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. Platte River Landing will close when the gauge 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

(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!





Water Wells Not Properly Abandoned Pose Hazards to Water Quality, People and Animals

Unused water wells left unsecure are a hazard to water quality, people, livestock, and pets. The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District (Papio NRD) is aiming to help educate landowners within its six-county area of the importance of abandoning unused wells, as well the cost-share program it provides to help with the associated expense.

Wells that aren’t properly abandoned provide a pipeline to groundwater and can be easily polluted with chemicals, fertilizers, and other contaminates. They can also pose safety risks to people and animals that may not see the wells and become trapped or potentially seriously injured.

“To help eliminate or reduce these hazards and assist landowners with the cost of abandoning unused wells, the Papio NRD provides the Well Abandonment Program,” said Terry Schumacher, land and water programs coordinator for the Papio NRD.

The Well Abandonment Program provides cost-share at a rate of 75% of the total eligible costs with a maximum of $750 for domestic drilled wells; $1,000 for dug wells; and $1,500 for city, irrigation, commercial or municipal wells.

Ed Thiele, project engineer for Habitat for Humanity of Omaha, took part in the program, as the organization is developing sites in Sarpy and Douglas counties to build new homes. “We decommissioned three wells in Sarpy County and two in Douglas County,” said Thiele.

“Obviously, we want to make sure the land is safe before construction starts and families move in. The Papio NRD’s cost-share program was of tremendous value for us on many fronts and I would most definitely recommend it to others,” said Thiele.

Eligible costs of the program include pulling rods and pump, filling cistern, chlorination, sand, bentonite, plug, and concrete. A State of Nebraska licensed well contractor, driller or pump installer must complete the abandonment to proper Department of Natural Resources rules and regulations.

“It’s really a win-win opportunity,” said Schumacher. “Our program offers landowners and others, like Habitat for Humanity, significant financial assistance to help protect our drinking water, groundwater, the public and make the process as easy as possible.”

For more information, please contact one of our Field Office representatives in your county:

Washington, Douglas & Sarpy counties: Kalani Fortina at 402-426-4782 ext. 3
Burt County: Deb Ward at 402-374-1920 ext. 3
Thurston County: Tamara Tipton at 402-846-5655
Dakota County: Mahkenna Koinzan at 402-494-4949



Papio NRD River Access Sites to Open April 1

The Papio NRD will open the Elkhorn and Platte River access sites for the season on April 1st. 

The 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.)
  • Platte River Landing (near Highway 64)   

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. Platte River Landing will close when the gauge at Leshara reads 7 feet or above.

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

Access Sites – Open or Closed? 

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

There are no park entry fees. The access sites are open from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. through November 1.


290 Collective Years of Service to Our Constituents!

What you see here is 290 COLLECTIVE YEARS OF SERVICE to constituents of the Papio NRD – working together to conserve our natural resources across the District!

Ten employees and one member of the board of directors received service awards at last night’s board meeting. Many have been with the Papio NRD for decades, which says a lot about their commitment to their craft and fulfilling our mission.

Our Papio NRD superstars:

Back row: Papio NRD Board Chairman Kevyn Sopinski; Papio NRD General Manager John Winkler; Carey Fry, Senior Accountant (15 years); Martin Cleveland, Construction Engineer (45 years); and Ryan Trapp, Assistant Operations and Maintenance Superintendent (25 years).

Front row: Jean Friends Tate, Administrative Coordinator (30 years); Papio NRD Board Director Tim Fowler (20 years – Nebraska Natural Resources Districts Director Service Award); Bill Brush, IT Manager (10 years); and Bill Warren, Operations and Maintenance/Park Superintendent (45 years).

Employees not pictured: John Zaugg, Field Representative (40 years); Marty Nissen, Engineering Aide/Drafter (35 years); Lance Olerich, Water Supply Superintendent (20 years); and Kyra Peterson, District Accountant (5 years).

Major congratulations to these amazing people!


Elkhorn River Access Sites to Close November 1

All good things must come to an end…at least temporarily. Darn you, winter!  

The Papio NRD will close all access sites to the Elkhorn River for the season on November 1st. The access sites include Elkhorn Crossing Recreation Area, Graske Crossing, and the West Maple Road access site. The access sites will reopen April 1st. See you next season.




Applications Open for Papio NRD’s 2024 Celebrate Trees Grant Program

Spruce trees planted at Veteran’s Park in Papillion through the Papio NRD’s Celebrate Trees Grant Program.

Applications are open for the Papio NRD’s Celebrate Trees Grant Program. The program provides funding for tree planting on public land for community benefit. Parks, cemeteries, tribal lands, libraries, and villages within the six counties of the Papio NRD are encouraged to apply.

Grants are awarded a maximum of $2,500 or $250 per tree. Matching funds are not required, but applicants should plan to do mulching, staking, watering, and other care to ensure a successful planting.

Applications are funded using a ranking system that places a higher emphasis on public parks and the replacement of diseased and storm-damaged trees.

The deadline to submit applications is February 15, 2024. Please contact Kalani Fortina (402) 426-4782 ext. 3 or Kalani.Fortina@usda.gov for more information.

Papio NRD Board Decreases Property Tax Levy

Contact: Jennifer Stauss Story
Cell Phone 402-960-5329

Papio NRD Board Approves Proposed 2024 Budget

Decreases Property Tax Levy 


Omaha, NE: At its September 14th meeting, the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District (Papio NRD) Board of Directors voted to approve the Fiscal Year 2024 general operating budget that includes a significant decrease in the Papio NRD property tax levy.

