Russ Edeal

Interviewee:


Interviewee Russ Edeal, Board Member, Phelps County SWCD; Board Member, Tri-Basin NRD, 1974 - 2007; Board Member, NARD

Russ Edeal

Position Held: Board Member, Phelps County SWCD; Board Member, Tri-Basin NRD, 1974 - 2007; Board Member, NARD

Full Interview:


Interviewer(s):

John Turnbull

Dayle Williamson

Associated NRDs:

Tri-Basin

Transcript:

MR. WILLIAMSON: All right we're on number 17, and we're recording. And this is Dayle Williamson, and I'm accompanied by John Turnbull, the manager of the Upper Blue Natural Resources District. And today we have the pleasure of interviewing Russ Edeal as part of the Natural Resource District's Oral History Project for the Nebraska Historical Society. The interview is being conducted on October the 7th, 2014, and we're on a farm just west of Holdrege, Nebraska, in a brand new farm building that's terrific. And Russ has been working hard today. He works hard every day, but he's -- they're harvesting corn and he's running one of the auger wagons and so we're not going to take too long. But, Russ, we're really pleased to interview you and -- because you were at the very start of the NRDs. But before we go into the NRDs, tell us a little about where you went to school, where you grew up, your farm experience, and a few things like that. That'd be good for history.
MR. EDEAL: Okay. I grew up north of Overton. Went to a rural school, District 21. My interest in conservation and water probably starts even in the elementary school, because I was involved -- my grandfather was involved with soil conservation. He was one of those early ones that went with the trips to conservation meetings national, Atlanta, Georgia.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: I can remember him coming home with souvenirs from all their different -- I think we he went south, they brought home some cotton bolls. And when they went to Atlanta, you know, there were some things from -- peanuts and some things like that from down in that area.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: And my mother and dad made me, shouldn't make, showed a great interest in having all of us children do speeches. And at that time, the conservation districts had a speech contest, and KFAB had sponsored it. And I can't tell you an exact year, but I did win that KFAB contest as a -- I was in elementary school then.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Wow.
MR. EDEAL: But my grandfather and my dad were both involved with conservation, and so I kind of grew up with it a little bit. Went to Lexington then to high school. Went to UNL. After I graduated from college, came back to this area, and ended up north of Loomis because that's where my grandmother was born and raised. And her grandfather had -- well, father had homesteaded the farm that they had at that time, and they were renting it out, my grandmother and her sisters, two sisters and an uncle, and I asked if I could farm it, and they said yes. So that got me to north of Loomis. Wasn't here -- didn't hardly get inside the door than the director from the soil conservation district over here came to my door, and said, “Do you want to be a director on the soil conservation?” And I said yes, that was an interest to me.
MR. TURNBULL: Was that Phelps County?
MR. EDEAL: Phelps County.
MR. TURNBULL: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: And the place that I moved onto there was a -- Frank Cole had lived there, that was my uncle. He had a great interest in water. Cole Carlson Well Drilling Company that was headquartered on the farm as I grew up. Then later on they moved to Loomis, and they had their business -- he and Gus Carlson had a well business there on the farm, and then in Loomis later. And my Uncle Frank, was one of the first directors on Central irrigation board. And so he had a great interest. Grandpa Edeal grew up over here in Phelps County also. But then he moved over into Phelps County, I mean, excuse me, Dawson County because, well, he just saw that they were able to -- they had a little water, and they had a lot of livestock. My grandfather loved animals and the cattle. And so he plowed this farm on the north edge of the Platte Valley north of Overton, and a little -- couple of three miles west. His irrigated flat ground was in the valley. And then, as you know, that north hills they jump up -- it just goes from valley to hills just pretty fast. And then, he'd had his pasture ground up there in the hills for his cattle. And he didn't have cows, he just bought calves and then put them in the pasture as yearlings. And that's when we used to -- they used to feed the two-year-olds and had big, big, big cattle. And, I guess, probably not any bigger than what they are now, but they just come on a year quicker than they used to.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Talking about that ground jumping up pretty fast, I used to go visit Harold Kopf, and he lived right --
MR. EDEAL: Right there.
MR. WILLIAMSON: – right there, and it was a very interesting thing. And he was a --
MR. EDEAL: Yeah.
