“The common mistake that bullies make is assuming that because someone is nice that he or she is weak. Those traits have nothing to do with each other. In fact, it takes considerable strength and character to be a good person.” –Mary Elizabeth Williams

The small ranching communities in the Sandhills are made up of good, honest, hardworking people. Neighbors work together to help each other during the busiest times of the year, such as the spring brandings or the fall gather. There’s an unspoken competitive spirit in each community to do things right and on time, whether it be fixing fence in the spring, getting the hay put up and bales moved off the meadows, or the calves weaned and the cows pregnancy checked. Ranchers take pride in the proper management of their operations.

It comes as no surprise that a foreign corporation such as TransCanada would show little regard for the unique and fragile Sandhills ecosystem, but it is extremely disappointing that Nebraska Public Power District is choosing to ignore landowner’s concerns with their poorly thought out and planned R-Project transmission line. Why is NPPD so determined to cater to out of state interests while throwing multigenerational ranch families under the bus? The extreme lack of access through the fragile environment of the Sandhills was a resounding theme heard throughout the open house meetings and public hearings. Over 90 miles of the east/west portion of the route has no existing access, and in many areas will fragment sections of undisturbed native Sandhills pasture. As predicted, maps are now circulating that show the miles and miles of access roads NPPD plans to build to access their 200 foot easement in these remote, unaccessible areas. The most ridiculous part of it all is the miles of simply cow trails to windmills that NPPD has labeled as places they plan to ‘improve existing road.’ A cow trail is not an existing road! NPPD appears to have no intention of staying in their 200 foot easement–instead choosing to fragment even MORE Sandhills rangeland with ‘rabbit trail’ roads to reach their easement.

It’s been said that “a good rain or a newborn calf are always welcome”, and I would agree. A destructive high voltage transmission line is NOT welcome in the Sandhills, and many ranchers all along the route are standing together and refusing to sign a right of entry agreement with NPPD. Sandhills ranchers are nice, but they aren’t weak, and they will continue to fiercely defend their property rights.