28 February 2020

Results of Backyard Bird Count in Cherry County, Nebraska

Four participants contributed to the Great Backyard Bird Count in eastern Cherry county during the long weekend. The primary count sites were the Carolyn and LeRoy Semin ranch just west of Kilgore, the northeast side of Valentine and within Valentine as seen during a ca. three mile bicycle ride, The Quigley bird feeders as an incidental count, and then the Gallino Ranch on the southeast side of Valentine wildlife refuge.

At the Semin place, birds were primarily counted in the morning in association with bird feeders associated with the residence.

On the north side of Valentine, some sighting reports starting on Friday when junco and turkeys were prevalent at a bird seed source. The most prominent observation was five trumpeter swans - three adults and two juveniles which was the largest count for this species at this site in recent years - at the Valentine Mill Pond on Saturday morning. There was also a smaller cackling goose well seen amidst a flock of its larger conjoiners. So many Canada goose were lingering on the ice. Several other birds sorts were prevalent at the North Lake Shore Hills as well as then in Valentine.

House sparrows were busy getting ready for the pending breeding season along Main Street building facades. At least three starlings were also getting involved. A single robin stood on a yard fence post as seen while bicycling about.

More robins had been recently seen at the Semin Ranch in previous days.

From heart city, a red-breasted nuthatch was heard north of the pond on Saturday was an addition to the tally though it was not seen during a count.

Nearby on the north side of town is the well cared-for Quigley bird feeder. Incidental during the count weekend, Anne Quigley had seen chickadees, both the red-breasted and white-breasted nuthatch, downy woodpecker and juncos.

“I really enjoy the birds,” Quigley said. They become notably more prominent once more seed was placed in the feeder during the count weekend, she said.

A summary of the 27 species noted during bird count weekend. Value given is a composite total for the particular site.

Proper Name Semin Ranch, Kilgore North Lake Shore Hills Valentine Mill Pond Valentine City Park Quigley Place, Valentine Valentine Gallino Ranch, Valentine Lake District
American Crow - - 2 1 - - - - - - 15
American Goldfinch 58 - - - - - - - - 8 - -
American Robin - - - - - - - - - - 1 - -
American Tree Sparrow 33 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Black-capped Chickadee 5 - - 4 4 2 1 - -
Blue Jay - - - - - - - - - - 2 - -
Cackling Goose - - - - 4 - - - - - - - -
Canada Goose 106 - - 1425 14 - - - - 50
Common Pheasant - - - - - - - - - - - - 20
Common Starling 3 - - - - - - - - 3 - -
Dark-eyed Junco 29 16 - - 3 3 - - - -
Downy Woodpecker 4 - - 1 - - 1 - - - -
Eurasian Collared Dove - - 3 2 - - - - 6 - -
Great Horned Owl 6 - - - - - - - - - - 2
Greater Prairie-Chicken - - - - - - - - - - - - 20
Hairy Woodpecker - - - - - - 1 - - - - - -
Horned Lark 2 - - - - - - - - - - - -
House Sparrow - - - - 20 - - - - 56 - -
Northern Cardinal - - - - 2 - - 2 - - - -
Northern Flicker 2 - - - - - - - - 1 - -
Red-breasted Nuthatch - - - - 1 - - 1 - - - -
Red-tailed Hawk 1 1 - - - - - - - - - -
Rock Dove - - - - - - - - - - 12 - -
Sharp-tailed Grouse - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Trumpeter Swan - - - - 5 - - - - - - - -
White-breasted Nuthatch - - - - 3 4 1 1 - -
Wild Turkey - - 5 - - - - - - - - - -

Several pictures were taken of the birds that occurred at the Semin place.

Summary of bird counts made each of the four count days at the Semin Ranch.

Proper Name 14 Feb 2020 15 Feb 2020 16 Feb 2020 17 Feb 2020
American Goldfinch 25 16 11 6
American Tree Sparrow 2 10 1 20
Black-capped Chickadee 2 - - 2 1
Canada Goose - - - - 106 - -
Common Starling 2 - - 1 - -
Dark-eyed Junco 10 6 5 8
Downy Woodpecker 1 1 1 1
Great Horned Owl 2 2 1 1
Horned Lark 2 - - - - - -
Northern Flicker 1 - - - - 1
Red-tailed Hawk - - - - 1 - -
Sharp-tailed Grouse - - - - - - - -

Multitudes of other birds were present in the county during the weekend. Nearly all of them were not counted. Warming weather meant ice-free waters at a multitude of lakes where waterfowl congregate.

The bird observations in Cherry county were a small but yet still important part of the worldwide weekend count.
A newspaper article on the results of the count was issued on pages A1 and A2 in the North Platte Telegraph on February 20th, and included two pictures taken by Carolyn Semin. She also posted a few others on her facebook page.

04 February 2020

Palindrome Sunday Outing in Cherry County

A drive through the country on 02/02/2020 followed a route to and from Valentine by traversing Highway 97, the Brownlee Road, through Goose Creek valley and then northward along the South Wood Lake Road to Highway 20 and back to the Heart City.

At Merritt Reservoir, there were a couple of adult Bald Eagles on the southern edge, and they were near to more than 100 Common Mergansers foraging amidst the open water. Just to the south, there was a skitty bunch of Townsend's Solitaire and a few Mountain Bluebird which had been perched but then flew away a distance beyond our view. Further along, along the northern portion of the Brownlee Road, there were a surprising 21 Trumpeter Swan gathered at Packingham Lake, and this was a surprising number.

A next stop was to appreciate the hilltop view of southerly Wamaduze Valley with red angus and a few horses westerly beyond the top of the dunes. There was a view skyscape as well. This spot along the Brownlee Road is always has a nice landscape perspective.

Snowscape of Wamaduze Valley with a view of the horizon on a fine day. It was partly cloudy, the temperature reached 50o and winds were moderate, thus not bothersome!

Snow in a blowout atop a hill on the eastern side of the valley.

The best bird sighting of the day was a Northern Goshawk atop a tree on the Brownlee Flats, near the village of Brownlee. The bird was seen to fly into a cedar planting, so we drove north up another road to see if a better view might occur. The notably large bird then flew and landed on a branch perch. It was given special attention because of its size. Gordon Warrick was able to get a good picture and features of the immature goshawk were especially notable and made it possible to get a positive identification. This species is rare in the area and it has been about two decades since the last record and that was a bird present along the Niobrara River in Cherry county.

Dead Swan in a Meadow

A dead swan was seen in the meadow just north of the South Wood Lake Road, about four miles southeast of the intersection with the Skull Lake Road, and very obvious from the adjacent road. The dead swan was nearly directly beneath the powerlines present. The carcass seemed very fresh with no predation evident and the feathers mostly "normal." The only aberration was the complete removal of all feathers on a portion of one leg. It appears that it was a clean cut, as if it was done using a knife. Perhaps someone had removed a band?

Dealing With Water Along the Brownlee Road

At one spot along this hard-surface county road there was an apparent road repair. There was digging done in the road-side ditch, with the excavated dirt thrown on the adjacent slope leaving a rough surface. No attempt had been made to smooth dirt surface or to ensure suitable growing conditions for native vegetation that could inhibit erosion. A culvert had been placed under the road. These efforts were made to improve drainage of what would be identified as excess surface water.

There had been no effort to smooth the dirt either on the slope of the hillside or along the sides of the ditch. Also the repair of the road surface was very "sloppy." County workers would likely convey the excuse for the condition being the cold weather which would thwart any dirt work due to frozen ground. What ever, further work is needed to ensure the work was done in a more suitable manner.

Along the South Wood Lake Road, there were several places where road conditions were very muddy and the road surface was very rutted with deeper spots having standing water. Where some rock had been spread, the roadtop was still in a deteriorated condition. The situation would certainly make repeated travels along the route a traverse frustrating as it would be wrought with unsafe conditions and causing a great mess on any vehicle, as well as repeated wear on people and equipment. When frozen, it must be a rough ride.

13 December 2019

Peer Review Analysis Underway on Whooping Crane

The peer review process underway appears to be another example of the FWS inhibiting public involvement. Your agency is supposedly responsible for conservation of the Whooping Crane but the staff seem to be doing its best to limit involvement of the public and to making questionable decisions that might make the survival of the crane questionable for now and for future generations.

The peer review appears to be a statistical analysis. Many people know numbers can be erroneous if the right numbers are not used. The language of the review in some sense indicates confusion on the purpose of the process as there are obvious discrepancies.

The public has no clue what particular details are being reviewed. We also apparently will not have any opportunity to analyze the report before it is finalized.

I also find in extremely troubling that there is no one involved on the peer review that has any familiarity with the Sandhills region and its unique habitat essential to the cranes. This perspective is essential to truly understand the crane and its occurrence. How does familiarity with Sandhill Crane on the gulf coast translate to knowing about our special endangered species in the sandhills.

Also, how can an agency that has ignored essential telemetry data be trusted to prepare a accurate and honest appraisal. The participants may have integrity but they represent a government agency that might be swayed to benefit a "sister" agency.

My self and others want this review to be done in a manner for the benefit of the Whooping Crane, but at this time there are no facts to make certain this is the case.

07 December 2019

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

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 then in late October. Also August and early December, 2019.
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.


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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).


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 a determination was 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" by 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.


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.


Public hearing on changes in zoning regulations scheduled by county commissioners for January 17; meeting held then hearing date postponed to February 7 due to failure to inform municipalities (i.e., Wood Lake, Kilgore, Cody, Merriman; zoning regulations section 11.02.03) as conveyed by Carolyn Semin during meeting on January 9.

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 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 Mcsky 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, for example. 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 previously 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. There is some question if the hearings were legal as there may have been no notification to municipalities within the county.

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 Jim Ducey on August 24 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Harms and Hines in Nebraska Field office) 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?
Followup email to FWS sent the first week of October. The email response eventually received during the month said there would be no action by the FWS until the project developer made a particular request for review.

Weekly legislative comment issued August 30 by Sen. Tom Brewer refers to 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 endangered Whooping Crane due to the potential for collisions with the industrial powerline (September 2, 2018; North Platte Telegraph).

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

Six-page "press release" titled "Say No to the R-Project Transmission Line!" released September 17th by Dave Hutchinson (Hutchison Organic Ranch, Bassett) discussing scenic values, American Burying Beetle, Whooping Crane and related topics. Document distributed via email.

Letter mailed September 26th to Cherry county commissioners indicating an obvious conflict of interest on their voting on proposed wind turbine facilities or related zoning regulations. Prepared by attorney Jason M. Bruno for Preserve the Sandhills. No obvious response yet in early November.

Jeff Payne, Berlin, PA wrote about the scenic values of the sandhills and how he and his friends enjoy visiting and hunting prairie chickens as they have since 1999. Pointedly indicated his opposition to wind turbines and how they have ruined natural landscapes in the county where he lives (October 3, 2018; letter to editor in Valentine Midland News).

Letter regarding lack of notification for August 21 public hearings sent to Cherry county zoning administrator, county attorney and commissioners by Kilgore, Cody and Nenzel representatives. Letter dated October 12, 2018. The commissioners on October 30 asked county attorney Eric Scott to investigate the situation and determine whether or not letters had been properly sent.

Wildbirds Broadcasting blog post indicated FWS communications associated with the NPPD proposed American Burying Beetle mitigation site near Brewster, Blaine County. Details were received via email on October 17 and dvd on November 1, following an initial FOIA request date of July 30, 2018.

Cherry county Planning and Zoning Board meeting scheduled for November 6 set to address proposed change to section 613 zoning regulations as submitted in February by Wayne Eatinger. This request was tabled until the next meeting.

On December 4th, a decision on the request made by Wayne Eatinger and another by William Weller were both tabled by the Planning and Zoning Board of Cherry County. The Weller request would revise to industrial the "commercial/utility" classification for wind turbines. At this meeting additional testimony was allowed on the Eatinger with additional comments made on the Weller request.

During the month of December, NPPD released an eight-page flyer on the "R-Project - Ensuring Reliable Electricity for Nebraskans" with items on reliable service, restoration, reasons for the powerline routing, delivering reliable energy, Southwest Power Pool, supposed benefits and species and habitat protection.

On December 31 in the Kearney Hub a letter to the editor by Dr. Brent Steffen provided comments on the r-project flyer. His point was that NPPD was ignoring science and the public. Items he addressed included how wind energy development would devastate the sandhills, lack of suitably addressing potential impacts to whooping cranes, misleading presentation of the public meeting process, availability of alternate routes and NPPD acting as a minion of the Southwest Power Pool. This letter was also in the North Platte Telegraph and Grant County News, et al.


Article on January 11, 2019 that NPPD had awarded a construction contract for the r-project transmission line. The amount was for $265 million to Forbes Brothers Timberline Construction. NPPD claimed that the incidental take permit associated with the American Burying Beetle would be received in about three months.

On January 15th both the Wayne Eatinger and William Weller amendments were approved by the Cherry County Planning and Zoning Board. Two map graphics were shown. One indicated how industrial wind turbine placement would have a devastating impact on the county viewscape. The second map indicated vast tract of county property where the owners did not want industrial wind turbines, as well as other indications of pertinent
land categories. This information had not been previously presented to the public.

Comments against the r-project by Judy Rath and indicating the importance of involvement by Nebraska senator Tom Brewer issued in January 21 article in the Lincoln Journal Star.

On January 29th the the recommendations by the Planning and Zoning Board on the Eatinger and Weller amendments was not accepted by the Cherry County Commissioners that voted to return them to the Board. The basis was that supportive information was not provided as required by state law.

Public hearing on Legislative Bill 373 held in Lincoln. The bill, introduced by Sen. Tom Brewer of District 43, would require counties to regulate the placement, noise and decommissioning of industrial wind turbines; for a two year period there would be a 3-mile setback for non participatory residents to allow counties to develop zoning regulations. It was once again boots vs. suits, according to news reports: residents want to prevent destruction of the sandhills while economic development is the mantra of developers.
- - - - -

On February 8th, NPPD issued the final environmental impact statement for the r-project. Documents were provided for a public inspection period, with no comments to be accepted.

In March, Nebraska senator Tom Brewer visited the Department of Interior office in Washington, D.C. to discuss the need for NPPD to do an incidental take review for the Whooping Crane in association with the proposed r-project powerline. Nebraska representative Adrian Smith also attended.

The "Eatinger amendment" for Cherry county zoning regulations was rejected April 30 by county commissioners on the basis that it would be "mob rule" and it would be illegal to completely ban something and perhaps result in the county being sued. The request had been to ban industrial wind turbines more than 80 feet in height. The "Weller amendment" was returned to Planning and Zoning for them to evaluate changing Commercial/Utility to Industrial for wind turbine classification. It was a contentious meeting due to oleaginous behavior of a county commissioner.

"During public testimony James Ducey presented a map which visually depicted the opinions on wind energy development of landowners throughout Cherry County and then when asked by the Board to allow them to create a readable version of that submission Mr. Ducey refused to submit a readable version of the map which had been shown in an open meeting of a public body. The version Mr. Ducey did submit is illegible." County commissioner meeting minutes; May 8, 2019; Valentine Midland News 47(50): 10.

On May 13, 44 Nebraska legislators voted Yea for final approval of LB 155, which addresses the use of eminent domain to construct feeder powerlines for industrial wind turbine facilities and which recognized unique natural features of the sandhills.

During June there were a few letters to the editor on the BSH Kilgore project.

On June 4th Cherry Planning and Zoning voted to recommend approval of CUP for BSH Kilgore project. They voted to approve a "phantom" motion so no actual motion of record was available. It was to be submitted later by a hired consultant who did not do so and then passed away.

Nebraska senator Tom Brewer received notification that NPPD had received incidental take permit that would allow it to build the r-project powerline (letter dated June 20 from the senator's office). The incidental take permit for the American burying beetle was issued June 12th by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

District court judge Mark Kozisek issues a temporary injunction that would not allow two Cherry County commissioners to vote on the BSH Kilgore CUP application due to potential conflict of interest. Decision made after court action on July 15 in O'Neill where the court room was reportedly packed with people in favor of the injunction.

At the same time a federal suit was filed in Denver against the Fish and Wildlife Service. "The agency, the suit continues, brushed aside potential impacts on historic sites and dismissed threats to endangered whooping cranes and other birds posed by both the power line and the wind farms it would enable." U.S. District Judge Robert E. Blackburn will preside over the suit, filed by the Oregon-California Trails Association, the Western Nebraska Resources Council and the Hanging H and Whitetail Farms ranches between Paxton and Sutherland.

Public hearing on BSH Kilgore CUP application scheduled for July 16 postponed due to temporary injunction imposed by district court judge after a hearing at O'Neill.

Randy Peterson detailed the materials needed to construct a single industrial wind turbine and specifics on transportation requirements in a letter to the editor (July 2, 2019; Valentine Midland News 48(6): 12).

District court judge removed temporary injunction against two Cherry County commissioners regarding potential conflict of interest if voting on BSH Kilgore project (article August 15 in Omaha World-Herald by Reece Ristau). Findings issued August 8th.

Editorial by Omaha World-Herald staff issued August 17th indicating the need for the Nebraska legislature to evaluate conflict of interest concerns defined by law as a result of activities associated with the BSH Kilgore project.

Nebraska senator Tom Brewer and staff left Lincoln to attend the meeting of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He presented information indicating why the agency should rescind a favorable endorsement of approval for the r-project. A primary reason indicated was potential impacts on the endangered Whooping Crane along with details indicating the route approved by the state Power Review Board does not match the final indicated route for the industrial powerline. Further consideration of these matters is to be given at the October meeting of the commission.

On August 30th additional legal action undertaken by Preserve the Sandhills and a Cherry county rancher to address the concern over perceived conflict of interest on county commissioners making decisions to approve an industrial wind turbine project near Kilgore when family members could financially benefit. A hearing in county court was set for September 20.

Letter to editor by Bruce Kennedy, Malcolm, commenting that sandhills should be preserved as a grassland using methods similar to those used in the Flint Hills (September 4, 2019; Valentine Midland News 48(15): 12).

Cherry county commissioners voted October 15th to approve conditional use permit for BSH Kilgore project once 12 specific conditions were suitably met (Grant County News 135(13): 1, 3.)

Center for Biological Diversity files a brief November 14th as a friend of court in lawsuit against U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the whooping crane and potential impacts if r-project powerline is built. Other parties involved were the International Crane Foundation, American Bird Conservancy and National Audubon Society.

On November 16th a contractor crew for NPPD and the r-project trespassed and destroyed property on the Haake Ranch along the southern edge of Holt county (article November 28, 2019 in Grant County News included details on health threats on Haake place and Welch ranch south of Thedford). NPPD later sent an apologetic letter to Ronald and Marlene Haake and the legislative aide for sen. Brewer met with NPPD to discuss the issue and which included a notice that the legislator would request Nebraska attorney general action if such an event occurred again (December 5, 2019; Grant County News 135(19): 1).

District judge Mark Kozisek ruled November 26th that county commissioners and representatives associated with development of the proposed Kilgore industrial wind turbine facility had to comply with request by Preserve the Sandhills LLC and Charlene Reiser-McCormick asking for discovery regarding actions associated with facility actions (December 5, 2019; Grant County News 135(19): 1). Pertinent information had to be provided by the end of December.

Filing made in Cherry county district court on November 29th requesting that approval of the conditional use permit for the BSH Kilgore industrial wind turbine project be revoked and that commissioners "temporarily and permanently restrain and enjoin the applicants from taking any and all acts upon or in furtherance" of the CUP. There were 90 specific items associated with the filing by Preserve the Sandhills and Charlene Reiser-McCormick versus Cherry County Nebraska, Cherry County board of commissioners, BSH Kilgore LLC, Cherry County Wind LLC, and Bluestem Sandhills LLC (December 12, 2019; Grant County News 135(20): _.

R-Project Contractor Crew Trespassing and Destroying Private Property on Ranches

November 28, 2019. R-project contractor crew trespassing and destroying private property on ranches. Grant County News 135(18): 1. With one photograph of a flowing well.

A contractor crew working on the r-project for the Nebraska Public Power District has trespassed and destroyed private property on a ranch along the southern edge of Holt county.

On November 16th, Marlene Haake of the Haake family ranch found some workers installing a new gate along the proposed right-of-way of the industrial powerline. She had been "patrolling" and on her fourth go around found where the fence that had been present was cut away and a short portion removed. New box corners for the gates had already been placed.

“We have not signed any easement to allow the placement of the powerline on our property, yet they were installing a new gate to provide vehicle access,” she said later. “They had no right to be there.”

The contractor not only violated private property rights by trespassing, but destroyed fence and appeared to have the intent to take the removed fence posts from the property, which should be considered “stealing,” she said. There was no proof shown that would give them any right of access. They had not even stopped by the ranch house to indicate their intent to encroach upon the property.

Haake made the contractors remove the newly built gate features and rebuild what was the current fence.

Elsewhere steel fence posts had been placed to mark the right-of-way. One was partially run over by a farm implement.

“I pulled six posts from our property,” she said.

The sheriffs of Garfield county and Holt county were called but no action in response to the trespassing and property destruction has yet to occur.

Haake insisted to the contractors that they could not ever intrude on the ranch again.

Along the r-project alignment in Thomas county in 2016, NPPD workers were found trespassing on the south unit of the Brush Creek Ranch, owned by Barbara and Dan Welch. The utility company people were evicted from the ranch and since then the pasture gates have been locked closed.

Both ranches have had similar results with NPPD in dealing with medical conditions associated with Ronald Haake and Dan Welch.

Physicians for both men have advised them that they need to avoid prolonged exposure to any “stray voltage” especially associated with a 345 kV industrial powerline.

At the Haake place, the powerline would be in the immediate proximity of an eight mile travel route from the east end home place to the west end of the ranch. To avoid any exposure, an alternate route would necessitate going 8 miles north, then six miles west and another eight miles south.

At Brush Creek, the transmission line would go over the cattle shipping pens and a heifer development pasture. Welch would not be able to help ship his stock since the prolonged exposure would be dangerous to his health. Welch did receive a brochure regarding stray voltage that was completely out-dated.

NPPD officials have told both that the powerline would not be any threat. The utility company did offer to provide a doctor’s consultation but both ranchers did not want to meet with a physician hired by the project builder.

Steel monopoles would be used at both ranches, and they require a 200 foot square work area to establish a seven-foot foundation, according to NPPD documents. The auger hole depth would be from 25 to 40 feet.

These constructs would be a threat to unique natural resources.

At the Haake place, groundwater has provided a steady and reliable source of water for stock tanks and ponds used by livestock since the ranch was established in 1883. For centuries, wild birds have appreciated associated wetlands. There are numerous artesian wells in the vicinity, Marlene Haake said. “We do not know how the monopole holes might influence groundwater characteristics and subterranean flows.” The extent of sub-surface water is obvious since by the time a hole is dug for a fence post, the bottom very soon has standing water.

Rangeland at Brush Creek is considered “pristine native prairie,” according to a floristic evaluation completed by a Kay Kottas, professional botanist. There were only two non-native species recorded, and they were associated with the Highway 83 corridor. Any disturbance from power pole construction and vehicular traffic would locally degrade prairie conditions.

“I don’t think any restoration activity of disturbed sites can replace a prairie setting that has evolved over centuries,” said Welch.

The Haake and Welch families continue to “stand strong” in their opposition to the unwanted and tragically intrusive r-project. Our private property rights and personal health are being threatened by the r-project, they agree.

07 October 2019

Afternoon With Heritage Horses of Cherry County

We arrived at the Cherry county ranch after a drive south from Valentine. Myself and Gordon Warrick were on an outing to get pictures of some classic, heritage features horses.

The afternoon started with a real treat. Barb made a wonderful dinner of meat loaf, lettuce salad topped with bits of bacon, a zucchini salad, warm biscuits and mashed potatoes.

Then to top it off, we got homemade apple pie topped with ice cream. What a grand lunchtime meal. Table talk included industrial wind turbine activity, the repulsive powerline and butterflies.

Having been here previously the meal continued to the high standards of cattle country culinary cooking.

A bit before 2 p.m. we went to work. A portion of the Foundation Quarter Horses needed to get their picture taken. They had been gathered earlier and were ready in a pen. These are horses with a bloodline based upon heritage of the early days of quarter horses. This herd has a bloodline that is about more than 97% representative as having been bred to improve the bloodline since the mid 1990s.

It was an unusually fine day. The sky was clear. There was no wind. The temperature was also quite nice.

One horse at a time was separated and then moved around in a separate pen in order to get a suitable picture, with Gordon and Mary moving them around to get a suitable perspective. Dan and Leroy were keeping track of details. Each of the horses have a pedigree and details indicated thereon were used to establish the identity of each horse.

There were a dozen horses considered. Records kept included its type such as gelding, etc., along with color and when born.

Things went well as a team getting the horse in and getting a “pose-like” stance.

Afterwards Gordon and I ventured westward to try to find a herd stallion named Mr. Poco Blakburn. He was wandering amidst the hills and was not seen.

Upon returning to the barn and stock pens, further consideration was being given to the identification details of the horses that got their picture taken. Eventually this task was finished and it was time to move the horses back to the pasture. Three riders including Leroy, Mary and Mark mounted up. The ranch dogs, including Daisy, ended their respite and also came along.

This move was considered as the sun light was right and the horses would be suitably heading southward so they would be moving forward and that would facilitate picture taking.

There were images captured as the stock left the pen, moved through a meadow and then across the North Loup River. Some great pictures were taken as the small herd crossed the river.

Us two photographers then ventured westward again but could still not find the herd stallion in its pasture.

It was a beautiful day with beautiful horses in a beautiful country with great hosts. What a special and unique start for the autumn season.

Mark, Mary, Leroy, Dan and Gordon.

Quarter horses after crossing the North Loup River.