Behlen Observatory is a research facility operated by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Physics and Astronomy and is located at the ARDC. The observatory houses a 30-inch Cassegrain Reflector telescope which is primarily used for variable star research. Public nights are held throughout the year where the telescope is available for public viewing. Participants partake in slide show talks, see physics demonstrations, and have the opportunity to look through smaller telescopes, as well. The observatory facilities include full computer control and modern digital imaging technology - and make it possible to study variable stars and other celestial objects. A direct link to the observatories of the UNL Department of Physics & Astronomy can be found at http://astro.unl.edu/observatory/.
A unique mechanical shop is located at the ARDC. The Nebraska Forest Service Fire Equipment Shop refurbishes excess government equipment into usable fire fighting equipment for rural fire departments. The shop services and repairs the fire equipment, as well as equipment utilized by the Nebraska Forest Service and other ARDC units. This is a cooperative program with the U.S. Forest Service in which vehicles that have become excess to the needs of the federal government are acquired, reconditioned and assigned for firefighting,. This program is called the Federal Excess Personal Property program. The Nebraska Forest Service currently has 287 pieces of federal excess property on loan to local fire districts, with a replacement cost of over $17 million dollars. These vehicles, while continuing to be federal property, can be loaned to cooperating rural fire districts. When no longer needed, these vehicles must be returned to the Nebraska Forest Service and be re-assigned or sold with the proceeds being returned to the federal treasury.
The UNL School of Natural Resources studies climate assessment, forestry, and geospatial information at the ARDC. An agroforestry laboratory at the ARDC includes 450 acres of agricultural land protected by shelterbelts. This facility provides valuable research on the impact of shelterbelts on crop yields and also support for teaching about sustainable agricultural systems. We are also enhancing the income of small-to mid-size farmers and acreage owners by teaching them about production and marketing of specialty wood crops. Farmers should soon be able to see how crops are faring and predict yields months before harvest, by viewing satellite or aerial images based on the research of the Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies – otherwise known as CALMIT. CALMIT is a national leader in geographic information systems, computerized means of displaying and analyzing spatial data and remote sensing, aerial photography and satellite imagery. CALMIT has also partnered with two other UNL units in the Nebraska Aircraft Remote Sensing Facility. This partnership operates a Piper Saratoga aircraft equipped for remote sensing that allows researchers to schedule their own overflights. The Agro-Meteorology Laboratory at the ARDC also includes measuring stations for the National Atmospheric Deposition (acid rain) Program, the USDA ultraviolet B Monitoring Network and the Automated Weather Data Network.
- Audubon Nebraska
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Lower Platte North NRD
- Lower Platte Corridor Alliance
- National Park Service
- USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
- Nebraska Game & Parks Commission
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture & Natural Resources
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
The goals and activities of the trail are:
- Provide a hands-on opportunity to teach adults and students about agriculture and the natural environment,
- Demonstrate the co-existence of agriculture and the natural environment through Best Management Practices for agriculture and urban settings,
- Demonstrate the interaction of watershed components of the Platte River,
- Create an infrastructure that benefits both humans and the natural environment, and
- Highlight native species of plants and wildlife of eastern Nebraska.