About Us

creek in nebraska

Managing, Protecting, & Developing Nebraska’s Natural Resources

In 1969, the Natural Resources District legislation was signed into law to combine Nebraska’s 154 special purpose entities into 24 Natural Resource Districts. Involved in the passage and signing of the bill to create Natural Resources Districts in Nebraska were the following men: Harold Siek, Herman Link, Chet Ellis, Senator Maurice Kremer, Governor Norbert Tiemann, Warren Patefield, Milton Fricke, and Warren Fairchild. The Natural Resources District came in existence on July 1, 1972, to begin protection efforts such as water conservation, tree planting, acre certification, groundwater management plans and cost share programs.

The Upper Elkhorn NRD protects the natural resources of Antelope County, Holt County, Rock County and Wheeler County, all located in Nebraska. They have the responsibility of managing, developing and protecting the soil and water resources found in the district. This responsibility means keeping an eye on soil erosion, wildlife habitats, water supply levels and much more! While practicing forestry and rangeland management, they offer many conservation programs to aid landowners in preserving and improving our utilization and conservation of groundwater and surface water. The Upper Elkhorn NRD staff is available to work with students, teachers, and the general public to promote conservation education and public awareness of our natural resources and how to preserve, protect, and enhance them for future generations.

Signing the bill to create the NRD system

Our History

July 1, 2017, marks the 45th Anniversary of Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts. In 1969 the Nebraska Unicameral passed legislative bill 1357 creating the natural resources district, and in 1972, 154 special purpose districts were merged to form the natural resources districts or NRDs. These districts are divided into Nebraska’s twelve major river basins and named after them respectively. NRDs are unique in that Nebraska is the only state in the U.S. to manage their natural resources in this manner.

The Upper Elkhorn Natural Resources District is one of 23 natural resources districts in the State of Nebraska. It has been charged with the responsibility of managing, protecting and developing Nebraska’s natural resources for the good of the state and future generations. The Upper Elkhorn NRD is located in north central Nebraska with its main office in O’Neill. The NRD consists of 3,052 square miles or 1,953,280 acres of rangeland, grassland, and cropland. It is made up of 99% Antelope County; the southern 60 % of Holt County; eastern 60% of Rock County; and northern 25% of Wheeler County.

The Upper Elkhorn NRD is governed by 15 Board of Directors who are elected by the general public. Each director is elected to a four-year term within one of seven sub districts and one director is elected to an at-large position. As the governing body, the Board of Directors organizes programs and policies which are then administered by the district staff. The budget for the Upper Elkhorn NRD is acquired from Nebraska’s General Fund, state aid, local property taxes, district sales, necessary cash reserve and collective agreements with other agencies.

12 Responsibilities of NRDs

  1. Erosion Prevention and Control
  2. Prevention of Damages from Flood Water & Sediment
  3. Flood Prevention and Control
  4. Soil Conservation
  5. Water Supply for Beneficial Uses
  6. Development, Management, Utilization and Conservation of Groundwater and Surface Water
  7. Pollution Control
  8. Solid Waste Disposal and Sanitary Drainage
  9. Drainage Improvement and Channel Rectification
  10. Development and Management of Fish and Wildlife Habitat
  11. Development and Management of Recreational Park Facilities
  12. Forestry and Range Management
Rural Road in Nebraska