Jim Wortmann (left), Roman Kramer, Lawrence Zavadil, Jerry Thomas, Warren Patefield, Harold George, Tom Carey, Allen Heine, Donavon Jungclaus, Milo Johnson and Leonard Miller. Julian Canaday is kneeling. Photo courtesy of Lewis and Clark NRD
KEEPING IT WILD: In this 1978 photo, board members from the Lewis and Clark NRD based in Hartington accepted an oversized check from Nebraska Game and Parks Commission as the first NRD in the state to sponsor the "Lands for Wildlife" program.

NRDs celebrate 45th anniversary

It has been 45 years since the unique Natural Resources District system was created in Nebraska.

The Nebraska Legislature enacted the bill introduced by state Sen. Maurice Kremer, LB1357, in 1969 to combine Nebraska's 154 special purpose entities into the Natural Resources District system by July 1972. From that law, the state's 23 NRDs were organized based on the state's major river basins. Each NRD has a publicly elected board that makes local management decisions to help conserve the state's valuable natural resources and groundwater.

"Nebraska's natural resources are precious and need to be protected," says Jim Bendfeldt, president of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts. "We commend the public for working with their local NRD to protect the natural resources for future generations," he notes. "They need clean water to drink [and] nutrient-rich soil to grow food to sustain Nebraska's economic viability."

Throughout the decades, NRDs across the state have worked with landowners to protect natural resources, provided and protected public water supplies, assisted urban and rural areas with flood control, provided recreation opportunities, and planted more than 95 million trees throughout Nebraska.

According to Benfeldt, this is an amazing milestone for NRDs. "Other states are struggling with water and soil management because they do not have a local NRD system to provide opportunities for local citizens to protect natural resources," he explains. "Without NRDs, Nebraska would be in the extremely tough situation we see so many other states dealing with right now. With the NRD system, we have wonderful, hardworking people who believe in this state's success and future."

You can learn more at nrdstories.org for information about the individuals critical to the history and formation of NRDs.


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