Grand Re-Opening of Lied Bridge & MoPac Trail

Repairs to damage caused by historic flood of 2019 complete

Recreation enthusiasts showed up in droves along the Platte River Saturday, July 3, to celebrate the official grand re-opening of the Lied Platte River Bridge and MoPac Trail, which were damaged by the flood of 2019. The Lied Platte River Bridge is the only crossing along the Platte River that connects Lincoln and Omaha by the MoPac Trail.


“It’s incredible to bring together people riding bicycles, other trail users, community leaders and groups, as well as partner agencies who helped us complete extensive repairs to the Lied Bridge following the flood of 2019,” said John Winkler, general manager of the Papio NRD. “Flood damage devasted this popular pedestrian crossing and lack of access to it was certainly felt. We’re thrilled to see it back in action so quickly,” said Winkler.

For the past two years, the Papio NRD has worked closely with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Lower Platte South NRD on four flood-related repair projects on the Lied Bridge and MoPac Trail.


Eric Williams, natural resources planner for the Papio NRD said the projects totaled over $525,000, a majority of which will be reimbursed by FEMA as part of disaster recovery assistance.

The projects included: removal of large debris from the bridge, removal and replacement of damaged parts of the fence and railing, repair and replacement of the ice breaker structures under the bridge, and reconstruction of the trail connecting link from Highway 31 to the east end of the bridge.

“It’s been a two-year project collaborating with the Papio-Missouri River NRD and the Lower Platte South NRD and we are super excited to be reopening the Lied Bridge and MoPac Trail after the devastating flood of 2019,” said Adam Johns, park superintendent III at Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “It’s great that visitors can once again enjoy the wonderful views of the Platte River that this bridge and trail have to offer,” said Johns.

“Sometimes we don’t know what we have ‘til it’s gone,” said Lower Platte South NRD Board Chair Deborah Eagan. “Losing access to the Lied Bridge brought tremendous interest from trail users who were anxious to see it repaired and reopened. Fortunately, the damage was able to be fixed in an effective and efficient manner.  We are excited to have this important local and national link to our trail systems restored.  Thanks to all who coordinated, cooperated and communicated to see this project finalized,” said Eagan.

(left to right) Eric Williams, Papio NRD Natural Resources Planner; Bill Oligmueller, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Regional Superintendent; Senator Rob Clements; Ron Nolte, Lower Platte South NRD Board of Directors; Jim Peterson, Cass County Commissioner; Janet McCartney, Cass County Commissioner; Deborah Eagan, Lower Platte South NRD Board Chair; Julie Harris, Bike Walk Nebraska Executive Director


The Lied Platte River Bridge, a former railroad bridge, was converted to bicycle and pedestrian access in 2001. The bridge and connecting trails are critical components of the Great American Rail-Trail through Nebraska. The Great American Rail-Trail is a project of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to create the nation’s first cross-country, multi-use trail, spanning from Washington, DC to Washington state.

“We cannot overstate the importance of having the Lied Bridge back open for bicycling,” said Julie Harris, executive director of Bike Walk Nebraska. “Not only is it a key connection for people riding locally between Omaha and Lincoln, the bridge also provides a regional connection to 120 miles of trail on the west and over 100 miles on the east, creating enormous potential for bicycle tourism in eastern Nebraska,” said Harris.





Dom’s Park Officially Open at Chalco Hills Recreation Area

Grand opening held Saturday for new playground in memory of four-year-old Dominik Walters

Hundreds attended a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, June 19, to celebrate the official grand opening of Dom’s Park at Chalco Hills Recreation Area. The new playground is in memory of four-year-old Dominik (Dom) Walters.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be able to share Dom’s Park with our family, friends, and community,” said Ryan and Tiffany Walters. “Seeing Dom’s Park completed, packed with children and their families, is incredible.”

Four-year-old Dom died in August 2018 after suffering a cardiac arrest while doing cannonballs off the dock with his father, Ryan. The Walters family – Ryan, Tiffany, Dom, and Nora (or Boon, as Dom called her) – frequently visited Chalco Hills Recreation Area to play on the playground equipment and explore the park.

To carry on the memory of their son, a few short months after Dom’s death, the Walters approached the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District (Papio NRD) about the possibility of donating funds for the construction of a new playground (Dom’s Park) at Chalco Hills. The family felt Dom’s Park would be the perfect way to honor Dom’s legacy and provide a new facility that children throughout the community could enjoy.

The Papio NRD Board of Directors agreed and voted to approve cost share for the purchase and installation of the state-of-the-art playground facility. In May, Dom’s Park replaced playground equipment that was over 30 years old.

“It has been our privilege to work with Ryan, Tiffany, and Boon and to be a partner on this special cost share project,” said Papio NRD General Manager John Winkler. “The Walters turned unimaginable tragedy into a positive. Since Dom’s Park opened, to say it’s been a tremendous hit would be an understatement. Dom’s Park is an incredible tribute to Dom and gift to the Omaha community that will last for years to come,” said Winkler.

