Wayne Heathers

Interviewee:


Interviewee Wayne Heathers, Instructor, NCTA, 1960s - 1972; Manager, Middle Republican NRD, 1972 - retirement

Wayne Heathers

Position Held: Instructor, NCTA, 1960s - 1972; Manager, Middle Republican NRD, 1972 - retirement

Full Interview:


Interviewer(s):

Jim Barr

Associated NRDs:

Middle Republican

Transcript:

MR. BARR: This is Jim Barr. It's November 18th. I'm in Curtis, Nebraska visiting with Wayne Heathers. Wayne, would you like to give a little background on yourself, leading up to how you got involved with the Natural Resource Districts?
MR. HEATHERS: Well, I guess my whole adult life I've worked with soil and water conservation and I really got started down in Alma. I lived in Huntley at that time and worked for the Soil Conservation Service as a conservation aide for probably a couple years. I filed to get on with SCS, you know, and then here come the Army. I kind of forgot about it. When I got home I got a call that they had some openings, you know, across the state for technicians and I wound up out at Trenton, Nebraska as a technician for about six years.
MR. BARR: About when was this?
MR. HEATHERS: Oh, I'd have to stop back and think. It was probably about '60 -- 1960. I was working there at Trenton and Stan Matzke called from up here at Curtis, the superintendent of the School of Technical Agriculture, and he wanted an instructor for their conservation and soils department. The area conservationist, Don Broberg, of McCook, you know, was kind of instrumental in trying to find somebody that would fit in and so I don't know just what transpired, but they kind of had an agreement I'd come up here and try as an instructor to see how that worked out. I was there for about six years at the college over here, they call it the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture now but -- and we got several students out of that program that are involved in soil and water conservation one way or the other, you know. It never really took off like some of the other departments that -- in that timeframe, they were coming up with the NRD legislation. I wasn't involved with any of that but one of the guys down here at the Soil Conservation Service office contacted me and said, “Hey, they're looking for a manager.” For the Middle Republican NRD, probably going to -- an office's going to be here in Curtis. So I applied and then I guess I was finally selected to be the manager so I was kind of flying blind. And I really, as far as education, I didn't get any degree at all until I got up here at the college and working with the University, and between them and the McCook College, I got an associate degree so that's -- kind of transferred credits backwards. Usually I transferred some of the University credits to McCook and went to summer school. That's kind of my beginning, you know, to get in conservation. It was kind of a hectic thing. I had to learn what we were really doing because I hadn't been involved with the NRD process. Although I had worked with soil and water conservation districts before through SCS and had some knowledge of it there, but this was a new deal. And, of course, we got the court restraining order and we started working with the districts. We had to keep nine sets of books, you know, we had the restraining order.
MR. BARR: What was that about? Was that --
MR. HEATHERS: Oh, it got filed -- I don't think there was so much resistance right around here --
MR. BARR: You mean the one at the state --
MR. HEATHERS: Yeah, the state level.
MR. BARR: I thought maybe there was --
MR. HEATHERS: I don't know if I'm using the right term but --
MR. BARR: No, I understand.
MR. HEATHERS: -- I was thinking it was a restraining order where you couldn't mingle funds, you know, so we had, oh, I think eight little districts we were keeping books on and then we had to have the NRD books, so we had to have a pretty good bookkeeper.
MR. BARR: How long did that go?
MR. HEATHERS: Oh, I think it was about a year, year and a half or so, and then it was --
MR. BARR: So the accountant really had a challenge?
MR. HEATHERS: Yeah, the accountant -- we had a good accountant that kind of helped us keep everything straight. But, oh, there was a lot of resistance to NRD’s across the state. There was a little here, a little reluctance, and understandably so. Yeah, this is my wife, Loretta, Jim.
MR. BARR: Good morning.
MRS. HEATHERS: Hi. I'm trying to clean and I'm slow. It takes me three days.
MR. HEATHERS: We're on tape so be careful.
