Water Level Decreases for Closure of Elkhorn River Access Sites

The Papio NRD Board of Directors voted to decrease the water level that determines the temporary closure of the Elkhorn River Access Sites for safety purposes at its meeting on Thursday, July 11.

Until the vote, the Papio NRD would close the access sites when the water gage at Waterloo read a stage height of five feet or greater. The access sites will now close when the water gage reads a stage height of four feet or greater.

“The Elkhorn River has degraded at least two feet over the past five years, likely due to the large flood events that have occurred,” said Papio NRD General Manager John Winkler. “This has resulted in higher water levels, increased water flows, and no visible sandbars. This makes recreation more dangerous,” said Winkler.

Winkler says recreation is more conducive at the new stage height as sandbars are either visible or just below the surface. As is always the case, Winkler says before sites can reopen, river access ramps may need to be cleaned of silt, debris and safety inspected.

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.)

 River-goers can find out whether the access sites are open or closed here:

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




Papio NRD Board Elects Officers

At its July 11, 2024, meeting, the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District Board of Directors elected officers to serve the District for the coming year (July 2024 – July 2025).

Tim McCormick in Subdistrict 4 was elected Papio NRD Board Chairperson. Larry Bradley in Subdistrict 3 will serve as Vice Chairperson.

Richard Tesar in Subdistrict 5 was re-elected as both Papio NRD Board Secretary and Nebraska Association of Resources District (NARD) Director. Tim Fowler in Subdistrict 8 was re-elected to serve as Papio NRD Board Treasurer and NARD Alternate Director. Patrick Bonnett in Subdistrict 9 was re-elected Assistant Treasurer.

The Papio NRD Board of Directors is an 11-member board that sets policy for Papio NRD programs and projects and oversees the District’s annual budget.

Tami Tipton – Employee Spotlight

Today we shine the spotlight on Tami Tipton – a really cool “chick.”

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Omaha, District 66-Rockbrook area.

What does your job entail (job duties and how does your work impact the public)?

My job entails promoting programs that are offered by the Papio NRD. I also support the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency staff with maintaining tract files associated with farms in the county as well as doing associated administrative work.  My work impacts the public through education and outreach about programs offered by the Papio NRD. Specifically promoting the tree program and E-WASTE event.

What’s the most unique thing in your office or on your desk right now?

The most unique thing on my desk is a sign I have displayed; “MY BIRTHSTONE IS A COFFEE BEAN”.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work (hobbies, volunteering, etc.)?

Outside of work I try to maintain my kids’ schedule with sports/dance/gymnastics and recently, musical practice. I also love to read, cook, bake and in the summer, we spend most weekends at our cabin on the Missouri River.

I am learning about raising backyard chickens. We recently added 6 chicks to our household. We also have a 12-year-old goldendoodle named Remy. I recently volunteered at a community fundraiser for the Walthill Senior center. In the fall right after I started working with the Papio NRD I volunteered with other NRDs, UNL Extension, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service at the 6th Grade Conservation Day event at Summit Lake in Tekamah.

What educational background or experience do you bring to your role (degree(s), coursework, skills learned, etc.)?

I was a certified Medical Assistant (Methodist College graduate) in Omaha for 19 years prior to moving to Pender, NE. During that time, I finished my bachelor’s degree in psychology at Grace University in 2011.

Is there family, significant other, or furry friend information you’d like to share?

Husband-Gabe, son-Hunter (11), daughter-Isabel (8)

My hubby grew up in Walthill. I met Gabe in Omaha in 2008, we were married in 2010. We moved to Pender in 2019, wanting our children to grow up in a more rural setting.

What is your favorite band(s)?

Right now, I’m listening to Zack Bryan AND the new Taylor Swift album on REPEAT.



Nebraska State Park Replaces Trees through Papio NRD Grant Program

Several crabapple trees recently found a new home and the crew that planted them in the heat and among blood-thirsty mosquitoes was anything but crabby.

Michael Westover, Superintendent I of Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Fort Calhoun, says the trees were “heaven-sent.”

“We’ve been taking out more trees than we’ve been able to replace and when we saw that we were able to get some, we tried to get in with the grant program,” said Westover.

Fort Atkinson State Historical Park applied for trees through Papio NRD’s Celebrate Trees Grant Program. The grant was approved, and the park received 21 trees, enabling it to replant native trees, complete a fruit orchard, and provide shade for park visitors.

The Celebrate Trees Grant Program provides funding for tree planting on public land for community benefit, such as parks, cemeteries, tribal lands, libraries, and villages within the six counties of the Papio NRD (Sarpy, Douglas, Washington, Burt, Thurston, and Dakota).

“It’s a great program to take advantage of due to the value trees bring to a community and to help offset the increasing cost of trees,” said Terry Schumacher, land and water programs coordinator for the Papio NRD.

“Grants are awarded a maximum of $2,500 or $250 per tree and matching funds are not required,” said Schumacher. “The applications are funded using a ranking system that places higher emphasis on public parks and the replacement of diseased or storm-damaged trees.”

Schumacher says those who apply should plan to do mulching, staking, watering, and other care to ensure a successful planting.