MR. WILLIAMSON: -- great conservationist and, I know, a friend of yours.
MR. EDEAL. Yeah. He -- they just lived about 15 miles northwest of us --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- on the same -- the storms come down along the hills, they got both of us.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah. And what was your grandfather's first name?
MR. EDEAL: Alvin.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Alvin.
MR. EDEAL: Alvin, yeah.
MR. WILLIAMSON: And your dad's name was Dean?
MR. EDEAL: Dean.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah. I knew -- I can't ever remember meeting your grandfather, but I knew your father.
MR. EDEAL: Yeah, my grandfather passed away a little younger than what we'd like to today, but --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah. Uh-huh.
MR. EDEAL: -- so you may not have, but he was very active in --
MR. WILLIAMSON: But your father followed up pretty active in that too.
MR. EDEAL: Yeah. And they were involved with -- and I suppose part of my involvement with boards and --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- community activities were because both my dad and grandfather -- I think between my grandfather and grandmother and my dad, they were on the school board for, I don't know, 27, 30 years, something like that.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Uh-huh.
MR. EDEAL: So they were involved in --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- a lot of things.
MR. WILLIAMSON: You talked about conventions in Atlanta, Georgia, and so on. Our conservationists were quite a group back then, because they would think nothing of joining a bus tour to head for Atlanta, Georgia. I handled a few of those over the years, and we'd go to New Orleans and every place by bus, two or three buses.
MR. EDEAL: Yeah, I was going to say, it wasn't just one, I mean, as I remember it --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- you had --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Two or three.
MR. EDEAL: -- a number of them that you loaded up and --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah, yeah. And finally we went by airplane when we went to Washington, D.C. We thought it was time. Chartered a whole airplane so.
MR. EDEAL: Oh. John, you had a question.
MR. TURNBULL: What year did you start with the soil and water conservation district? Do you remember?
MR. EDEAL: No, I can't tell you the exact time. Between the conservation and the NRD, I had -- I put in 33 years.
MR. TURNBULL: Okay.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: I can't even tell you exactly how many years I've been off now, but --
MR. TURNBULL: Uh-huh.
MR. EDEAL: -- it's -- you know, time flies. And I'd tell you 10 and it was probably 15 or 20.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Well, you were very active in the state association too, so.
MR. EDEAL: Yeah.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah. Well, tell us about, you know, your -- it's sort of at the end of your soil and water district work, the NRDs, the discussion with the NRDs. I'll remind you of a little background here. The Nebraska Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts called for a study of reorganization at the convention in '66 and '67. And '68 was termed as a real fiery one, because they passed a resolution, Number 25, calling for the reorganization. And were you at that meeting? Do you remember in '68?
MR. EDEAL: Yeah, I would've been there.
MR. WILLIAMSON: I figured you were there. I recall --
MR. EDEAL: Because --
MR. WILLIAMSON: -- talking to you. No I don't.
MR. EDEAL: No, I was involved in when, John, during you asked the years -- I'd been on the soil conservation for three or four years --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- before this started. So, it must not have been in '63 or four.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: I moved back here in '62.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. TURNBULL: Uh-huh.
MR. EDEAL: And, so, it would've been around that time.
MR. TURNBULL: Okay.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah, I was sure that you were there at that fiery session where they finally passed Resolution 25. And that says, “Hey, we're going to reorganize.”
MR. EDEAL: Yeah, and you know, the research and the background of it. I just -- I really can't tell you who was the prime, but there was just a number of forward- thinking people that was involved in that time.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Right.
MR. EDEAL: I think Warren Fairchild is a -- I remember him being one of them.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Uh-huh.
MR. EDEAL: And, of course, Maurice Kremer was around and --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah. Well, and we had a lot of local people, too, that really supported it, and some that didn't.
MR. EDEAL: Well, and then, I -- not in this area, we didn't have a lot of watersheds, and had a --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- lot of those kinds of districts --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- were the eastern part of the state had, you know, there was, what, as high as 25, 30 different organizations dealing with the same subject --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Right, right.
MR. EDEAL: -- in some of those areas --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah. Uh-huh.
