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Middle Niobrara NRD evaluates successful river restoration projects in the Long Pine Creek watershed

Middle Niobrara NRD evaluates successful river restoration projects in the Long Pine Creek watershed
Middle Niobrara NRD evaluates successful river restoration projects in the Long Pine Creek watershed

The Long Pine Creek Watershed Project includes two-stage, self-regulating, man-made rock riffle structures consisting of bank reinforcements, riprap, and vegetation cover.

Natural Resources District

VALENTINE, Nebraska – The Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District (NRD) recently conducted a thorough assessment of stream restoration projects in the Long Pine Creek Watershed (LPCW) following significant rainfall. Between June 17 and June 21, 2024, landowners in Brown County reported 9 to 11 inches of rain in the area. The restoration projects demonstrated remarkable resilience and had little erosion along stream banks.

“Thanks to careful planning, we are pleased that the conservation work withstood such heavy rainfall,” said Mike Murphy, General Manager of Middle Niobrara NRD. “These efforts not only protect our natural resources, but also improve the quality of life for residents and landowners in the Long Pine Creek watershed.”

These stream restoration initiatives are a collaborative effort of local landowners, the Nebraska Environmental Trust, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Ainsworth Irrigation District, Brown County Commissioners, Natural Resources Commission, and the Middle Niobrara NRD. The projects were identified and implemented as part of the Middle Niobrara NRD’s Water Quality Management Plan, with the first phase focused on developing the plan and identifying focus areas within the LPCW.

Between 2020 and 2023, three major river restoration projects were undertaken to address critical issues such as water quality, fish and wildlife habitat conservation, river instability, subsidence, scour, erosion, excessive sedimentation, and bank degradation. These efforts are aimed at improving water conditions and remediating the LPCW’s status on the 303(d) Impaired Waters List. LPCW’s river restoration work included bank stabilization, riprap, and replanting or vegetation cover to reduce erosion.

The results of these projects are significant, protecting and enhancing habitat on 36 miles of streams, improving water quality on an additional 27 miles of streams, and protecting over 6,800 acres of land. These initiatives directly benefit more than 210 individual landowners and provide indirect benefits to more than 2,900 residents in the Long Pine Creek Watershed.

The river restoration projects were funded with $1,746,530 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust and $1,907,000 in federal funds, and supplemented by local grants totaling $652,819.71.

About the Middle Niobrara Natural Resources DistrictThe Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District serves Cherry, Brown, Rock and Keya Paha counties. Through collaboration with local, state and federal partners, the district is dedicated to conserving, protecting and enhancing Nebraska’s natural resources.

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