“After the first budget draft was discussed, I directed Papio NRD staff to find as many efficiencies as possible in the District’s general operations and vital programs to ensure the Papio NRD is only requesting the bare minimum from taxpayers without sacrificing our mission of protecting life and property,” said Kevyn Sopinski, chairman of the Papio NRD Board of Directors.

For 18 out of 19 years, the Papio NRD has either decreased or kept the property tax levy the same. This fiscal year’s total tax request is 1.8% above last year’s budget. The District will drop its property tax mill levy by 10% this fiscal year.

“We understand that historically high inflation and even higher county property valuation assessments are negatively impacting many of our constituents’ finances,” said John Winkler, general manager of the Papio NRD. “Through methodical and conservative financial and operational management, refinancing and reduction of bonded debt, and securing over $20 million in grant funding, this budget allows the Papio NRD to lower its property tax levy to its lowest in over 20 years while simultaneously funding critical public safety projects,” said Winkler.

The Papio NRD’s FY24 property tax levy would drop to .031 per $100 of assessed valuation from the District’s FY23 property tax levy of 0.347 per $100 of assessed valuation. Under this budget, a homeowner in the District with property valued at $150,000 would pay $46.95 a year or $3.91 a month in property taxes next year to support Papio NRD projects, programs, and services. The budget calls for an estimated $30 million in revenue from the Papio NRD’s property tax levy. The total operating budget is estimated at $90.3 million.

Winkler said the Papio NRD’s budgeting philosophy is to only levy what is needed to adequately fund essential projects related to flood mitigation, conservation, erosion and sediment control, as well as the responsible management of Nebraska’s invaluable natural resources.

The property tax levy is based on an estimated 12.9% increase in valuations across the District, which includes all of Sarpy, Douglas, Washington, and Dakota counties, plus the eastern 60% of Burt and Thurston counties.

The Papio NRD receives less than 2% of all property taxes collected within the District’s six-county area. The remaining 98% goes to schools, cities, counties, and other taxing entities.






Water Conservation Encouraged Due to Drought Conditions

Below normal precipitation and warmer than normal temperatures continue to affect streamflow in the Lower Platte River Basin

The Lower Platte River Consortium is encouraging the public to be proactive in conserving water. Moderate to exceptional drought is present in the Lower Platte Basin. According to the Climate Prediction Center’s Seasonal Drought Outlook, drought is expected to improve somewhat; but it is expected to persist over the summer months.

The Platte River is a vital water source for the state of Nebraska. Most of the state’s population, including the communities of Omaha, Lincoln, and Fremont, rely on groundwater wells replenished by the Platte River. The Platte River also recharges wells for agricultural irrigation in the Platte River valley, provides habitat for fish and wildlife, and opportunities for recreation.

Weather significantly impacts flows in the Platte River. Other contributing factors include snowpack in Colorado and Wyoming and runoff from rainfall throughout the Platte River area. Nebraska experienced the fourth driest year on record in 2022, with most of the state receiving less than 70% of normal precipitation according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and still faces a precipitation deficit. Although recent precipitation has occurred, soil moisture levels are below average limiting the amount of runoff into the Platte River.

The Platte River experienced significantly below average flows during the Summer of 2022, and similar conditions have persisted this spring and are expected to continue throughout the summer months. As summer approaches, with already low stream flows, further decreases can limit the amount of water available in wellfields along the Platte River used by major cities in Nebraska.

The Lower Platte River Consortium asks for the public’s assistance in conserving water to prepare for possible persistent drought conditions. The Consortium will communicate with the public regarding additional conservation assistance if the Lower Platte River basin continues to experience below average precipitation.

“The Papio NRD will continue to work with the Consortium to monitor and share information with the public on the drought as we expect drier conditions again this year,” said General Manager John Winkler. “Water conservation is an important step that every individual can participate in to help protect our resources.”

 The Nebraska Department of Natural Resources maintains an online dashboard available to the public that displays current drought conditions and outlooks. https://gis.ne.gov/portal/apps/experiencebuilder/experience/?id=c0b751c512a24b83a6ad1c3214941ea8

Further information about drought can be heard on the NeDNR podcast, “Around the Water Cooler,” in the episode released May 31, featuring interviews with several Consortium representatives.

The Lower Platte River Consortium will continue to monitor the conditions and work with individuals and communities to conserve water as necessary.


 About the Consortium

Formed in 2016, the consortium consists of six different entities (agencies) that monitor or rely on the Lower Platte River for their water supply. These agencies include:

  • Lower Platte South NRD
  • City of Lincoln Water System
  • Lower Platte North NRD
  • Nebraska Department of Natural Resources
  • Papio-Missouri River NRD
  • Metropolitan Utilities District



Free Electronic Waste Recycling Collections in May

The Papio NRD and the Nebraska Loess Hills RC&D Council will host four free electronic waste recycling collections in the month of May. These collections are a great way to keep electronics out of the waste stream. The events allow for free disposal of computers, monitors, printers, office equipment, TVs, phones, radios, audio/video equipment, and small electronic devices. Each Papio NRD Field Office will host a collection as follows:

Tekamah, May 23rd, 10am – 1pm, 539 South 13th Street

Blair, May 23rd, 3pm – 6pm, 1060 Wilbur Street

Dakota City, May 25th, 10am – 1pm, 1505 Broadway Street

Walthill, May 25th, 3pm – 6pm, 106 South Costello Street

Grant funding is provided through the Litter Reduction & Recycling Incentive Grant Program, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy.