20 September 2018

September Survey of Lakeland Wildbirds

It had been many years since the numerous lakes and wetlands in the Lakeland district of southwest Brown county had been visited so the gathering of Nebraska birders and knowing that they would visit the district prompted a Saturday outing on September 15th. It was a morning with fog prevalent, but reaching the first locale of Clear Lake at 8 a.m., conditions for observing wildbirds on the lakes became okay. Each site was visited and records kept for each during the primary observation time of two hours. Two spotting scopes as individually used were essential for getting distant views during a fine birding outing. After noon, white cap waves and heat shimmer occurred as conditions deteriorated for bird watching activities.

This is a list of the placenames in their entirety as used for personal database record keeping. Sites are listed in the order visited:

  • Clear Lake, Philbrick Lake Quadrangle; permission to take a look around provided by a cabin owner mowing the lawn as he wanted chores done before the start of the Big Red football game.
  • Chain Lakes, Koshopah NE Quadrangle; a series of three lakes that can be readily viewed from a distance from a vantage point or two along the county road to the south of the lakes.
  • Willow Lake Brown County WMA; numerous gulls were floating in the center of the lake but their distance made it difficult to determine identifications, but general characteristics indicated that the majority were the same species. Further observations by the NOUers added records of occurrence for additional species, during and after the lunch break. The latrine structure here was decrepit and people present had to wander into the trees and grass to take care of business. This place can be a nice place to camp or visit but the lack of attention to an essential and necessary maintenance — especially of the latrine — by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission diminishes any appreciation. At least the picnic tables were not anchored so they could be moved together so the group could congregate and talk among ourselves.
  • Enders Lake
  • Enders Basin; the depth of water was exceptionally greater than had ever been observed, with the usual shallow water channel between this lake and Enders Lake several feet underwater. There was no shorebird habitat present as has been appreciated during multiple previous visits.
  • Schoolhouse Marsh; prominently open water with associated species mostly along its western upland extent.
  • Long Lake, Philbrick Lake Quadrangle; along the drive along the south side of the lake and towards the recreation area, there were hundreds of Monarch butterflies gathered in the cedar trees, and were getting active in the sunshine during our passage along the trail road. It was an amazing sight to see them gathered on the foliage or as bunches in short airborne flights dramatic in contrast against the blue sky.
  • Long Lake SRA; visited after an intrusion through the yard of the resident rancher that knows that people can drive through his yard anytime as they traverse an indicated route to the state property.
  • Philbrick Lake; water birds not present.
  • AGA Marsh WMA (American Game Association Marsh WMA, which is one of the earliest designated wildlife management areas in the state of Nebraska); butterflies were also prevalent and some of the NOUers took pictures but their attempt was not something of any significance but at least they tried to get a photographic memory.
  • Philbrick Valley Meadow
  • Clapper Lake; only very obvious species as seen from a distance.

There was a dearth of waterfowl with the most significant sighting being five Trumpeter Swan at AGA Marsh WMA which included a pair and a large cygnet. Ducks were most often associated with small, ephemeral wetlands alongside county roads. The big flock of Wild Turkey were at the Wales Ranch, on the southern edge of AGA Marsh WMA. Pelicans and cormorants were common, with the latter species most numerous roosting on snags at Enders Basin and Willow Lake.

The prevalence of Bald Eagle may be indicative that the species nests in the Lakeland District? A special observation was a bunch of Killdeer gathered in a small area of recently mowed meadow in Philbrick Valley. In a tree a short distance eastward, was where the many crow were gathered.

Three of the best sightings were the Common Loon, Say's Phoebe and Great Egret. There were several places were flighty sparrows provided only an instant view and then disappeared into the autumn vegetation. Tree snags at Long Lake SRA were an obvious attraction the eight flickers seen.

This is a list of the 52 species observed, with 49 observed by Gordon Warrick and myself and an additional three species subsequently reported by people on the Nebraska Ornithologists' Union outing. Place names have been condensed for space purposes.

Proper Name Clear Lake Chain Lakes Willow Lake Enders Lake Enders Basin Schoolhouse Marsh Long Lake Long Lake SRA Philbrick Lake AGA Marsh WMA Phibrick Valley Meadow Clapper Lake
Canada Goose 9 - - 9 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Trumpeter Swan 5 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Wood Duck 7 6 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 10 - -
Blue-winged Teal - - - - - - 6 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Mallard - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 3 - - - -
Wild Turkey 12 - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - -
Common Pheasant - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - -
Common Loon - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Pied-billed Grebe - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Horned Grebe - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1
Western Grebe - - - - - - - - - - 3 - - - - - - - - - - 4
Great Blue Heron 3 3 - - - - 1 1 - - - - - - - - - - 1
Great Egret - - - - 2 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
American White Pelican 2 28 11 - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - 18
Double-crested Cormorant 1 - - - - - - 62 1 - - - - - - - - - - 49
Turkey Vulture - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 - -
Cooper's Hawk 1 - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Northern Harrier 2 - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Bald Eagle 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 1
Red-tailed Hawk - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - -
American Coot 2 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Killdeer - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 19 3 1
Wilson's Snipe - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 3
Franklin's Gull - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 3
Ring-billed Gull - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - 35
Forster's Tern - - - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Black Tern - - 3 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1
Mourning Dove - - - - 5 20 - - 12 21 20 - - 1 - - 2
Great Horned Owl - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 2 - - - -
Belted Kingfisher - - 1 - - 1 - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - 1
Red-headed Woodpecker - - 3 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1
Northern Flicker 1 - - - - - - - - - - 8 1 - - 1 - - 1
American Kestrel - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - 1
Say's Phoebe - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Eastern Kingbird - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - 2 - - - - - - - -
Blue Jay - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 3 - - 1 - - - -
American Crow - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 32 - - - -
Black-capped Chickadee - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 2 - - - - - - - -
Barn Swallow 6 - - - - - - - - - - - - 5 - - - - - - - -
Marsh Wren - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - -
White-breasted Nuthatch - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - -
Common Starling - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Eastern Bluebird - - - - - - 2 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
American Robin - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
American Goldfinch 1 4 - - 2 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Western Meadowlark - - 5 3 2 - - 3 - - - - - - - - - - 5
Red-winged Blackbird 4 75 - - 3 - - - - - - 10 - - 5 - - 20
Common Grackle - - - - - - - - - - - - 4 1 - - - - - - - -
Song Sparrow 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 - - - -
Chipping Sparrow - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 6 - - - - - - - -
Lark Sparrow - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 2 - -

This survey was done in conjunction with the autumn meeting of the NOU at Ainsworth. Their group arrived in the Lakeland area at 11 a.m. and then visited four particular locales within the Lakeland area: AGA Marsh, Enders Lake and Enders Basin as observed from the county road, and then lunch at Willow Lake Brown County WMA. Additional records were kept along Moon Lake Road and a wetland east of the Calamus River crossing on the county road towards Highway 7. There were many ebird checklists submitted by attendees at this meeting and the overall tally was reported as 134 species.


Situations Noted in Association with Lakeland Ranch

The following details were provided to officials at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission on September 17th.

This email is in regards to several items noted during the weekend in association with the Moon Lake Wildlife Sanctuary (a.k.a. Moonlake Wildlife Ranch) at Lakeland, southwest Brown County..

Item 1:

When trying to visit South Twin Lake WMA the morning of September 15, the access road was blocked by a large gate at the boundary of the MLWS. There were two chains with a padlock on each which obviously prevented any further travel. The attached photographs show the signage on the gate and adjacent fence as well as other signs, including one indicating this was a public access trail to the WMA.

How is it that the landowner can prevent access to public property? When will this situation be changed so the WMA can be readily visited? The landowner seems to think they can keep out the public, but this is simply wrong and needs to be immediately corrected!

