16 June 2018

Birdly Wonders of a Cherry County Spring

June 6, 2018. Birdly wonders of a Cherry county spring. Valentine Midland News 46(49): 11. A paid advertisement. The cost was $132 for the 2 x 11 ad.

Every day can be a bird day and spring in Cherry County and at Valentine was indicative as many different wildbirds got lots of attention as appreciated by multiple observers. On various days during March through May birders visited prominent places including near Valentine at the city park and mill pond, Valentine NWR (12 checklists), three visits each to Fort Niobrara NWR and Smith Falls State Park, as well as to Anderson Bridge, Shell Lake and Ballards Marsh WMAs, and even along the county road northward from Brownlee.

There were some especially exciting sightings among nearly 1800 records, many by visitors reporting their observations to the ebird online repository and that were significant in indicating many of the 176 species seen to occur. The tally for the immediate vicinity of Valentine was 115 species during the three months.

The mid-April blizzard wrought destruction to birds. Carcasses of migratory Sandhill Crane were found a few miles south of Valentine, days later. A significant flight of the cranes going northward did occur on 17 April, and the flight and calls perfectly showed that winter was finally finished! During the blizzard event, a nest box with Eastern Bluebird eggs filled with blowing snow, ruining the breeding attempt. After the pair had not returned for weeks, the box caretaker let some Tree Swallow use it instead.

Notably prominent at Valentine were two indications of the potentiality of bird hybridization in the so diverse Niobrara Valley environs. A male Rose-breasted Grosbeak had a contention during mid-May over breeding habitat with a couple of Black-headed Grosbeak just north of the Mill Pond. The latter species was still present at the end of the month. A hybrid Bullocks Oriole x Baltimore Oriole was also indicative as closely seen during the same days, also north of town.

A couple of local highlights were the Great-tailed Grackle in mid-May, seemingly getting established here and elsewhere in north-central Nebraska, and a simply beautiful Lazuli Bunting appreciating some of the bird seed. At least two pair of Great Blue Heron have been busy raising a brood at nests in trees at the eastern extent of the city park. Bald Eagle were not reported but were certainly raising young in their massive nests.

Various warblers were seen on branches and boughs in the sylvan setting of the city park, including the Yellow Warbler, American Redstart and Ovenbird. The itty-bitty Common Yellowthroat appreciates its bit of space among the cattail habitat at the western extent of the Mill Pond, where Spotted Sandpiper are busy nearby on the sandy creek bank. Many other species are local residents. You can’t miss the robins, Blue Jay or Eurasian Collared Dove around town.

Daily, the local flock of Turkey Vulture soar in search of some edible carrion near Valentine, as well as other suitable country spaces. The north side flock of Wild Turkey survived intact after the hunting season. Red-winged Blackbird were visibly perturbed as the big hens and gobblers – a very apt term – ruled at the seed buffet. Daily a horde of black birds of three species eat a bunch of seeds. While they feed, it is quite interesting to watch the birds’ behavior as they interact to get something to eat. Female redwings, for example, use a wing-flutter action to indicate their space ... momma is hungry, so stay away.

By the end of May, two pair of Canada Goose had goslings at the Mill Pond. Swallows were busily eating bugs with a colony of Cliff Swallow on the Highway 83 bridge over Minnechaduza Creek. Rough-winged swallows were busy in the same vicinity. Chimney Swift continue to be prominent over Main Street being bugeaters all day long. Purple Martin with a similar purpose, dwell where a suitable nest house is present, and not overtaken by the pesky House Sparrow. During the night, Common Nighthawk also fly in search of insects somewhere near where they nest on the ground or a city building roof?

The overall county bird variety ranges in size from the magnificent Trumpeter Swan to the mighty mite, the house wren. The call of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo was heard in late May and is a certain sign of summer’s arrival.

A grand variety of wildbirds are essential wildlife around Valentine, within the county and overall in the Great American Sandhills. The current and historic reality conveys many people spend tourist money and hundreds of hours to appreciate nature and the many ranchland and wildlife values amidst a landscape mostly free of constructs and blinking lights that destroy night sky views.

Nearly every bird sighting can be a distinctive story with every outing an opportunity for unique memories. Wildbirds though are indifferent to being a mark on a tally sheet, so there is a responsibility for actions to make a difference to ensure the “voice” of birds is realized and their airspace and habitat is suitably conserved so the special wildbird wonders of these days can be appreciated in a similar manner tomorrow, next years and by future generations.

There is no place in our unique county where industrial wind turbines and mega-powerlines should in any manner be allowed to kill wildbirds by spinning turbine blades or destroy wildlands habitat. Don’t ruin treasures just so some misdirected people can put tax-payer subsidized dollars in their pocket.

Ad paid for by James E. Ducey. Details online at Wildbirds Broadcasting.


The numbers given in the table indicate an overall summary of the number observed for each of the species at any locale within the county during the particular month.

