Projects: NE Great Plains

Nebraska Great Plains

Area Description

The Nebraska Great Plains Resource Conservation and Development Area comprise some 4,936 square miles in east central Nebraska. Roughly rectangular in shape, this 50 by 100-mile area is overwhelmingly rural, despite having 56% of  the state’s population within its boundaries. Eighty five percent of the land  use is agricultural, primarily cropland.

The area is home to over 951,000 people, with 92% living in Douglas, Lancaster, and Sarpy counties.  Four percent of the remainder of the area’s population lives in cities with populations between  1046 and 8081 in the other six counties of the area, while just over two percent live in smaller communities or on farms. The population density is very disparate across the area, from 1,401 per square mile in Douglas County to 12.0 in Polk County. The average farm size is 379 acres. Of the 96 towns in the area, 58 have populations under 500. The median population in this area is 342.

The Nebraska Great Plains RC&D is the only RC&D in  Nebraska represented by all three congressional  districts.

Summary of 2008 Activities

  • 620 Council Member Hours Contributed
  • 2,190 Volunteer Hours Contributed
  • 177 Project Partners
  • 12 Council Meetings
  • 12 Completed Projects
  • 15 Projects in Progress
Butler County Household  Hazardous Waste Collection

The Nebraska Great Plains RC&D partnered with the Butler County Extension office, the Four Corners Health Department and the Butler County Health Care Center to host a Household Hazardous Waste and Electronic Waste collection, in David City on May 3rd, 2008.

The grant application was written and submitted by the Nebraska Great Plains RC&D to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, and was approved for $10,363.00.

Collection organizers knew right away that the response would be big and they were right. The grant would have only covered a third of what was eventually brought in. Both vendors hired agreed to take everything that was collected. Electronic Recyclers of Omaha took the electron waste, while Red Willow County  collected the household hazardous waste.

Those who hauled in items also filled out surveys that indicated some interesting scenarios. People are reluctant to part with a computer they spent hundreds of dollars on, even if it doesn’t work anymore. The majority of respondents were over 60 years of age, and had been storing the electronics for 20 years or longer.

The surveys also indicated that people wanted help getting rid of items they think are harmful to the environment. In addition to keeping harmful substances out of the landfill, firefighters that assisted with this collection noted that the disposal also made many homes safer in the case of a fire. In five hours, Butler County collected fifteen 55 gallon drums of paint, 28,400 lbs. of electronics computers, monitors, televisions, radios, and microwaves), and items too many to count including fertilizers, pesticides, weed killers, and other garden and household chemicals.  26 volunteers totaled 191 hours on the collection day alone.


  • University of Nebraska Extension in Butler County
  • Four Corners Health Department
  • Butler County
  • City of David City
  • Butler County Health Care Center
  • David City Volunteer Fire Department
  • Butler County Sheriffs Office
  • Butler County Emergency Management
  • David City Aquinas High School
  • East Butler High School
  • $10,363.00 State Government
  • $ 3,600.00 Local Government
  • $ 2,089.00 Non Governmental Organizations
  • $16,052.00 Total
2008 State RC&D Association Conference
Mahoney State Park was the location of  the 2008 State RC&D Association Conference, hosted by the Nebraska Great Plains RC&D.  Over 80 people attended the 3 day event, showcasing east central Nebraska and highlighting projects that the Nebraska Great Plains RC&D has worked to complete since its inception in 2002. The first day was a mix of speakers, discussing Nebraska’s State Park System, the Stream Corridor Restoration Program, the Omaha-Lincoln Expansion Corridor, and Under the Sink – Omaha’s Household Hazardous Waste Facility. The evening program  included the awards banquet, and entertainment provided by the “Now and Then” quartet, members of the Pathfinders Chorus of Fremont.


Day two of the conference was the motor coach tour of the Nebraska Great Plains RC&D. The first stop was at Pheasant Oak Vineyard Confections near Brainard Nebraska in Butler County. This stop showcased non-traditional agricultural enterprises near Nebraska’s urban population centers. Vendors included:  Pheasant Oak Vineyard Confections – wine flavored ice cream; Bohaty’s Gourmet Grass Fed  Beef;Buy Fresh/Buy Local; Heartland Nuts ‘N More; Hilger’s Gourmet Popcorn; Holgate Heirloom Produce – Hydroponically grown vegetables; Jisa’s Farmstead Cheese; and Willow Woods Gardens – woody florals.