(Laughter)
MR. HEATHERS: You're all right. But -- well, I could understand some of the resistance in the beginning because some of these little special purpose districts had actually functioned pretty well and served their purpose, and I think of the dry creek pilot and the dry creek south watersheds, they had their projects pretty well done and it was just kind of in maintenance, you know, and keeping them going. And most of the soil and water conservation districts out here were fairly active. They were -- didn't have financial standing because they couldn't levy tax and what have you, but they had to rely on the County or something. But they had pretty good programs going, you know, and -- but we had some resistance, but we had a lot of support, too, of getting the district going and it was a lot of the board members that were fairly active in going to the new district’s supports. Don Roberts, he was one of them.
MR. BARR: Any other particular ones that stood out?
MR. HEATHERS: Well, Bud Nelson here at Curtis, he's passed on, but he was really a pretty good driving force. Bud had a lot of respect. Everybody liked him and he could go in a meeting in a tough situation and get everybody kind of, “We've got to make a decision.” But there were a lot of others, Lester Harsh was pretty prominent in our -- he was a state senator and he actually was representing the City of McCook when we first got the board started, any city that had, I don't remember, it was over 800 or 900 people, or so, had to have a representative on the new board and so we had one out of McCook and one out of Curtis here. They were both instrumental in getting the new districts formed. The guy here at Curtis, Clifford Terry, has passed on. He wasn't probably a background so much in conservation or farming, but he was a Parliamentarian and he really got a lot of that stuff kind of going. He had a nice manner about him that he kept us on track. So they -- actually, the City representatives contributed pretty well to the formation and operation of the new district, too. (It should be noted that Jerry Vap was also a city representative from McCook. He is referred to later in this interview.)
MR. BARR: Did you have any special purpose districts that weren't soil and water conservation districts when you started?
MR. HEATHERS: Well, we had watershed districts and we had the Medicine Creek, which was just starting construction. Then we had the Blackwood District over in Hayes and Hitchcock counties, so that was probably our big challenge in the beginning was getting land rights, you know, for these watershed structures. As compared to the two dry creeks that had been put in earlier, they went to the bigger structures, you know, so the easements and right-a-ways were a lot bigger. We had some court battles and stuff through this, probably some hard feelings yet about some of the challenges and land rights that we had on that, although I don't think anybody would say that we actually hurt them now in the long run. I think some of them probably benefited from it eventually. But it was a different ballgame where they -- and it was probably the idea of the NRDs to address things on a more regional basis and then they had some financial backing in not just the local levies but, you know, we could apply to the state and other sources for easement help and stuff. So we kind of went from -- we had a fairly active tree planting program and continued the old conservation programs pretty well with all we could with grass drills and what have you, but we kind of moved from watershed and flood control to groundwater management.
MR. BARR: When did that kind of start?
MR. HEATHERS: Oh, I'd have to stop and think back.
MR. BARR: Roughly, it doesn't have to be exactly.
MR. HEATHERS: Yeah, we probably went about 10, 15 years in mostly conservation and watershed, and then we kept -- the Upper Republican got into a management area. I suppose in the 80s and early 90s we kind of had to come up with what they called management areas but we were looking at water quality because of the nitrate increase so we had established well-monitoring programs, we'd keep track of groundwater levels and water quality tests. And we were encouraged -- at the time, we had to get in the control areas, kind of like the Upper, but it was kind of a double-edged sword because we'd be encouraged -- I know Mike Jess, who was the director of the Department of Water Resources, said, “You've got to get into management but then you've got to prove you need this to me.” So we had to show a conflict among users. Well, it's pretty hard to show one unless we had declines as they had in the Upper, you know. You had to have something really to go on. And as far as conflict, there were probably people here that had to drill a new stock well or stuff like that, but it didn't build up a big court record, you know, or any number so you can show anything or conflict among users. The surface water people were still able to supply their patrons, you know, their irrigation districts, so it was pretty tough for us to come in and prove our case if we wanted to go into a control area. Now, everybody kind of accepts it as, “Yeah, we need to do that,” with the trouble in Kansas and what have you. But we done some basic work, got some historical data on groundwater levels, not just us but we were working with the Conservation and Survey Division and the State of Nebraska. You have to begin somewhere and get a history. Of course, the Department of Water Resources was doing some of that because of the compact.
