Areas in the Maple Creek watershed have been prone to flood events for decades, affecting families for generations. Citizens and community members from the watershed have asked the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District to assist with flood reduction projects and conservation programs to help prevent damages from flood water and sediment and minimize future flood events.

Protecting Northeast Nebraska from flood events is the responsibility of the Lower Elkhorn NRD, assigned by the Nebraska Legislature. The Lower Elkhorn NRD board and staff work continually to study areas where flooding occurs.

In 2020, the Lower Elkhorn NRD was awarded a grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service through the Watershed Flood Prevention and Operations program to complete the Maple Creek Watershed Plan & Environmental Assessment. FYRA engineering is working on the plan, which aims to evaluate potential flood reduction projects to reduce overall flood risk and support the largely agricultural economy in the Maple Creek watershed. Leigh, Clarkson, Howells and Nickerson are the four communities located within the watershed.

“The Maple Creek plan is a planning document to evaluate what is technically and economically feasible and socially acceptable,” said Curt Becker, projects manager for the Lower Elkhorn NRD. “For example, the Clarkson levee and a bridge near Nickerson can be further evaluated with this plan.”

Becker added, “We are trying to come up with solutions to reduce flooding in the area. Most dam structures have not been adequately supported, and we’re looking for other options which can benefit these communities and rural areas.”

Letters were sent out to the public as the Lower Elkhorn NRD continues to request ideas to formulate this plan.

“If dams are not fully supported, then we can work together on other flood reduction plans, including detention cells, wetland enhancement, and levee and channel improvements,” Becker said. “If you have poor producing soils next to a stream channel, creating a flood water retention area could benefit your land and the watershed. We’re asking the public to bring their ideas to the table.”

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