The Nebraska State Legislature enacted laws in 1972 to combine 154 special-purpose entities into 23 Natural Resources Districts, or NRDs. These districts are unique to Nebraska.
NRDs are local government units with broad responsibilities to protect our natural resources. Major Nebraska river basins form the boundaries, enabling districts to respond best to local needs. Elected boards of directors govern the districts. Much of their funding comes from local property taxes. In most cases, a Natural Resources District typically uses 1% - 2% of all property taxes collected in the county. NRDs help Nebraskans respond to natural resources challenges with local control and local solutions. Often, they build partnerships with other agencies and organizations, including the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission, other state and federal agencies, municipalities, counties, and private organizations. Many NRD projects leave permanent results: dams, terraces, drainage ditches, windbreaks, reservoirs, and recreational trails.
The Nebraska Association of Natural Resources Districts, a statewide association created by NRDs, provides administrative services, legislative representation, statewide communication, and coordination for the 23 independent districts. In the four decades since they were created, NRDs have experienced tremendous growth in the responsibilities given to them by state statute, especially in protecting Nebraska's ground water. With information, education, and outreach efforts, NRDs also touch Nebraska's future generations, the young people who will watch over the state's resources in the 21st Century.