A Monthly Publication of the Nebraska Environmental Trust

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Dave Heineman, Governor

Board of Trustees

District I
District II
District III

Agency Directors

Trust Staff

February 2011

In This Issue:

  1. Executive Director Corner
  2. NET Releases Preliminary Rank Order List at 1st Quarter Board Meeting
  3. City of Hastings Water Quality Improvement Project
  4. Journal Star Recycling
  5. Upcoming Events

 

Executive Director Corner

From drifts of snow to 70 degree weather in a few weeks, Nebraska never ceases to amaze me.  The Trust has been busy watching the Legislature and providing information when necessary.

There are five pieces of legislation impacting the Nebraska Environmental Trust.  Four bills (LB229, LB366, LB395 and LB529) and one legislative resolution (LR51CA).   

LB229 takes $7 M a year for the next 11 years from the Trust (a total of $77 M) and places it in the Water Resources Cash Fund controlled by the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources.  This bill is still in the Natural Resources Committee and is getting a lot of attention.

LB366 allows a simple majority vote of the Trust Board for actions related to grant approval, where current language requires a vote of not fewer than eight board members to deviate from the subcommittee’s recommendations.  It will require a 30 day waiting period between hearings and decisions on proposed projects and funding.  This bill was voted out of the Natural Resources Committee and is now on General File.

LB395 would not allow the five agency directors on the Trust Board to vote.  This bill just had its hearing on Feb. 17th and it remains in Committee. 

LB529 prohibits charitable corporations or trusts from acquiring perpetual easements and only allows ten-year easements that would need to be renewed every ten years with notification to the county board.  It also restricts the Environmental Trust to allocating no more than ten percent of grant funds each year for land purchases and only political subdivisions are allowed to use Trust funds for land acquisition.  This bill appears to be headed for an interim study to allow all of the involved parties to discuss the concerns.   

LR51CA would put a Constitutional Amendment on the November 2012 ballot, that if approved by the voters, would change the State Constitution, eliminating the Trust by giving half the funds to the Water Resources Cash Fund and the other half to the University of Nebraska Board of Regents for the Nebraska Innovation Campus through 2038.  Then to the General Fund after that.  This resolution appears to be destined to remain in Committee, but until it is killed or next session comes to an end, it is alive.

The Trust does appreciate all of the support from individuals and organizations that we have received.  Letters to the editors, newspaper editorials, contacts to Senators and other actions have been overwhelming.  Thanks to everyone who has participated in some way.

Mark A. Brohman
Executive Director

 

NET Releases Preliminary Rank Order List at 1st Quarter Board Meeting

At its meeting in Lincoln on February 3, 2011, the board of the Nebraska Environmental Trust recommended the funding of 96 projects for a total of $15,592,788 in grant awards. Of these, 33 are carry-over projects. The Trust received a total of 143 applications requesting over $54 million compared to $26 million three years ago. This is the 18th year of grants from the Trust, which has provided over $157 million dollars in lottery revenue to preserve and protect the air, water and land in Nebraska. This is one of the highest amounts requested in the history of the Trust. The highest amount of $58,935,806.20 was requested in 1999.

As part of the grant making process, the Trust is seeking public input on the proposed grants before announcing final awards on April 7, 2011. A list of all recommended grants and project information is available on the Trust website at: www.environmentaltrust.org.

Written public comments will be accepted until April 5, 2011 at the Nebraska Environmental Trust, P.O. Box 94913, Lincoln NE 68509-4913 or via email at: marilyn.tabor@nebraska.gov . Please include your name, address and organizations (if applicable) and be sure to reference the project name and number in your correspondence. Comments can also be presented in person during a public hearing on April 7, 2011. The meeting begins at 1:30 pm with the public hearing starting at 1:45 pm at the Ferguson House, 700 South 16th Street, Lincoln NE.

 

City of Hastings Water Quality Improvement Project

The City of Hastings is addressing an ongoing nitrate problem.  The nitrate levels are increasing and continuing to rise.  Treatment of the Hastings water supply may be required in the next few years.  To assist in the management of nitrate contamination Hastings prepared a Wellhead Management Plan and is working on a series of activities to address nitrates with a common goal in mind; to decrease the existing nitrate contamination and reduce or prevent future leaching of nitrates by promoting public education, best management practices, water conservation and increase the knowledge of the nitrate sources.

 
Activities helped funded by the Nebraska Environmental Trust Grant include a demonstration lawn/garden plot to showcase various water & fertilizer management techniques for the public. They  are also offering cost shares on various water conservation practices such as Rain Barrels, Rain Sensors, Rain Gardens, Evapotranspiration Gauges, Soil Moisture Sensors, and conversion of lawn mowers to mulching mowers.  To better understand the location and concentration of nitrates in both the groundwater and the vadose zone, water and soil (root zone) testing are being conducted.  The data will be used to predict future trends and to help guide prevention activities.  These activities have served both urban and rural citizens with the knowledge and means to manage and minimize nitrate contamination within the Hastings Wellhead Protection Area. 

 

Journal Star Recycling

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Journal Star Recycling 2010 project has only completed 14 of its 18 months.  The results thus far have been above expectations.  This project will have a significant long term impact to slowing the growth of the Bluff Road landfill if the current pace of collection is maintained. 

The overall goal of this project was to double the recyclables that Journal Star Recycling collects by July of 2011.  During the first month of 2010, the program was averaging 18.5 tons per week.  During October of 2010, it averaged 31 tons per week.  These numbers are very encouraging, considering the increases were made mostly with residential customers.  Numbers are expected to grow with aggressive commercial recycling in phase two. Business customers will provide much larger quantities of recyclables and should put the program in a great position to meet this goal by July of 2011.

The Nebraska Environmental Trust provided funding for equipment, such as carts and dumpsters that new customers could use.  This allowed Journal Star Recycling to focus more funds on promoting recycling within the Lincoln Journal Star. Phase one of this project was funded by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.

 

Upcoming Events

- March 17-20, 2011 (Thursday - Sunday) - 41st Rivers and Wildlife Conference

- April 7, 2011 (Thursday) - Nebraska Environmental Trust 2nd Quarter Board Meeting, Ferguson House, Lincoln, 1:30 pm.

- April 23, 2011 (Saturday) - Earth Day Omaha

- April 23, 2011 (Saturday) - Lincoln Earth Day

 

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