The next stop was at the Richard Sabata Memorial Handicapped Fishing Pier, a project of  the Nebraska Great Plains RC&D. Rich was a long time public servant and a charter member of  the Nebraska Great Plains RC&D and spent the last few months of his life in a wheelchair. This pier was built to allow handicapped fishing access to the newly renovated David City Lakes.

Following lunch at the David City Park, a bus tour was taken of the Omaha-Lincoln Expansion Corridor that was discussed on day one of the conference. This was followed by a stop at  the City of Lincoln’s main well field, for discussions about water quality, and a talk from the Lower Platte Weed Management Area on how  noxious weeds can have an adverse effect on water  quantity.  Day two wound down with a riverboat  dinner cruise aboard the River City Star to view  the Omaha Skyline and the new pedestrian bridge that spans the Missouri River.



  • Nebraska State RC&D Association
  • NRCS
  • Cascade Earth Sciences
  • HDR Engineering Inc.
  • Jacobson-Satchell Consultants
  • JEO Consulting Group Inc.
  • Lower Platte North NRD
  • Lower Platte South NRD
  • Papio-Missouri River NRD
  • Eastern Nebraska 4-H Center
  • University of Nebraska- UNL Extension in
  • Lancaster County
  • First National Bank – David City
  • Union Bank and Trust Company – David City
  • Bank of the Valley – David City
  • U.S. Bank – David City
  • $ 1,000.00 Local Government
  • $11,137.00 Non Governmental Organizations
  • $12,137.00 Total
Polk County Used Tire Collection
A used tire collection grant from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) was used to complete the first ever tire collection project in Polk County. The Nebraska Great Plains RC&D administered the grant for Polk County, and collected over 250 tons of tires.  Osceola high school FFA student volunteers once again assisted with unloading and stacking tires for this event. The first part of this collection took place in Osceola, Neb., in August, 2007, and the final collection was held in Stromsburg, Neb., in May of 2008.


  • Polk County
  • City of Stromsburg
  • United Farmers Cooperative – Stromsburg
  • Four Corners Health Department
  • Polk County Health Department
  • Osceola High School
  • $22,069.00 State Government
  • $     400.00 Local Government
  • $     400.00 Non Governmental Organizations
  • $22,869.00 Total
~  ~    ~

2007 Projects & Activities:

400 Council Member Hours Contributed

1056 Volunteer Hours Contributed

168 Project Partners

12 Council Meetings

12 Completd Projects

17 Projects in Progress

~  ~        ~        ~        ~

Prescribed Burn Schools

Prescribed Burn Schools were held in both Polk and  Saunders County during the winter and spring of 2007. These schools worked to  educate producers and local firefighters of the benefits of prescribed burning. These benefits were not just environmental, but included a reduced fuel load during hot dry periods later in the year, when most wildfires occur. Wildlife  concerns, safety, and fire control methods were addressed.

These schools attempted to make producers, as well as those issuing burn permits more at ease with the prescribed burn process. Two actual prescribed burns were conducted later in the spring to allow producers to try out the skills they learned at the school, totaling over 200 acres. 64 producers and volunteer firefighters attended these two schools.


Central  Platte NRD

Lower Platte North NRD

UNL Extension in Polk County

Prescribed Burn Task Force

Natural Resources Conservation  Service

The Nature Conservancy


$ 2,340.00 Federal Government

$ 600.00 State Government

$ 760.00 Local Government

$ 400.00 Non Governmental Organizations

$ 4,100.00 Total

~        ~        ~ ~    ~   ~

R.J. Sabata Handicapped Fishing Pier


In the fall of 2005, the Nebraska Great Plains RC&D received a call from an employee of an elderly care center, asking if we could assist them with a problem. The David City Park lakes had just been restored and stocked with fish. The residents really enjoyed fishing at the restored lakes, but found that it was difficult for those that had trouble walking or confined to wheelchairs to approach the lakes to fish. The caller wanted the RC&D to help find a solution to this problem.