Birds of Cherry County - Spring, 2018
Proper Name March April May
Canada Goose 220 3853 181
Cackling Goose -- 16 --
Snow Goose -- 336 --
Trumpeter Swan -- 10 6
Wood Duck 19 6 8
Cinnamon Teal -- -- 1
Blue-winged Teal 78 -- 122
Northern Shoveler 196 5 43
Gadwall 227 7 20
American Wigeon 12 7 6
Mallard 51 35 48
Northern Pintail -- 4 1
Green-winged Teal 39 8 4
Canvasback 96 12 --
Redhead 158 10 18
Ring-necked Duck 27 10 3
Greater Scaup 2 -- --
Lesser Scaup 125 21 3
Bufflehead 82 7 1
Common Goldeneye 1 8 --
Common Merganser 24 81 --
Ruddy Duck 182 -- 55
Northern Bobwhite -- -- 1
Wild Turkey 103 76 64
Sharp-tailed Grouse 5 -- 9
Common Pheasant 5 2 8
Common Loon -- -- 1
Pied-billed Grebe 1 -- 5
Horned Grebe 5 -- --
Black-necked Grebe -- -- 18
Western Grebe 12 -- 103
White-faced Ibis 1 -- 34
American Bittern -- -- 7
Black-crowned Night Heron 1 -- --
Western Cattle Egret -- -- 5
Great Blue Heron 15 3 15
American White Pelican 73 -- 86
Double-crested Cormorant 50 -- 16
Turkey Vulture 171 28 125
Western Osprey -- -- 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 4 1 --
Cooper's Hawk 1 1 --
Northern Harrier 7 1 2
Bald Eagle 4 6 2
Mississippi Kite -- -- 1
Swainson's Hawk -- -- 1
Red-tailed Hawk 5 21 9
Rough-legged Buzzard 1 3 --
Virginia Rail -- -- 2
Sora -- -- 1
American Coot 546 -- 20
Sandhill Crane 1545 -- 6
Black-necked Stilt -- -- 1
American Avocet -- -- 4
Killdeer 14 4 26
Upland Sandpiper -- -- 34
Long-billed Curlew -- -- 2
Stilt Sandpiper -- -- 63
Sanderling -- -- 1
Least Sandpiper -- -- 12
White-rumped Sandpiper -- -- 3
Semipalmated Sandpiper -- -- 31
Long-billed Dowitcher -- -- 1
Wilson's Snipe -- -- 7
Wilson's Phalarope -- -- 45
Spotted Sandpiper 1 -- 13
Greater Yellowlegs 3 -- --
Franklin's Gull -- 2 6
Ring-billed Gull 6 19 20
American Herring Gull 4 22 --
Forster's Tern -- -- 7
Black Tern -- -- 43
Rock Dove 17 27 --
Eurasian Collared Dove 47 47 57
Mourning Dove 67 9 97
Yellow-billed Cuckoo -- -- 2
Great Horned Owl 3 1 3
Burrowing Owl -- -- 1
Common Nighthawk -- -- 16
Chimney Swift 3 -- 64
Ruby-throated Hummingbird -- -- 1
Belted Kingfisher 8 1 2
Red-headed Woodpecker -- -- 22
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1 3 1
Downy Woodpecker 11 12 7
Hairy Woodpecker 1 3 4
Northern Flicker 16 19 10
American Kestrel 4 -- 2
Merlin -- 1 --
Peregrine Falcon -- -- 1
Eastern Phoebe 7 1 9
Eastern Wood Pewee -- -- 2
Willow Flycatcher -- -- 1
Least Flycatcher -- -- 8
Western Kingbird 1 -- 37
Eastern Kingbird -- -- 73
Great Crested Flycatcher -- -- 17
Loggerhead Shrike 1 -- 1
Great Grey Shrike -- 1 --
Bell's Vireo -- -- 13
Warbling Vireo -- -- 9
Red-eyed Vireo -- -- 10
Blue Jay 5 6 15
American Crow 14 39 18
Cedar Waxwing -- 94 30
Black-capped Chickadee 20 26 17
Horned Lark -- -- 63
Sand Martin -- -- 6
Tree Swallow 23 -- 99
Purple Martin -- -- 12
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 5 -- 103
Barn Swallow 1 -- 59
American Cliff Swallow 15 -- 250
Ruby-crowned Kinglet -- 1 --
Sedge Wren -- -- 1
Marsh Wren -- 1 25
House Wren -- -- 53
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher -- -- 1
Red-breasted Nuthatch 5 3 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 13 19 7
Grey Catbird -- -- 15
Brown Thrasher 1 -- 29
Common Starling 22 97 19
Eastern Bluebird 19 18 12
Townsend's Solitaire -- 2 --
Swainson's Thrush -- -- 8
American Robin 278 253 125
House Sparrow 70 122 32
House Finch 39 50 23
Common Redpoll -- 75 --
Red Crossbill -- 12 --
American Goldfinch 39 24 35
Pine Siskin 1 2 4
Ovenbird -- -- 6
Northern Waterthrush -- -- 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 5 -- 5
Common Yellowthroat -- -- 29
American Redstart -- -- 25
American Yellow Warbler -- -- 83
Blackpoll Warbler -- -- 2
Palm Warbler -- -- 1
Myrtle Warbler 3 -- 6
Audubon's Warbler 11 -- 10
Yellow-breasted Chat -- -- 3
Yellow-headed Blackbird 12 -- 82
Bobolink -- -- 9
Western Meadowlark 20 6 77
Eastern Meadowlark -- -- 13
Baltimore Oriole -- -- 21
Bullock's Oriole x Baltimore Oriole -- -- 1
Orchard Oriole -- -- 23
Red-winged Blackbird 706 840 476
Brown-headed Cowbird 20 -- 147
Common Grackle 140 14 204
Great-tailed Grackle -- -- 2
Lark Bunting -- -- 2
Song Sparrow 8 4 3
Lincoln's Sparrow 4 -- 4
Harris's Sparrow 6 -- 23
White-crowned Sparrow 2 -- 47
White-throated Sparrow -- -- 11
Dark-eyed Junco 198 234 --
Savannah Sparrow 8 1 --
Grasshopper Sparrow -- -- 43
American Tree Sparrow 84 326 --
Chipping sparrow 21 -- 132
Field Sparrow 1 -- 14
Clay-colored Sparrow 3 -- 81
Lark Sparrow -- -- 86
Spotted Towhee 1 -- 30
Lapland Longspur -- 2 --
Rose-breasted Grosbeak -- -- 2
Black-headed Grosbeak -- -- 12
Northern Cardinal 10 15 18
Blue Grosbeak -- -- 2
Indigo Bunting -- -- 5
Lazuli Bunting 1 -- --

04 June 2018

Wildbirds During May at Valentine

A very nice variety of wildbirds were observed in the immediate vicinity of Valentine during the spring month of May. The month started with the passage of migrants and ended with young waterfowl by the end of the month.

Bird observations were made on more days than typical because of the need to record an unusual occurrence. Also helpful were three ebird reports from the Valentine City Park (14th, 17th with the ebird report combined with personal observations, and the 30th).

The following is some analysis of species occurrence.

  • Canada Goose: the first goslings were seen on May 18th (julian date 138) at the western extent of the Valentine Mill Pond; at least two pair raised young here.
  • Wild Turkey: regularly seen earlier in the month and then sparse until the end of the month when the flock of ten was prominent at the bird seeds fed at my residence at the North Lake Shore Hills.
  • Great Blue Heron: regularly seen flying along above the north hills and occasionally at the Mill Pond; two occupied nests were present in the east woods at the Valentine City Park and was noted that none of the ebird reports made any reference to the presence of this species at this locale.
  • Turkey Vulture: more prevalent this season than in previous years, and most typically seen in numbers at their roost locale with birds notable throughout the day soaring over the north hills.
  • Red-tailed Hawk: a pair certainly nested in the North Lake Shore Hills, as at least one of the birds could be seen nearly every day.
  • Spotted Sandpiper: along Minnechaduza Creek with a surprising three at some sandy beach habitat at the west end of the mill pond.
  • Yellow-billed Cuckoo: their presence late in the month was a sure sign of summer.
  • Chimney Swift: most prevalent in Valentine.
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker: surprisingly sparse.
  • Hairy Woodpecker: more prevalent than the single record would indicate; the bird seen was carrying food at the western edge of the city park.
  • Eastern Phoebe: most readily seen along Minnechaduza Creek in the city park and near the mill pond dam.
  • Western Kingbird: pairs most prevalent at several places among the urban setting of the Heart City.
  • Tree Swallow: eventually allowed to use a nest box where the mid-April blizzard froze the eggs of a pair of nesting Eastern Bluebird.
  • Purple Martin: there are at least three known house in Valentine, the most prominent one at the Wacky West campground.
  • American Cliff Swallow: the largest nesting colony is on the Highway 83 bridge over Minnechaduza Creek.
  • Marsh Wren: vagrant at the mill pond.
  • Blue-grey Gnatcatcher: notable seen perched for a short time on a powerline near a line of trees.
  • Grey Catbird and Brown Thrasher: not seen or heard very often once they get actively nesting.
  • Swainson's Thrush: two of the three sightings at the city park.
  • American Robin: much more prevalent than minimal numbers indicate; first seen carrying food on May 23rd.
  • Ovenbird: reported from the city park.
  • Orange-crowned Warbler: also only from the city park.
  • Bullock's Oriole x Baltimore Oriole: well seen foraging outside a window of my residence; seen earlier this year than the two sightings in 2016.
  • Black birds: Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird and Common Grackle were regular and common visitors to bird seed being provided to the local animals.
  • Great-tailed Grackle: heard then seen at a building just west of the livestock market and then seen a bit later in the parking lot of the elementary school this May record is much more indicative of breeding season occurrence that the 28 March record in 2016.
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak: only single birds seen on the north side.
  • On the 23rd, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak and two Black-headed Grosbeak had a contention about habitat along Lake Shore Drive at the northeast extent of the mill pond.
  • Black-headed Grosbeak: more prevalent in the vicinity this year, with a pair first seen at the western edge of the city park on the 10th; a pair continued to be present at the place where the two grosbeak species contended over habitat.
  • Blue Grosbeak: male well seen in the north hills mid-month.

