NU Water-Related Research in Five Rivers WMA

The list below shows water-related research being conducted within your WMA or that affects your WMA. They are sorted by water topic, then by primary contact's last name.

Displaying 18 records found for Five Rivers WMA


Topic Climate
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Hu, Qi (Steve)
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email qhu2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-6642
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=54
Project Information
Title Understanding Farmers' Forecast Use from Their Beliefs, Values, Social Norms, and Perceived Obstacles
Other(s) Lisa M. Pytlik Zillig, Center for Instructional Innovation, lpytlikzillig2@unl.edu; Gary D. Lynne, Agricultural Economics, glynne1@unl.edu; Alan J. Tomkins, Public Policy Center, atomkins2@unl.edu; William J. Waltman; Michael J. Hayes, School of Natural Resources, mhayes2@unl.edu; Kenneth G. Hubbard, School of Natural Resources, khubbard1@unl.edu; Ikrom Artikov; Stacey J. Hoffman, Public Policy Center, shoffman3@unl.edu; Donald A. Wilhite, School of Natural Resources, dwilhite2@unl.edu 
Description

Although the accuracy of weather and climate forecasts is continuously improving and new information retrieved from climate data is adding to the understanding of climate variation, use of the forecasts and climate information by farmers in farming decisions has changed little. This lack of change may result from knowledge barriers and psychological, social, and economic factors that undermine farmer motivation to use forecasts and climate information. According to the theory of planned behavior (TPB), the motivation to use forecasts may arise from personal attitudes, social norms, and perceived control or ability to use forecasts in specific decisions. These attributes are examined using data from a survey designed around the TPB and conducted among farming communities in Otoe, Seward and Fillmore counties. These counties were chosen to represent dryland, mixed dryland and irrigated, and mostly irrigated cropping systems typical in the western U.S. Corn Belt region.

There were three major findings:

  1. the utility and value of the forecasts for farming decisions as perceived by farmers are, on average, around 3.0 on a 0-7 scale, indicating much room to improve attitudes toward the forecast value.
  2. The use of forecasts by farmers to influence decisions is likely affected by several social groups that can provide "expert viewpoints" on forecast use.
  3. A major obstacle, next to forecast accuracy, is the perceived identity and reliability of the forecast makers. Given the rapidly increasing number of forecasts in this growing service business, the ambiguous identity of forecast providers may have left farmers confused and may have prevented them from developing both trust in forecasts and skills to use them.

These findings shed light on productive avenues for increasing the influence of forecasts, which may lead to greater farming productivity. In addition, this study establishes a set of reference points that can be used for comparisons with future studies to quantify changes in forecast use and influence.

Project Support US Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Human Dimensions in Global Change Program
Project Website
Report Hu_etal_JAMC_2006.pdf
Current Status Published in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology 2006 45:1190-1201
Topic Climate
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Lynne, Gary
Unit Agricultural Economics
Email glynne1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-8281
Web Page http://agecon.unl.edu/lynne
Project Information
Title Understanding the Influence of Climate Forecasts on Farmer Decisions as Planned Behavior
Other(s) Ikrom Artikov; Stacey J. Hoffman, Public Policy Center, shoffman3@unl.edu; Lisa M. Pytlik Zillig, Center for Instructional Innovation, lpytlikzillig2@unl.edu; (Steve) Qi Hu, School of Natural Resources, qhu2@unl.edu; Alan J. Tomkins, Public Policy Center, atomkins2@unl.edu; Kenneth G. Hubbard, School of Natural Resources, khubbard1@unl.edu; Michael J. Hayes, School of Natural Resources, mhayes2@unl.edu; and William J. Waltman 
Description

Results of a set of four regression models applied to recent survey data of farmers in Otoe, Seward and Fillmore counties suggest the causes that drive farmer intentions of using weather and climate information and forecasts in farming decisions. The model results quantify the relative importance of attitude, social norm, perceived behavioral control, and financial capability in explaining the influence of climate-conditions information and short-term and long-term forecasts on agronomic, crop insurance, and crop marketing decisions.

Attitude, serving as a proxy for the utility gained from the use of such information, had the most profound positive influence on the outcome of all the decisions, followed by norms. The norms in the community, as a proxy for the utility gained from allowing oneself to be influenced by others, played a larger role in agronomic decisions than in insurance or marketing decisions. In addition, the interaction of controllability (accuracy, availability, reliability, timeliness of weather and climate information), self-efficacy (farmer ability and understanding), and general preference for control was shown to be a substantive cause. Yet control variables also have an economic side: The farm-sales variable as a measure of financial ability and motivation intensified and clarified the role of control while also enhancing the statistical robustness of the attitude and norms variables in better clarifying how they drive the influence. Overall, the integrated model of planned behavior from social psychology and derived demand from economics, that is, the "planned demand model," is more powerful than models based on either of these approaches alone. Taken together, these results suggest that the "human dimension" needs to be better recognized so as to improve effective use of climate and weather forecasts and information for farming decision making.

