20 July 2010

Planning Underway May Change Setting at La Platte Bottoms

Planning is currently underway that may transform the current setting at the La Platte Bottoms, according to information received from the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District.

Two particular changes being considered are moving the location of the flood-control levee and conservation of the wetlands.

The levees in the area are being recertified, according to a NRD official, and this is including an investigation into the possibility of realigning the levees, away from their current position along the north bank of the Platte River, and west bank of the Missouri River, about the confluence of these two historic rivers.

Levees might get moved so a greater portion of the bottoms would be on the river side of these earthen berms, the official said. The levees might follow a possible alignment from along the Platte south of the Gene Eppley Salvation Army Camp, then northward and along the eastern side of the unused PCS nitrogen facility, then eastward along La Platte Road, and then northeast to west of the confluence of the Big Papillion Creek, at the Missouri River.

Considerations by the NRD are preliminary at this time.

Also underway in the area, is an evaluation considering a contamination plume which has emanated from nitrogen plant, owned by PCS Nitrogen, which is no longer in business. The plume apparently developed due to production processes at the plant in past decades. The company owns much of the property eastward of their former facility, and south of La Platte Road.

"There has never been a better chance to do this project," according to the NRD official. "We are doing everything we can to have it go forward."

The effort would conserve the north section of the area about the confluence of the Platte and Missouri Rivers. On the south side is the Schilling Wildlife Management Area. To the west, is the sandpit operation of the Lyman Richey Sand and Gravel Company. The Saint Mary's Bend mitigation area is on the east side of the Missouri River.

Potential funding sources - for what could only be achieved through a partnership project - include the Missouri River Mitigation Project, being carried out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Nebraska Environmental Trust, and others, perhaps including the Back to the River organization, and The Nature Conservancy.

Further particulars on the effort should be available this autumn.