Westover says the park will definitely apply for future grants and encourages others who are eligible to do the same.

“We just want to say thank you,” said Westover. “This was an amazing thing we could do. Every time we have to cut down more trees, it just kind of hurts, so that fact that we were able to bring in more trees and give this kind of beautification to our park, it’s just great.”

Applications can be submitted for the Celebrate Trees Grant Program November through February. If you’d like more information, please contact Kalani Fortina (402) 426-4782 ext. 3 or Kalani.Fortina@usda.gov.

Water Safe to Drink: Washington County Rural Water Systems

The Papio NRD received water quality lab test results today that indicate no E. coli in Washington County Rural Water Systems #1 and #2  (WCRW), so the water is safe to consume. This is also the case for our wholesale customers of Ft. Calhoun and Lakeland Estates Water Company.

Due to an E. coli-positive result from the City of Blair water system, the Papio NRD isolated all WCRW customers from the Blair water supply Wednesday night and started providing water from Metropolitan Utilities District.

WCRW will continue testing and monitoring the situation to continue providing safe water to all of our customers.








Julie Graham – Employee Spotlight

Today we shine the spotlight on Julie Graham, Papio NRD’s accounting assistant extraordinaire.

Where did you grow up?

Curtis, NE – out west

What does your job entail (job duties and how does your work impact the public)?

I’m an accounting assistant. My main duties are with the rural water systems, specifically billing services.

How long have you worked for the District?

I have been here a little more than a year. (It’s gone fast!)

What’s the most unique thing in your office or on your desk right now?

A turtle figure from one of my daughters.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work (hobbies, volunteering, etc.)?

I love to spend time with my family, read, and follow Loper track. I enjoy being involved at church as well.

What educational background or experience do you bring to your role (degree(s), coursework, skills learned, etc.)?

I have a bachelor’s in social work with a minor in business. My work experience is varied.

Is there family, significant other, or furry friend information you’d like to share?

Happily married for over 37 years. I have five amazing kids (aren’t everyone’s?). My second grandchild is due this month. Fourth child is marrying this July. The family is growing! 🥰

What project(s) are you most proud of and why?

I’ve spent a lot of time scanning old records. I’m glad I’m able to do something that needs done and helps the people I work with.

What is the funniest/craziest thing that’s happened to you at work (that you can share, of course)?

Looking for files downstairs and startling myself when I came face to face with a stuffed raccoon. Ha!

Anything else you’d like to share?

So fortunate to work at Papio NRD. Everyone has been so kind and helpful. Definitely ranks as my best employment experience!

Notice of Explanation of Proposed Activity in a Floodplain

Notice of Explanation of Proposed Activity in a Floodplain

To: All Interested Agencies, Groups, and Individuals

This is to give notices that the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District (Papio NRD) has conducted an evaluation as required by Executive Order (11988 and 11990) in accordance with HUD regulations at 24 CFR 55.20 Subpart C Procedures for Making Determinations on Floodplain Management and Wetlands Protection. The activity is funded under the Community Development Block Grant administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development Public Works Program.

The Papio NRD is preparing to implement a project that involves the removal of rock and sand sediment from the Platte River near the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad bridges, and on both sides of the Highway 75 and Highway 34 river crossing. The purpose of the project is to restore channel flood capacity. During the 2019 flood event, rock was deposited in the river near the railroad bridges which has resulted in the accumulation of sediment and formation of a sandbar which reduces the capacity of the channel and increases flood risk upstream.

Project activities include removal of buried rock between the two railroad bridges and to the east of the bridges, removal of sand that has accumulated downstream east of the bridges, transportation of the rock to the nearby SID 101 property, deposition of sand sediment in a nearby former NDOT borrow pit, construction and removal of a temporary rock causeway, and clearing and grubbing as necessary for site access.

Project impacts may include temporary road closures, heavy equipment traffic, noise, and dust. Project activities will take place during normal business hours. Total project costs are estimated at $7,945,370, including $100,000 for general administration and $250,000 for construction management. Funding sources include a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for $7,150,830 and a match from the Papio NRD of $794,540.

The project will benefit all communities upstream from the current obstruction. Construction will be completed within 4 months of commencement. No persons or businesses will be displaced because of the project activities.

The Papio NRD considered the following four alternatives:

1. No Action Alternative
2. Removing more rock/sediment than was placed by the railroad/has accumulated
3. Removing less rock/sediment than was placed by the railroad/has accumulated
4. Utilizing different construction methods – using equipment below the ordinary high-water mark (OHWM)

The Papio NRD has determined that it has no practicable alternative other than locating the proposed Community Development Block Grant project in a floodplain.

The following mitigation measures will be taken to minimize adverse impacts and to restore and preserve natural and beneficial values:

1. Only the amount of rock deposited during the 2019 event and the sand that has accumulated as a result will be removed as part of this project. Removal of this sand, rock, and accumulated debris will restore channel flood capacity and prevent future flood events from impacting areas upstream. Removal of the rock will alleviate future accumulation of sediment and debris.
2. Erosion prevention measures will be used during construction.
3. Specific timelines will be followed to avoid impacts to threatened or endangered species.
4. Vegetation will be reseeded after construction.