MR. EDEAL: -- and I think those people that were working with that realized that, you know, this is not really working because we're spending all our money --
MR. TURNBULL: Uh-huh.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- dividing up the spoils and not having anything to do anything.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah, and in that early discussions, you know, it was more focused on soil conservationists and flood control and things like that, and not looking so much at irrigation water --
MR. EDEAL: No, no.
MR. WILLIAMSON: -- but, as we talked with Doyle Lavene today, you know, soon after the irrigation thing came in, and he was very complimentary of how the NRDs started to take over some of that -- or start doing it and not take over.
MR. EDEAL: Yeah, yeah.
MR. WILLIAMSON: It wasn't being done.
MR. EDEAL: And I think the big discussion, as I remember it, was if you had a nice big watershed and you had all the governance and you had the financial way of putting up the watershed -- saving -- working this watershed, I don't know if I'd have been one of those that I'd been willing to just sign off right immediately either, because, you know, not knowing here we've done this good job then, you know, that's -- turning it over to somebody else. Some of those districts back east that had that many governing bodies, I don't remember, there was a hundred some board directors in that first board meeting.
MR. TURNBULL: Yeah.
MR. WILLIAMSON: In the Nemaha that's right. You're right.
MR. TURNBULL: Well, in York, I think the first board was like 72 people.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah, yeah.
MR. EDEAL: Yeah, and, you know, that -- if you think about governance, that seems an unwieldy (indiscernible) --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah, and they had to have executive committees. And then the first board members were elected in 1974.
MR. EDEAL: Yeah.
MR. WILLIAMSON: So, but -- so, you were on the very first board --
MR. EDEAL: Correct.
MR. WILLIAMSON: -- with -- I don't remember how many you had on your group here, but not nearly as many as you pointed out.
MR. EDEAL: No, I think we started with, what was it, 16. Did we have about 16 or --
MR. TURNBULL: When I came here in '75 there were 13 board members.
MR. EDEAL: Thirteen.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah. But that was the official board then --
MR. TURNBULL: Yes.
MR. EDEAL: Right.
MR. TURNBULL: That was the elected board.
MR. WILLIAMSON: The elected board, yeah.
MR. TURNBULL: I don't recall in the history --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah, yeah.
MR. TURNBULL: -- about the first board here.
MR. EDEAL: No, I don't -- I don't know as it was much bigger than that, because --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- all we had involved was just the soil conservation --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah, the --
MR. EDEAL: -- and then the --
MR. WILLIAMSON: -- five members on each of those boards that you -- well --
MR. EDEAL: Yeah. So, there would've been 15 there.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: And I don't remember --
MR. WILLIAMSON: That was probably it.
MR. EDEAL: -- if Central had a position --
MR. WILLIAMSON: I don't think Central --
MR. EDEAL: I don't think they did.
MR. WILLIAMSON: -- had a position. I don't know.
MR. EDEAL: I think it was just the first 15.
MR. TURNBULL: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: I think that's --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah. That's probably right, you're --
MR. EDEAL: That's about it.
MR. TURNBULL: Uh-huh.
MR. EDEAL: And --
MR. WILLIAMSON: So, you cut down to 13. Yeah, the law -- the law required -- you could make a choice, a maximum of 21. And the reason there was 21, the Salt Valley Watershed had 21 members. And they were very strong to get this started, but they said, “We won't go with you unless we have 21 members.” So --
MR. TURNBULL: Well, that's interesting because the Lower Platte South, which came from the Salt Valley --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yes.
MR. TURNBULL: -- is still a 21 member --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah, and that was one of their restrictions. And they were strong supporters, but that was one of the things they laid on the table, you know. And we thought, “Boy that's a lot of members.” But it works, you know. And from nine to 21.
MR. EDEAL: Yeah.
MR. WILLIAMSON: And you made your own choice.
MR. EDEAL: Right, and, you know, demographics and the population in Gosper County was lower population, and ended up with Holdrege, you know, had a lot of the population and Minden. And, so, you know, I think we -- if 13 was that number, we had the six districts, and then one at large.
MR. TURNBULL: Uh-huh.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Uh-huh. Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: And --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: It's been moved around as population has moved through the years.
MR. WILLIAMSON: What do you recall some of the early things that the NRD you were in here started doing?
MR. EDEAL: Well, I guess, I'd go back a little bit on your formation --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah. Well, that'd be good, sure.