Project Support US Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Human Dimensions in Global Change Program
Project Website
Report Lynne_Climate.pdf
Current Status Published in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology 2006 45:1202-1214
Topic Drought
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Hanson, Paul
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email phanson2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-7762
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=758
Project Information
Title Pre-Historic Drought Records from the Eastern Platte River Valley
Other(s) R. Matt Joeckel, School of Natural Resources, rjoeckel3@unl.edu; Aaron Young, School of Natural Resources, ayoung3@unl.edu 
Description Recent studies have related large-scale dune activity in the Nebraska Sandhills and elsewhere on the western Great Plains to prehistoric megadroughts. At the eastern margin of the Great Plains, however, little or no effort has been expended toward identifying the impacts and severity of these climatic events. The eastern margin of the Great Plains should be of particular interest in paleclimate studies because it represents an important biogeographic boundary that may have shifted over time. In dunes around the present confluence of the Loup and Platte Rivers near Duncan, Nebraska, optical dating contrains, for the first time, the chronology of dune activity in the central-eastern margin of the Great Plains. A total of 17 optical age estimates taken from dune sediments clearly indicate two significant periods of dune activation at 5,100 to 3,500 years ago and 850-500 years ago. These reconstructed time intervals overlap both periods of large-scale dune activity in the Nebraska Sandhills and ancient droughts identified from other paleoclimate proxy records on the western Great Plains. The agreement between results from the eastern margin of the Great Plains and data from farther west indicate that megadroughts were truly regional in their effect. In order to further test a hypothesis of geographically-widespread megadrought effects, future work will date other dune deposits in eastern Nebraska from sites along the Loup and Elkhorn Rivers, as well as dunes in east-central Kansas and western Iowa.
Project Support United States Geological Survey Statemap Program
Project Website
Report Hanson Eastern Platte Valley.pdf
Current Status Published in Geomorphology 103 (2009) 555-561
Topic Extension
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Hay, Paul
Unit Extension
Email phay1@unl.edu
Phone 402-223-1384
Web Page http://gage.unl.edu/web/gage/aboutus
Project Information
Title Extension Programming, Gage County, Nebraska
Description

Current programing and research includes a cropping systems rotation study;,earthworm populations in tilled versus no-till fields, water infiltration on tilled versus no-tilled fields, home water wells and treatment systems, and radon indoor air quality.

