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

November 2012

In This Issue:

  1. Executive Director's Corner
  2. Big Splash Water Exhibit at the Lincoln Children's Museum
  3. Glacier Creek Watershed Initiative
  4. Growing Groundwater Awareness Program
  5. Christmas Open House
  6. Upcoming Events
  7. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and find us on YouTube


Executive Director Corner

The Trust Board and the Grants Committee met November 8th. The 2013 grant process is well underway and it is amazing the variety of applications we received from across the state.  We have 109 new applications to rank over the next two months.

The legislative season is just around the corner and the Natural Resources Committee is preparing their water report to be completed by December 1, 2012.  That report will lay out many of the water issues that have been talked about the last few sessions and potential legislation and funding will be outlined in the report. 

The holiday season is upon us and if you get a chance to stop by the Ferguson House during our holiday open house, you can enjoy cookies and refreshments on Sunday December 9th from 1:00 to 5:00pm.  The Kennard House next door will also be open that day.

The Huskers continue to give fans heart palpitations in volleyball and football.  Just when you think the volleyball team is one of the best in the land, they drop a game to a lower ranked opponent. Let’s hope they can get to the final four and stabilize their play.  The football team has found a way to come from behind in several games and squeak out victories.  Athletic Director Tom Osborne had a great sendoff during the last home game.  Tom is not one for pageantry, but I think he did appreciate the praise for all of his hard work and service.    

The weather has been unseasonably warm, but we need moisture in whatever form we can get it.  At least the wild fire situation has died down, but it is ever present until we get some snow cover.

Happy holidays to you and your families and safe travels.

Mark A. Brohman
Executive Director


Big Splash Water Exhibit at the Lincoln Children's Museum

(submitted by Michaella J. Kumke, Director of Marketing
Lincoln Children's Museum)

In early June 2012, Lincoln Children’s Museum opened the Big Splash Water Exhibit. Since that time, nearly 63,000 visitors have enjoyed this new permanent exhibit which was made possible through Trust funds.

The attraction spans approximately 2,000 square feet on the Museum's lower level. It rises 18 feet into the air, and--true to life--water rains down from clouds over a mountain peak. With its fascinating combination of discovery and learning for youths ages birth to 10 years old, children gain a stronger understanding of how living creatures impact the water cycle.

The exhibit incorporates multiple hands-on play stations, including locks and dams to build, toys to float, sand to sift and waterfalls to run little hands beneath. Big Splash also includes five water-spitting beavers, safe splash seats designed for infants at the base of the mountain, and a water table where older children apply ideas related to mechanical engineering. Children can sift real sand through their fingers and interactive educational concept displays on the perimeter of the exhibit teach children and adults about the various roles of water in our daily lives. Special considerations were included for children with activity limitations as well. Notches along the winding river provide spaces for children who use wheelchairs or walkers the option of accessing the exhibit. The tactile elements along the surfaces feature impressions of leaves, stones and paths. These add interest for children with and without visual impairments. 

Children create, discover and learn through the power of play. The primary concept at work in this exhibit is that water is a natural and necessary resource that requires our attention and protection. Lincoln Children’s Museum continues to educate guests who are young and young at heart about important topics like nature conservancy.




Glacier Creek Watershed Initiative

(submitted by Thomas B. Bragg, Professor, Plant Community/Fire Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Nebraska at Omaha)

Glacier Creek Preserve:  Since 2000, the Nebraska Environmental Trust has supported efforts of the University of Nebraska at Omaha both to improve habitat diversity at the 160 acre Allwine Prairie Preserve and to acquire surrounding land to create the Glacier Creek Preserve, a diverse, high quality environmental education and research resource for the region that is within easy access of the Omaha metropolitan area.  In addition to buffering against surrounding land development, expanding the preserve to a planned total of 650 adjacent acres is designed to create a unique environmental resource encompassing an entire small watershed.


Schematic of Glacier Creek Project from planning document

With NET funds provided in 2000, the spring-fed Glacier Creek at Allwine Prairie was restored from a series of degraded farm ponds to its historic channel.  More recently, two land acquisitions, one in 2009 and the other presently (2012) being finalized, have expanded the Glacier Creek Preserve to 342 acres.  These purchases have been the direct result of Trust funding matched with funds from the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District and the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  The 2009 purchase of the 86-acre Papio Tract extended the preserve boundary eastward to the Big Papillion Creek and provided for restoration of creek and wetland habitats.  The 2012 purchase of the 76-acre North Viewshed, which overlooks the preserve from the north, ensures a future prairie view rather than a view of houses adjacent to the preserve.


