Nebraska's 23 NRDs are unique to Nebraska - a system of local governmental districts dealing with natural resource issues which are unique to their own area of the state. Along with the other 22 NRD's the MRNRD began operations on July 1, 1972, replacing more than 150 special purpose districts. This NRD system was created during the 1969 Nebraska Unicameral session by LB1357.
The senators spent several years hammering out the details of how the future NRD's would operate. Realizing that natural resources do not necessarily follow county lines, they decided to separate the NRD's by river drainage basins. They would still be governed by a locally-elected board of directors and have the authority to collect local property taxes.
Initial equipment for the MRNRD included only a typewriter, one pickup, three old tree planters, five old grass drills and five bait applicators. Today the NRD has moved into the computer age and continues to upgrade all of its equipment.
In 1972, most programs were directed at land treatment, flood control and tree planting. These programs have been expanded today, but much more emphasis is now on ground water management.
Today, Nebraska's unique system of locally controlled, tax funded, watershed based conservation is widely admired and respected throughout the United States.
Many NRD projects produce long lasting results: dams, terraces, drainage ditches, windbreaks, reservoirs and recreational trails.
NRDs are unique to Nebraska, a state which has a long history of political innovation including the nonpartisan, single-house legislative and total public power.
In the past 40 years, NRDs have experienced tremendous growth in the responsibilities given to them by state statute, especially in protecting 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.