The cost of the Dom’s Park playground equipment and installation totaled $279,071. Through generous donations to the Dominik Walters Memorial Fund, including a matching grant of $76,464 from the playground equipment company, BCI Burke Company, the Walters family donated $105,000 to the Papio NRD.

Winker says the Papio NRD budgeted $125,000 for the purchase and installation of the equipment, but the Walters family surpassed its fundraising goal, leaving $97,607 total cost for the Papio NRD.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to every person who supported us in making Dom’s Park possible, said the Walters. “Chalco Hills was one of Dominik’s favorite places and we could not imagine Dom’s Park being located anywhere else. We are grateful beyond words to the Papio NRD for believing in our vision and helping make Dom’s Park a reality,” said the Walters.

Dom’s Park is located in the northwest corner of Chalco Hills Recreation Area near Picnic Area A.

Public Input on Papio NRD Master Plan Update

The public is invited to provide input on the Papio NRD Master Plan Draft update on Thursday, June 3 from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., and Tuesday, June 8 at 4:00 p.m.

P-MRNRD Master Plan, Public Input Meeting via Zoom Meeting
Thursday, June 3rd at 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Presentation of material will be at 4:00 p.m., and again at 5:15 p.m.
Input can be sent by email to

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 840 1268 1461
Passcode: 211130
One tap mobile
+13462487799,,84012681461# US (Houston)
+16699006833,,84012681461# US (San Jose)

Public input will also be received during the regularly scheduled Subcommittee meeting of the Board of Directors on Tuesday, June 8th at 4:00 p.m. at the Natural Resources Center.






Scrap Computer & Electronics Recycling Collections

The Papio-Missouri River NRD’s free electronic waste (e-waste) recycling collections are coming up!  Residents and most businesses in the Papio NRD service area can participate in these convenient events.

Simply gather unwanted e-waste, drive to a scheduled collection site, get in line, stay in your vehicle and collection staff will unload for you. The collections will accept computers, monitors, televisions, printers, office equipment, DVD/VHS players, audio equipment, radios and other small electronic devices.

Collection Dates and Times

The collections will be held at the Papio NRD/USDA Service Centers in Blair, Tekamah, Dakota City, and Walthill.

The collection schedule is:

Tuesday, May 25th in Tekamah and Blair

  • Tekamah collection (539 S. 13th St.) – 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • Blair collection (1060 Wilbur St.) – 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Thursday, May 27th in Dakota City and Walthill

  • Dakota City collection (1505 Broadway) – 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • Walthill collection (106 Costello St.) – 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

E-waste will ONLY be accepted during the scheduled times and locations rain or shine! E-waste will not be accepted from computer or electronics repair/retail businesses. The collections will NOT accept microwaves or appliances. Midwest Electronic Recovery will wipe or shred all computer hard drives and recycle the materials collected.

The annual collections have received more than 193 tons of e-waste and 97% of it has been recycled.  Recycling e-waste protects the environment from contamination by mercury, lead, arsenic, and cadmium present in e-waste components and also conserves landfill space.

Funding for the free e-waste collections is provided through the Litter Reduction and Recycling Incentive Grant Program and the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy. Please contact Deb Ward at (402) 374-1920 ext. 3 for more information.


River Access Sites: Open or Closed? Check Here!

High river flows occasionally force the Papio NRD to temporarily close the river access sites for safety purposes. Park closures for Elkhorn River sites are called for when the Elkhorn River gauge at Waterloo reads a stage of 5 feet or greater. Also, river access ramps may need to be cleaned of silt, debris and safety inspected before reopening.

Here is the current status of Elkhorn River access sites:

  • Elkhorn Crossing (intersection of 252nd & Bennington Road) – OPEN
  • West Maple Road (West Maple Road northeast of Waterloo) –  OPEN
  • Graske Crossing (southeast corner of West Dodge Road & west of 204th) – OPEN




Elkhorn River Access Sites to Open April 1


The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District will open all river access sites to the Elkhorn River for the season on April 1st.

The Elkhorn River access sites include:

  • Elkhorn Crossing (intersection of 252nd & Bennington Road)
  • West Maple Road (West Maple Road northeast of Waterloo)
  • Graske Crossing (southeast corner of West Dodge Road & west of 204th St.)   

High river flows occasionally force the Papio NRD to temporarily close the river access sites for safety purposes. Park closures for Elkhorn River sites are called for when the Elkhorn River gauge at Waterloo reads a stage of 5 feet or greater. Also, river access ramps may need to be cleaned of silt, debris and safety inspected before reopening.

Are the Access Sites Open or Closed? 

