Box Butte Creek Watershed Plan-Environmental Assessment SCROLL DOWN TO VIEW OUR ONLINE PUBLIC SCOPING MEETING


Thank you for joining the online public scoping meeting for the Box Butte Creek Watershed Plan-Environmental Assessment (Watershed Plan-EA) and taking a moment to learn more about the project.

Meeting Purpose

The purpose of this meeting is to:

  • Introduce you to this project
  • Present information regarding the study area
  • Review the initial problems the project will address
  • Identify general alternatives that are being considered
  • Provide opportunities for you to ask questions and provide comments

Input you provide today will be reviewed by the Upper Niobrara White Natural Resources District (UNWNRD) and will be used to help identify potential solutions for addressing flooding and related flood damages, as well as groundwater declines.

How to Navigate the Meeting

Scroll down to view all project information. Note: many of the figures can be enlarged if you click on them. Once you have reviewed the online meeting, you will have the opportunity to submit your questions or comments.

We appreciate your participation and feedback!

Project Background

UNWNRD has entered into an agreement with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop a Watershed Plan and Environmental Assessment (Watershed Plan-EA) for the Box Butte Creek Watershed. This project is funded through the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations (WFPO) program administered by the NRCS.

The objective of this project is to develop a plan that will address flooding, flood-related damages, and groundwater declines in the study area.

Additional considerations and opportunities with this project include:

  • Fish and wildlife habitat enhancements
  • Stream stabilization
  • Water quality improvements
  • Erosion and sediment control

Study Area

Box Butte Creek Watershed Study Area (Click to Enlarge)

Where is the Study Area?

The headwaters of Box Butte Creek originate in north-central Box Butte County and the creek proceeds easterly to the confluence with the Niobrara River in west-central Sheridan County. The Box Butte Creek Watershed Plan-EA study area is approximately 162,000 acres. The watershed is agricultural in nature with pasture, grassland, dryland, and irrigated cropland. The Watershed Plan-EA will also partially cover the village of Hemingford, with a population of approximately 800.

Project Purpose & Need

The Box Butte Creek watershed has experienced four major flooding events with watershed-wide impacts in the last 10 years, including both 2018 and 2019, as well as several intense rainfall events that have resulted in substantial flooding along Box Butte Creek and its tributaries.

These flooding events have caused:

  • Crop damage
  • Loss of land productivity
  • Stream band and top soil erosion
  • Private property damage
  • County road damage
  • Water quality degradation
Map Showing Groundwater Declines in the Box Butt Creek Watershed (Click to Enlarge)

In addition, significant groundwater declines have occurred in the Box Butte Creek watershed over the past 25 years. These declines have resulted in:

  • Lost agricultural production
  • Limits on groundwater uses
  • Well modifications
  • Base stream flow reduction (impacting fish and wildlife and surface water quality)

Natural Resources Conservation Service Program and Process

NRCS Watershed Program Mission

To further watershed conservation, protection, and rehabilitation programs through project cooperation of federal and local governments across the nation.

Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations

The purpose of WFPO is to provide state, local, and American Indian tribal governments vital options to protect watersheds and vital infrastructure, benefiting communities in every state and territory in the nation.

The Watershed Plan-EA development process combines two processes, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process and NRCS planning process, into one cohesive and more efficient watershed planning process. The graphic below shows the relationship between these processes and the current project status within the process.

This project is being evaluated in accordance with the NEPA process, which is required in the preliminary stages of the planning process. The NEPA process includes a written record of the analysis of potential impacts on the environment resulting from the proposed project. Impacts on both the natural and socioeconomic environment are evaluated.


  • NRCS cooperates with local sponsors (public sponsorship)
  • NRCS provides technical, financial, and credit assistance for planning, design, and construction
  • Sponsors carry out, operate, and maintain projects
  • Up to 100% funding for engineering and construction (pending designated project purpose)
Watershed Plan-EA Development Process (Click to Enlarge)

Watershed Plan-EA Development

A Watershed Plan-EA is a document that is developed through the following steps:

Watershed Plan-EA Development Steps (Click to Enlarge)

Preliminary Alternatives

What types of alternatives are being considered?

Alternatives will be refined based on further study, public feedback, and additional exploration of problems and opportunities. The following alternatives have been identified for initial consideration.

Structural Measures Alternative

  • Box Butte Creek on-channel reservoirs and recharge basins (small and/or large)
  • Off-channel (tributaries to Box Butte Creek) storage
  • Distributed storage basins throughout watershed

Non-Structural Measures Alternative

  • Watershed best management practices (BMPs)
  • Cover crop
  • Terracing
  • Stream buffers

The photos above/in the background depict examples of (moving clockwise from top right): recharge basin, detention basin, stream buffer.


The project team takes several steps to analyze the project area and determine what needs to be included in the final Watershed-Plan EA. This process will continue until the publication of the final Environmental Assessment, anticipated to occur in Summer 2022.

The process of developing the Watershed-Plan EA involves two major opportunities for public comment. First, this online public scoping meeting allows you to provide your input in identifying problem areas. Once the Draft Watershed Plan-EA is prepared, there will be another public meeting with an opportunity to review and provide comment on the Watershed-Plan EA, anticipated to occur in early Spring 2022.

Project Schedule (Click to Enlarge)

Comments or Questions

Thank you for reviewing the online meeting information.

You can also provide comments through:

The NRD and NRCS welcome landowners to come forward with any information on potentially historic resources. If you have any additional information on potentially historic resources that you would like to share, please contact: