321 miles. That’s the length of Nebraska’s Cowboy Trail which stretches from Norfolk to Chadron. If you enjoy walking, biking or horseback riding, an adventure on the nation’s longest Rail-Trail project is in order! Explorers can take in relics from the past, including old telegraph poles and the only brick depot remaining in O’Neill, as well as more than 200 unique bridges (for those who love architecture as much as me).
The trail highlights Nebraska’s diverse landscapes, including the Niobrara River, the Sandhills region and westerly Nebraskan buttes. It even functions as an important migration route for all sorts of wildlife, including Monarch butterflies.
As a company that values environmental stewardship, the trail reflects all we aspire to protect and preserve. As a state whose economy is powered by agriculture, we know just how important the state’s environment is to Nebraskans. It’s important to us, too. We live in the same communities as you. We enjoy the same outdoor recreational activities. And, we stay true to our commitment to help our natural resources prosper through projects and in the spirit of community and respect for the world around us.
Just as the Cowboy Trail changes from one season or town to another, so does our approach to preserving our natural resources depending on where our generation plants are located, what projects we are pursuing, and what goals we wish to achieve.
I could list out in this blog the wide breadth of work we continuously embark on to support this cause, from research to habitat conservation, and from public-private partnerships for carbon capture to avian protection measures. Rather than rehashing all our efforts in this space, I invite you to look at this Energy Insight feature story from a few years back which still details timely aspects of our commitment.
Yes, our diverse resource mix is more than 60% carbon-free, and we’re committed to working on innovative ways to further decarbonize our generation mix in the future.
And, yes, we have many partnerships with community members and other organizations in which environmental stewardship plays a key role. These include a carbon sequestration project with local ag producers alongside Central Valley Ag and several research projects underway to study methane reduction and alternative fuels at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Nebraska Center for Energy Science. (For more on these efforts, check out our latest newspaper insert.)
At the heart of all this work lies a common denominator: People who care.
Let me share one of my favorite examples. For the past 16 years, NPPD has participated in yearly tree planting ceremonies in our retail towns – many of the same towns you will see along the Cowboy Trail.
To see our teammates connecting with young students or local leaders while planting trees never fails to bring a smile to my face. Students draw pictures celebrating the day, there are songs and stories, and in between the digging and dancing, we try to sneak in important facts about tree safety near power lines. The kids go home smudged with dirt and smiling, too, because they know they did something important that day. Something that, whether they understand it now or not, will have a powerful impact on future generations of families who take root in the community.
Hope sprouts from the smallest seedling.
So, from our recycling efforts to our dedication to keeping you safe and our generational facilities reliably humming along as you visit our outdoor recreational facilities this year, I hope you understand how much we value the world around us and aim to do what’s right.
National Pollinator Week is approaching June 21. Here at NPPD, we’re going to take time to educate teammates and the public about why we must protect pollinators like butterflies, bees, beetles, wasps and moths. These little guys supply about one out of every three bites of food we eat. One out of every three. Little yet mighty, they are integral in maintaining healthy ecosystems and global food security. In fact, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, as much as 1/3 of our state’s crops depend on pollinators to increase their production.
These aren’t things we just talk about. We are active “doers,” too. Just as bunches of milkweed line the Cowboy Trail, NPPD has designated many acres near our power plants and facilities as habitat for pollinators, including the Monarch.
We don’t need to be trailblazers to protect the environment. We can, however, consistently show up, do the work and invest our time and energy in these efforts – no matter how big or small. We can set the standard in protecting the environment and ensuring a better quality of life for Nebraskans and all the state’s natural resources.