This is a list of the species observed.

Wildbirds Reported at Valentine During May
Proper Name 122 125 127 128 130 133 134 135 137 138 139 143 148 150 151
Canada Goose -- 8 -- -- 5 -- -- -- 8 11 -- 11 -- -- 11
Wood Duck -- 2 -- -- 3 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Blue-winged Teal -- -- -- -- 4 -- -- -- -- 4 -- -- -- -- --
Northern Shoveler -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- --
Wild Turkey -- 5 -- -- 7 -- -- -- 3 -- -- -- 1 -- 10
Pied-billed Grebe -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- -- -- --
Great Blue Heron -- 1 -- -- 1 -- -- -- 3 -- -- 1 1 -- 1
Turkey Vulture -- 8 -- -- 11 5 -- -- 7 -- -- 23 27 2 24
Western Osprey -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Red-tailed Hawk 1 -- -- -- 1 -- -- -- 1 -- -- -- 1 -- 2
Spotted Sandpiper -- -- -- -- -- 1 1 -- 1 1 -- -- -- -- 3
Eurasian Collared Dove -- 4 -- -- 7 -- -- -- 7 -- -- 4 3 -- 8
Mourning Dove -- 3 -- -- 3 -- -- 5 4 -- -- 4 4 -- 7
Yellow-billed Cuckoo -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 1 --
Common Nighthawk -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 2 -- -- -- -- -- 2
Chimney Swift -- 6 -- -- 20 3 8 -- 13 -- -- 2 3 -- 8
Red-headed Woodpecker -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 4 -- -- -- -- -- 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker -- -- -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Downy Woodpecker -- -- -- -- -- 1 1 -- 1 -- -- -- -- 1 1
Hairy Woodpecker -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1
Northern Flicker -- -- 1 -- 1 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- 1
American Kestrel -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- -- --
Eastern Phoebe -- -- -- 1 -- 1 1 -- 3 1 -- -- -- -- --
Eastern Wood Pewee -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- 1 --
Least Flycatcher -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- -- --
Western Kingbird -- 1 -- -- 3 -- -- 6 6 -- -- -- -- -- 6
Eastern Kingbird -- -- 1 1 1 -- -- -- 6 -- -- 1 4 -- 2
Great Crested Flycatcher -- -- -- -- 1 -- 1 -- 2 -- -- 1 2 1 3
Bell's Vireo -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- 1 1
Warbling Vireo -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- 1 -- 1 1 1 1
Red-eyed Vireo -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 2 -- -- -- -- 1 1
Blue Jay -- 1 -- -- -- 1 1 -- 3 -- -- 1 -- -- 1
American Crow -- 1 -- 1 1 1 -- -- -- -- -- -- 5 -- 2
Cedar Waxwing -- 3 -- -- -- 6 -- -- 5 -- -- 1 -- -- --
Black-capped Chickadee -- 3 -- -- 2 -- 2 -- 4 -- -- -- -- -- 1
Tree Swallow -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 2
Purple Martin -- 6 -- -- -- -- -- -- 6 -- -- -- -- -- --
Northern Rough-winged Swallow -- -- -- 2 23 12 -- -- 15 5 -- 6 6 -- 6
American Cliff Swallow -- -- -- -- -- -- 4 -- 5 50 -- 3 -- -- 35
Marsh Wren -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- --
House Wren -- 2 1 -- 5 -- 1 -- 14 -- -- 3 -- 3 6
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- -- --
Red-breasted Nuthatch -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- -- --
White-breasted Nuthatch -- -- -- -- -- -- 2 -- 2 -- -- 1 -- 1 --
Grey Catbird -- -- -- -- 2 -- 2 -- 6 -- -- 2 -- -- --
Brown Thrasher 1 -- -- 1 -- 1 -- -- 1 1 -- 2 -- -- --
Common Starling -- -- -- -- 3 -- -- -- 7 -- -- -- -- -- 2
Eastern Bluebird -- 1 -- -- -- 2 -- -- 1 -- 2 -- -- 1 1
Swainson's Thrush -- -- -- -- -- -- 2 -- 1 1 -- -- -- -- --
American Robin -- 10 -- -- 14 -- 4 -- 33 -- -- 10 6 2 25
House Sparrow -- -- -- -- 10 -- -- -- 12 -- -- -- -- -- 10
House Finch -- -- -- 4 -- -- -- -- 9 -- -- 4 4 -- 2
American Goldfinch -- -- -- 2 -- 2 1 -- 7 3 -- 3 3 -- 3
Pine Siskin -- -- -- 1 2 -- -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- -- --
Ovenbird -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- 1 -- -- -- -- 1 --
Orange-crowned Warbler -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Common Yellowthroat -- -- -- -- 2 -- -- -- 3 3 -- -- -- -- 1
American Redstart -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- 8 -- -- -- -- 2 --
American Yellow Warbler -- -- 2 -- 2 3 8 -- 5 -- -- 4 1 2 1
Myrtle Warbler -- -- -- -- 3 -- 2 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Yellow-headed Blackbird -- 1 2 -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Baltimore Oriole -- -- -- -- 3 -- -- -- 3 1 -- 2 1 -- 4
Bullock's Oriole x Baltimore Oriole -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Orchard Oriole -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 1 2 1 -- 2
Red-winged Blackbird -- 30 -- -- 25 25 -- -- -- 25 -- 20 15 -- 30
Brown-headed Cowbird -- 20 -- 1 25 -- 3 -- 14 -- -- 8 10 2 10
Common Grackle -- 12 -- -- 39 -- -- -- 40 -- -- 10 10 1 20
Great-tailed Grackle -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Song Sparrow -- -- -- -- 2 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Lincoln's Sparrow -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Harris's Sparrow -- -- -- -- 2 1 1 -- 1 1 1 -- -- -- --
White-crowned Sparrow 1 1 -- 3 6 7 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
White-throated Sparrow -- 1 -- -- -- -- 6 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Chipping Sparrow -- 10 -- -- 9 6 6 -- 14 -- -- 6 5 2 9
Field Sparrow -- -- -- -- -- -- 2 -- 1 -- -- -- -- -- 2
Clay-colored Sparrow 3 4 5 -- 6 6 2 6 2 -- 1 -- -- -- --
Lark Sparrow -- 1 -- 1 2 2 -- -- 4 -- 5 4 4 -- 6
Spotted Towhee 1 -- -- 1 3 1 2 -- 6 -- -- 1 1 1 1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- -- 1 -- -- --
Black-headed Grosbeak -- -- -- 2 2 -- -- -- -- -- -- 2 -- 1 2
Northern Cardinal -- -- -- 1 1 1 -- -- 3 -- 1 3 -- -- 3
Blue Grosbeak -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- -- --
Indigo Bunting -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- 1 1 1 -- 1

The tally of 82 species this year compares to 74 in 2017 and 86 in 2016. The combined total is 98 species and one hybrid sort.