MR. BARR: Did you have much contact with the Compact Administration or anything?
MR. HEATHERS: Oh, yeah, we did. We went to their annual meetings, like that, and Mike was pretty good about keeping us informed of everything. We had -- he would be at not just Compact meetings, but he was at the Association meetings and we had side meetings, you know, for the Republican Basin because we met on those and so I think we had pretty good contact.
MR. BARR: What sort of interaction did you have with the Upper and the Lower NRDs -- Republican NRDs?
MR. HEATHERS: It was pretty good. I would say it was probably stronger with the Upper. I don't know, it just seemed like we had a little more in common and perhaps (Ron) Milner and I was always good naturedly, picking on one another. We'd be pulling gags on one another and stuff. But we had a pretty good rapport with the Lower, too. I had always got along with them pretty good. I grew up in the Lower so --
MR. BARR: Where did you come from originally?
MR. HEATHERS: Well, Huntley, north of Alma, so I've got a lot of relatives there. And, of course, we had a pretty good rapport with the Tri-Basin, too, which was involved with us quite a bit. And I think we came into a basin group that met together, or association, and we had irrigation districts and NRDs, and there was a lot of good discussion that come out of those meetings. Whether we solved anything or resolved anything, I think that everybody understood what everybody else was thinking and what we had to do so those things. We had pretty good cooperation and rapport with the irrigation districts, too.
MR. BARR: That was another area I was going to ask you about is, what kind of interrelationship did you have with them?
MR. HEATHERS: Yeah, it -- Norma Sitzman who was at Culbertson, she was always pretty good to work with. Roy -- what was Roy's last name (Patterson), Frenchman-Cambridge. I'll come up with it later after you leave.
MR. BARR: That's fine. That's fine.
MR. HEATHERS: Yeah, Roy was always good to work with and we cooperated with him on a lot of things.
MR. BARR: Did you have any other particular projects besides conservation projects? You had P.L. 566 projects?
MR. HEATHERS: Yeah. Well, we had an interesting one, it was with the city of McCook. We went in and they got a small drainage down through town but it's a quick one, it's one of those that, when they get a big rain, it just flushes right down through there like a funnel. Kelly Creek, they called it. So they had some re-channelization and we built a small flood control structure in there. We had a little opposition from McCook when we started. They didn't like the tax levy -- that we'd levy on town. They couldn't see -- not all of them, you know. A lot of people in McCook realized that their commerce and everything was based on agriculture and so you had that in there, but there was some criticism, “Why are we paying tax?” And there was some opposition when we put in the small dam area and the channelization until we got -- one day they had a big rain come along and they didn't quite have the dam done, but the water got up into about a foot of going over what we had built and everybody could go home from work that day, you know, the channel wasn't flooded or anything. They all quieted down after that. They saw it working, you know. It's always -- you get those projects in and then maintenance is always a problem people don't understand. They crowd into the right-away and the City's supposed to help but that's kind of one of their back projects, you know, they don't get their mowing and stuff done. We probably don't either because everybody's interested when the new projects are going in, but the old routine, taking care of it, it gets kind of dull and not very exciting. Although, it's really important to keep those things up after we make the investment. And maintenance of the watershed structures is still a problem. We had a couple that -- they come out with engineering techniques that was supposed to be the best, you know, but it didn't work on these collapsible soils here so they had to repair a couple. And not only us, the Bureau of Reclamation had a problem with the McCook Dam on the Red Willow Creek down here and so they've had major reconstruction, too, same problem.
MR. BARR: What is the problem exactly?
