selling water rights to the MRNRD as a way of retiring acres. No action was taken on this matter as more information was needed.
In other items on the agenda:
* The board discussed allowing Dan Smith, the MRNRD manager, to discuss the possibility of doing bonds with Ameritus. Until a ruling has been determined on LB701 no bonds may be issued. The board unanimously approved both a change in the language of how the bond money could be used and that Smith could begin talks with Ameritus. The change in language included removing the word "augmentation" and replacing it with the phrase "water flow enhancement projects."
* The board adopted an order denying the variance request by Dave Koetter. Koetter had a judicatory hearing in March in which the board denied his request to add certified acres. The adopted order states that the MRNRD is affirming their cease and desist order.
* The board discussed the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to appoint a special master to the Kansas vs. Nebraska case. The first meeting between parties and the special master is April 22.
* Natural Resources Conservation Services gave a report on the new contracts received, and that they are looking at getting more funds from the state to reopen permanent retirement of acres. According to NRCS, the response to a filing extension granted in March warranted asking the state for more funds.
* Roger Lawson, director of information and education for the MRNRD, gave the college scholarship applications to the board to review and vote on. The board unanimously voted to give the $500 college scholarships to Katelyn Sughroue and Derek Aden.
* Chemigation inspections are beginning soon and tree planting begins today.
* The board approved the March meeting minutes, the financial report, cost share funds and the personnel and operations report.