31 May 2018

Application for CUP to Replace a US Cellular Communications Tower near Valentine

Comments submitted at a public hearing held by the Cherry County Commissioners in response to an application for a Conditional Use Permit to replace a US Cellular wireless tower north of Valentine; May 29, 2018. Copies of my prepared comments were provided to each commissioner, the county clerk and the newly elected commissioner who will take office in January. Some friends were also shown the text before and after its presentation.

 

Applicant Comments

Shawn Kellis, the representative for the US Cellular applicant, once again started the public hearing. He started his comments by at least referring to the street address of the project, which is apparently on Jackson Road. The need for the replacement tower was the acquisition of Western Wireless, so local service was now nearly entirely “maxed out.” Kellis indicated that the use of a monopole tower would reduce the tower footprint to 75 by 100 feet, in comparison to the five acres needed by the current tower with its guy-wires. The applicant representative indicated that the lesser footprint for the tower would allow land to be returned to a grassland condition, though no actual details were given. It was not indicated if the overall area included the tower equipment building and fencing.

Commissioner Van Winkle stressed the necessity to colocate county emergency equipment, as had been required for all recent wireless tower projects. Details for this were no apparent in the application and further details had to be found so that a statement of understanding would be included in any CUP approval.

The construction of a new tower and removal of the old tower would be one continuous process, Kellis said, with weather a obvious variable. No timeline details were given in the CUP application.

Ducey Comments

During the first of the morning, the zoning administrator was asked in any supplemental information had been provided for this CUP application. Her response was no. The actual words spoken adhere to these primary points but at times additional verbiage was used to emphasize a point.

A public hearing held [May 1] by the Planning Board, they failed to suitably several items listed under section 6.12 in the zoning regulations. Their failure is indicative that their approval was based on incorrect action. The zoning board should be held accountable for this failure and all of them should be removed from the board except for Michael MacLeod.

It is the responsibility of county commissioners to appoint members to the Planning and Zoning Board so it is their responsibility to ensure that eight of the members [should] be removed immediately and others appointed that will be accountable to the residents of Cherry county and [deal with] regulations as they have volunteered to do.

Public Notice

There are obvious problems with the public notice issued for CUP 002/18. They included:

1) This CUP application is not authorized under anything, it is regulated by; only the county commissioners can authorize anything.
2) The CUP application is regulated by Section 10 as well as section 612 of the zoning regulations, though only section 10 was mentioned.
3) This is not a tower update, it is a tower replacement. An update refers to changes to a current tower and the way the public notice reads, it seemingly states that a current tower will be modified to a 280’ self-supporting tower. This is not the case, as a new tower will be constructed.
4) The location of the proposed tower was not indicated by a legal description [while at least the applicant did this time provide an address necessary for emergency services.]

Section 612 Radio, Television and Wireless Communication Towers

"Missing from the CUP applicant and material provided to the zoning administrator are these items as specifically referred to in the Cherry County zoning regulations. None of this material has been available for public review, neither.

Section 612.01 Intent

“Telecommunication facilities, towers and antennas in the County, to protect residential areas and land uses from potential adverse impact due to the installation of towers and antennas through special design, siting, and camouflaging, to promote and encourage shared use/collocation of towers and other antenna support structures rather than the construction of additional single use towers, to avoid potential damage to property caused by towers, telecommunications facilities and antennas. … Also to ensure such structures are soundly and carefully designed, constructed, modified, maintained, repaired and removed when no longer used or are determined to be structurally unsound and to ensure that towers and antennas are compatible with surrounding land uses.”

"There is no mention in the CUP application on how camouflaging will be used to screen the tower property tract, notably landscaping such as planting trees to mask the fence, building and base of the tower. [Commissioner Storer had said previously in association with a wireless tower placement near Arabia that the commissioners could not tell the applicant what to do, but this clause indicates they can.]

"How has the applicant indicated that a cellular tower is compatible with “surrounding land uses” which includes, residential acreages and agricultural-related uses? There is also Government Canyon, which is a [nearby] state of Nebraska wildlife management area established and maintained for many years for a wide variety of outdoor recreation pursuits. The proposed tower is an industrial use and does not conform to any of these land uses and their associated values.

Section 612.03

“2. No proposed tower shall be located within five miles of any existing tower, without approval of the Cherry county Board of Commissioners.”

How can this criteria be suitably evaluated if the necessary information is not provided with the applicant’s request?

“4. ... Upon completion of construction of a tower and prior to the commencement of use, an engineer’s certification that the tower is structurally sound and in conformance with all of the aforementioned applicable regulatory standards shall be filed with the Zoning Administrator.”

There was no item found in the application on how the applicant will comply with this regulation, nor the timeframe when it will be completed? [The applicant representative indiated that engineering drawings fulfilled this requirement.]

Section 612.04

“1. ... Applicants shall include the owner of the tract of land and all persons having an ownership interest in the proposed tower. The application shall be executed by all applicants.”

These details were not found in the applicant’s request packet. And note that the zoning regulations states “all persons” having an ownership interest, not just the company business name. “All persons” indicates everyone that has any ownership stake in the US Cellular. This would perhaps include users of the companies’ cellular service? This application was not “executed” by all applicants, but instead by an “agent” company for the owner of the proposed tower. [Not a single owner associated with US Cellular was indicated by the project application.]

“2. The legal description and address of the tract of land on which the tower is to be located.”

There is no apparent proper road address included with the application that is a requirement for emergency response crews. Also, there is only a partial, and insufficient legal description; indicating the north one-half of a section is not detailed enough for a facility as small as the communications tower tract which is just relatively a short bunch of feet in extent. The quarter section should be specifically indicated, and even more details as appropriate.

“3. An affidavit attesting to the fact that the applicant has made diligent but unsuccessful effort to obtain permission to install or collocate the applicant’s telecommunication facilities on a tower or useable antenna support or written technical evidence from an engineer that the applicant’s telecommunications facilities cannot be installed or collocated on another tower or useable antenna support structure.”

This affidavit was not provided in the material provided to the zoning office, as it was not found among the application material available for review at the zoning administrator office on the morning of 26 April. Any cost to conduct this evaluation and prepare this affidavit should be paid for by the CUP applicant, and should be done by an independent engineer, not a company employee, nor a hired agent submitting the application, and not an employee of a subsidiary company of the applicant. This affidavit needs to represent an independent and non-biased perspective.

“5. Designation of an appropriate space for Cherry County’s operational and emergency services communication equipment to be provided at no cost to the County by the applicant.”

How has the applicant indicated that this requirement will be met?

Section 612.06

“4. Towers must meet the following minimum separation requirements from other towers:

“A. Monopole tower structures shall be separated from all other towers, whether monopole, self-supporting lattice, or guyed by a minimum of 750 feet.

“B. Self-supporting lattice or guyed towers shall be separated from all other self-supporting lattice or guyed towers by a minimum of 1,500 feet.”

Building a new monopole tower within less than 100 feet of another tower does not conform to these zoning regulations. Any excuse that one tower will replace another means this regulation will temporarily not be in compliance [i.e., when will the old tower be removed?]. The regulations are obvious ... remove the first tower and then build the new tower to comply with this zoning requirement.

The applicant reconsidered thie item and provided further details on when the previous tower would be removed.”

No one else spoke in opposition to the tower. No one spoke in favor of the tower.

Further Discussion

Commissioner Jim Van Winkle expressed his ongoing intent to have colocation of services on common towers and was important to him and for which he has had no success.

My response, despite an attempt by the chair to say the public hearing was closed so further comments could not be spoken, my voice continued: Where is the affidavit in the CUP application that indicates this was considered? No written details were given by any public official.

