Our Nebraska Sandhills region offers one of the best expanses of native grass in the country and fosters cattle raising and ranching. Birdwatching and general ecotourism have begun to develop. We need to afford protection to the Sandhills by leaving the area in its natural state.
In 2011, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback designated a Tall Grass Heartland area involving the Southern Flint Hills region in that state, stating that the area should be off limits for additional massive industrial wind power projects. At the same time, the governor’s administration promoted an increase in ecotourism in the Flint Hills and preservation of the tallgrass prairie located there.
In Gov. Brownback’s words, “The extreme rarity of this last large scale vestige of tall grass prairie located in the Flint Hills calls for extraordinary care and attention.” The plan received broad support from area ranchers, conservationists, power companies, and government officials in Kansas.
Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon introduced LB504 in the Nebraska Legislature in 2017 that provided for a two-year moratorium on wind turbine siting in the Sandhills and for a study of the effects of wind energy development to be completed during that period.
I urge the Natural Resources Committee to bring that bill onto the floor for further consideration by the Legislature. I also urge Gov. Pete Ricketts to use the Flint Hills plan as a model for a similar protection plan in the Sandhills, including the viewshed of the Niobrara National Scenic River.
Bruce Kennedy, Malcolm
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