June 16, 2014 – Village of Spalding announced today that it will receive $400,872.00 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for the “Fishery Restoration on the Cedar River” project. The Trust Board announced funding for the project at its meeting on April 3, 2014 in Lincoln. The project is one of the 132 projects receiving $21,750,000 in grant awards from the Nebraska Environmental Trust this year. Of these, 56 were new applications and 76 are carry-over projects.
Numerous dams have been built on Nebraska streams since settlement began. That these dams stopped upstream fish movements and had negative impacts on our stream fishes was first mentioned in the 1883 Report of the Board of Fish Commissioners. While many of these dams have disappeared over the years, others still exist and provide benefits. They also continue to block the movement of fishes. The Spalding dam is one of these. The purpose of the Spalding Dam is to provide water to a hydroelectric powerhouse located just east of the dam. The channel catfish is Nebraska’s most important stream sport fish. The Cedar River should be an important catfish fishery however, a study done in 2000 revealed that the 27 miles of Cedar River between the Spalding and Ericson Dams had virtually no catfish. That the dam was the cause of this problem was revealed in 2003 when the river at this site had to return to a free-flowing state while the powerhouse underwent repair. Netting above the dam that summer found many catfish in the river above the dam. Subsequent sampling in 2006 and 2007, after repairs were complete, revealed that the river above the dam again had no channel catfish. The focus is on the channel catfish because that is the species for which we have the most information. However, all fishes native to the Cedar River could use the fishway to repopulate the river above the dam. Among others, this can include the shorthead redhorse (a nongame fish), the sauger (a sport fish), and the flathead chub (a species of concern). The intention is to construct fishway which will allow native Nebraska fishes to bypass the Spalding Dam. The project is shovel-ready as construction plans and specifications have been completed.
The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the Trust has provided over $213 million in grants to over 1,600 projects across the state. Anyone – citizens, organizations, communities, farmers and businesses – can apply for funding to protect habitat, improve water quality and establish recycling programs in Nebraska. The Nebraska Environmental Trust works to preserve, protect and restore our natural resources for future generations.