The former interim zoning administrator, Gary Weaver, then said that adjacent landowners were in favor of the tower, based upon zoning meeting testimony. My instant response was that there were no adjacent landowners that spoke in favor of the tower at that meeting. Weaver’s response was that no one said anything in opposition.

It was warm in the meeting room, with a single open window that provided a slight wind and an open door into the hallway where county court participants were actively talking, and loudly heard.

Due to time constraints, the commissioners seemed to agree to a time limit of 60 days for the old tower to be removed, once construction of the new tower was complete. Since documents had to be revised, there was a delay in the final vote.

It was obvious that approval would occur. The resolution for approval was not only already completed and ready for the commissioner’s signature, but the applicants representative was heard saying that the new tower had already been ordered.

The transition of the towers was expected to be finished by the end of this summer.

"It was the consensus of the Board to table formal action on the CUP application to the June 12, 2018 meeting," according to the meeting minutes.


Public Comment on CUP Application Fee in Cherry County

Comments during the public comment period on May 29, 2018 at Cherry County Commissioners meeting. Slight changes to improve syntax have been made. The written word can be so different from what is said! Prepared comments were provided to each commissioner, the county clerk and the newly elected commissioner who will take office in January. Some friends were also shown the text before and after its presentation.

The first thing spoken about was directed at Commissioner Tonya Storer. I was not a guest at the meeting. Neither were others in attendance that were not public officials or employees or company representative.

We were not “guests” as she had referred to four of us – the actual count being five – during an introduction for a morning telephone conference with a health care provider.

My concern with that so wrong attribution happened later after lunch at the Coachlight, when the public comment period started close to 1 p.m., back in the too warm commissioners room. The point being that we are not guests; we were not invited. We came on our own volition and because of our own choice. Upon her initiating the wrong use of language, and in response to her asking what we should be called, the words citizens and residents were suggested, but then it was indicated that there was no need for any term to be used. At least she said that she did not mean any disrespect.

This same point had been made previously at a Planning and Zoning Board meeting. At that time, a dictionary was used to convey the definition of guest and how it did not apply to the many concerned citizens present. The hired woman who had used the terminology in the meeting minutes she prepared, did not subsequently return after this point was strongly indicated.

Prepared Comments

“This is a request that the filing fee for industrial project Conditional Use Permits within Cherry county should be increased to $500 [revised from an initial amount of $250, following a Main Street consultation]. This would include wireless towers, communication towers, solar projects, any wind turbine project and confined animal feeding facilities.

“The current fee of $50 is completely inadequate. The applicant pays a relatively trivial sum and then profits from their construction.

“The county residents have to cover the cost to pay the zoning administrators salary, and they often spend many hours on these projects, often many more than are covered by the $50 fee.

“Also, why should Cherry county residents have to pay to receive what is basically public information. The $500 fee would cover the cost of providing some copies so residents can read and learn about a project for which they many have some concern.

“Also, the applicant should be required to provide a copy of the CUP material in a PDF format so rather than having to make print copies, an electronic copy can be obtained at no cost. There should be no fee for the minute or two it takes to transfer a file from a computer to a zip drive.

“Besides, county resident have to deal with many unwanted aftermaths [of industrial projects] – including visual pollution, loss of dark night skies, destruction of visual landscapes, unwanted bird mortality to collisions with towers, etc., while the companies make profit for business owners which primarily do not live within many miles of a wireless tower, for example.

“There should be no burden on the county budget and its residents because an applicant for any sort of industrial project development in Cherry county places the monetary burden on the county rather than be responsible for what they are imposing within Cherry county.”

Following my comments, the commissioners had no response; then went through subsequent agenda items continued so my statement was entirely ignored.

25 May 2018

Chronology of Wind Turbine Actions Within Cherry County

Including Ancillary Notes on Wind Turbine Facilities and the Proposed R-Project Across the Sand Hills

Compilation by James E. Ducey, Valentine, NE. Initially prepared February 5, 2018; second version February 13th. Updated May 21, 2018. Photographs taken by J.E. Ducey.

This chronology is indicative of actions associated with wind turbine facilities and powerlines within the sand hill region during the past 20 years as developers have planned for turbine facilities and industrial powerlines as wanted by private companies, utility companies and regional power agencies.

Some industrial wind turbine facilities have come to fruition, while others have not. The three primary turbine facilities currently are the Ainsworth Wind Facility, the Broken Bow turbines, and the Grande Prairie facility in northern Holt county. Additional turbine facilities occur further east at the edge of the hills, notably in Antelope county.

Many actions have been taken by multiple people in regards to this issue. This chronology indicates some of the more significant and known actions. This compilation is not comprehensive but indicative.

1994

The Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) board of directors agrees to provide funds for a pilot wind turbine project south of Ainsworth. Studies for the project were conducted in cooperation with KBR Rural Public Power, according to press reports.

1998

The NPPD board of directors agreed to contribute $652,000 for a pilot wind turbine facility near Ainsworth. Studies for the Ikenburg Hill project were conducted in cooperation with KBR Rural Public Power District at Ainsworth and Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratories (March 19; Holt County Independent). The leased property for the project would comprise 8,300 acres.

2005

A newspaper article issued March 2, indicated that "Blades, Birds to Coexist on Wind Farm" at the Ainsworth wind facility, situated in the midst of the Central Flyway of significant species of migratory birds (March 2, 2005; Omaha World-Herald).

The 36-turbine Ainsworth Wind Facility south of Ainsworth as established by the Nebraska Public Power District became operational on September 15. This facility was indicated as being the "state's largest wind generation resource" The project cost approximately $2 million, with money also coming from a Department of Energy grant and from other power districts across Nebraska (March 19, 1998; Holt County Independent).

2007

Midwest Wind Energy LLC, confirmed that a 100-megawatt wind farm is in the works for Holt County. The project would cost $160 million (March 10, 2007; Omaha World-Herald). The company headquarters were in Chicago, IL. Midwest has formed Holt County Wind LLC to oversee the Nebraska wind farm.

Research was completed by people associated with a Cornell University research in 1996-1997, as hired by NPPD. The research project cost was $600,000, according to NPPD staff. Biologists of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission assisted in determining prairie grouse lek locations. Results were issued in February, with an estimate that annual take would be 148 birds per year, as derived from a 4.10 bird take for each of the 36 turbines (December 2, 2007; Wildbirds Broadcasting). NPPD estimated that the annual take would be 2.49 bird fatalities per megawatt. There were 23 bird species documented as fatalities, with 41 species known to occur at the site of the facility. There were eight leks of either the Greater Prairie Chicken or Sharp-tailed Grouse known to be present at the site.

2009

Article issued on how Maxine and Ed Wehling fought the placement of a wind turbine facility on the West Table in western Custer county (April 3; Wildbirds Broadcasting). A MET tower had been installed by BP Energy but based primarily due to the ongoing occurrence of the Whooping Crane at playa wetlands in the area, the project was stopped. The couple documented the wetlands and their scattered distribution.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development office assisted Coble and Sons Ranch with a $14,725 grant for five Skystream wind turbines through a Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency program (April 5, 2009; North Platte Bulletin).

During March 2009, a representative of British Petroleum Energy met with the Cherry County Planning Board to discuss wind energy development within the county.

2010

In January the Cherry County Board of Commissioners appointed individuals to evaluate the potential for wind energy development. The chairman of the Zoning Board also met with a representative of BP to discuss regulations.

