New Flood Mitigation Reservoir to be Named in Honor of Chief Big Elk of Omaha Tribe

Big Elk Lake

The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District Board of Directors today voted unanimously to name Papillion’s new flood mitigation reservoir Big Elk Lake in honor of Chief Big Elk, a principal leader of the Omaha tribe.

Chief Big Elk was a leader of the Omaha tribe on the upper Missouri River where we live now,” said Papio NRD Director Kevyn Sopinski, who represents Subdistrict 10. “Big Elk played an important role in Sarpy County history and naming this flood mitigation reservoir after him is a meaningful way to not only commemorate the historical imprint Big Elk left, but keep it alive by educating others on this great leader’s life, death, and all he accomplished in between,” said Sopinski.

The Papio NRD Board of Directors agreed with Sopinski’s name proposal and today voted during its June board meeting to name the new Papillion reservoir (previously referred to as WP7), located near 108th and Lincoln Rd., Big Elk Lake.

Dr. Rudi Mitchell, the great-great-great grandson of Chief Big Elk, said he was very pleased when he heard the Papio NRD Board planned to recognize his ancestor.

“There is currently no tribute to Chief Big Elk in Omaha, said Mitchell. “Big Elk was admired for leading one of the most peaceful tribes through many challenges. Through his speeches, trading, and peace treaties, Big Elk had a gift for peacefully bringing settlers and the Omaha tribe together,” said Mitchell. “This says a lot about the kind of leader he was and I’m grateful he will be remembered in an area of beauty and nature.”

While the new reservoir’s primary purpose is to help protect the lives and property of citizens from floods, it will also feature recreational amenities, such as a 40-acre park, 12½-acre lake, walking/cycling trails, kayak/canoe launches, picnic shelter, and fishery enhancements.

The project is estimated to open in late spring/summer of 2021.

 

 

Construction to Take Place on Sections of West Papio Trail for Next Two Months

UPDATE – 7/22/19: Construction is complete and the trail is now open. 

 

Due to a bank stabilization project along the West Papio Trail in Papillion, construction will take place over a two-mile stretch of the trail from Tuesday, May 21 through Friday, July 19.

Construction sites include three locations on the trail on the south side of Giles Road to the east side of 96th street at the Walnut Creek Connector. Please see the map below for more details.

“There will be heavy equipment on and around the trail, as well as some potential trail closures,” says Eric Williams, Papio NRD Natural Resources Planner. “We strongly encourage trail users to watch for and follow posted signs throughout the construction process.”

For more information, please contact Eric Williams at 402-444-6222.

 

 

West Papio Trail Expansion Ready for Cycling Action

New three-mile bike trail connects west Omaha to Bellevue area –
a milestone 25 years in the making

On October 2, 2018, the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District and the Cities of Omaha and La Vista celebrated the grand opening of a new three-mile stretch of the West Papio Trail in Millard that links west Omaha to the Bellevue area. The new segment creates a 130-mile network through Douglas and Sarpy Counties that’s been more than 25 years in the making.

The West Papio Trail addition connects the existing trail at 108th & Giles Road to the new Lumberyard District at 132nd & Q Street. While technically small in size, the connection provides tremendous recreational opportunities with historical significance by connecting Millard and west Omaha to La Vista, Papillion, and Bellevue – stretching down to the Missouri River by a continuous dedicated trail corridor.

“This regionally significant and boundary-breaking project provides expanded recreation, active transportation for Omaha metro residents, and increased access to natural resources,” said Eric Williams, Papio NRD Natural Resources Planner. “The Papio-Missouri Natural Resources District was fortunate to partner with the Cities of La Vista and Omaha in the design and construction of this milestone project,” said Williams.

“Through the partnership of the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resource District and the City of La Vista, we are all very excited to announce the completion of the West Papio Trail extension that links West Omaha and Bellevue,” said Brook Bench, City of Omaha Parks and Recreation Director. “This trail segment will allow for more recreation in the community and will serve as an active avenue for transportation for Omaha metro residents.”

“Today we celebrate the extension of the West Papio Trail which connects with La Vista,” said La Vista Mayor Douglas Kindig. “Projects such as this one are not possible without partners and cooperation between different entities. The completion of this project will improve the quality of life and provide a valuable amenity to our citizens,” said Kindig.

The trail expansion follows the original stretch of the former Union Pacific transcontinental railroad. The Papio NRD was able to restore all of the old bridges that will now be used as trail bridges. National “rails to trails” efforts are focused on reusing abandoned railroad property for multi-use paths, allowing long, flat corridors to become community focus points and preserving the history of railroad infrastructure.

As the most well-known railroad in America, this new section of trail highlights the natural geographic features, incorporates transportation and commerce history, and connects communities just as the railroad did nearly 150 years ago.

The West Papio Trail expansion project cost $3.2 million, with the Cities of Omaha and La Vista each contributing 20 percent of the cost.

 

 

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