NRDs conserve, protect our resources

NRDs conserve, protect our resources

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - 9:12am

Hub Opinion

Jul 5, 2017

Nebraska author Willa Cather’s “The Song of the Lark” is about a young woman yearning to escape to the city from her rural Colorado town, and, as with many of Cather’s novels, the book is a tribute to determination and its undeniable connection to the land.

This week as we ponder the 45th anniversary of Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts, we’re reminded of “The Song of the Lark,” and in particular, a line that reflects a bit of the motivation behind our state’s unique network of NRDs.

Cather wrote, “There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.”

While it’s preferable to learn in calm, it’s usually in the middle of a gale when we’re most open to learning something new.

In many ways, Nebraska’s NRDs were created in a storm as our state’s leaders realized declines in groundwater quality and quantity could continue unabated and eventually lead to environmental disasters, as they had in other states that pumped dry their aquifers and reservoirs, and ruined once-productive cropland.

Nebraska is dependent on its agricultural industry, so 45 years ago, in 1972, a network of 23 NRDs was formed to protect and conserve the state’s natural resources and groundwater to ensure their continued viability. At times, progress has come with difficulty, but publicly elected boards work hard to apply the best ideas and science to every situation. They strive to be prudent and fair.

 Working together, NRDs and Nebraskans have made so much progress over the past 45 years. Nebraska is No.1 in irrigated acres while maintaining groundwater levels at pre-developed levels.

Working with NRDs, Nebraska’s center pivot manufacturers are developing more efficient irrigation systems. According to the Nebraska Associate of Resources Districts, wise management of water resources also helps Nebraska agriculture lead the U.S. in several categories: No.1 in cattle on feed and commercial red meat production, No.2 in ethanol production, No.3 in corn production, No.5 in soybean production and No.6 in swine production.

Nebraskans could not post those high numbers without the state’s water and natural resources, so credit our NRDs for contributing measurably to our state’s prosperity in calm and in storm.

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