On March 30, the county commissioners passed a motion to form a Cherry county wind energy committee.

On December 8, Cherry commissioner Jerry Adamson made a motion to appoint six men to the Cherry County Wind Advisory Committee. The motion carried.

On December 14, the Cherry County wind committee met at the county courthouse.

2011

The Cherry County wind committee met on February 8 with Pat Pope of NPPD. Pope provided directions to work with the Southwest Power Pool to facilitate transmission lines within the county that could be used to export electricity generated by turbine facilities.
UNL researchers initiate research with a primary objective to "assess behavioral, population, and/or wildlife community impacts of wind farm siting decisions with the aim of facilitating siting decisions that simultaneously maximize energy potential and ecological resilience," (March 17, 2011; Grant County News). "We want to develop indices to measures the long-term dynamics" related to wind turbine siting, Fontaine said, "and make decisions that are beneficial to everyone. We need to think about long-term implications before decisions are made."

Members of the Cherry County wind committee met on April 22 with three representatives from NPPD to discuss the development of wind turbine projects within the county. Four topics of particular discussion were: 1) indicate the potential for wind energy conversion systems; 2) need for transmission lines; 3) environmental aspects; and, 4) community support (from history of Cherry County Wind).

Non-profit Cherry County Wind LLC established in July. An initial meeting was held August 9. Records indicate that NPPD would be willing to move a proposed transmission line northward so it would be available to transport electricity from any Wind Energy Conversion System (WECS) within the county. During August, the group was actively working on "two areas of concern which include transmission lines and landowner association." Efforts to work with the SPP and NPPD were indicated as continuing to be underway in October.

Article issued October 27 indicating details for a proposed wind turbine development as submitted to the FAA by Eurus Energy America Corporation, of San Diego, California, for more than 50 wind turbines proposed for northeast Arthur county. There were two proposed key areas of development, and both of them would encompass about 37,000 acres. Hilltops were indicated places of placement near Baldy Valley and above Baldy Valley. Details were determined from application 201-WTE-65-OE, as available at the Federal Aviation Authority website (October 27, 2011; Grant County News). This is in the big hill country of the southern sandhills.

At a conference in Kearney on November 15-16, George Johnson of Cherry County Wind LLC gave a presentation on facilitating turbine facility development in the sand hills region, indicating that the group was started after the Cherry County commissioners asked several people to "develop policies to become the leading county in Nebraska for wind energy production." Committee goals were indicated as: "Strengthening and broadening the tax base; Being mindful of our wildlife resources; providing high quality employment; maintaining our quality of life" and "growing our economy."

In November the Cherry County Wind Advisory Committee announced that after 20 months of effort on "refining the plan for wind energy development" the Cherry County Wind Energy Association was incorporated and residents were asked to attend an informational meeting (November 16, 2011; Valentine Midland News). The first meeting was November 22 at Valentine and 70 people attended; then the next evening at Mullen with 60-70 people attending. The story also indicated the group had been working with NPPD, Omaha Public Power District (OPPD), Lincoln Electric System (LES), and the Southwest Power Pool "advocating for a new transmission line that will cross Cherry county," Matt Coble said. The association were "actively planning" a large wind development project in the county. The deadline for landowners to sign-up was December 15, with a $100 fee to become a member of the association (History of Cherry County Wind). Participants also indicated property where wind turbine facilities could be placed, via a contractual agreement.

2012

The Southwest Power Pool provided construction approval on January 31 for the R-Project, a 220 mile industrial powerline that would extend from the Gerald Gentleman Power station by Sutherland to the Western Area Power Administration 345,000 volt transmission line at the southeast corner of Holt county. The SPP has at least utility members in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska (Including NPPD, OPPD and LES), New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas utility companies.

In response to R-Project approval the following comments were made by George Johnson: "Approval of the r-plan is the important beginning of a unique and tremendous opportunity for economic development in Cherry County and across the State. We all know the wind blows here and that we can harness the energy. The challenge has been finding a way to ship the energy out. It's like Wyoming coal without railroads. With no way to export the energy, it's not worth much. The r-plan is the new railroad, which transmits electricity rather than carrying coal. We're on the verge of a very exciting time." Jerry Adamson said: "This project could possibly have the biggest positive impact on Cherry County as anything we've seen since the railroad system was built," according to a newspaper article.

2013

During January NPPD held six open houses were held on the R-Project. They were the first of three rounds of open houses, which would be followed by a public hearings along the route of the proposed powerline.

Approval given by Planning and Zoning Board of Cherry county to Bluestem Sandhills LLC to place 60 foot meteorological towers in Cherry county, that would be placed on the Pullman ranch (two), Rothleutner Ranch near Kilgore, and Bureau of Educational Lands and Funds property on the southern edge of the county along Highway 83 upon BELF land owned by the public, based upon a decision which involved no public comment. This initial intent for the towers was specifically reduced to fit within the confines of properties where industrial wild facilities could be built on participant properties.

2014

Details indicated on proposed wind turbine project in southeast Cherry county, north of Thedford, (May 15 article on Wildbirds Broadcasting). The proposal would comprise 147 turbines as derived from online Federal Aviation Authority records, as individually reviewed and evaluated. Information on turbine locations was later redacted, i.e., removed from the FAA website.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for a single wind turbine built westerly of Valentine occurred on September 10. A power purchase agreement had been signed with the City of Valentine "in an effort to reduce overall electric rates for city customers" (History of Cherry County Wind). Subsequent details indicated the actual expense of this turbine to the Valentine power gird power purchasers.

On October 10, the Nebraska Power Review Board approves the construction of the R-Project (Omaha World-Herald article). The vote was 5-0 for approval; the article indicates there were six hours of testimony by project opponents.

Eight public hearings held by NPPD during November concerning the 225 mile R-Project industrial powerline, which had a projected cost of $350 million. The Southwest Power Pool would pay 90% of the project cost.

2015

Citizens gathered on Main Street prior to the July 19 public meeting at Valentine.

Final route alignment announce for the 345 kilovolt R-Project industrial powerline in late-January by NPPD. Requests for right-of-way entry were sent to 270 property owners along the proposed route at the time (January 26, 2015; Omaha World-Herald). NPPD expected to start acquiring 200-foot-wide easements in September in order to get construction underway.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requested that the $361 million R-Project powerline be moved out of the Sandhills with NPPD responding that the route is final and it will not be changed (February 19, 2015; Omaha World-Herald).

2016

April 18 application by BSH Kilgore, LLC for a Conditional Use Permit to place 30 wind turbines south of Kilgore.

On April 19, a lawsuit was filed by Brush Creek Ranch LLC against NPPD challenging the right of the power company to access ranch property; hearing on motion held August 12, with the ranch losing the decision, and thus having to allow the utility company to access their property.

Letter to editor by LeRoy and Carolyn Semin about visit by George Johnson to their ranch on April 19th (May 11, 2016; Valentine Midland News). Then a May 18 letter to editor by Matt Coble about wind turbine development, as representing Cherry County Wind LLC in the same newspaper.

Cherry County Planning and Zoning Commission decision on May 23 that approval of a CUP for 30 turbines at a Kilgore wind turbine facility be POSTPONED until determination made on whether the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, an adjacent landowner, had been properly informed.

