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

December 2010

In This Issue:

  1. Executive Director Corner
  2. Forest Enhancement Project Underway at Smith Falls State Park
  3. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the Staff of Nebraska Environmental Trust
  4. Upcoming Events


Executive Director Corner

Where has the year gone?  The holiday season is here and it is time to get out the 2011 calendar.  The Grant Committee has met four times and has reviewed each grant.  Their recommendations will be presented at the February 3rd Board Meeting.

The State is finding itself in a bigger financial pinch than last year and a few Senators have already made mention of the Trust funds.  It might be an interesting year at the Legislature.  

Sheila is putting the finishing touches on our 2010 Annual Report.  It is headed to the printer and will be available after the first of the year.  As always, we have highlighted some of the great projects.  We added four extra pages this year to allow us to share even more of the stories of our grantees.

The Huskers couldn’t grab the Big 12 title in football and were left with a less desirable bowl, but it is nice being in a bowl.  Those teams who have had their seasons end already would gladly trade places with the Huskers.  The Lady Huskers ran into a tough Washington volleyball team and never got the chance to play in the Final Four in Kansas City.  But taking the Big 12 North title in football and the Big 12 title in volleyball the last year in the conference was a great achievement.  Hello Big 10.

May each and every one of you enjoy the holidays and your families.  Happy holidays and safe travels to all of you.  

Mark A. Brohman
Executive Director


Forest Enhancement Project Underway at Smith Falls State Park

By Mike Groenewold, Park Horticulturist, Nebraska Game and Parks

Early in 2010, the Nebraska Environmental Trust funded the Smith Falls State Park (SP) Forest Enhancement Project, and work began on this unique project during the summer. A 76-mile stretch of the middle Niobrara River, which includes the park, is designated as a National Scenic River. This reach of the river is referred to as the biological crossroads of the Midwest as the river’s deeply incised valley is the intersection of a diverse mix of plant communities, including several forest and prairie types.

In recent decades, eastern red cedar and ponderosa pine densities have increased substantially in the middle Niobrara River due to fire suppression. On the south bluff of Smith Falls SP, the cedars and pines have reached extreme densities in the sub-canopy of the eastern deciduous forest, paper birch stands and remnant aspen groves.

Phase One of the project, involving thinning cedars and young ponderosa pines from other woodland types, began this summer with a contractual thinning project on 18 acres of dense woodlands. Cedars and pines of all diameters were cut and piled to reduce the stocking of upland woodlands by 70 percent. Cut trees were piled for burning during favorable winter weather during the next year or two. Due to the size and number of slash piles created in 2010, project managers plan to specify grinding or mulching of thinned material where practical and affordable in future thinning projects. Planning is underway for a second thinning project on ten acres during the summer of 2011.

thinning crew

Game & Parks Thinning Crew

Project managers hope to implement Phase Two, which would further the goal of restoring this valuable and unique ecosystem. After woodland densities and ladder fuels are reduced to manageable levels, periodic prescribed burns may be used to prevent reinvasion of eastern red cedar and excess ponderosa pine.  

Throughout this project, managing the remaining hybrid aspen trees that still survive in the park will be a priority. Most remnant aspen groves have been thinned of red cedar and other competing trees by Game and Parks and the National Park Service staff, along with volunteers from the Western Nebraska Resource Council. This material also has been collected in manageable piles for burning. Managers believe burning these piles, located a safe distance from remaining mature trees, will stimulate root suckering in soil beneath the piles to help regenerate replacement trees. Burning of these piles is planned for this winter.


Thinning work in progress

Staff of Game and Parks thanks several project partners for ongoing technical advice, volunteer in-kind labor, land easement access, cost-share funding and general support. The Partners are: The Nature Conservancy, National Park Service, Nebraska Forest Service, Northern Prairies Land Trust and Western Nebraska Resource Council. Game and Parks also appreciates funding provided by the Nebraska Environmental Trust to implement this worthwhile project.



Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Staff of the Nebraska Environmental Trust



From left to right: Sheila Johnson (Public Information Officer), Marilyn Tabor (Grants Administrator), Lori Moore (Administrative Secretary), Mark Brohman (Executive Director) and Tina Harris (Grants Assistant).


Upcoming Events

- January 10-14, 2011 (Tuesday) - Nebraska Environmenta Trust Display at The Nebraska Wellhead Protection Network Meeting, First Floor Rotunda, State Capitol

- February 2, 2011 (Wednesday) - The 16th Annual Rainwater Basin Joint Venture Informational Seminar, 9:00am - 4:30pm, Hastings Quality Inn

- February 3, 2011 (Thursday) - Nebraska Environmental Trust 1st Quarter Board Meeting, Ferguson House, Lincoln.


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