As of spring 2008 Gage County had:
  • 128 farmers with over 75,000 acres of no-till carbon contracts offered for sale on the Chicago Climate Exchange. Future efforts are focused on water quality cost share efforts targeting atrazine reduction in the Blue River system and unintended consequences of our ethanol and biofuel development in Nebraska.
  • 560 4-H members in 29 clubs and another 1500+ school enrichment contacts every year. Gage County 4-H features active and changing projects to meet youth needs like robotics, GPS training, conservancy breeds, corn rootworm surveys following UNL research guidelines, and 560 5th graders participating in an annual earth festival education program. The festival features seven half hour sessions on water and earth science education held outdoors at Camp Jefferson.
Project Support n/a
Project Website http://www.gage.unl.edu/
Report
Current Status Continuous
Topic Extension
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Skipton, Sharon
Unit Southeast Research and Extension Center
Email sskipton1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-3662
Web Page http://www.southeast.unl.edu/staffdir/Skipton_Sharon
Project Information
Title Southeast Research and Extension Center
Other(s) Gary Zoubek, York County Extension, gzoubek@unl.edu 
Description Each day University of Nebraska Extension makes a difference in the lives of adults and youth. The faculty and staff in the Southeast Research and Extension Center and the 28 County Offices work to bring relevant researched based information to people in communities, towns and urban centers. Our efforts rely increasingly on partnerships with government agencies, business, industry, schools and community organizations. Working together with our partners Extension strives to strengthen the social, economic and environmental base of Nebraska's communities. Our programs must be ever-changing as Extension listens and responds to issues as they evolve. The Southeast Research and Extension District is unique because it serves both urban and rural communities Nebraska. The faculty and staff are committed to bringing the resources of the University and its research based information to the individuals and communities of Southeast Nebraska.
Project Support Varies according to program and project - for more information see http://www.southeast.unl.edu/
Project Website http://www.southeast.unl.edu/
Report
Current Status Continuous
Topic Hydrology
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Chen, Xun-Hong
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email xchen2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-0772
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=19
Project Information
Title Hydrologic Connections in the Big and Little Blue River Basins
Other(s) Cheng Cheng, School of Natural Resources, ccheng2@unl.edu 
Description Over extraction of groundwater near a stream can lower stream stage and induce streamflow depletion when the stream and aquifer are hydrologically connected. The Little Blue River Basin is an area of intensive groundwater development for irrigation, and the streamflow depletion in this basin was determined by an analog model (Emery, 1966). However, the post audit of the model (Alley and Emery, 1986) suggested that the decline of water-levels was overestimated and streamflow depletion was underestimated. Therefore, it is necessary to re-evaluate stream-aquifer interactions in the basin. In this study, an area is chosen for this analysis from the basin and three main streams -- the Little Blue River, Big Sandy Creek, and Spring Creek are included. Channel sediments and structures play an important role in determining stream-aquifer interactions. Firstly, field and laboratory methods including geoprobe logging and permeameter tests are utilized to investigate the channel deposits in the three main streams in the Little Blue River Basin. Results show that channels have low hydraulic-permeable layers which reduce their hydraulic connections to the adjacent aquifers. Secondly, a groundwater flow model is constructed to identify the hydraulic properties of the aquifer and evaluate streamflow depletion under groundwater withdrawals in the study area. Modeling results indicate that streamflow depletion is very low and aquifer storage loss is the main source of groundwater pumpage.
Project Support Upper Big Blue Natural Resources Distrect, Lower Big Blue Natural Resources District, Little Blue Natural Resources District
Project Website
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Hydrology
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Cheng, Cheng
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email ccheng2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472 0772
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/graduatestudent-member.asp?pid=798
Project Information
Title Statistical Distribution of Streambed Vertical Hydraulic Conductivity along the Platte River, Nebraska
Other(s) Xun-Hong Chen, School of Natural Resources, xchen2@unl.edu, Jinxi Song, Deming Wang 
Description Streambed vertical hydraulic conductivity (Kv) plays an important role in understanding and quantifying the stream-aquifer interactions. While several researchers have discussed the spatial variability of streambed horizontal hydraulic conductivity or Kv at one or several close-located sites in a river, they did not develop any statistical distribution analysis of streambed Kv at distant sites along a large river. In this paper, the statistical distribution and spatial variation of streambed Kv at 18 test sites in a 300-km reach of the Platte River in Nebraska are presented. Insitu permeameter tests using the falling-head method were carried out to calculate the streambed Kv values. Fine-grained sediments transported by two tributaries, the Loup River and the Elkhorn River, to the Platte River appear to result in lower streambed Kv values downstream of the confluences between the Platte River and the tributaries. The streambed Kv values were found to be normally distributed at nearly each test site. When the correlated Kv values were eliminated from the grid sampling plots, the remaining independent sub-datasets of streambed Kv values were still in normal distribution at each test site. Furthermore, the combined streambed Kv values upstream of the first confluence between the Platte River and the Loup River was normally distributed, which may be due to the lack of tributaries in-between and thus streambed sediments were well distributed in this reach and belonged to a single population of hydraulic conductivity values. In contrast, the combined dataset of all measurements conducted downstream of this confluence was no longer in normal distribution, presumably as a result of the mixing of different sediment sources.
Project Support Lower Platte North Natural Resources District, Program for Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Team in University of Ministry of Education of China
Project Website
Report Cheng_Distribution.pdf
Current Status Published in Water Resources Management DOI 10.1007/s11269-010-9698-5
Topic Hydrology
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Eisenhauer, Dean
Unit Biological Systems Engineering
Email deisenhauer1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-1637
Web Page http://bse.unl.edu/faculty/Eisenhauer.shtml
Project Information
Title Hydraulic Characteristics and Dynamics of Beaver Dams in a Midwestern U.S. Agricultural Watershed
Other(s) M. Carla McCullough; Michael Dosskey, USDA Agroforestry Center, mdosskey@fs.fed.us; David Admiraal, Civil Engineering, dadmiraal2@unl.edu 
Description

Populations of North American beaver (castor canadensis) have increased n the past several decades throughout the Midwestern U.S., leading to an increase in the frequency of beaver dams in small streams. Beaver dams form ponds and slow water velocity. Multiple dams create a "stair-step" effect on the water surface profile. The hydraulic and geomorphic influence of beaver dams on streams is the focus of this study.