MR. HEATHERS: Well, our soils have a low liquid limit range that is so narrow, you know, that you get anything in there, any seepage or anything, it just kind of collapses. We try and keep them from cracking and if you ever do get a leak or a crack, well, it just kind of melts everything in there and down they go. They came out with what they call sand blankets and overloaded the soil, saturated them, overloaded them and created settlement, and it seemed to work on some of these structures and others, it really didn't. They still didn't get all the settlement, I guess, out. Now, instead of a horizontal blanket with all the weight, they go with a chimney drain, more of a vertical one, to cut those flows off and drain them out. It's kind of complicated but --
MR. BARR: Oh, yeah, especially when I'm not really familiar.
MR. HEATHERS: It comes back to the silt loams have a low liquid limit and they go from being a solid to a liquid with very little saturation. And, you know, how nature laid these things in here, I don't suppose every layer, of course, is the same. But a lot of them are holding real good. I know the big one there on 12-A, on the Blackwood, it really took a big -- a couple of big rains and it held them real good and so there don't seem to be any problem there. So it's like anything, it works most of the time but not all of the time.
MR. BARR: Any other big challenges that the NRD faced?
MR. HEATHERS: Well, like I said, the groundwater situation, it just kept kind of growing, the droughts and with Kansas. That's the main thing right now is how we're going to balance that out. I'm kind of excited about the N-CORPE project where they bought a big acreage up here in Lincoln County.
MR. BARR: That's kind of between -- within more than one NRD, isn't it?
MR. HEATHERS: Well, more than one NRD is involved. Most of the land that was purchased is in the Middle Republican and the old Prudential development. I've always wondered, if that ever come available, if that wouldn't be a real good project, you know, that maybe somehow the Government or somebody would take that over, particularly when they started recharging over in the Upper Republican, you know, I see a lot of potential. I never dreamed that would be available on the market but it was.
MR. BARR: Have they cleared the court cases?
MR. HEATHERS: Yeah, the surface water interests ruling they threw out and they're moving ahead, as I understand, with the pipelines and that's going to create more problems because you can handle flood flow, but constant flow is another problem, you know, with little crossings and everything down below so they'll have to keep addressing those things. And then they come in and they've got to do something about like a school district or something. You take a big tract of land out, a lot of property tax, they've got to address that I think. And I don't think that there's anything in the statutes right now -- I guess I'm speaking without real good knowledge but they've got to clear the way so they can pay in lieu of tax or something because you've got a lot of little sub-units of government that are -- fire districts and everything are going to get hammered with that.
MR. BARR: Did you happen to see yesterday's paper with the court -- the ruling on the Republican?
MR. HEATHERS: Well, I guess it was on the news, yeah.
MR. BARR: Oh, okay. Anything thoughts on that?
MR. HEATHERS: Well, it looks to me like we're doing real well in that. I guess I always did feel that Kansas was making a big issue out of something when they really weren't hurt that much, you know. And you look back in the past, they had opportunity to develop more off-stream storage down there for the dry years and they passed it up in the past, so I don't know. It's really difficult to get into all these legal issues. You look at everybody's interest and how things historically develop and everything, you just -- a big old merry-go-round that just doesn't stop.
MR. BARR: Looking back on the NRD developments and stuff, particularly in the Republican, do you have any general thoughts or anything specific you'd like to mention?
MR. HEATHERS: Oh, I think the thing -- the experiment, so to speak, actually worked here. I'm not so sure that the outline they set up and everything was the best answer, but you have to have some kind of system and then it doesn't matter what system you have, people have to work with it and support it, and I think that's where the success came from. Even those that were reluctant, you know, went ahead and decided we have to do something. There are still people opposed, they -- it goes back to the -- you own a piece of land, you ought to be able to do what you want to, even bringing the water up and watering, you know, you should be able to do that. But it hurts others so you have to -- I guess that's what government's for, is for the general good, and sometimes we wonder if we don't miss the target on that general good.
MR. BARR: Did you see any particular change in the thinking of board members or citizens in relation to how the NRDs are developed over time?
