NRD gets 29 bids to retire irrigated ground
Landowners submitted a total of 29 bids to the Upper Republican Natural Resources District, offering to permanently retire irrigated acres.
Nearly 5,000 acres were offered for retirement in a program being offered by the URNRD.
The goal of the retirement project is to retire as many acres of CREP land as feasible within the district. A big share of CREP acres in the district will be coming out of the program over the next several years.
While the landowners agreed not to irrigate the land while enrolled in CREP, irrigation could resume if the land is not re-enrolled in CREP or permanently retired.
Nate Jenkins, assistant manager at the URNRD, said all but 500 acres bid into the program is enrolled in the CREP program.
He said they received more bids than expected. The NRD sent letters to landowners with irrigated land in what was previously referred to as the Quick Response Area.
That area included land within 2.5 miles of any stream or river in the district and includes about 40-45,000 acres.
Jenkins said the bids were ranked on a formula that included historical use on the land and the amount of permanent reduction of streamflow depletion that would occur if the acres were retired.
That benefit was weighed against the bid amount to arrive at a cost per retired acre. That cost ranged from a low of $2,994.76 per acre to as high as $18,760.42 per acre once all bids were reviewed.
A total of $10 million has been set aside for the retirement program.
The NRD received a $6 million 60/40 matching grant from the Department of Natural Resources’ Water Resources Cash Fund. The NRD will use $4 million in funds built up for retirement purposes to match the $6 million grant.
Of the 29 bids submitted, 14 bids scored the highest, representing 3,512 acres which will generate annual streamflow benefit or savings of 2,458 acre feet.
The reduction in streamflow depletion aids the district in their compliance efforts with the Republican River Basin Compact.
Estimated cost to retire the acres in the 14 bids slightly exceeds $10 million.
Jenkins said the board’s groundwater committee will review all of the bids and will likely make a recommendation at the Sept. 3 board meeting.