The study area, Little Muddy Creek watershed in eastern Nebraska, is predominantly in agricultural land use. The main reach of the 3rd-order watershed was surveyed for beaver dams from 2003 to 2005. Dam locations were documented with mapping grade GPS, integrity of dam structure was noted, and upstream and downstream water surface elevations were measured. Failure of dam structure was documented following runoff-producing storms. While some dams were repaired within weeks, others were abandoned and left to degrade, causing a significant and transient change in the water surface profile of the stream.

Tests were conducted in the laboratory to determine discharge-rating curves for a simulated beaver dam. The upstream and downstream slopes and height of the dam were based on field-surveyed characteristics. Initial tests were run using a smoother surfaced dam, followed by tests with sticks attached to the smooth surface mimicking the roughness of a beaver dam. The roughness caused by the sticks significantly altered the stage-discharge relationship of the dam.

Field observations showed that the spatial arrangement and hydraulic condition of beaver dams were temporally dynamic in both short and long term scales. Field and laboratory results indicate that beaver dam structures could be modeled as broad-crested weirs. Other results of the study indicated that 1730 metric ton of sediment were trapped over a 12-year period in an 800-m reach of the stream resulting in an average rise of the streambed elevation of 0.65 m.

Project Support Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
Project Website http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1156&context=usdaarsfacpub
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Hydrology
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Korus, Jesse
Unit Conservation and Survey Division
Email jkorus3@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-7561
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/staff-member.asp?pid=1010
Project Information
Title Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment (ENWRA)
Other(s)

Paul Hanson, School of Natural Resources / Conservation and Survey Division, phanson2@unl.edu; Sue Lackey, School of Natural Resources / Conservation and Survey Divison, slackey1@unl.edu; Matt Marxsen, School of Natural Resources / Conservation and Survey Division, mmarxsen2@unl.edu

Dana Divine, ENWRA Project Coordinator, ddivine@lpsnrd.org

Visit the Nebraska Maps and More website (http://nebraskamaps.unl.edu/home.asp) to order an excellent publication that describes this project more in-depth, Bulletin 1: Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment (ENWRA) Introduction to a Hydrogeological Study.

 
Description

Eastern Nebraska contains 70% of the state's population, but is most limited in terms of the state's groundwater supplies. The population in this region is expected to increase; thus the need for reliable water supplies is paramount. Natural resources districts (NRDs), charged with ground water management in Nebraska, seek to improve their management plans in response to growing populations, hydrologic drought, and new conjunctive management laws. Detailed mapping and characterization is necessary to delineate aquifers, assess their degree of hydrologic connection with streams and other aquifers, and better predict water quality and quantity.

In a collaborative effort between local, state, and federal agencies, the ENWRA project has been initiated to gain a clearer understanding of the region's groundwater and interconnected surface water resources. These resources can be difficult to characterize because of the complex geology created by past glaciations. Acquiring geologic and hydrologic data in the eastern, or glaciated, part of Nebraska requires the use of multiple, innovative techniques. Currently, little is known about which techniques are most effective and feasible. Once identified, the most effective and feasible tools will be used to provide data, interpretations, and models for improved water resources management.

The ENWRA group has established three pilot test sites for intensive study using a variety of investigative techniques. The goal of the initial work being done at the three pilot test sites is to determine the location, extent, and connectivity of aquifers with surface waters, with the hope of expanding these investigative techniques across other portions of eastern Nebraska. The pilot test sites are located near Oakland, Ashland, and Firth with each site exhibiting differing geologic conditions. The techniques that will be utilized in the study include: 1) helicopter electromagnetic (HEM) surveys; 2) ground-based geophysical surveys; 3) test hole drilling; and 4) geochemical analysis, just to name a few. So far HEM surveys were completed over approximately one township at each site. Other techniques were used to provide "ground truth" data to support the HEM interpretations.

The agencies involved in the ENWRA are:

  • Lower Platte South Natural Resources District
  • Lower Platte North Natural Resources District
  • Papio Missouri River Natural Resources District
  • Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District
  • Lewis and Clark Natural Resources District
  • Nemaha Natural Resources District
  • United States Geological Survey
  • University of Nebraska Lincoln Conservation and Survey Division
  • Nebraska Department of Natural Resources
  • Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
Project Support Nebraska Department of Natural Resources Interrelated Water Management Plan/Program
Project Website http://www.enwra.org/
Report
Current Status HEM surveys are complete and 3-D aquifer diagrams have been prepared. Report Status: Ashland area report has been prepared and is under review and the Firth area report is being written.
Pic 1 Project Image
Pic Caption 1 Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment (ENWRA) Study Sites. 
Topic Production Agriculture
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Burbach, Mark
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email mburbach1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-8210
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=268
Project Information
Title Personality Characteristics and Conservation Tillage: Understanding Farmers to Improve Surface Water Quality in Tuttle Creek Lake, Kansas
Other(s) Courtney Quinn 
Description