MR. HEATHERS: Oh, I don't know. I thought about that and I've often thought that maybe the Republican ought to be one NRD, but the interest is different. It's a lot different down around Imperial as compared down around Red Cloud and in there so it -- perhaps dividing it up -- I don't know just where you make the division. We've got a complicated history. As we developed, even our water law, you know, we had two laws go on groundwater and surface water and then decided that there's just one water, you know, and now with all that history you've got to put together the past --
MR. BARR: Probably if there had been the understanding today when that was started, it might be different.
MR. HEATHERS: Well, it could be, yeah.
MR. BARR: I don't know how it would have developed but --
MR. HEATHERS: Well, I don't know either. And I was kind of amused, we were talking about this N-CORPE, you know, pumping water into the streams to replenish that. When I first started, we started out -- we had a lot of tail water out of irrigation going down and we decided that was bad. Roy Patterson was this guy's name. He used to bring that up. We used to have a lot of tail water coming down that they picked up for surface water and now we're kind of going back to it. It's more efficient this way. Before, they were letting it run out the end of the field. We had a lot of erosion, you know, and particularly up here on these high table lands, they'd let it go and secondary erosion cuts back in a hurry, a little secondary erosion develops down the canyons. So it kind of goes full circle, we had that in the beginning and we decided that was bad and had to -- and they really did a lot of work on that. The guys are pretty efficient about using their water and not wasting it. Now we've got to pump some down the creek again. I don't know, it's an interesting situation. I guess I'm kind of glad I got to share in the experience of it. Sometimes you'd come home from working on land rights, we weren't too sure.
MR. BARR: You'd have to keep the car running?
MR. HEATHERS: I had a lot of humor --
MRS. HEATHERS: There was always one or two cantankerous farmers.
MR. HEATHERS: Oh, I always think back to some of the court situations we got into. One I always remember was, the attorney -- I don't remember his name from Lincoln, but it was on the McCook project. We'd done the basic information with aerial photography. Evidently he'd used this technique before, but he called me as a hostile witness, you know, and he was saying, “Well, how can you take the airplane and develop a map with any accuracy?” And he didn't realize I taught aerial photogrammetry up here at the college so I went through it, the principles of similar triangles and comparing the focal length of the camera to the altitude of the airplane, and even when you get to the edges, it's not as accurate but that's why you have to have more than one map. And it was so funny, he challenged -- said, “Well, you aren't qualified to testify on that. You aren't an engineer. You aren't qualified.” And our attorney said, “Well, wait, you called him, we didn't.” But he was challenging it. And, of course, it was a jury trial but the judge at least said, “Well, we'll hear this in closed session. I kind of want to hear it,” he said. And, at no reflection I trusted this judge. I used to play golf with him over at Trenton, but he -- and if you knew him, he was straight-laced, you know. He genuinely wanting to hear it.
MR. BARR: Sure.
MR. HEATHERS: Anyhow, it was so funny. I got amused, they call me and then they challenge me that I wasn't qualified, and our attorney says, “You can't do that. You called him. He's your witness.” So some of those things are what were kind of funny as we went along. Then, on kind of a serious note, a guy's name was Padley up at Ogallala. He was really a tough attorney. We was down on the big dam down there by Stockville and he was telling us that night, he said, “You'll get this guy's property over my dead body.” About a week later he was gone and it always -- I know it was coincidence but it still sticks in your mind.
MR. BARR: What was the name of the fellow?
MR. HEATHERS: His name was Padley, I can't remember -- William?
MR. BARR: That's fine, I was thinking of the transcriber.
MR. HEATHERS: I can't think of his first name, it doesn't matter, but it always stuck in my mind. Anyhow, we did get the land rights finally and the dam works. I think the party that was involved, we had quite an easement effort with him but I think he used that to improve his situation and I think it turned out all right. But, you get into a lot of funny things.
MRS. HEATHERS: Planting trees.
MR. HEATHERS: Yeah. Dan (Smith) down here, I don't know, as a assistant manager, he's kind of a jack of all trades. He's retiring now.
MR. BARR: That's what I heard.
MR. HEATHERS: We were the only two that's been managers here and so they've got to replace him.
MR. BARR: When's he retiring?
MR. HEATHERS: Oh, end of the year.
MR. BARR: He was busy today or I would have caught him today, too, but somebody will get him eventually.
MR. HEATHERS: Gosh, this one day, I don't know how it happened, but with the tree planter, he fell off of it and it ran over him. And I don't know where his head was because the wheels was here --
MR. BARR: Oh, my goodness, on his chest?
MR. HEATHERS: -- but he had to almost go between the packer wheels, but he was okay. He had bruised ribs and everything, but I always wondered about that. Man, we could have lost a guy there.
MRS. HEATHERS: Both our sons help plant trees.
MR. HEATHERS: Yeah, it kind of --
MRS. HEATHERS: Gene, he is over at Imperial working in Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
MR. HEATHERS: Yeah, he's an engineering technician over there. He kind of -- apple didn't fall too far from the tree.
MRS. HEATHERS: Well, that shutdown caused a lot of havoc.
MR. BARR: Oh, I would imagine.
MRS. HEATHERS: They got so behind, he said, that while some people are really understanding and some aren't.
MR. HEATHERS: Yeah, we raised two sons and all this. And it's kind of interesting, the oldest boy, he got into air conditioning and heating, and stuff. He went to Milford but then he wound up over here at the college in their maintenance department where I taught for a while and now he's down at the McCook college where I got my degree out of. He's kind of following the same track.
MR. BARR: Yeah, yeah.
MRS. HEATHERS: He's a custodian there. He's a custodian at the McCook college.
MR. HEATHERS: Well, I don't know, he's really higher than just that. He works on cooling and heating and everything down there, and electrical stuff.
MRS. HEATHERS: I think they think they got more than they really knew they had.
MR. HEATHERS: Small college, you know.
MR. BARR: How big is McCook now?
MR. HEATHERS: Oh, geez, about 8,000, 7500, something like that. I think it's dropped a little but it's a pretty active little community.
MR. BARR: How big is the college?
MR. HEATHERS: Oh, gee, I can't tell you that.
MR. BARR: That's fine, I just was curious. No problem.
MR. HEATHERS: Yeah, they've got a pretty good enrollment, but I can't speak to numbers. They've been picking up and --
MRS. HEATHERS: Those three are his children and that little boy over here on the left is Keith's son. He mowed lawns all summer.
MR. HEATHERS: Yeah, the kid in the white shirt's about to graduate from the “U” as a civil engineer so he's --
MR. BARR: Still in the same general area.
MR. HEATHERS: Yeah, I think so.
MRS. HEATHERS: And management.
MR. HEATHERS: Yeah, he's in management construction and civil engineering.
MRS. HEATHERS: He'll graduate -- he's put in close to five years at Lincoln and he'll graduate May 9th.
MR. BARR: Anything more on the natural resource district or conservation in general or natural resources that you'd like to mention?
MR. HEATHERS: Oh, there were a lot of guys that kind of stood by us in the beginning. I always remember Harold Baker down at Trenton who was very active, and Virgil Bodeman from over at Palisade, and Virgil Nelson from here in Curtis. He was in the watershed and stayed with us all the time. And Godfrey Nielsen and, of course, Lester Harsh, who's pretty prominent. Jim Hoyt out of Culbertson was a pretty strong supporter. Lester Harsh's son and Jim's son, they got on the board later, Del Harsh and, oh, which Hoyt is it now? There are several boys.
MRS. HEATHERS: It was that -- which one run that store?
MR. HEATHERS: Oh, Jerry Vap, too. Yeah, we don't want to forget Jerry. He was pretty --
MR. BARR: Somebody's -- I think somebody's already interviewed Jerry.
MR. HEATHERS: Yeah, he was the national president of the Association of Soil and Water Conservation. We can't ever forget Jerry.
MR. BARR: I think Gayle (Starr) interviewed him.
