NRD, citizens’ group differ on ownership of NCORPE land
Members of a citizen’s group, Landowners for a Common Purpose, urged the board of the Upper Republican Natural Resources to sell the 19,000 acres owned by NCORPE in Lincoln County. The group met with the URNRD board during their regular meeting in Imperial Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Spokesman Kurt Olson told the board their group has a legal opinion that NCORPE can sell the land while retaining rights to groundwater underneath for the entity to operate its augmentation project.
The Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement Project (NCORPE) was formed through an interlocal agreement to purchase the land and develop the augmentation project.
The augmentation pumping serves as a key tool for the NRDs and State of Nebraska to remain in compact compliance with Kansas. The pumping aids in delivering water from the Republican River Basin to Kansas.
The URNRD is one of four NRDs involved in NCORPE. The others include the Middle and Lower Republican NRDs in the Republican River Basin and the Twin Platte NRD located in the Platte River Basin.
The group has now met with three of the four NRD boards in NCORPE.
Olson said Lincoln County taxpayers had to absorb the loss of property taxes when the governmental entity of NCORPE took over ownership of the land and it went off the tax roll. Since the project started, NCORPE has paid Lincoln County the amount of money equal to what the taxes would be, with the land assessed at grassland values.
The group presented an economic study by Creighton Economics Professor Ernest Goss and Economist Scott Strain.
Strain said the loss of property tax revenue to Lincoln County by removing the ground from ag production would total $6 million between 2014-2021.