NRDs mark 50th anniversary

Pure Nebraska
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 10:20 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - All year long, Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts are celebrating 50 years of conservation and caring for the state’s soil and water.

We recently talked with the general manager of the Lower Loup NRD in Columbus. His name is Russ Callan. He says NRDs are important. “They were formed in 1972,” Callan said. “It’s a local form of government, with 12 responsibilities. To summarize those, it has to do with ground water, surface water management, habitat conservation, best management practices for soil erosion, levees and flood protection.”

During our discussion with Callan, we stood next to a levee at Pawnee Park in Columbus. “The NRD was a partner building the levee and the recreational trail here on Columbus,” Callan said. “We work to protect lives, property and the future.”

According to a recent NRD news release, Nebraska’s unique system of locally controlled, watershed-based conservation is widely admired throughout the nation. In recent years, at least 11 states ranging from Washington to Arkansas and Illinois to California, have inquired about applying a similar system for natural resources management. Despite being the No. 1 irrigated state in the nation, Nebraska’s statewide groundwater levels have been sustained at levels less than a foot below pre-irrigation development in the 1950s. In many areas, groundwater levels are higher.

If you would like to know more about the 50th anniversary celebration of the Natural Resources Districts, visit

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