During the week of Nov. 7-14, a group of landowners will present an attorney opinion plus an economic study to bolster their assertion that the NCORPE land should be sold.

The group – Landowners for a Common Purpose – will speak at meetings of the boards of four Natural Resource Districts.

The NCORPE land in question consists of about 17,000 acres in southern Lincoln County. Water below the land is pumped into the Republican River and soon will be pumped into the Platte River too, ostensibly to meet federal and multi-state agreements.

The landowners group, as well as local government bodies, want the land to be in private hands to generate more economic activity and real estate tax revenue.

With the land in NCORPE’s hands, it is out of private production and taxes are paid under protest. Although the land has been reseeded to native grasses, much of the sandy soil is covered in tumble weeds.

At each of four meetings, the landowners group will ask that it be sold at a public auction.

The first presentation will be Tuesday evening in Imperial, when the Upper Republican Natural Resource District board of directors meets, starting at 7:30 p.m. at 511 East Fifth St.

The NCORPE (Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement) water project is governed by representatives of four Natural Resources Districts.

Three of the NRDs are along the Republican River – the upper, middle and lower. The fourth is the Twin Platte NRD, headquartered in North Platte.

The landowners group will note that tax revenue from the property would benefit schools, cemeteries and fire districts, plus overall county operations.

The group consists of up to 150 landowners and sympathetic parties, Chairman Kirk Olson told the Bulletin Monday.

The NCORPE board of directors has said that such a sale would separate the land from the water rights, which is a relatively rare situation in Nebraska, but the legal opinion by Attorney Steven Mossman is expected to point out that water rights are considered separately from the land.

Also, former Creighton University professor of economics Ernie Goss has compiled an economic study of the loss of commerce from taking the land out of production.

Lincoln County officials point out that the land could be grazed or farmed, without using the water below, or interrupting the NCORPE uses.

The meetings was originally expected to culminate at an NCORPE meeting Nov. 15 in Curtis, but that meeting was recently cancelled, Olson told the Bulletin.

NCORPE general manager Kyle Shepherd said a meeting was not scheduled in November. The NCORPE board often meets every month, but not always.

The NCORPE board would make the final decision to sell the property, if it is to be sold.

 

The meetings:

Upper Republican Natural Resources District — Nov. 7, 7:30 p.m., 511 East Fifth, Imperial.

Lower Republican NRD – Nov. 9 at 2 p.m., 30 S. John St., Alma.

Twin Platte NRD – Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m., Great Western Bank Center – Second floor board room, west wing, 111. South Dewey, North Platte.

Middle Republican NRD – Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m., Curtis Community Center, 2011 Garlick Ave. Curtis.