AP NEWS

Leon Bracker

November 2, 2018 GMT

Bracker is a substitute teacher with Fremont Public Schools and a former full-time elementary school teacher who taught at Linden.

He says that he’s been involved in conservation efforts since at least 1985. A lifetime farmer, he enrolled early on in the Farm Service Agency’s Conservation Reserve Program, where, in exchange for a yearly rental payment, farmers can agree to remove some land from agricultural production and instead plant species that can improve the environment.

Just this past spring, Bracker said, he planted 55 acres of flowers and other plants that create a friendly environment for pollinators like bees and butterflies—important species whose populations are declining.

“This year, the flowers are just glorious,” he said. “I mean the butterflies and bees and insects all over … with the loss of the bees and the butterflies, this is something that we really needed to do.”

Like Olson, Bracker believes that the NRD’s most important function in the immediate future will be improving flood control measures, particularly with the Wahoo Creek project. The Wahoo Creek area has had issues with flooding for “a long time,” he said.

He said that flood control also ties in deeply to water quality.

“Flood control is a big part of water quality because [then] you don’t have a lot of silt and chemicals, nitrogen flowing into the stream,” he said.

Bracker also praised recent water quality efforts conducted near Shell Creek near Newman Grove, where local community members recently received praise for helping to drastically improve the water quality.

Bracker praised current NRD Board Member Mark Seier for his involvement in an education program that trained students to test water quality. Bracker said he hopes to pursue similar educational efforts, and also believes that the NRD can learn from farmers as well, who he described as “our best resource.”

“I certainly would be wanting to do that and to work with farmers,” he said. “And kind of let them know what’s available.”

Maintaining the improved water quality at Shell Creek will be another priority for Bracker, as will encouraging farming practices that are more conducive for those pollinating species that he’s tried to preserve on his own property.

“We’ve lost a tremendous number of bees, and without bees, nothing happens,” he said.

Bracker said that, as a board member of the NRD, he hopes to expand his reach beyond the confines of Subdistrict one.

“This is a diverse group [of board members],” he said. “Being willing to get to know all the members, communicate with the members to do the jobs that are most needed in the district. Not just for my little part of it. Wherever the greatest need is, that’s what we should do. So I think communication with everybody is important.”