Also, the public access signs need to be replaced with signage in proper condition to convey that the trail is a public travelway. I have visited this area multiple times in the past, and want to visit it again in the near future.

Item 2:

In the photo showing the portion of the gate and adjacent fence, it is obvious that the wire mesh fence extends from ground level to 7 or 8 feet in height. This type of fencing extends along the entire perimeter of the MLWS here and as also noted at the primary gate to the ranch headquarters. The character of the fence does not allow any ingress or egress by larger mammals including white-tailed deer, coyote and antelope. The landowner has effectively fenced out a portion of natural range of these species, while the fence also does not allow any natural movement of these species.

How is it that the landowner can effectively "take" a public resource ... that being the large mammals trapped within the fenced ranch area?

Item 3

The landowner has introduced prairie dogs, as evident on an aerial photograph showing the large residence on the south side of the fish pond. There are multiple burrows present. Does the landowner need to have NGPC permission to introduce this species onto private property?

When Audubon of Kansas introduced prairie dogs at the Hutton Ranch, they had to go through approval by NGPC as evident by the public meeting which I attended some years ago.

Item 4

With the MLWS completely fenced and any access inhibited by locked gates, how will NGPC ensure that quick and ready access is available if there is a need to fight a prairie fire in the vicinity of the WMA. This also applies to access that would be needed by any local fire department.

Item 5

How is the NGPC making sure that livestock associated with the MLWS do not go through the South Twin WMA fencing and graze the area? There are likely bison on the adjacent range, and a barb wire fence is not sufficient to stop their movement. Is the vehicular access point to the area suitably fenced or have a barrier to make certain livestock of the adjacent property owner cannot get onto the site. It is only through agency vigilance as well as that of the public that the area can be monitored to ensure its quality.

18 September 2018

Further Details of South Holt County Wildbirds

Another survey of distinct wetlands along the southern boundary of Holt County provide additional details on the value of these habitats for wildbirds. The observations were recorded on September 3rd by Jason Thiele at the local wetlands, most of which are associated with the headwaters of Clearwater Creek, thus the CC designation. Each of these site names have been designated to the specific site indicated by the ebird checklists, but are a geographic locality rather than a roadway site name as originally given. Some of the wetland habitat areas are part of the same area, but were designated as different localities because they were in either of the two counties ... Holt or Wheeler. Road 846 is the county boundary.

This is the list of the 47 species observed. Note the prominence of waterfowl, including the ibis (glossy or white-faced) and the number of pelican that utilize Goose Lake WMA. Shorebirds noted were other important finds. Many of these species may forage at the smaller wetlands area and then return to the wildlife management area for an overnight stay. This survey effort was also valuable in denoting songbirds present in the area during late summer and after the breeding season.

Proper Name Goose Lake WMA CC Meadow CC Wetlands CC Wetlands North Clearwater 502 Meadow Clearwater 846 Meadow Clearwater Wetlands Clearwater Wetlands North Deloit Meadow
Canada Goose -- -- -- 40 -- -- -- -- --
Wood Duck -- 6 9 3 -- -- -- -- --
Blue-winged Teal -- 40 30 15 -- 30 10 -- --
Mallard -- 12 2 2 -- 8 -- -- --
Ibis -- 15 -- -- -- -- 1 -- --
Great Blue Heron -- -- -- 1 -- -- 1 1 1
American White Pelican -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 150
Turkey Vulture -- -- -- -- 2 -- -- -- --
Cooper's Hawk -- 1 -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Red-tailed Hawk 1 -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- 1
Killdeer 1 -- -- 8 -- 6 -- -- --
Least Sandpiper -- -- -- -- -- 8 -- -- --
Wilson's Snipe -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- -- --
Solitary Sandpiper -- -- -- -- -- 2 -- -- --
Forster's Tern -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 2
Eurasian Collared Dove -- -- -- 2 -- -- -- -- --
Mourning Dove 2 -- -- 30 -- 2 1 3 1
Belted Kingfisher -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 --
Red-headed Woodpecker -- -- -- 3 -- -- -- -- 1
Northern Flicker -- 1 -- 1 -- 1 -- -- 1
American Kestrel 1 -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 --
Eastern Kingbird -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 1
Warbling Vireo -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 2
Red-eyed Vireo -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 2
Black-capped Chickadee -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 2
Barn Swallow 1 -- -- 30 -- 2 -- -- --
Marsh Wren -- 1 -- -- -- -- -- -- --
House Wren -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- -- 1
White-breasted Nuthatch -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 2
Grey Catbird -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 5
Brown Thrasher -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1
Common Starling 10 -- 11 30 -- -- 20 -- --
American Robin -- -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- 2
American Goldfinch 1 -- -- 3 -- 2 -- -- --
Nashville Warbler -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1
American Yellow Warbler -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 2
Wilson's Warbler -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1
Yellow-headed Blackbird -- -- -- 3 -- -- 20 -- --
Bobolink -- -- -- 30 -- -- -- -- --
Western Meadowlark 3 -- -- 6 -- 4 -- -- --
Baltimore Oriole -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1
Red-winged Blackbird -- 8 -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Brown-headed Cowbird -- -- -- -- -- -- 40 -- --
Common Grackle -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 5 --
Song Sparrow -- -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- 1
Chipping Sparrow -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 5
Northern Cardinal 2 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

The overall tally of 47 species for this survey effort compares to 40 species as recorded on August 12th. The combined total is 57 species for both dates.

These records are especially valuable as they provide further details on the occurrence of a great variety of wildbirds that occur at wetlands habitat present along the proposed corridor of the r-project. This industrial powerline would bisect some of the wetland settings. It would also impose a powerline across the flight path used by wildbirds as they fly from the overnight roost at Goose Lake WMA to the wetlands just to the south.

17 September 2018

Late Summer Birds Noted in the Valentine Vicinity

These are the various bird species noted during July and August, 2018, in the immediate vicinity of Valentine, NE.

The overall number is typical for the post-breeding season during a time of the year known as the summer doldrums. The most prominent feature of these two months was the occurrence of fledged young, most notably those that visited the bird seed buffet at the shack. Many of the species listed are year-round residents. Some notables included:

* Wild Turkey: a female with six young originally arrived in mid-July, but the number of young soon decreased to five and this number was consistent through the remainder of the period. In early august a second female was present, but it had only one youngster.
* Turkey Vulture: daily residents seen as they soared over the North Lake Shore Hills.
* Mourning Dove: the notable increase in August certainly reflects the occurrence of fledged young and as the birds gathered in post-breeding flocks.
* Western Kingbird: certainly present in Valentine during the entire period.
* Eastern Kingbird: associated with the north side of the Mill Pond and the Water Tanks Tract during the entire period.
* Yellow-headed Blackbird: a single male occurred with the many blackbirds at the seed buffet. This is the first time this species has been seen during either of these two months in recent years.
* Red-winged Blackbird: following the occurrence of many of these birds including adults and fledglings, the numbers were very reduced as the species left the area.
* Common Grackle: similar occurrence as the Red-winged Blackbird; the 35 were the last occurrence of significance at the horse pens and bird seed around the shack on August 1st.
* Indigo Bunting: lesser occurrence than expected.

The sixty species listed are indicated in taxonomic sequence as defined by the International Ornithological Council, 2018.