MR. EDEAL: You know, the concept of the NRDs was started with watersheds.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Right.
MR. EDEAL: And through the effort of, I'd say, Central, because they were – and probably Doyle talked to you about this, because of their governance makeup of the three counties -- I think there was enough people in this area felt that because of our rising water table, the watershed -- basically, the Central district and the irrigation that we had here covered a nice portion of this area. They just felt that we were unique enough, that we had enough other interests other than just watershed and conservationist issues. And we thought that it'd be good for us to have a -- maybe a handle of this problem right here of the watershed and everything of the Central water and everything. And I think, you know, we were in a unique position there, because we were kind of tooting our own horn.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: There's not too many people who were going to be supportive of the issue.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: And, but I think with the work of lobbying efforts of Central and the people that were interested in it, that's why it ended up – the Tri-Basin ended up to being the different one.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah, a little bit off the hydrologic lines. That was about the --
MR. EDEAL: Right.
MR. WILLIAMSON: -- only one, but --
MR. EDEAL: Yeah.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: We're in three basins so --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. TURNBULL: Uh-huh.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- we're not very hydrological --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah, Doyle didn't really talk about that today, because he came on, you know, he came on -- kind of uninformed about that part.
MR. TURNBULL: Yeah.
MR. WILLIAMSON: He came on --
MR. EDEAL: After that.
MR. WILLIAMSON: -- on the first board.
MR. TURNBULL: Yeah.
MR. WILLIAMSON: So, I said, “Well, Russ is going to tell us that.” So, thanks for bringing that up.
MR. TURNBULL: So, those three basins are the Platte basins on the north part of this district.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: Right.
MR. TURNBULL: The Republican in the south --
MR. EDEAL: Uh-huh.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. TURNBULL: -- and the southwest part, and then the Little Blue in, on the east part in the Kearney County area.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah, right.
MR. EDEAL: And, you know, at that time, there was a lot of things going on, and I'm not sure that we understood all of those things that were going on. I think we were learning everyday as far as what are some of the things -- what were some of the benefits and what were some of the issues. That was kind of an unknown. I wasn't over in this part of the country when they dug it, but when they first dug the canal, to think they could bring the water from the river southeast of Lexington and have it just north of Holdrege in that time and people would drive up 183 and come jump up on the plateau out of the valley, they'd say you're crazy. They didn't realize, you know, how much the profile fell --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- from west to east and --
MR. WILLIAMSON: And gone to Adams County.
MR. EDEAL: Right.
MR. TURNBULL: Uh-huh.
MR. EDEAL: And, so, you know -- and they said they started a crane digging here and one over here and one there, and said they were going to meet and everybody looked at each other and said, “I don't think so.” But it worked out. But that kind of brings me to one of my pet peeves is that if you go to some of these meetings and they say, “Well, I don't know if we have enough information yet.” They don't know enough information. Well, I feel that we're going to gain new information everyday, but some place we got to draw a line and say we're going to do the best we can with the information we got today --
MR. TURNBULL: Uh-huh.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- and let's go. And then if that was -- something needs to be tweaked, lets tweak it. But sometimes we have trouble letting go, and then we have trouble getting it tweaked --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Right.
MR. EDEAL: -- as soon as we should.
MR. TURNBULL: Yes, yeah.
MR. EDEAL: We don't put a guideline and --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- look at it. You asked about the NRD, well when this NRD was formed, I guess my answers to the previous question about information is that we felt that we needed to have a lot of baseline. Frank Dragoun was on the board. I guess he and I probably, as I don't want to pat myself on the back or anything like that, but we spent quite a few hours together thinking about, you know, what information do we need, what kind of -- will be reported in the future. And, so, what were some of the baselines? And he, being involved with the water and energetic with Central, had a good idea of where maybe some of their voids were --
MR. TURNBULL: Uh-huh.
MR. EDEAL: -- and some of their studies. And so, we spent most of our money, which wasn't a lot, but it was quite a bit, about all we had in those days, not in producing any projects, but it was all in information gathering: well monitoring; water levels; some of the, you know, research on -- one of them as I remember was the culverts in the county, investigating them -- I don't know, John, were you there when that happened?
MR. TURNBULL: Yes. Yeah, well that was -- I think that was underway when I came in June of '75.
MR. EDEAL: Yeah.