Farmers chose to adopt conservation practices for varying reasons. There are many models of pro-environmental behaviors that include personal, physical, economic, and institutional factors. Models of farmer behavior that include personal factors often only examine farmers' education level and years farming. Testing additional factors would greatly improve our understanding of the relationship between farmers' knowledge, skills, and abilities and conservation tillage. This study examines three potential variables in relation to farmers' conservation tillage practices that benefit surface water quality, environmental attitude, work motivation, and moral reasoning about the environment.

This study focused on the Tuttle Creek Watershed, specifically Gage and Jefferson counties in southeast Nebraska and Washington and Marshall counties in northeast Kansas. Land use in this watershed is primarily agricultural, with approximately 72% in corn, soybean, grain sorghum or other crops, 10% in pastureland, and 10% in woodland. Herbicides are used extensively to control agricultural weeds. Soil infiltration rates in this area range from moderate to very slow. As a consequence, most soils have a moderate to very high potential of transporting contaminants to surface waters. As the base of the watershed, Tuttle Creek Reservoir is listed as impaired for siltation, eutrophication, atrazine and alachlor. Extremely high suspended solids and nutrient loads enter the reservoir during storm events and excessive siltation has occurred in the upper third of the original conservation pool reducing its volume by approximately 30%. In November 2007 4000 mail surveys were delivered to farmers in the study area. Data on the farmers' tillage practices and the personality variables, hypothesized to be antecedents to tillage practices, were collected. 505 surveys were used for this analysis.

Survey results suggest that farmers motivated by tangible rewards, personal standards, and a strong sense of purpose are likely to use conservation tillage. Farmers who obtained a higher degree of education have learned either a concern for the environment or the ability to apply newer conservation technologies. Farmers with higher sales also use more conservation practices. This suggests that income allows farmers to implement practices that may have high initial start-up costs. Farmers who earn a high percentage of their family income from farming also use more conservation practices. A heavy dependence on the success of the farm may cause farmers to have a long-term outlook and see the benefits of using conservation.

The negative relationship between use of conservation tillage and Self-concept External motivation suggests that efforts to encourage adoption of no-till practices need to target the entire farming community. The negative correlation between age and use of conservation tillage and between years farming and use of conservation tillage suggests than younger farmers, and those who have been farming for fewer years, are more interested and willing to use conservation practices. This may be because younger farmers have grown up during a time of concern for the natural environment. Younger farmers may also be less set in their ways and therefore willing to try new practices.

Other personal characteristics should be studied in addition to those studied as part of this project. For example, researchers should investigate whether farmers experience empathy with downstream residents and the distance of concern farmers consider when making decisions. Farmers' need for control, and their perceived ability to create desired change should be researched to discover if correlations or causations exist with likelihood to use conservation tillage.

Project Support USDA
Project Website
Report Burbach_Personality.pdf
Current Status Published in Great Plains Research 2008 Vol. 18:1, 103-114
Topic Water Quality
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Riens, John
Unit Wisconsin Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Email John_Riens@fws.gov
Phone 541-885-2503
Web Page http://www.fws.gov/
Project Information
Title Macroinvertebrate Response to Buffer Zone Quality in the Rainwater Basin Wetlands of Nebraska
Other(s) W. Wyatt Hoback, Biology UNK, hobackww@unk.edu; Matt Schwarz, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 
Description

The Rainwater Basin is one of the most endangered wetland ecosystems in North America. This ecosystem is critical to many species including migratory waterfowl. Land use and runnoff from agriculture and cattle confinement operations are likely to be reducing the basin's health and diversity, however little information exists concerning macroinvertebrates. Twenty-two locations were assessed for water quality parameters, vegetation composition, and macroinvertebrates identified to genus. Samples were collected biweekly starting in April through July for three years. Macroinvertebrate diversity was impacted in areas with little buffer although the effects were not pronounced. Institution of a more effective vegetative buffers strip may reverse this trend to improve ecosystem quality and provide for invertebrate resources for migratory birds.

