Rain Garden Water Quality, City of Lincoln
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in the U.S., about 13 percent of rivers, 18 percent of lakes and 32 percent of estuaries are impaired by the pollutants carried by stormwater. In Lincoln, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) reported 46 percent of streams are impaired. The City of Lincoln Rain Garden project 2008-2010, was an educational public outreach program that empowered individual Lincoln homeowners to help improve the water quality of local waterways.
A project goal was to install 90 rain gardens. With assistance from the Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET), NDEQ and the Lower Platte South Natural Resource District, a total of 132 rain gardens were funded. Other complimentary educational efforts included lawn and landscape care practices, such as, use of lake friendly fertilizers, picking up pet waste, stormwater storage and use of rain barrels.
The achievement of a satisfaction rate over 98 percent among all participants segued into the launch of the City’s new rain garden cost-share program. This current opportunity stemmed from enthusiasm created by the 2008-2010 NET grant funded rain garden program.
Take It Back Nebraska, WasteCap Nebraska
Take-it-Back Nebraska is a program created by WasteCap Nebraska, as well as a network of collection sites for consumer products containing Universal Wastes such as mercury, lead, cadmium, copper and other substances hazardous to human health. Examples of these wastes are batteries, fluorescent tubes, and some electronic devices. “Take-it-Back” is also a small-grant program that provides funding and guidelines for electronic waste collection events. Over time, these programs will serve Nebraskans’ best interests by keeping toxic materials from leaching into our drinking water and ensuring that a collection network is in place in the event they are banned from landfills.
The Nebraska Environmental Trust funded a pilot program for fluorescent lamp collection in 2008 and subsequently funded the Take-it-Back Nebraska program in 2009. With the outreach efforts of WasteCap Nebraska and partners, the network has begun to make its way across Nebraska. So far, more than 40 collection sites have been established in nearly 20 communities from Omaha to Chadron, with a goal of 100 sites by mid-2011. Keep Nebraska Beautiful affiliates and local Resource Conservation and Development councils have been instrumental in identifying and establishing collection sites, and by introducing WasteCap staff to local leaders and business owners.
Educational Green Cabins, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission at Ponca State Park
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Nebraska Environmental Trust working partnerships have been the means to the success of the green cabin development at Ponca State Park. The project brought together three state agencies, a federal agency, a public corporation, and two charitable foundations. The green cabins were developed as an educational model to provide guests with a sustainable living experience while offering information on practical alternatives they can utilize to lessen their impact on the natural environment. Environmentally friendly building and living practices are highlighted throughout the cabins with interpretive signage to show how individual actions can have a cumulative effect on conserving our natural resources. Since completion in June 2009, the cabins have seen high occupancy rates. Based upon visitor testimonial, the green cabin project is achieving its goal by educating users about resource stewardship while showcasing options for environmentally friendly development.
Utilizing Poultry Feathers and Used Plastic for High Value Products Observatory
This project utilizes disposed poultry feathers and used plastic bags to develop composites for automotive, construction and furniture industries. Feathers act as reinforcement and the plastic bags melt and bind the feathers resulting in a composite. More than 4 billion pounds of poultry feathers are disposed in landfills in the United States every year. Similarly, the United States consumes 100 billion plastic bags every year and only 1 out of 5 bags is recycled. Disposing feathers and plastic bags in landfills not only creates environmental problems but is also a waste of valuable resources. Utilizing feathers and plastic bags to develop composites offer an opportunity to reduce the amount of waste disposed in landfills, add value and help the poultry farmers economically and also decrease our dependence on non-renewable petroleum resources for polymers.
Continous No Till, PrairieLand RC & D
The Nebraska Continuous No-till (CNT) project’s state-wide effort to increase the adoption and sustainable use of CNT by 1 million acres through education has been achieved! The project continues to create a broad partnership of currently recognized leaders in CNT working together to show how the practice of CNT works across the entire state of Nebraska to reduce soil erosion, improve soil quality, and reduce irrigation and fuel requirements. NET funds are used for state-wide/regional/local CNT events, a UNL Extension No-till Specialist, a Western Nebraska No-till Educator, a project administrator and to develop and distribute educational materials. This project has given over 1,300 residents 14,000 hours of education and allowed our western no-till educator to conduct a series of seminars in the Panhandle region. A bus tour attendee remarked “The tour was great! This has to be one of the most impacting agricultural educational experiences available.”
Big Muddy Creek Watershed Project, Nemaha NRD
A total of 5 partners comprised of the Nebraska Environmental Trust, Nemaha Natural Resources District, Big Muddy Creek Landowners, Nemaha County and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service worked together to construct 14 structures to control streambed and streambank erosion. Ultimately these structures will enhance the quality of life of local, rural residents by protecting public infrastructure and utilities, improving water quality, improving ecological diversity and preventing the further loss of agricultural land.
During the early planning stages for this watershed project, NRD board member and chairman of the Big Muddy Creek Watershed Task Force, Mike Speece, stated that uncontrolled flows of Big Muddy Creek are a clear and present danger to the quality of life of the rural residents of Johnson, Nebraska, and all efforts to control the erosive nature of this creek is a must.
Rural residents of Johnson, Nebraska, recognize the significance that the Big Muddy Creek Watershed Project plays in protecting their lives, property and future.
Prescribed Burn Training Schools, Prescribed Burn Task Force
In 2008 the Nebraska Environmental Trust approved a grant application submitted by the Prescribed Burn Taskforce. The grant project has been instrumental in increasing the capacity of the Taskforce when it comes to education and prescribed burning. So far the grant has enabled the purchase of firefigghting equipment including handtools, communications equipment and truck mounted firefighting equipment.
The Trust grant has helped the Taskforce to conduct four landowner prescribed burn training sessions in nebraska to the benefir of over 100 producers this year.
Woodwaste/Saw Log Utilization and Red Cedar Management Project, Lower Loup NRD
The Woodwaste/Saw Log Utilization and Red cedar Management Project has been a cooperative effort that included the Lower Loup Natural Resources District and its partners, Nebraska Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service and private landowners. This team offered potential solutions to problems Nebraska landowners are having with the state's growing red cedar tree population. Utilizing Environmental Trust fund grant monies, the NRD was able to purchase equipment (a saw mill, wood chipper and shredder) for demonstration at a series of workshops across the District.