MR. TURNBULL: What'd we call that? Master drainage plan --
MR. EDEAL: Yes --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Right.
MR. TURNBULL: -- I think for the Tri-Basin, yes --
MR. EDEAL: But --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Uh-huh.
MR. TURNBULL: -- and it was going through all three counties, and helping the county road department folks figuring out how to size the culverts from the upstream into the downstream in these watersheds.
MR. EDEAL: And John can probably tell you how many small culverts we found below large culverts.
MR. TURNBULL: Yeah, lots. Well, unfortunately, we still find that in many areas of the state. It wasn't just a problem here.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: But -- and now that, you know, where we are today, I think we're able to go back and find some records probably as far back as any NRD in the state --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Right.
MR. EDEAL: -- because of some of that early --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Uh-huh.
MR. EDEAL: -- work that we did. You know, but there weren't really too many projects out here to do other than -- as long as we kept doing the soil conservation --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Uh-huh.
MR. EDEAL: -- and like that –- and most of that was –- had federal funds and local -- we had a little (indiscernible) local support, but there was just all this other research that we just felt that was, would be beneficial.
MR. TURNBULL: Well and Frank Dragoun's background, as I remember it, I think he worked for the USDA for the ag research service.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Right.
MR. EDEAL: Uh-huh.
MR. TURNBULL: Rosalyn Stace (phonetic) or something like that comes to mind here in Nebraska around Hastings, I think --
MR. EDEAL: Yeah.
MR. TURNBULL: -- before he came to work for Central. And he was the assistant general manager at Central while he was on the Tri-Basin board.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Right.
MR. TURNBULL: And then, later on, he was promoted to the general manager at Central.
MR. EDEAL: Uh-huh, right.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Right. Yeah, that was good.
MR. EDEAL: And some of our, you know, our original board were people that were interested in conservation and were active in the -- probably some that went on some of your tours that you had --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Right. Uh-huh.
MR. EDEAL: -- because they were there a long time even before I joined, and so -- and they were involved -- of course they really liked the conservation issues, but I think most of them were involved with irrigating and could see what the water had meant to them. And so if there were some problems, they would figure, well, we need to figure that out.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Right. And it was kind of in an era when people were becoming more aware of, maybe, a little overuse of water or needs to converse water or sometimes we --
MR. EDEAL: Well, I don't -- it took a while to get that, but --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- there were some other issues there that probably -- the nitrates in the water --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Right.
MR. EDEAL: -- cost of fertilizer, cost of energy, and all that have had a big effect on that. And now, you know, the recent years, of course, now the most use we can get for every inch is the best thing --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Uh-huh.
MR. EDEAL: -- and no-tills and all that.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah, with the mix of surface water and then groundwater coming into use in the area, why it was an important time to start looking at all those things, but you had to have the back up data to do that. And so, that was great.
MR. EDEAL: If you look at history, I mean, before they were terracing and all these and dams and all that kind of thing, we had all that run off. It got to the rivers. Well then we said, well let's conserve. Well then a lot of times we don't know what the end effect is going to be, because as we held that water up in the land, we didn't get the run off so then that really didn't have the flows in the river. If you took a yearly flow of a river and it's got a couple floods in there, that increases the flow quite a bit.
MR. TURNBULL: Uh-huh.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Sure.
MR. EDEAL: But it doesn't tell you how useful it was --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- and like that. But as we -- I think if you go in southern Gosper County and southern Phelps were they had all the terraces and the dams and now have the no-tillers, hardly any water gets away. It has to rain an awful lot for it to --
MR. WILLIAMSON: That's right.
MR. EDEAL: -- to get away. And so --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah, yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- that changes the formulas --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- a lot, but a --
MR. TURNBULL: Uh-huh.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- I think we understand it better now.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah. Well, Russ, tell us some of the things you did on a statewide basis, cause you were quite involved in that too.