Click here to see a poster about this research

Project Support n/a
Project Website
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Water Quality
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Shea, Patrick
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email pshea1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-1533
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=109
Project Information
Title Model to Identify Watershed Vulnerability and High Impact Programs
Other(s) Maribeth Milner, Agronomy and Horticulture, mmilner1@unl.edu; Gary D. Lynne, Agricultural Economics, glynne1@unl.edu; Mark E. Burbach, Conservation and Survey Division, mburbach1@unl.edu; Mark Bernards, Agronomy and Horticulture, mbernards2@unl.edu. 
Description

To protect water quality we need to better forecast environmental risks and guide conservation management decisions. Watershed vulnerability is determined by physical setting (soil, topography, and climate) and land management practices. If the most vulnerable areas can be determined, fields within those areas can be targeted for conservation management and mitigation of contamination. A model using the Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) Database is being developed to identify vulnerable areas and determine the potential impact of management practices on agrichemical runoff and leaching within impaired watersheds in Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa. Saunders County, NE is the primary site for development of the model, which will be applied in the Blue River watershed (Jefferson and Gage Counties in NE and Washington and Marshall Counties in KS).

To implement effective conservation practices it is necessary to understand what motivates the behaviors of producers and land managers. A survey tool will be used to determine what motivates the behaviors of producers and land managers in choosing practices and technologies in vulnerable areas. As part of this survey tool, an upstream individual's capacity and willingness to empathize with downstream water users about the quality and quantity of the water in Tuttle Creek Lake will be measured (see Cornhusker Economics article.) A statistical model will predict responsiveness to change and decision typologies will be mapped. A behavioral assessment model will be applied to selected areas upstream of Tuttle Creek, KS to predict the probability that producers and land managers will adopt the technologies and practices associated with total maximum daily load (TMDL) recommendations, as well as the extent of adoption. The information gained in this project can be used to design policy, incentive structures, and educational programs leading to the adoption of conservation management practices that improve and protect water quality.

Project Support USDA-CSREES National Integrated Water Quality Program.
Project Website http://www.agecon.unl.edu/Cornhuskereconomics/2008/8-20-08.pdf
Report Empathy Conditioned Conservation 1 14 09.pdf
Current Status Continuous
Topic Water Quality
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Shea, Patrick
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email pshea1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-1533
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=109
Project Information
Title Model to Identify Watershed Vulnerability and High Impact Programs
Other(s) Maribeth Milner, Agronomy and Horticulture, mmilner1@unl.edu; Gary D. Lynne, Agricultural Economics, glynne1@unl.edu; Mark E. Burbach, Conservation and Survey Division, mburbach1@unl.edu; Mark Bernards, Agronomy and Horticulture, mbernards2@unl.edu. 
Description

To protect water quality we need to better forecast environmental risks and guide conservation management decisions. Watershed vulnerability is determined by physical setting (soil, topography, and climate) and land management practices. If the most vulnerable areas can be determined, fields within those areas can be targeted for conservation management and mitigation of contamination. A model using the Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) Database is being developed to identify vulnerable areas and determine the potential impact of management practices on agrichemical runoff and leaching within impaired watersheds in Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa. Saunders County, NE is the primary site for development of the model, which will be applied in the Blue River watershed (Jefferson and Gage Counties in NE and Washington and Marshall Counties in KS).

To implement effective conservation practices it is necessary to understand what motivates the behaviors of producers and land managers. A survey tool will be used to determine what motivates the behaviors of producers and land managers in choosing practices and technologies in vulnerable areas. As part of this survey tool, an upstream individual's capacity and willingness to empathize with downstream water users about the quality and quantity of the water in Tuttle Creek Lake will be measured (see Cornhusker Economics article.) A statistical model will predict responsiveness to change and decision typologies will be mapped. A behavioral assessment model will be applied to selected areas upstream of Tuttle Creek, KS to predict the probability that producers and land managers will adopt the technologies and practices associated with total maximum daily load (TMDL) recommendations, as well as the extent of adoption. The information gained in this project can be used to design policy, incentive structures, and educational programs leading to the adoption of conservation management practices that improve and protect water quality.

Project Support USDA-CSREES National Integrated Water Quality Program.
Project Website http://www.agecon.unl.edu/Cornhuskereconomics/2008/8-20-08.pdf
Report Empathy Conditioned Conservation 1 14 09.pdf
Current Status Continuous
Topic Watershed Project
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Shea, Patrick J.
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email pshea1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-1533
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=109
Project Information
Title Application of Landscape Vulnerability Models to Assess Off-Site Pesticide Movement in a Nebraska-Kansas Watershed
Other(s) Maribeth Milner, Agronomy and Horticulture, mmilner1@unl.edu; Mark Bernards, Agronomy and Horticulture, mbernards2@unl.edu; Phil Barnes, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Kansas State University, lbarnes@ksu.edu 
Description