You can find out whether the access sites are open or closed throughout the season here:

The access sites will be open from April 1 through November 1 from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.


Increasing Safety of Rural Intersections Through Conservation Efforts

Rural intersections can be dangerous when tall crops obstruct the view of approaching traffic. The Papio NRD is proud to be a partner in the Pollinator Safety Corners program that offers landowners incentives to plant new habitat at rural intersections, such as a diverse mix of short grasses and wildflowers, to help provide an adequate sight distance at intersections.

Through the 319 Grant Program, a new incentives program for farmstead improvements and agricultural enhancements, landowners within the Papillion Creek Watershed who participate in the Pollinator Safety Corners program receive an annual $350 per acre for each year of the 5-year contract.

Kyle Madsen, watershed coordinator for the Papio NRD says he sees the Pollinators Safety Corners program to be a win-win for farmers and the community by increasing safety through conservation efforts.

Anyone interested in learning more about the program can contact Madsen at or 402-350-3695.

Please see flyers below for program details and guidelines.

Safety Corners Program Guidelines


Lower Platte River Ice Conditions Update



With a warming trend underway, The National Weather Service Omaha, Papio NRD, Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), United States Geologic Survey, and other agency partners, have been actively monitoring river ice conditions and coordinating a response for ice jams and potential spring flooding along the Platte River.

Here are the latest river conditions and temperature forecasts:

Ice Jam/Potential Flooding Updates

  • Dodge County Emergency Management says the ice jam south of Fremont at Highway 77  has opened up and floodwaters are receding.

Helpful Online Resources

 Below is a list of resources to help keep the public informed on the status of river conditions, weather forecasts regarding the potential threat of flooding, and ice monitoring for ice jams.

National Weather Service

For information regarding river levels, reservoir data and snow pack information on the Lower Platte, Elkhorn, and Missouri rivers, as well as weather forecasting:


Media Inquiries

 For media inquiries regarding river conditions and weather forecasts, please contact:

National Weather Service Omaha
David Pearson, Service Hydrologist, at 402-359-5732 or

For media inquiries regarding ice thickness measurements and the potential for ice blasting, please contact:

The Papio NRD
Jennifer Stauss Story, Public Relations/Education Programs Manager at 402-960-5329 or



Virtual Public Meeting for Papillion Creek Basin Draft Final Feasibility Report


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in cooperation with the Papio Missouri River Natural Resources District, will hold a virtual public meeting to present results of the draft final feasibility report for the Papillion Creek General Re-evaluation study. The purpose of the study is to develop alternatives to reduce flood risks and improve public safety within the Papillion Creek Basin in Douglas, Sarpy and Washington counties.


Wednesday, February 10 at 6:30 p.m.


The virtual public meeting can be accessed at: For best audio results, after opening WebEx, select the “Call Me” option, enter your phone number and then click the “Join Meeting” button. The system will call you and ask you to enter “1” to join the meeting. For those who cannot log on to the WebEx, a dial-in only option exists (844-800- 2712 Access code: 199 133 0340).


The purpose of this virtual meeting is to provide the public an opportunity to review results of the Papillion Creek General Re-evaluation study report before it is submitted to Lieutenant General Scott Spellmon, USACE Chief of Engineers, for consideration,” said Rachel Williams, project manager with the Corps. If approved by General Spellmon, the project would be recommended to Congress for approval and funding in the next Water Resources Development Act.

The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) is federal legislation, traditionally passed every two years, that provides authorization for USACE to study and construct flood control, ecosystem restoration and navigation projects for the benefit of the Nation. The last WRDA bill to pass was in 2020.


The draft final feasibility report, including environmental assessment and report appendices, can be downloaded from

Up-to-date meeting details are available on the project website or by calling Amanda Grint with the Papio Missouri River NRD at (402) 444-6222.




New Papio NRD Board Members Sworn In

Two recently elected members of the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District (Papio NRD) Board of Directors were sworn in at last night’s board meeting. 

Patrick Bonnett, who previously served on the Papio NRD Board from 2012-2016, replaces Mark Gruenewald in Subdistrict 9, who joined the board in 2017. Phil Davidson, City of Bellevue Community Relations Coordinator, defeated incumbent John Wiese in Subdistrict 11, who served since 2016.

Incumbent Larry Bradley, a former board member who rejoined the Papio NRD Board in 2017, retains his seat in Subdistrict 3 after defeating challenger Christian Mirch. Incumbents Ted Japp (Subdistrict 1), Rich Tesar (Subdistrict 5), and Danny Begley (Subdistrict 7) ran unopposed.

Additional members of the Papio NRD Board of Directors include Fred Conley (Subdistrict 2), Tim McCormick (Subdistrict 4), Jim Thompson (Subdistrict 6), Tim Fowler (Subdistrict 8), Kevyn Sopinski (Subdistrict 10).