The RC&D contacted the City of David City, and the Lower Platte North NRD, who both showed interest in the project. It was suggested that a handicapped accessible fishing pier be constructed, and named after Richard Sabata, a founding member of the Nebraska Great Plains RC&D, a long time director of the LPNNRD, and an active member of the David City community.  Rich suffered from cancer and was confined to a wheelchair the final months of his life.


Working with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, a design was developed for a handicapped accessible basic fishing pier. At the same time, the children of Rich Sabata started a fund raising effort, and with the help of the RC&D, raised almost $8,000.00 toward the project. This fund raiser was a pancake feed with a band, and included raffles for many donated items. The RC&D worked to provide posters and brochures to publicize this event throughout the area. 


Construction started in the spring of 2007, and was completed soon after. A ceremony was held on July 17, 2007, and the project was dedicated by Lt. Governor Rick Sheehy. The pier was being used by residents of  the care center during the ceremony, which was a fitting tribute to Rich and the partners that worked to complete this project. This project won a 2007 Nebraska Community Improvement (NCIP) Award for Recreation and


City of David City

Lower Platte North NRD

David City Chamber of Commerce

David City Area Jaycees

David City Banner Press

David City Rural Fire District # 9

David City Rotary Club

St. Joseph Villa

U.S. Bank

Union Bank

First National Bank

David Place

Saddle and Surrey Club

Oak Creek Gun Club

Agency One Insurance

Senior Citizen Center

Region V

Kirby’s Northside

Scrib’s Moving and Heavy Hauling

Frontier Cooperative

Moravec & Associates

KV Vet

Benes Service

Marquis Body Shop

Didier’s Grocery

Dale’s Food Pride

Knights of Columbus


$18,500.00 Local Government

$     200.00 Non Governmental Organizations

$  6,500.00 Contributions from Friends and Private Businesses

$25,200.00 Total

~        ~        ~        ~        ~~

Polk County Used Tire Collection


A grant from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) allowed the  Nebraska Great Plains RC&D to assist Polk County with their first ever used tire collection in 2007. This two day event collected 149 tons of old tires, and enough of the grant is left to hold another collection in the spring of 2008.

FFA students from Osceola High School assisted customers unload the tires. The Husker Co-op provided free scale services and staff during this event, and Polk County and the City of Osceola provided equipment to load the tires for transport.  Four Corners and Polk County Health Departments provided lunch and refreshments for the volunteers.


Polk County

City of Osceola

Four Corners Health Department

Husker Co-op

UNL Extension in Polk County

Polk County Health Department

Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality


$27,700.00 State Government

$     900.00 Local Government

$ 1,000.00 Non Governmental  Organizations

$29,600.00 Total

~        ~      ~    ~

Legislative Breakfast for Methamphetamine Strategies

On April 3, 2007, the Nebraska Great Plains RC&D and many partners hosted a Nebraska Meth Watch Legislative Breakfast at the state capitol in Lincoln. Sponsored by state Senator Ray Aguilar, this breakfast was an informational session for all state senators on the problems that methamphetamine causes to families and communities throughout the state.

This breakfast included an introduction from Senator Aguilar, statements from Senator Chuck Hagel, and reports from family members dealing with addicted loved ones. Glen Elwell of the Nebraska State Patrol, reported on issues they deal with on a daily basis that senators could address with new legislation. Also, reports from treatment providers and a success story from a recovering addict finished up the breakfast.


Region V Systems

Nebraska State Patrol

Rural Sheriffs Association

Community Health Endowment

Four Corners Health Department

Nebraska Department of Corrections

Lutheran Family Services

State Fire Marshal

Blue Valley Prevention Services

Nebraska Drug Court

Nebraska Public Health and Human Services

UNL Extension

Interfaith Council


$ 500.00 Federal Government

$  700.00 State Government

$  320.00 Non governmental Organizations

$ 1,768.00 Private and other sources

$3,288.00 Total