Nebraska's NRD System Celebrates 45 Years

This month, Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts celebrate 45 years of service to Nebraska.  The NRD system got its start in July 1972 and the Districts have been helping Nebraskans to conserve the state’s natural resources ever since. 

Natural Resources Districts were formed by legislation passed by the Unicameral that merged several existing agencies, including Soil and Water Conservation Districts.  All or parts of 16 counties make up the Lower Loup NRD and nearly every county had a Soil and Water Conservation District.  That meant the Lower Loup NRD started out with 54 directors.  Some had been SWCD directors and others were appointed.

The legislation allowed the new NRDs to form executive committees to manage their affairs until District residents could vote in a new board.  Due to the geographic size of the Lower Loup (the NRD is larger than several states), the executive committee voted to maintain a board of 21 directors.  There are still 21 directors on the board today.

The Executive Committee selected Ord as the location of the NRD headquarters office.   Ord’s selection was due to its central location in the District.  Columbus, Albion, and Loup City were also considered as possible sites for the NRD’s main office.

The first NRD meeting was held in St. Paul in the upper level of the Legion Club in July 1972.  The board considered holding meetings at rotating locations across the district, but it wasn’t practical to move the business end. 

Nebraska’s 23 NRDs are set up to serve a variety of purposes.  Their mission includes development, management and conservation groundwater and surface water, pollution control, and water supply for beneficial use.  NRDs also handle erosion prevention and control, flood prevention and control, prevention of damage from floodwater and sediment, and soil conservation.           

Natural Resources Districts are involved with drainage improvement and channel rectification, and solid waste disposal and sanitary discharge.  The NRDs also offer assistance with forestry and range management, development and management of recreational and park facilities and the development and management of fish and wildlife habitat.

The Lower Loup NRD Board is led by Chairman Joseph Citta, Jr. of Columbus, Vice Chairman Jim Eschliman of Ericson, Secretary Hank Thoene of Burwell, and Treasurer Rollie “Skip” Amberry of Mason City.  The District’s General Manager is Leon "Butch" Koehlmoos and Assistant General Manager is Russell Callan.

For more information about the services of the Lower Loup NRD, call (308) 728-3221 or drop by the District Headquarters office, 2620 Airport Drive in Ord.