(Editor's note: This story was originally written in 2011, and Roy Breuklander has since passed away.)
Cowboys are known for being good story tellers. When you visit with Roy and Steve Breuklander, father and son ranchers in Cherry County, you are treated to several stories. Roy will share a story about how his grandparents homesteaded in Cherry County back in the 1880’s or about how he got his ranching operation started down along the Niobrara River. Steve will share stories about expanding the family’s ranching operation, or how his family started one of the first canoe outfitters in the Niobrara Valley.
Wetands – some call them “wasteland,” "non-production acres,” or simply “a pain in the neck.” Don Cox, however, calls them an oasis in a desert of cropland for wildlife to find rest, food and a place to call home.
More and more Nebraska farmers are looking into organic agriculture. As demand for organically-raised crops grows, and the price for these commodities continues to increase, Nebraska farmers are looking into taking advantage of these benefits.
When most people think about protecting the environment they probably don’t think about cutting down thousands of trees. But cutting down thousands of cedar trees was exactly what Gary Bruns’ rangeland needed to help restore his mixed grass prairie in southern Lincoln County.
Randy Hoff, a businessman from Wisconsin, was looking for his own little slice of heaven. He found it in Rock County, Nebraska. An avid outdoorsman and wildlife enthusiast, Hoff wanted a large piece of property that he could use for hunting and recreation. Hoff also wanted a place he could restore to exceptional wildlife habitat. Hoff found what he was looking for when over 1,600 acres recently enrolled in the Wetlands Reserve Program(WRP) came up for sale.
There aren't a lot of farmers in western Nebraska who can give a first-hand account of trying to farm during the dust bowl. Harold Pigeon, a 92 year old farmer in Deuel County remembers the "dirty thirties" well, which may be why he's planted over 8,000 trees.
When Leo Hoehn bought his Banner County farmland in 1989 it came with 1,300 acre-feet of surface water rights out of Pumpkin Creek. He used this water for irrigation, but in just four years the creek was dry.
It took seven years, but Deuel County farmer Lesa Franken was ready to give up - give up planting wheat. After years of tilling, planting, watching the crop struggle to grow and then the disappointing harvest, Franken knew she needed to do something different with her crop ground. Franken found help through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
Turns out taking a break isn't just important for a healthy lifestyle. It's also part of having a healthy pasture. That's what a father and son team in Clay County learned when they enrolled their pastureland into the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
In 1993, Jodie Haxton's dad took a wet, unproductive piece of his farmland near the Blue River in Wilber, Neb., and put it into the former Water Bank Program to provide habitat for migratory waterfowl, particularly ducks.
A fourth generation farmer near Dakota City, Neb., dreams of restoring wildlife back to the way it was when he was a boy. Jim Bliven will be able to make his dream a reality with the help of the Natural Resources Conservation Service's (NRCS) Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP).
The first USDA Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) easement to preserve native prairie became a reality according Natural Resources Conservation Service District Conservationist Dennis Schroeder in Lincoln, Neb.
Phelps County farmer Vernon Nelson knew that he wanted to upgrade his irrigation system from flood irrigation to center pivot. With over 3,000 irrigated acres Nelson wanted a system that was more efficient.