Proper Name 192 199 210 213 220 230 230
Canada Goose -- 7 6 -- -- -- --
Wood Duck -- -- 1 1 -- -- 2
Wild Turkey 6 10 10 16 17 14 14
Great Blue Heron 2 -- -- -- -- -- 1
Turkey Vulture 10 8 28 -- 5 5 9
Red-tailed Hawk 1 1 2 -- -- -- 1
Killdeer -- -- 1 -- 1 1 --
Spotted Sandpiper -- -- 1 -- -- -- --
Rock Dove 5 2 7 -- 7 -- --
Eurasian Collared Dove 8 7 7 3 6 4 3
Mourning Dove 7 6 16 7 21 12 12
Common Nighthawk -- 1 -- -- -- -- --
Chimney Swift 5 9 26 -- -- 12 --
Belted Kingfisher -- 1 2 -- -- 1 1
Red-headed Woodpecker 1 1 2 -- -- -- --
Downy Woodpecker 1 1 -- -- 1 1 1
Hairy Woodpecker -- -- -- -- 1 -- --
Northern Flicker -- 1 4 -- 1 1 1
American Kestrel -- -- 1 -- -- -- --
Eastern Phoebe 1 2 1 -- 1 -- 1
Western Wood Pewee -- -- 2 -- -- -- --
Eastern Wood Pewee -- 1 5 -- 1 1 --
Western Kingbird 4 -- 7 -- 6 -- --
Eastern Kingbird 1 2 2 -- 1 2 --
Great Crested Flycatcher 3 5 6 -- -- 3 --
Bell's Vireo -- -- 2 -- -- -- --
Red-eyed Vireo 1 1 3 -- -- 1 --
Blue Jay -- 2 8 -- 1 3 4
American Crow -- 2 2 -- -- -- --
Cedar Waxwing 4 2 4 3 2 11 3
Black-capped Chickadee -- 5 2 -- 2 -- --
Purple Martin 6 6 11 21 -- -- --
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 10 5 -- 2 -- -- --
American Cliff Swallow 20 -- 2 -- -- -- --
House Wren 6 9 16 -- 3 4 3
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher -- -- 1 -- -- -- --
White-breasted Nuthatch -- 1 2 -- 1 -- --
Grey Catbird 1 2 2 -- 1 1 1
Brown Thrasher 1 -- -- -- -- -- --
Eastern Bluebird -- 1 1 -- -- -- --
American Robin 5 10 14 -- 6 20 15
House Sparrow 10 20 15 -- 10 15 --
House Finch 3 4 4 4 3 6 4
American Goldfinch 3 3 5 -- 3 4 3
Common Yellowthroat 2 2 4 2 -- -- --
American Redstart -- 1 2 -- -- -- --
American Yellow Warbler -- -- 1 -- -- -- --
Yellow-breasted Chat -- -- 2 -- -- -- --
Yellow-headed Blackbird -- -- -- 1 -- -- --
Orchard Oriole 1 -- 2 -- -- -- --
Red-winged Blackbird 20 25 23 30 1 -- --
Brown-headed Cowbird 5 5 7 -- 2 -- --
Common Grackle 5 10 7 35 4 -- --
Chipping Sparrow 5 4 12 -- 4 6 8
Field Sparrow 1 -- 2 -- -- -- --
Lark Sparrow -- 2 5 4 4 4 --
Spotted Towhee 1 1 7 -- -- -- --
Black-headed Grosbeak -- -- 1 -- -- -- --
Northern Cardinal 1 1 3 1 1 1 1
Blue Grosbeak 1 -- 1 -- 1 -- --
Indigo Bunting -- -- 2 -- -- -- --

New additions to the tally for these months were the American Kestrel, Western Wood Pewee, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, American Redstart and Yellow-breasted Chat in July, most notably at Government Canyon.

The tally for 2018 differs from 2017 (70 species on 11 dates) and 2016 (70 species on 16 dates. Obviously the number of dates when records were kept can make a difference in the over number of species recorded, which totals 81 overall for these two months since August 2015.

24 August 2018

Chronology of Wind Turbines in the Sandhills and the R-Project

Compilation by James E. Ducey, Valentine, Nebraska. Initially prepared February 5, 2018; second version February 13th. Updated May 21, 2018, August 3rd, August 24th and September 10th.
This chronology conveys 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" or 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 (Valentine Midland News).