Special meeting and public hearing held by Cherry county Planning and Zoning on July 19, 2016 regarding CUP 01-16 to allow the construction of a Wind Energy Conversion System development near Kilgore. Motion made to disapprove request was made; motion passed with cited reasons being that there was "no professional engineering stamp for the entire project" and also, because of a "large discrepancy in the decommissioning plan for costs," according to meeting minutes. Prior to the meeting being moved to the Valentine High School. Chairman George Johnson resigned due to an obvious conflict of interest. Opponents of wind turbines gathered to indicate their opposition to turbines, prior to the meeting where they conveyed their position on the public sidewalk of the county office building on north Main Street.

Preserve the Sandhills LLC publicly presented on August 4 a letter and brochure issued asking for public involvement and opposition to wind turbines. This occurred very soon after the group was formed by ranch wives in Cherry and Thomas counties.

Informational booth by Save the Sandhills and Preserve the Sandhills members at the Cherry county fair on Aug 12.

NPPD issues a statement from an agency spokes-person that a power transmission line (T Line) will not be built through Grant county, according to August 15 report by KNOP news of North Platte.

In August, a large Preserve the Sandhills banner prominently placed by Mike Young in the front window of Young's Western Wear on Main Street, Valentine. A member of Cherry County Wind states that placement of the sign would mean the loss of more than 50 customers for the business.

Informational meeting on wind energy development held at the Winter Building at Hyannis on August 15; a response to this meeting was issued as District 43 news by senator Al Davis on August 24 in regional newspapers.

Public letter issued August 22 by Cherry County Wind LLC promoting turbine development. Several letters to the editor on this topic were subsequently published in regional newspapers.

A flyer with the claim "A Brighter Future is on Our Horizon" was sent by area residents by Cherry County Wind LLC via postal mail, as received on September 29 at a Valentine mail box.

Franz Muller, Cody, letter to the editor published October 5 in the Valentine newspaper questioning the presentation on the "Comment Show" program of KVSH due to undisclosed conflict of interest due to a "bias" in commenters on September 16. Also indicated was that state senator Ken Schlitz of Ogallala provided promotional facts and figures supportive of wind turbine development. KVSH radio announced Mike Burge is secretary for Cherry County Wind LLC.

Public hearing held by Cherry county commissioners on October 11 on proposed changes to zoning regulations.

The October 26 hearing by the county commissioners on the BSH Kilgore POSTPONED due to failure to provide proper notification of meeting, as required by regulations; new date scheduled for November 16.

Forum on renewable energy sponsored by Center for Rural Affairs on October 27 at the Peppermill restaurant, at Valentine.

Grande Prairie wind turbine facility in Holt county, owned by Berkshire Hathaway Energy, became operational during October, with 200 turbines northeast of O'Neill, Nebr. Many of the turbines were placed within an extensive area with center-pivots that water cropland.

Soup supper and fund-raising auction held November 15 by Preserve the Sandhills at the Cowpoke in Thedford.

Letter to editor by Sheldon Otto in the November 30 O'Neill newspaper states: "Warren Buffet said it and the president of Berkshire Hathaway Energy acknowledged it at a zoning meeting. 'There would be no wind turbines if it weren't for the tax incentives.'"

Public hearing by Cherry county commissioners on CUP 01-16 held December 7, at the Valentine High School, with more than 100 people present; the hearing had been POSTPONED twice due to an improper notification notice; several opponents to wind turbines gathered at the court house prior to the meeting, according to comments heard at the hearing.

On December 19 the application for CUP 01-16 (Kilgore project) was denied by Cherry County commissioners Mark Adamson and Tanya Storer; commissioner Van Winkle did not attend. A prominent problem was the newspaper-reported revision in the number of turbines which might be constructed at the project site - they would be taller but fewer in number.

On December 27 the Cherry county commissioners enacted a six-month suspension was enacted on wind turbines CUP applications within the county; with Planning and Zoning tasked to prepare a report on three items: 1) health effects, 2) fire suppression, and 3) property values.

2017

Testimony given at Zoning Board meeting on January 3 given by Keith and Vicki May about the extent of noise at their residence 1.3 miles from the nearest turbine of the Grande Prairie wind facility north of O'Neill, which extends across a reported 50,000 acres.

Construction was expected to have been started on the R-Project in January, according to NPPD's initial expectations.

Public hearing held March 1 on Legislative Bill 504 in the state capitol at Lincoln by the Natural Resources Committee, of the Nebraska legislature. Numerous sandhill residents attended and presented testimony. During the highway trip back to the heart of the sandhills. It was a situation where "boots versus suits" as indicative of visual comparison of garb between power industry representatives and ranch county citizens that presented testimony at the hearing.

Advertisement by Preserve the Sandhills printed on March 22nd advocating that turbines be banned in the sandhills, and stating a "call to action" (Valentine Midlands News).

Bird surveys done by J.E. Ducey on April 12 and May 10 along the corridor of the proposed R-Project powerline with detailed reports issued on Wildbirds Broadcasting blog, notably for locales in southern Holt county. Effort funded by Preserve the Sandhills LLC.

Article issued by J.E. Ducey regarding how a University of Nebraska-Lincoln study on the behavior of Greater Prairie-Chicken at the Ainsworth Wind Turbine Facility was found to be deficient (April 24, Wildbirds Broadcasting blog).

At the May 2 meeting of the Zoning Board, whiteboard list of items of concern/consideration was presented at the monthly meeting by a member of the board; comments given by Ducey on deficient UNL study on the effects of wind turbines on Greater Prairie-Chicken.

Document dated May 10 submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking for a "nationwide permit" that would allow the minimal fill of wetlands during construction of the r-project. The claim was made that less than 0.50 acres of Waters of the United States would be filled.

A draft environmental impact statement for the r-project issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in May. A draft habitat conservation plan became available at the same time.

Initial details presented on June 6 on Planning Commission Review of Cherry County Commissioner request for the group to address specific items of concern as requested by commissioners.

Letter dated July 10 submitted by Carolyn Semin asking the Cherry county Zoning Board for clarification on items concerning wind turbines as discussed at their most recent meeting.

At July 21 meeting of the Zoning board, Jim Ducey commented on obvious violations of Open Meetings Act, notably not allowing public comment, not providing a copy of distributed material to the public, and concerns about not having a sign-in sheet, which is a courtesy, not a legal requirement; attendee Ducey indicated that a civil suit could be subsequently filed.

On July 17 Robert Harms of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was not allowed to attend a private meeting at Thedford because of complaints made by NPPD. Meeting occurred anyway. NPPD representatives were asked to leave and they eventually left after four requests. People subsequently arriving saw pictures being taken of cars and their license plates.

A July 25 letter to editor by Dr. Brent Steffen in Kearney Hub and other regional newspapers concerning "government by the people" in regards to July 17 meeting action and the R-Project.

On August 2, senator Dan Hughes (Nebraska Legislature District 44) comments supportive of R-Project indicating it was requested by Southwest Power Pool, published in the McCook newspaper.

On August 18, Dr. Brent L. Steffen issued additional comments in the McCook newspaper about how Sen. Hughes is misinformed on the R-Project.

A multipage document titled "Sandhills Challenges, Sandhills Solutions" received via postal mail on August 22 as sent by Cherry County Wind LLC.

Meeting scheduled by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service during the month at Thedford was summarily POSTPONED.

Nebraska senator Tom Brewer (district 43) met with representatives of NPPD and OPPD on August 23. At meeting, NPPD indicated they had 71% of the landowner easements needed to construct the r-project; also that the company did not care if wind turbines were ever built because of the availability of the r-project transmission line.

