Annual Conference Showcases New Agricultural Plans

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KEARNEY, Neb. Groups working to preserve Nebraska's land introduced new projects and technology this week.

The state's 23 Natural Resource Districts met at an annual conference in Kearney to cover a variety of issues from flood control to water supply and water management.

They reviewed key issues, such as the latest on an agreement to help conserve the Niobrara River. They're hoping to acquire the water rights associated with the Spencer Dam, north of O'Neill.

"There's a chance for us to acquire water right so we can actually protect the river for uses of agriculture, recreation, fish and wildlife purposes," said Pat O'Brien, general manager of the Upper Niobrara White NRD.

It was also a chance for vendors to hear the needs of the NRDs.

"We usually sell about 700 to 800,000 trees to them every year," said Richard Gilbert with the Charles E. Bessey Tree Nursery. "Our other big customer is the U.S. Forrest Service. So all of the wildfires that have been going on out in Colorado, Wyoming and even Nebraska at Pine Ridge- we sell trees to them."

But the education is not limited to those who went to the conference. Anyone at home can access the NRD's new website (NRDstories.org), launched this week.

"It's important because it preserves part of Nebraska's Natural Resource Districts' history," said web developer, Sandra Dizderveic.

"You can search by keywords so if you're just curious about mob grazing, you can type that in and find out which interview refers to mob grazing," said Jesse Starita with the Water for Food Institute.