The Papio NRD is both the local sponsor of this project and the local permitting agency for floodplain protection. Therefore, they will ensure all applicable floodplain regulations are met.

This activity will have no significant impact on the environment for the following reasons:

Removal of the deposited rock and accumulated sand and sediment will restore channel flood capacity.

Environmental files that document compliance with steps 3 through 6 of Executive Order 11988 and 11990 are available for public inspection, review, and copying upon request at the times and location delineated in the last paragraph of this notice for receipt of comments.

There are three primary purposes for this notice. First, people who may be affected by activities in floodplains and those who have an interest in the protection of the natural environment should be given an opportunity to express their concerns and provide information about these areas. Second, an adequate public notice program can be an important public educational tool. The dissemination of information and request for public comment about floodplains can facilitate and enhance Federal efforts to reduce the risks and impacts associated with the occupancy and modification of these special areas. Third, as a matter of fairness, when the Federal government determines it will participate in actions taking place in floodplains, it must inform those who may be put at greater or continued risk.

Written comments must be received at the following address on or before June 12, 2024: Janel Kaufman, Houston Engineering, 12702 Westport Parkway Suite 300, La Vista, NE 68138. Janel can be reached via telephone at 402-614-3317. Comments may also be submitted and additional information can be requested via email at jkaufman@houstoneng.com.

A full description of the project may also be reviewed Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 4:00pm at the above address.

Jon Hansen – Employee Spotlight

Today we shine the spotlight on Jon Hansen, a Burt County guy through and through.

Where did you grow up?

Tekamah, Nebraska

What does your job entail (job duties and how does your work impact the public)?

I assist farmers and acreage owners implement conservation practices. Some examples of conservation practices include terraces, waterways, water and sediment control basins, livestock watering facility, working with the conservation tree program, and our wildlife habitat improvement program. Another large aspect of my day-to-day work is assisting our many partners, including the Natural Resources Conservation Service “NRCS”, Pheasants Forever, and the Nebraska Forest Service.

What’s the most unique thing in your office or on your desk right now?

You will find deer sheds and a signed football helmet by Coach Matt Rhule, along with a cluster of tree planting plan maps on my desk since we are in the thick of tree planting season.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work (hobbies, volunteering, etc.)?

I have a small farm and a cow/calf operation. I am also on the board of directors for the Burt County Cattlemen, and most recently finished up a 6-year term on the Burt County Extension Board. I enjoy hunting and I am a die-hard Husker sports fan.

What educational background or experience do you bring to your role (degree(s), coursework, skills learned, etc.)?

I earned a Diversified Agriculture degree in 2007, and I have been in the agriculture field in some capacity ever since. I started working for NRCS in 2017 before taking the Field Representative position with the Papio NRD in 2021 so I have gained a wide array of experience over the years.

Is there family, significant other, or furry friend information you’d like to share? My wife Amber and I have 3 kids: Peyton, Emry, Cooper, and we are expecting another little girl in June. We also have a silver lab named Tully.

What is your favorite band(s)? Currently I enjoy Zach Bryan, Cody Johnson, and Tyler Childers but I really like 70’s-90’s country.

Anything else you’d like to share? The best part about working for the Papio NRD is the people. I have got to network with some good fellow employees and partners and have met many good landowners and operators that are looking to improve the land. It has been very rewarding to work out of the Burt County Field Office where I was born and raised.

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 gage at Waterloo reads a stage of 4 feet or greater. Platte River Landing will close when the gage at Leshara reads 7 feet or above.

River access ramps may need to be cleaned of silt, debris and safety inspected before reopening.

Status of Elkhorn & Platte River Access Sites:

(A) Elkhorn Crossing (intersection of 252nd & Bennington Road) – OPEN: Boat ramp for river access for tubing, etc. CLOSED: Camping and RV sites for installation of upgrades.

(B) West Maple Road (West Maple Road northeast of Waterloo) – OPEN

(C) Platte River Landing (near Highway 64) – OPEN

(D) Graske Crossing (southeast corner of West Dodge Road & west of 204th) – OPEN



Interactive Map of Chalco Hills Now Available

Coming to Chalco Hills Recreation Area? Our new interactive park map not only enables you to explore and navigate all the amenities on your mobile phone, but also includes the ability to locate yourself in the park and see mile markers along the trails – two important safety features.

If you prefer to physically hold a map, we’ve got you covered with this print map you can download or pick up at several locations around the park, including the park’s main entrance.

Park amenities/features the maps help you easily locate include:

  • Trails (paved and nature)
  • Trail mile markers
  • Picnic shelters
  • Accessible fishing pier and picnic area
  • Drinking water
  • Restrooms
  • Parking areas
  • Playgrounds
  • Boat ramp
  • Lake depths
  • Dog park
  • BCycle station

In addition, boaters and anglers can find lake contour maps of Wehrspann Lake and Prairie View Lake here.

We hope these maps help make your recreation experience here at Chalco Hills even more enjoyable.

We look forward to seeing you!