CNPPID contributes to phragmites control

The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District’s board of directors approved a request at Monday’s monthly meeting for a $25,000 contribution to two weed management areas to help control invasive aquatic vegetation in the Platte Valley.

The contribution to the Platte Valley and West Central Weed Management Areas (WMAs) was made in response to a request from The Nature Conservancy, which is working with the WMAs to control phragmites. Since 2008, the WMAs have expended more than $4.5 million to control the reed-like vegetation over about 32,000 acres along the Platte River.

Phragmites forms dense thickets of vegetation that chokes river channels, reduces the river’s capacity to convey water and creates unsuitable habitat for native wildlife. Phragmites also quickly displaces native plant species and form a monoculture (areas dominated by a single plant species).

Although most of the work to clear the river and stream channels of the vegetation has been accomplished, yearly maintenance is necessary to prevent re-infestation.

The Platte River Recovery Implementation Program has contributed $200,000 per year to the efforts and requests for additional funding have been made to other natural resources entities in the Platte River basin.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the board:

heard from civil engineer Cory Steinke that snowpack accumulation in the upper North Platte Basin is currently at 101% of normal; 121% in the lower North Platte Basin; and 106% in the South Platte Basin.

approved a request from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for $5,000 to assist with boat ramp improvements for the public ramp at Plum Creek Canyon Reservoir.

accepted a proposal from Bioeconomics Inc. of Missoula, MT, to prepare an economic analysis of the fair market value of lease rates for cabin lots at Johnson Lake. The company will review data from Nebraska and surrounding states where residential leased lots are located on lakes.

The current leases expire at the end of 2017, and Central staff has been meeting with a committee of cabin owners appointed by Johnson Lake Development Inc. to address concerns about the potential for a significant increase in lease fees that would occur in 2018 under the terms of the current leases.

adopted an irrigation committee recommendation to seek an easement for construction of a 10-inch pipeline through a pasture north of Bertrand where a wasteway has created erosion problems.

Central has maintained the channel above an existing stock pond over the years, but a 1,370-foot-long pipeline would minimize future maintenance needs and eliminate the erosion, while allowing drainage to continue.

approved a request to begin advertising intended water rights transfers for 299 acres in the Phelps and E65 Canal service areas.

were informed that staff is evaluating a new five-year agreement with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for maintenance of three automated weather stations in the irrigated area.

authorized staff to conduct a “snapshot appraisal” of the fair market value of lots in Lake McConaughy’s cabin areas prior to 2017. The cost of the appraisal is estimated at $9,000.

approved an extension until Dec. 31, 2019, for authorization for funding to construct the J-2 Regulating Reservoir.