Looking across a high diversity, lowland prairie to the North Viewshed in the distance which, without Trust support would eventually have had houses.

Except for areas containing regionally rare slope wetlands, these tracts will be restored to tallgrass prairie.  The most recent (2012) award by the Trust, scheduled over three years, provides funds to go towards the purchase of the West Watershed which contains the upper reaches of the Glacier Creek drainage.  Private donors are among those being sought to help provide matching funds for this part of the overall project.  Except for a two-acre wetland and several creek drainages, most of the West Watershed will be restored to tallgrass prairie. 

Also key to the success of the Glacier Creek Project is a major donation in 2011 from Barbi Hayes which presently is funding the conversion of a historic barn and accompanying silo to a high-tech environmental education and research facility (The Barn at Glacier Creek Preserve) located at the preserve’s center.


The historic barn and silo at 156th and Ida Streets on its way to Allwine Prairie in January 2012.

The facility is scheduled for completion in early 2013.  The Glacier Creek Preserve, because of its location within a short distance of the Omaha metropolitan area, provides unique regional educational opportunities for local and watershed-level environmental experience for individuals, classes, and organizations across the region. 


Growing Groundwater Awareness Program

(submitted by Brian Reetz, Program Coordinator, The Groundwater Foundation)

The Groundwater Foundation’s Growing Groundwater Awareness in Nebraska program continues to make an impact across the state of Nebraska. Within the past year, the program has broadcast its radio spots to a statewide listenership including NET Radio and KRVN and its’ television spots have aired on NETV, KOLN-KGIN and MyTV.

The Groundwater Foundation also expanded its work in the western part of the state, including the communities of Gothenburg and Chappell. One of the most engaging events was when the Groundwater Foundation worked with Chappell on a groundwater awareness project to help citizens learn more about their groundwater, how to improve their watering habits and how to help make groundwater sustainable in the community. Included in the city’s water bill was a flyer that encouraged residents to come pick up a free rain gauge from the city office. Included with the rain gauge was a survey that the resident filled out in order to be entered to win Chappell Chamber bucks, donated by the Chappell Chamber. Over a three-week period, residents recorded how much water was in the rain gauge at the end of each day (either through rainfall or their sprinklers). After collecting the results, the Groundwater Foundation provided information to the residents about best management practices, such as the best time of day to water, average water application by sprinklers, and how many gallons it takes to water an average sized lawn for a week. Over 30 percent of the households in the community of 1,000 participated in this conservation activity. It’s through action activities like these that a change can take place and show the importance of using water wisely.

In the coming weeks, the Groundwater Foundation will also be launching, Water1der, an educational app about groundwater. Players are challenged in different areas of groundwater/water basics knowledge and in many different formats of questions. It will be yet another exciting way to engage and educate Nebraskans about groundwater and how they can help protect and conserve it. Learn more by visiting, www.groundwater.org/water1der.html.



Christmas Open House







The Ferguson House, located at 700 South 16th

Date: December 9, 2012 (Sunday) - Free Admission

Time: 1:00 pm - 5:00pm

Built between 1909 and 1911, the Ferguson House is a treasure of Nebraska's past and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built by William Henry Ferguson in downtown Lincoln, across from the Nebraska State Capitol. The house was built and decorated in Georgian Revival style, very elegant with clean lines in contrast to the heavily decorated Victorian style.

The State of Nebraska became the owner of the house in 1961, though Mrs Ferguson resided there until her death in 1972 at the age of 103. Today, the Ferguson House is managed by the Nebraska Environmental Trust and can be rented for meetings and events. Those interested in a tour of the Ferguson House are more than welcome to join us December 9, 2012 at the Ferguson House. You may also visit the Historic Kennard House next door which will also be open for tours.


Upcoming Events

Please note change of meeting date below:

- February 12, 2013 (Tuesday) - 1st Quarter Board Meeting, Ferguson House, Lincoln NE. Time: 1:30pm

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