Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year, including during the growing season. the wetlands at Fontenelle forest provide a unique setting often used for public access activities such as canoeing and bird watching, many educational camps and classroom programs, which teach children about conservation.
spring 2019 flood Timeline
How wetlands are unique in a flooding situation:
Our wetlands start flooding when the Missouri River at Omaha reaches 24.5 ft. That is assuming the soil isn’t already saturated.
When the 2019 floods hit, our wetlands were already saturated from moisture received in the fall of 2018.
In addition, when the river recedes, our wetlands do not recede at the same rate as other areas, because our wetlands are basins, which continue to hold water.
The Nebraska Department of Natural Resources provides a detailed story map of the historic 2019 flooding in Nebraska.
Hidden Lake Trail froze with several inches to one foot of water on it. Due to this our Wetlands were already saturated leading up to the historic spring floods of 2019.
March 14, 2019
When the flooding of 2019 hit, water rose more quickly than expected. Fontenelle Forest staff attempted to secure canoes/kayaks, but the river rose so quickly it was too late. They attempted to secure several structures, including the building and many items inside the building. Some items were able to be saved, but unfortunately, some were lost. The Wetlands at Fontenelle Forest were closed indefinitely.
Fontenelle Forest began working with FEMA to secure funding assistance.
June 5, 2019
Additional flooding occurred, reaching the second flood crest of the year.
July 16, 2019
The first FEMA inspection occurred, to include the parking lot and the building structure.
September 22, 2019
Additional flooding occurred, reaching the third flood crest of the year.
October 29, 2019
The second FEMA inspection occurred, to include the observation tower and boardwalk.
December 31, 2019
The third FEMA inspection occurred, to include debris fields at Fontenelle Forest and Neale Woods (areas still inaccessible).
Select Wetland trails were opened for public use. For details, click on the map link at the bottom of this page.
Future planned projects & repairs:
There is much work still to be done. We are currently researching options for contracting out the repair of the observation tower, boardwalk and the bridge to Mormon Hollow. At this time we are planning to utilize staff and volunteers to repair and replace the docks. See below for a list of planned projects and repairs.
FEMA has awarded a 75% match of flood recovery funds up to $250,000, for the clean-up and repair of approved structures/areas. This means Fontenelle Forest will be required to fund the remaining 25% of the work. We are embarking on a fundraising campaign to raise the necessary funds to complete the planned repairs.
March 21, 2020
Deadline to have all debris cleanup completed at Fontenelle Forest and Neale Woods.
September 21, 2020
FEMA deadline to have all federally mandated repairs complete.
Support wetland recovery efforts
FEMA provides a 75% match of recovery funds for the clean-up and repair of approved structures/areas. This means Fontenelle Forest will be required to fund the remaining 25% of the work. We will be embarking on a fundraising campaign to raise the necessary funds to complete the planned repairs.
Federally mandated projects/repairs approved by FEMA:
- Debris clean up
- Wetlands parking lot
- Bird blind
- Teaching Pond Dock
- Canoe Dock
- Wetlands Bridge
- Wetlands Boardwalk
How you can help:
Although FEMA has granted us funds for the recovery effort, Fontenelle Forest will need to raise additional funds to meet the match requirement and complete all necessary repairs. The estimated total for all seven FEMA mandated projects is approximately $250,000. Fontenelle Forest will soon have a thorough budget to meet the FEMA requirements and complete additional repairs to structures and areas not included in the FEMA projects.
If you are able to make a gift at this time, your support will help Fontenelle Forest to restore our Wetlands (a unique local resource) to its full potential, so that it may be utilized for public access, education camps and classroom programs for years to come.
Pop-up workdays at wetlands: We will have a variety of clean-up days for debris clean-up. They will be based on weather conditions and equipment availability. If you’re interested in helping watch our website and social media for announcements regarding dates and times.
Pick up trash: When hiking on the open wetlands trails, please help us by picking up trash you find immediately adjacent to the trail. Do not pick up anything which may be hazardous, and for your safety please remain on-trail, or within a few feet of the trail. There is a dumpster in the parking lot where you can place all trash.
Respect the closed areas: The remaining closures are in place for public safety, as well as work-site preservation. For everyone’s safety, and to help us stay on track with our timeline for repairs, please respect the closures. We understand you are anxious to be able to enjoy these areas again and we will make an updated announcement as soon as additional areas are open for public use.