BEATRICE – The head of an organization that provides private support for a national park near Beatrice, is cautioning local officials about the possible effects on the park’s view, from a major business prospect.

President of the Friends of the Homestead National Historical Park, Don Fernading…said the prospect, interested in using wind turbines to power its operation…could affect the view at the park four miles west of Beatrice.

"The construction is requiring, it's my understanding, a hundred percent of their electricity to be generated by renewable systems. That construction includes numerous large wind turbines south and southwest of the park. There are rumors that the board of supervisors may not follow the voted on, and passed wind turbine regulations, and issue an exception for this company."

The identity of the industry prospect has not been disclosed publicly, though meetings with certain groups about it reportedly have been held.  Gage County Board members could not comment on the issue Wednesday, since the discussion brought before the board came during a public comment period on the board’s agenda.

Fernading urged the county to abide by current regulations as they govern placement of wind turbines…which include a viewshed study.  "No viewshed study has been completed that the park is aware of. No person or company, to the park's knowledge, ever visited the park to determine possible sites for the turbines that would follow the current regulations. No one has spoken to the park superintendent about any projects that would change our viewshed. Our viewshed is extremely important to us."

Fernading urged the county to keep regulations in force and not make exceptions for wind turbines, using different requirements. He said that could destroy the park’s nighttime viewshed, with additional, taller wind turbines.  He said the park is in favor of renewable energy, but care must be taken as to where those systems are placed. He said the park would like to meet with companies proposing such turbines.

"There are lots of places you could place those turbines and we would be perfectly happy with them. We just need to protect the only side of the park that still has this kind of a viewshed. That is to the south, to the southwest and the west."

Fernading questioned whether any company can meet a goal of 100-percent green, or renewable energy.