Some landscape positions are more likely than others to contribute to ground and surface water contamination from agricultural inputs and management practices. By identifying these areas at a regional scale, resources can be optimally targeted to address potential problems at the field scale. We developed SSURGO (Soil Survey Geographic)-based models to assess vulnerability to pesticide contamination of ground or surface waters across the landscape. Upon application of the models to a four-county (NE-KS) study area (Blue River Basin), between-county discontinuities emerged. Each county soil map is based on the particular expression of soil-forming factors as interpreted by local mapping teams, but these teams may or may not have input on the mapping of adjacent counties. Soil map units are typically blended across county boundaries, but these changes will not correct fundamental differences in the models used to create soil maps. The discontinuities in our study area may be due to an end moraine that cuts northwest to southeast (predominantly through the western counties), differences in mapping dates (1975-2003), and variations in data interpretation by agencies in Kansas and Nebraska. By incorporating slope and slope length data generated from relatively high resolution 10 m DEMs (digital elevation models), we increased sensitivity to topography at the SSURGO polygon level. Model output between the SSURGO-based and the DEM-based topographic data differed substantially for the eastern glaciated counties, but were relatively similar for the western counties. Assuming that the DEM is correct, this suggests a lack of consistency in defining the SSURGO representative slope and (or) slope lengths among counties. Although discontinuities occur between counties, model output can be used to identify the most vulnerable areas within each county. Model utility is demonstrated by comparing model output with surface water quality measurements in the watershed.

Maps resulting from our models show relative landscape vulnerability to pesticide leaching and runoff. This information can be used to prioritize and target areas within a watershed for conservation management practices and other actions that will reduce contamination of water resources and improve water quality. We applied the models to a four-county NE-KS study area (Big Blue Basin) and propose solutions to discontinuities between counties resulting from variations in data intepretation due to differences in mapping teams and dates. We use surface water quality measurements to show the utility of our models.

Project Support USDA-CSREES National Integrated Water Quality Program.
Project Website http://www.usawaterquality.org/conferences/2009/PDF/Wshed-poster/Shea09.pdf
Report
Current Status Continuing
Topic Wetlands
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Allen, Craig
Unit Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Email callen3@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-0229
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=647
Project Information
Title Missouri River Mitigation: Implementation of Amphibian Monitoring and Adaptive Management for Wetland Restoration Evaluation
Other(s) Martin Simon, Benedictine College; Michelle Hellman, School of Natural Resources, michelle.hellman@huskers.unl.edu; Ashley Vanderham, School of Natural Resources, avanderham@huskers.unl.edu 
Description

Data are being collected to determine what constitutes a successful wetland restoration, given the desired goals of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Herpetofauna primarily amphibians are being used as indicators of wetland success. This will be accomplished by quantifying the occurrence and recruitment of amphibians at existing mitigation sites and formulating models of quality wetland restorations. These models will be used by managers in future restorations and for adaptive management approaches to the design of new wetland restorations. The study area is the Missouri River corridor of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

This project is a multi-institutional monitoring program that focuses on tightly linking monitoring with hypothesis testing in an adaptive framework. The design consists of frog call surveys to determine occupancy rates for a large number of wetlands on numerous restoration properties, coupled with intensive sampling of frogs, turtles and salamanders to assess abundance and recruitment on eight restored wetland complexes in four states. The focus areas for the Nebraska Coop Unit are three Missouri River wetland complexes located from Falls City to Omaha, Nebraska. Project collaborators at Benedictine College in Kansas are focusing on the Benedictine Wetlands in Kansas.