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 May 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. The three commissioners eventually rejected any effort by them to account for the documented spending of public funds. Carolyn Semin responded June 12, 2018 to comments previously made by Van Winkle and DeNaeyer; none of the commissioners responded to her scathing commentary of 15 minutes. It should be noted that video recordings are made at the commissioner meetings, so her response was based upon the words said as derived from a video, not any actual written transcript.

At the June 5th meeting the Cherry county planning and zoning board set July 11 as the date for the public hearing regarding proposed changes to the county zoning regulations. There would be seven items considered and which are the same items rejected by the county commissioners in February.

Meeting held on June 19 at the Lincoln County Historical Museum to discuss aspects of the r-project. Based upon a list of attendees, it seemed to be a discussion of how the powerline would impact the setting where wagon ruts associated with mid-1800s pioneer caravans to the west continue to be obvious on the prairie landscape?

An article titled "wind turbines will change ecological dynamics in Sandhills, but could add economic incentive" as authored by Teresa Clark was published in the Tri-State Livestock News with a date of June 20 for the online version of the article. People quoted in the article included Carolyn Semin and Tony Baker.

Following the approval for the placement of 35 powerline locations south and easterly of Thedford by the Federal Aviation Administration, and article by Ducey indicating the threat for the use of eminent domain by NPPD was issued June 21 on the front-page of the Grant County News. The applications approved were apparently the first associated with the r-project.

On July 11 public hearings held by Cherry county planning and zoning in regards to seven proposed changes to the zoning regulations. Every proposed changed was approved by the zoning board, and which would then be submitted to the Cherry County Commissioners. At this meeting copies for the Conditional Use Permit for BSH Kilgore was provided to the county officials. Based upon details learned at the Aug 31 meeting of the county commissioners, the applicant provided the nicely bound, full-color copies of the 470 page document for each member of P&Z.

On July 19 a request was filed by William Weller, and the fee paid requesting that the definition for industrial use in the Cherry county zoning regulations be revised to include WECS facilities with turbines exceeding 100 feet of height above ground level be classified as an industrial use. The request included that a change be made so commercial/utility classification be revised to industrial throughout the regulations.

July 25: multiple anti-wind residents of the Platte valley and Sand Hills gathered at North Platte to convey their opposition to the R-Project. The majority of attendees were opposed to the industrial power-line project, according to reports. News articles were subsequent, including the North Platte Telegraph and Omaha World-Herald. The meeting started at 6 p.m. and was scheduled to end at 9 p.m. but continued until just after 11 p.m.

The weekly legislative update by Sen. Tom Brewer discussed the North Platte meeting and distinctly conveyed his opposition to the r-project and disgust with NPPD. This indicative missive was published in multiple regional newspapers.

A July 31 editorial by the Omaha World-Herald editorial staff conveyed that the r-project should avoid recognized historical sites, specifically referring to sites with historic wagon trail ruts in the Platte River valley.

During these days, there was an audit underway to determine participants associated with the payment of Cherry county funds which might have been associated with initial wind turbine development in Cherry county. The legal auditor was helped by a few county residents.

In association with an expected increase in highway traffic associated with the Nebraska Star Party at Merritt reservoir, a Preserve the Sandhills banner was placed at the gate into the Mysky Ranch of Mike and Sheila Young on Highway 97 on August 2nd. On the 3rd, it took two hours and about $100 for Mike Young and myself to place two banners on the Young parcel just south of Valentine along the same highway, indicating opposition to turbines as a message from god. Craig Miles - having showed up to talk anti-wind strategy - helped for a bit of time, but was essential in holding up a piece of plywood till is was anchored in place by appropriate size screws. A big change was from using red paint to instead using bright red, reflective tape, which was a good decision as it was much easier to place on the banner. The signs were provided by Cleve Trimble. Additional signage was placed along the Highway 97 route to the event campground.