MR. HEATHERS: And Jerry -- yeah, that's -- I talked about the city reps. McCook had two, Lester and Jerry, and they were pretty instrumental in development and the operation of our district, and very good supporters. Had a lot of good suggestions and they communicated well with the public, both of them. I think they had a lot of respect and that helped us a lot in the McCook and Red Willow areas.
MRS. HEATHERS: Was Gene Campbell in any of that?
MR. HEATHERS: No, no.
MRS. HEATHERS: Something else.
MR. BARR: If there's not anything else, we can stop, but if you've got another thing, go ahead. If not, I thank you very much for doing this.
MR. HEATHERS: Well, yeah, I guess I look at the Compact Settlement on the Republican River. It is a very important issue and I hope that these recharge -- I guess I shouldn't call them recharge, but these augmentation projects that the Upper started, and they went together here, I think that we need to look at those types of inventive thinking. It looks to me like they've got potential for really helping in the -- because it's so hard with these drought cycles that we get in and we need to store the water during the rainy season -- and available for the dry. These large reservoirs -- the Republican Valley Conservation Association, that's another group that worked with us pretty well, keeping us going, but they were so instrumental in getting the big flood control structures and those things are very valuable, but they're kind of inefficient as far as storing water and using it, the seepage and evaporation losses and stuff out of that, but probably the most efficient reservoir is this big old groundwater reservoir that we've got under us. And what they're looking at is, have that storage, you know, kind of create it during the recharge years and then you can pump it down later when you get to dry years. I think there's a lot of merit in that, it's not too well developed right now, it's not too sophisticated, but I see a lot of potential there. I'm kind of looking at that N-CORPE project. It looks to me like we've got a natural there, it's -- I can't see why they can't convert to some wind energy up there. It's right close to the big power line in Sutherland. They could probably pump their water almost for nothing and recharge that. I don't know, I think Kansas has got to do a lot of, I don't know, thinking on their project, too, because they're not without sin in northwest Kansas.
MR. BARR: Do they have any comparable -- I know it's not a natural resource district and not directly comparable, but do they have any kind of -- for the Kansas portion of the basin, do they have any kind of organized --
MR. HEATHERS: Well, they've got their soil and water conservation districts and then they've got groundwater management districts.
MR. BARR: Do they have any overall coordination between them?
MR. HEATHERS: Well, I think they do. The State of Kansas might be a little more active in doing things and -- not that Nebraska is lax but it's just the way we set up the system. But they might be a little more active in groundwater monitoring and land rights and water rights and that type of thing, and perhaps our state agency isn't. And I'm not throwing stones at our agency, it's the way that the legislature set it up.
MR. BARR: Sure. What about the Colorado portion of the Republican?
MR. HEATHERS: I think they're pretty active, too, but it's more of a state-controlled program. It's a little hard to understand their management program out there, how you can move water around. I get lost when they get to talking about it. But we've had pretty good across-the-state border cooperation. I know when I was at Trenton -- and even with the NRDs we cooperated with, Kansas districts on different things, and neighbor-to-neighbor a lot of times, putting up signs, you know, for entering this district or leaving that one. I know we wound up with a drill one time, grass drill. We finally decided it belonged to the Kansas district and got it back to them. But there's things like that -- when I worked for SCS, I laid out terraces in Kansas because the farm was combined with one up here at Nebraska, and we even worked with the Kansas office out of Atwood and those places, and Oberlin, to do some of those things. So it's not all throwing stones at one another.
MRS. HEATHERS: So why did Kansas raise such a stink over the water?
MR. HEATHERS: Yeah, it's -- but you meet with those Kansas people. They're good people, too, just as good as Nebraskans I think. They've all grew up like we did, you know, the hard way kind of. But, I don't know, we get some power struggles, too, and -- between states and attorney generals, and what have you, so --
MRS. HEATHERS: There's always that greed.
MR. BARR: Well, if there's nothing else --
MR. HEATHERS: No, I don't know of anything.
MR. BARR: Thank you very much.