MR. EDEAL: Well, I was interested, again, being a part of the water issues and land issues. So then, I became the representative from Tri-Basin to the state association. And as I become involved, I'm not one to sit and not to voice or be active or say, “Hey, I'll help you,” or, you know, if something needs to be done, I don't mind pitching in. So I suppose that -- by doing that, the people said, “Well, he must be interested in what's going on,” and I moved up the ranks in the state association and then became president of the state association. I don't know as we had any major issues then. Don't anything that sticks in my mind, other than always had funding and always had relationships and working with the legislature and whatever legislative issues were and trying to educate. But I think, you know, as I look back, but all of us probably in the positions we've held, we've had a reason to be there. We've maybe not -- didn't know at the time, but maybe have to look back and say, “Well, what happened then.” And you have to go back in the history book which --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- you're doing and say, “Well that happened during this time. Oh, it did.” But, so --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah, yeah. Well it's great pride to interview a third generation conservationist. I'd kind of forgotten about your grandfather, and all that. But I remember that. That was always on the Dawson County Board, wasn't it? He was on that?
MR. EDEAL: Yeah, right.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah. I knew your dad, and doing all that good things and so. It's just really good here to sit here in a very beautiful -- we call this a farm storage area, but we're in a terrific conference room:
three offices, lunch room. And you know, a lot of this has been brought about by irrigation --
MR. TURNBULL: Yes.
MR. WILLIAMSON: -- and so, we know how important water is and how important the soil is and how important the people that helped manage this all these years are, because, you know, if this weren't managed right, we wouldn't be sitting in such a nice structure today to do this interview.
MR. TURNBULL: Well, Dayle and I were talking today as we were driving out here from Lincoln and York about that he grew up in the Ohio area and I grew up around Fairbury, which is both dry land. And --
MR. EDEAL: Right.
MR. TURNBULL: -- we were contrasting the farm economies from York to Holdrege as compared to Superior back to Fairbury. It's just absolute black and white difference.
MR. EDEAL: Yeah.
MR. TURNBULL: Where I grew up, we'd have been sitting in the side of a little calf stall in the cow barn on a one-legged milk stool.
MR. EDEAL: Yeah. Well, the family that's put this together, they're the conservation winners from Phelps County --
MR. TURNBULL: Uh-huh.
MR. EDEAL: -- and the state also so --
MR. TURNBULL: Yeah.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- so they're very interested in --
MR. TURNBULL: Yeah.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- the soil and that --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah. They have to manage things right, yeah.
MR. TURNBULL: Well, I remember, Russ, when I first came to work for you folks, you were the board chairman at the time. And I came from a job in Colorado, and really had -- I didn't have any knowledge of NRDs except I just knew what the name was. And you're the one that broke me into the system. And I remember I started in June and it was probably, I don't know, two or three months after that, and you came into my office in Holdrege and you handed me the green final reading copy of LB 577, which was the first groundwater management act that the state had.
MR. EDEAL: Uh-huh.
MR. TURNBULL: And I remember what you told me. You handed me that document and you said, “John, I think you might want to read this. You're probably going to be working with it a few years.” Well, I still am. And it was almost 40 years ago.
MR. EDEAL: Yeah.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Good advice.
MR. TURNBULL: Yes, good advice. It's a lot thicker now than it was then.
MR. WILLIAMSON: And that's a good thing for history, because, you know, when you pass a law -- the NRD law wasn't complete and it's been amended, but that -- we knew that it was short on that part and so that part came along later and other things came along later.
MR. TURNBULL: Yeah.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: Yeah, we, early on I think, we as an NRD, it kind of felt like we were going to be the training tool for –- and so we did have John here early and then we had Gene Stoklasa --
MR. TURNBULL: Uh-huh.
MR. EDEAL: -- here early that moved on to Central Platte.
MR. TURNBULL: Uh-huh.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: We had a couple of others that were involved that moved on. Bill, when you interviewed him, you know, he was on the board of directors.
MR. TURNBULL: Yeah, Bill Umberger.
MR. EDEAL: He was on the first board.
MR. TURNBULL: Yeah.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: He was one of the first board members, and then he just filled in.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. TURNBULL: Now he was on the Gosper County soil and water conservation.
MR. WILLIAMSON: The Gosper guys.
MR. EDEAL: Yeah, yeah.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah, Bill and I were in college together so I've know him in the Army and everything, and it was a pleasure to interview him.
MR. TURNBULL: I remember --
MR. WILLIAMSON: We probably got off topic. We talked about artillery and stuff.