Request by William Weller to reclassify commercial/utility turbines to an industrial use was presented to zoning board members during the August 7 meeting during the public comment period as it had not been placed on the agenda. The request had been filed on July 19.

Dave Hamilton and Bree DeNaeyer on how the r-project would alleviate risk and discussed economic benefits in an August 14 letter to the editor in North Platte Telegraph. Amy Ballagh wrote a detailed email response indicating multiple "issues" about the letter to the editor.

Cleve Trimble discussed the wind turbine issue in Cherry county including how the commissioners have not taken action on a referendum on the issue. A letter to the editor on August 15 in the Valentine Midland News. Trimble also placed an advertisement about NDDP's abuse of power in regards to the r-project.

Craig Andresen referred to NPPD as a dancing puppet and members of Cherry County Wind as squawking parrots in regards to the r-project as discussed in August 21 letter to the editor in the North Platte Telegraph.

During a series of public hearings held August 21 the Cherry County Commissioners approved only one of eight proposed changes regarding wind turbines. The eight proposals had been approved by the county zoning board. The proposed changes were:

This change was approved.
Amendment of zoning regulations of participating property lines (other than right angle corners) to non-participating property line in section 613. This was approved by the two commissioners present.
The following amendments for the zoning regulations were not approved as the vote on each was 1 in favor and 1 not in favor.
* diameter plus applicable building setback to one mile in section 613
* setback of 1/2 mile for non-participating to two-miles for non-participant under the WECS for a dwelling
* diameter plus applicable building setback to three times total tower height
* diameter plus applicable building setbacks to three times total tower height for other rights of way
* diameter plus applicable building setbacks to one mile under the WECS for public conservation areas including wildlife management areas and state recreation areas
* the special safety and design standards on no more than 30 hours per year of shadow flicker to be no WECS shall cast a shadow flicker on any public road
* no commercial/utility WECS shall exceed 50 dba at the nearest structure occupied by humans to no commercial/utility WECS shall exceed 35 dba at nearest non-participating dwelling

There were about 75 people present during the hearings in the Cherry county court room.

NPPD indicates they will have to be allowed to trespass on the Brush Creek Ranch south of Thedford to conduct a cultural resource survey. The utility company threatened legal actions so they could gain access associated with the r-project. An attorney for Dan and Barb Welch indicated that any hirelings could not encroach upon the ranch as cattle breeding season was underway and disturbance had to be avoided (August 23 Grant County News 134(4): 1.)

Email submitted by JEDucey on August 24 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asking that they require that BSH Kilgore address the following items for the turbine facility proposed southwest of Kilgore.

  1. Require the preparation of an environmental impact study that would evaluate cultural and historical resources, species of concern and other associated details.
  2. Require a review pertaining to the need/no need for an incidental take permit associated with the Whooping Crane. The project site is well within the migratory corridor of this wild bird.
  3. Require a review pertaining to the need/no need for an incidental take permit associated with the American Burying Beetle. There has been a previous report that this species occurs at the project site.
  4. Address any potential concerns associated with the Bald and Golden Eagle Act. Bald eagles are known to nest in the nearby vicinity of the project site.
  5. Address concerns associated with the illegal “taking” of migratory birds as associated with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; this would include any taking during construction or project operation. What limitations should occur to avoid destruction of bird nests and/or eggs, as well as young. What mitigation efforts should be required for the wild birds and bats that will certainly be killed by spinning turbine blades?

Weekly legislative comment issued August 30 by Sen. Tom Brewer refers the hiring of a lobbyist by NPPD to promote the r-project; also refers to the Whooping Crane and the need for an incidental take review. Issued in the North Platte Telegraph and other newspapers of the region.

Letter to the editor by Mic and Mel Coffman on how the r-project is a significant threat to the continued existence of the Whooping Crane due to collisions with the industrial powerline (September 2, 2018; North Platte Telegraph).

Editorial sketch drawn September 4th by Valentine artist in regards to the greed of some Cherry county ranchers.