Public hearing on LR 125 held at Lincoln on September 22 (news accounts in Lincoln and Omaha newspapers).

Letter to editor by Brent Steffen about the need for a world-class attraction in the sandhills, and sarcastically referring to wind turbines (September 23, 2017; Kearney Hub).

October 6 version of weekly comment column issued in different newspaper by senator Tom Brewer stating that wind energy is not "Nebraska Nice" and which included the verbiage that "wind energy is a scam that hurts people and animals, wastes billions in tax dollars and isn't green by any definition of the term."

October 7 letter to editor by Jim Foral in Lincoln newspaper on how sand hill residents are right to fight the r-project.
On October 11 numerous landowners met at the Thedford fairgrounds despite previously scheduled public hearing on the R-Project by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service being POSTPONED until October 25.

An October 17, letter to editor in North Platte newspaper by Dr. Steffen on how "R-Project exemplifies overreach".

On October 19 Preserve the Sandhills and Save the Sandhills issued a ten page educational insert in regional publications.

During late October an updated abstract/memorandum of agreement between Cherry County Wind LLC and involved property owners were filed as legal documents in the county deeds office. The term of the agreement was indicated as forty years.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service held a public hearing on October 25 at Thedford in regard to the R-Project, with about one hundred people present with testimony restricted to three minutes and the meeting having been ended after two hours. An additional hearing was held at Burwell.

Senator Tom Brewer wrote weekly update column dated October 27, after attending the FWS hearing at Thedford on the r-project.
Thomas Kent, chief operating officer of NPPD, claimed Steffen comments as previously published were not accurate in a letter to the editor as issued October 28 (North Platte Telegraph).

Capitol view column by J.L. Schmidt and Paul Fell political satire cartoon on the R-Project issued November 1 in regional newspapers.

Close of public comment period on November 7 for draft EIS regarding the R-Project, after an extended comment period because of requests by concerned residents, citizens and representatives.

On November 7 the Planning and Zoning Commission approved changes to the zoning regulations regarding setback distance, noise levels and turbine blade flicker with a vote of 6-2. Recommendations submitted to county commissioners.

Private meeting held November 18 at Valentine to discuss possible actions to oppose wind turbines in the county.

Presentation given at Cherry county commissioner meeting on November 28 meeting on a peer-reviewed report on "infrasound from wind turbines" as discussed by Ryan T. Callahan.

Privately issued on December 1 was a revised list of land-owners that have a memorandum of agreement to allow wind turbine development on their property, as determined by county public records.

During the month, a revised indication of wind turbine placement near Kilgore became available online as associated with the Federal Aviation Authority.

County commissioner requested zoning board report on three topics presented by Albert Ericksen to the county commissioners on December 12.

2018

Letter to editor on January 10 by Bob Stetter conveying the need for a "SOS" Save Our Sandhills action (Valentine Midland News).

Full-page advertisement by Preserve the Sandhills urging that people attend the public hearing on proposed changes in the zoning regulations; published in the regional Pioneer Advertiser et al.

Private meeting held January 24 to discuss actions to ban turbines within Cherry county, with effort initiated to repeal and replace sections of the zoning regulations.

Initial digital map of Cherry County Wind investor stake-holders provided on January 27, with additional key details indicated. Investor lands, et al., derived from official county records and other sources. Map subsequently revised in March.

Tony Baker, the legislative aide for Senator Tom Brewer stated during a radio interview on January 30 that LB 1054 might help ensure that "wind turbine developers will be better neighbors." Than subsequently he stated "put wind turbines away from people" as personally heard on Twister radio in the morning.

Advertisement in January 31 issue indicating numerous people - including area residents and others - opposed to development of wind turbine facilities within the sandhills region (Valentine Midland News).

Public hearing held on legislative bill 1054 at the Nebraska Legislature at Lincoln on February 1. The legislation would remove wind energy developments from the definition as a privately developed renewable energy facility and require that the public be allowed to comment at hearings of the Nebraska Power Review Board. The bill effort failed.

Commissioners hearing held February 7 at Valentine High School regarding changes proposed for the Cherry county zoning regulations, regarding most essentially setback distances, noise levels and turbine flicker. At least 150 people, as well as county officials were present at the Valentine High School. Testimony was presented by 44 individuals, with 30 of them in favor of the proposed changes as submitted by the Planning and Zoning Board. There were prominent comments made by both groups that were diametrically different, using disparate sources. The decision was 2-1 against acceptance of the recommendations (only Tonya Storer voted against the motion to reject the recommendations), since there was no second for the motion, so no group vote actually occurred.

Application submitted to interim zoning administrator during mid-afternoon on February 8 to the interim county zoning administrator requesting that most of the section 613 regulations be repealed, and then replaced with language that would prohibit the placement of commercial/industrial wind energy conversion systems; also to limit agricultural district towers (windmills, wind chargers, or wind turbine) to less than 80 feet. The request included more than 300 signatures of land-owners within Cherry county. The agenda item was not addressed at the March meeting since the meeting was cancelled due to weather. It was then not considered at the May meeting, being pushed back to the next regularly scheduled meeting.

On February 22, Gary Folk published a letter to the editor in the Grant County News indicating opposition to industrial wind turbines and that any wind energy development should be associated with smaller units suited to a ranch (also subsequently issued in the Valentine, North Platte and Omaha newspapers). Steve Moreland in his Soapweed Soliloquy column expressed that industrial wind turbines should not be built in the Sandhills.

Willard Hollopeter conveyed an opposition to industrial wind turbines and high-voltage powerlines during his morning Heritage Trail commentary on February 27, as spoken on KVSH radio, Valentine.

Request for a public referendum vote on wind turbines presented February 27 by Cleve Trimble to the county commissioners. The commissioners took no action (commissioner meeting minutes; article in the Grant County News).

Letter to editor on February 28 by Janet Parkhurst on the need for compromise on the wind turbine issue. Imposition of a limit of 300 words or less on any subsequent letters to the editor on this issue ().

The first installment of a four-part missive on wind turbines, regulations, and county official involvement was issued online by Carolyn Semin, a west Kilgore resident, on April 19th.

Public forum for candidates for Cherry county commissioner held at Valentine, on April 19th. Candidates James B. Ward and Michael C. Young both specifically indicated their opposition to having wind turbines built within the county. Also present were candidates Harold Osgood and Tanya Storer (article subsequently issued in the Grant County News).

Carolyn Semin presented details of her financial research findings at the April 24 county commissioner meeting. More than 60 residents were present. She indicated that county funds were spent to promote wind energy and industrial powerline development in Cherry county, totaling $13,188.04, notably in 2011. There were there subsequent speakers conveying their opinions and perspectives during the public comment period; most of them were opposed to industrial wind turbines and powerlines. A county resident planned to ask state officials to require an audit. Radio reporter Craig Andresen, commissioner Tanya Storer and Carolyn Semin spoke on this topic on the Twister radio stations the next morning, during the Free Speech Zone program.

During the public comment period at the August 8 meeting of the Cherry County commissioners, Carolyn Semin asked when the commissioners would address the use of county funds. According to rules of order, the motion tabled at the previous commissioner meeting should have been addressed. Jim Ducey asked than an independent audit be conducted to get a completely accurate indication of any and all amounts paid by the county in association with facilitating development of industrial wind turbines.