Click here to read a fact sheet on this project

Project Support United States Geological Survey, United States Army Corps of Engineers
Project Website http://snr.unl.edu/necoopunit/research.main.html#missouririvermitigation
Report
Current Status Underway
Topic Wetlands
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Tang, Zhenghong
Unit Architecture
Email ztang2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-9281
Web Page http://architecture.unl.edu/people/bios/tang_zhenghong.shtml
Project Information
Title Developing LiDAR-Derived Wetland Maps To Assess Conservation Design Practices For Playa Wetlands In Rainwater Basin
Other(s) Ed Harvey, School of Natural Resources, feharvey1@unl.edu; Xu Li, Department of Civil Engineering 
Description The overall goal of this project is to provide wetland managers with topographically-correct 3-D wetland maps to prioritize wetland conservation efforts and assess wetland conservation design practices. This project addresses three specific tasks for the playa wetlands: 1) Establish accurate, topographically-correct, 3-D wetland maps to relate weather conditions and wetland functions; 2) Develop a measurable Restorable Wetland Index to prioritize playa wetland and drainages conservation; 3) Assess wetland conservation design practices for watershed-based wetland conservation. This research will use high-resolution Light Detections And Ranging (LiDAR) data to create next-generation wetland maps for playa wetlands. The research provides the missing link in conservation design as these data will provide accurate elevation measures to delineate watershed extent and determine the impact of individual hydrologic modifications. This project will be one of the first to integrate LiDAR data and a hydrologic modifications datasets to find the relations of current weather conditions and wetland functions. This project provides reliable, accurate wetland spatial parameters to prioritize playa wetland conservation and assess the effectiveness of existing wetland conservation design practices. The wetland conservation design tools and protocols will be examined in two pilot counties in Nebraska. The intellectual merit of the research is based on advancing knowledge linkage of wetland mapping technologies and wetland function modifications, and showing how to adapt wetland conservation designs. The outputs from this project provide practical protocols for state/regional/local wetland managers and thus ensure "no net loss" in quality and quantity of wetlands.
Project Support US EPA
Project Website
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Wildlife
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Anderson, Tara
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email taraleeanderson@huskers.unl.edu
Phone 402-432-5233
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/undergrad/anderson-tara.asp
Project Information
Title Population Dynamics of Shovelnose Sturgeon in the Lower Platte River
Other(s) Mark A. Pegg, School of Natural Resources, mpegg2@unl.edu; Martin Hamel, School of Natural Resources, mhamel2@unl.edu; Jeremy Hammen, School of Natural Resources, hammenj@huskers.unl.edu 
Description

Reduction in range and abundance of shovelnose sturgeon Scaphirhynchus platorynchus over the past century has been primarily attributed to critical habitat loss, poor water quality, and overharvest. These declines have led to concerns about populations of this once ubiquitous sturgeon species in large rivers throughout their Mississippi River Basin-wide range. However, detailed analyses of shovelnose sturgeon populations do not exist in several potentially important portions of their range, such as the Platte River, Nebraska. Shovelnose sturgeon, for example have been documented in the Lower Platte River, Nebraska (i.e., Columbus, NE to Plattsmouth, NE), but little is known about their population dynamics. Additionally, indications that seasonal fishing pressure in the Lower Platte River may affect local abundances, growth and mortality rates, and age at maturity of shovelnose sturgeon create a need for obtaining more specific population information. Researchers have initiated a five year study of the shovelnose sturgeon population in the Lower Platte River to characterize the abundance, distribution, demography, population dynamics, and genetics of shovelnose sturgeon. For preliminary data from the first year of sampling, view the presentation via the website like below.

Click here to read Tara Anderson's Master's Thesis on Shovelnose Sturgeon Population Dynamics

Project Support Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
Project Website http://watercenter.unl.edu/PRS/PRS2009/PPTs/Anderson%20Tara.pdf
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Wildlife
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Stansbury, John
Unit Civil Engineering, UNO
Email jstansbury2@unl.edu
Phone 402-554-3896
Web Page http://www.civil.unl.edu/faculty/John-Stansbury
Project Information
Title Multi-Criteria Assessment of Habitat Restoration for the Missouri River Project
Other(s) Istvan Bogardi (retired), ibogardi1@unl.edu 
Description

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in cooperation with other agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently planning, designing, and constructing projects designed to restore habitat in and along the Missouri River. The primary focus of the projects is restoration of habitat for three endangered or threatened species: pallid sturgeon, least tern, and piping plover. Management and restoration of the Missouri River is a complex endeavor that affects many people with many and often conflicting priorities. In addition, restoration of habitat is a complex process with many and often conflicting objectives. For example, habitat restoration activities for one species may interfere with habitat needs for another species. Finally, habitat restoration success is difficult to measure, in part because there is often a significant lag time between the restoration activity and the response by the target species. Therefore, a method is being developed, using multi-criteria assessment tools, to help the USACE and cooperators assess the status and the progress of the habitat restoration program.

The goal of this project is to develop a multi-criteria assessment tool that can be used to assess the overall status and progress of the habitat restoration efforts on the Missouri River. To achieve this goal, the first step will be to determine the requirements for habitat (e.g., water depths, velocities, bottom substrates, etc) for the endangered species. Then measurement criteria (i.e., what data will need to be collected to assess the availability of the required habitat) will be established. Finally, a multi-criteria assessment tool will be developed and used to integrate the conditions of the various measurement criteria (depths, velocities, etc.) to gain an understanding of the overall quality and quantity of habitat at different points in time.

Project Support U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Project Website
Report
Current Status Continuing
Location

Five Rivers WMA

Five Rivers WMA Web Site

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