MR. TURNBULL: I remember having a conversation with Bill when I was here that we were in tree planing in the spring, planting the wind breaks, the little -- the seedling trees that go out every spring. And I was having some kind of coordination difficulty with that which is always working with a number of land owners and tree orders and how do you get them in, how do you get them out, how do you get them planted on time with a full-time helper and a part-time seasonal guy. And Bill complained to me and says, “How can that be so hard, John? That's got to be just a simple thing to do.” And I said, “Well, yeah.” And after I left here, and Bill became the manager, we were at a state manager's meeting one day and he looked at me and he says, “John,” he says, “that tree planting is a real pain in the neck.” I said, “That's what I tried to tell you, Bill.”
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah, it looks a little different when you got to do it. Being on the board. That's good. I love it.
MR. TURNBULL: But this was a good board to work for.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Oh, yeah, yeah.
MR. TURNBULLL: A lot of varied backgrounds and --
MR. EDEAL: Yeah.
MR. TURNBULL: -- and good policymakers.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Like Russ' attitude, let's get this done.
MR. EDEAL: Yeah.
MR. WILLIAMSON: You know, let's move ahead. Let's keep doing things. So, that's great.
MR. EDEAL: Well, I guess, like I said, we were pretty grounded in data --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- and proof. If we were in a decision, we wanted to have the proof to make it. And if it was there, then we'd say, “Well let's go. Let's do something here.”
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: “Let's move forward.” And I think we've -- I think that's been the board's attitude, now even that I'm not on the board, but --
MR. TURNBULL: Uh-huh.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Well, we thank you so much for your many years of service, a third generation. Anything else you'd like to add? We ought to wrap up pretty soon. You got to get back to work.
MR. EDEAL: Yeah.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Boy, we're proud of you hauling all this corn.
MR. EDEAL: Well, it looks pretty good out there this year.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah, it's a great year in Nebraska. Great year because we have water. We had rain-fed corn growing good this year in 2014, so.
MR. EDEAL: Right.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: Well, I think, you know, looking at how I view the future, it'd be nice if we had a state -- what do I want to say -- opinion of how we want to treat our resources of total package of an overall control or picture, but I don't think we can develop laws that's going to be -- everyone can meet, because of our variance. And I hope in this history book you do show all the difference from the west to the east in, not only rainfall, but elevations and climates and all these kinds of things, because there's just, you know, there's no bill that I know of that can make a uniform decision of all these issues and on all these different situations. If they, you know, they say the distance -- whatever the changes from the west side of Nebraska to the east side of Nebraska is the most of anywhere in the world, you know, that puts a lot of pressure on --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Right.
MR. EDEAL: -- thinking about some of the decisions --
MR. TURNBULL: Right.
MR. EDEAL: -- and then, I think, we got to remember that mother nature probably plays a pretty big role. I think we need to, as groups, meet together. They got to, you know –- we meet together when we have too much or too little, but why can't we meet and make decisions on how we're going to treat both. John has been at enough meetings with me to know that --
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah.
MR. EDEAL: -- that I get a little angry, and that's good for this situation, but while we're here why don't we talk about the other side. And let's make that decision before it happens.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Uh-huh.
MR. TURNBULL: Right.
MR. EDEAL: And that's tough to do.
MR. TURNBULL: Yeah.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah, it is.
MR. TURNBULL: People don't like to make decisions until there's a crisis.
MR. EDEAL: Right. So, you know, as we can move, if we can move people to do those kind of things I think we'll be --
MR. TURNBULL: Uh-huh.
MR. EDEAL: -- really ahead.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Yeah. Well, John, we're very glad you're part of this interview, because you got your start in the NRDs right here –-
MR. TURNBULL: Yes.
MR. WILLIAMSON: –- in this district. And had good leadership and good friends, like Russ Edeal here, and other board members that helped you get going. And, Russ, we thank you so much for your -- all your dedicated service. And we'll wrap up here, unless there's any last final words. We really appreciate you taking the time. We hit you in a real busy day --
MR. EDEAL: Yeah.
MR. WILLIAMSON: -- but you arranged a wonderful meeting room here and we'd like to stay longer.
MR. EDEAL: Well, thank you for coming out and driving those extra miles. Sorry I couldn't meet with you there in Kearney, but --
MR. TURNBULL: That's all right. He's my chauffeur today. It's worked out fine.
MR. WILLIAMSON: Thank you very much.
MR. EDEAL: Thank you.