What is the Nebraska Invasive Species Council (NISC)?
The NISC was codified in law in 2012 and serves as an advisory council to Nebraska's Governor and Legislature. NISC focuses on invasive species of all taxa of concern to Nebraska's natural resources, NISC members and other stakeholders. You can contact the Council Coordinator at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Recommend action to minimize the effects of harmful invasive species on Nebraska’s citizens in order to promote the economic and environmental well-being of the state;
- Develop and periodically update a statewide adaptive management plan for invasive species as described in section 15 of the legislation;
- Serve as a forum for discussion, identification, and understanding of invasive species issues;
- Facilitate the communication, cooperation, and coordination of local, state, federal, private, and nongovernmental entities for the prevention, control, and management of invasive species;
- Assist with public outreach and awareness of invasive species issues; and
- Provide information to the legislature for decision making, planning, and coordination of invasive species management and prevention.
VOTING MEMBERS (Appointed by the Governor)
- Justin King - Nebraska Public Power District
- Kristopher Stahr - Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
- Steven Jara - Nebraska Forest Service of the University of Nebraska
- Mitch Coffin - Nebraska Department of Agriculture
- Craig Allen - University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL)
- Kevin Pope - Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
- Brent Meyer- Nebraska Weed Control Association
- John Thorburn- NE Association of Resources Districts
- Agriculture Interest At Large Members: Arnie Stuthman, Dennis Shroeder, and Kimberly Stuhr
- Non-Agriculture At Large Members: Kim Todd and Jonathan Nikkila
- Brenda Densmore-USGS Nebraska Water Science Center
- Chris Helzer - The Nature Conservancy
- Chris Vrtiska- Omaha Public Power District
- David Nielsen- U.S. Departmnet of Agriculture APHIS
- Erin Biggs- Nebraska Department of Agriculure
- Gary Stone-University of Nebrakska-Lincoln Extension
- Jeff Runge-US Fish & Wildlife Service
- Jeremy Gehle-Department of Natural Resources
- Jennifer Weisbrod-Pesticide Safety Education (UNL)
- Kelsey Jolley-US Army Corps of Engineers
- Lorrie Grueber-City of Lincoln Forester
- Ritch Nelson - USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service
- Mike Koenig-Omaha Public Power District
- TJ Walker-Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
In alphabetical order
Lancaster County Weed Control Superintendent
Brent serves as the Lancaster County Weed Superintendent based in Lincoln, NE. He’s spent 25 years working with invasive plants and has served on numerous State and national organizations including serving on the NAWMA (now NAISMA) Board of Director’s and as the organizations President, as well as the Nebraska Weed Control Association’s President. He currently serves as the Chair for the Governor’s Riparian Vegetation Management Task Force.
As superintendent in Lancaster County he is responsible for carrying out the State’s Noxious Weed Act as well as working with, and educating landowners on invasive plants, their control methods, and potential they have on our environment. The Nebraska Invasive Species Council (NISC) plays a critical role in education and outreach across all taxa. NISC is very important to the success of all invasive species control programs. It is, by far, more effective to prevent the spread of invasives, than it is to try and treat them after they become established.
ENVIRONMENTAL SPECIALIST, NEBRASKA PUBLIC POWER DISTRICT
Justin grew up on a farm in Nebraska, received his B.S. in biology from Midland Lutheran College, and received his M.S. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Then he worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Grand Island with threatened and endangered species. Since 1993, he has worked in the Environmental Department for Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) in Columbus. Besides invasive species, he works with power plants, river and lake monitoring, fisheries, and bird – powerline interactions. Justin has worked with electric utilities on zebra mussel mitigation since he started at NPPD and was part of the group that worked with the Nebraska Legislature to create the Nebraska Invasive Species Council (NISC).
Justin and his wife, Chris live in Columbus, enjoy gardening, traveling throughout North America and visiting National Parks. In addition to being on the NISC board, he is on the board of directors for Keep Columbus Beautiful and is a certified Hunter Education instructor.
Unit Leader, Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit, Univ. of Nebraska & US Geological Survey
Kevin Pope is the Leader of the Nebraska Coooperarive Fish & Wildlife Research Unit. He received his Ph.D. from South Dakota State University in 1996, his M.S. from Auburn University in 1993, and his B.S. in Fisheries Science from Texas A&M University in 1991. Kevin grew up in Denver, Colorado, but was born in Abilene, Texas.
Before joining the Nebraska Coop Unit in 2005, Kevin was an Associate Professor of Fishery Science at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.
Program Manager, Noxious Weed and Seed Programs
Nebraska Department of Agriculture
Mitch started with Nebraska Department of Agriculture in September of 1991 where he served as an Ag. Inspection Specialist in the Noxious Weed Program. In 1993 he was promoted to Staff Supervisor and in 1998 promoted to Program Manager where Mitch oversees the day to day operation of Nebraska’s Noxious Weed Program and supervises three field staff who work directly with each county weed control authority.
Beginning in 2007, Mitch has assisted with the implementation of the Riparian Vegetation Management Task Force and Grant Program to improve invasive plant management on Nebraska’s river systems.
In December 2016, Mitch was appointed as Program Manager of the Nebraska Seed Program.
Mitch is also a co-author of Weeds of the Great Plains which was originally released in the spring of 2003, and an updated version released in 2020.
Program Manager, Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
Kris is the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Program Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and is the AIS lead for the State of Nebraska. He received his B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at South Dakota State University and his M.S. in Fisheries and Aquatic Ecology at Oklahoma State University. Kris has worked with AIS since 2009. Before his position in Nebraska, Kris worked in Arizona on endangered Colorado and Gila River fishes using novel approaches to reduce the impacts from invasive species, and with the Iowa DNR’s AIS Program. Kris has also worked extensively with aquatic plants and began the State’s first AIS monitoring for aquatic vegetation in 2021. He serves as Nebraska’s representative for National AIS panels and organizations including the Western Regional Panel on ANS, and both the Missouri and Mississippi River Basin AIS Panels. Feel free to contact him for identification of aquatic plants or for AIS inquires at email@example.com.