Lincoln County (LincUP) Community Advisory Panel

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LincUP provides open dialogue on health, safety and environmental issues between representatives of the community and Union Pacific Railroad to promote awareness and understanding for mutual benefit. For a complete listing of members, see 2015 LincUP Panelists.

Questions? Comments?

Contact the LincUP Facilitator, Lorre McKeone.

Meeting Notes: November 23, 2015

Present: Kaleen Dunbar, Jeff Everett, Jim Falcon, Rich Hoaglund, Kim Keeling, Shelly Kelly, Dwight Livingston, Joanna LeMoine (for Brandon Myers), Doug Martin, Jack Nichols, Lance Polk, Brittany Raymond, June Robinson, Scott Selken, Gary Smith, Dennis Thompson, Jerry Wilson, Glynn Wolar. Facilitator: Lorre McKeone. Guest: Dr. Ron Hanson.

Absent:  Scott Castillo, Kaleen Dunbar, Neil Deertz, Jim Falcon, Cindy Halligan, John Jones, Lance Polk, Dennis Thompson, Jerry Wilson.

Meeting Notes:

Public Comment Period: No comments
Announcements/Introductions: The facilitator welcomed Dr. Ron Hanson, Superintendent of North Platte Public Schools, who will join the panel in 2016. Names of others who will also join the panel next year were provided. No meeting in December. In January, members completing their 3 year term will be recognized. 
Community Round Table: Gary Smith announced that the North Platte Fellowship of Ministers will sponsor a Blue Christmas Service on December 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church (100 McDonald Road.) The event is open to anyone who has suffered a loss (death, divorce, job loss, etc.) For those whose Christmas traditions have been changed by a loss, this service can help to deal with associated pain and grief.

UPRR Update: 

Jeff Everett reported UP safety numbers through third quarter are the best ever both locally and system-wide. Last year was the best year ever for the North Platte Service Unit in terms of crossing accidents. There has been a 16% improvement in derailments. UP consistently engages in training to increase employee awareness as they work to eliminate these types of incidents.

Seven day car loadings are down 20,000 cars from last year. Coal volume remains weak due to cheaper natural gas prices and adverse political climate for coal. Automotive is the only sector with higher volumes than last year.

This week Congress votes on extending the deadline for implementation of mandated positive train controls that automatically stop a train in certain circumstances. Wireless and GPS issues persist. If the extension is not approved, the biggest impact would be on passenger trains and those carrying toxic inhalation hazards.

Kim Keeling discussed new tank car safety training for fire departments in both Pueblo, CO and Fort Worth, TX. The focus is on controlling fire and heat impingement with crude oil shipments. Jeff Everett commended the North Platte Fire Department for their quick (6 minute) response time to a minor fire incident in the yard. 

Meeting Topic: Sandhills Task Force – Shelly Kelly (Program Director)

The Sandhills, covering 19,600 square miles, is the largest contiguous native grassland in North America. At one time the hills were spruce and aspen forests before droughts and winds changed them into big sand dunes. In the last 100 years, the hills have stabilized with grass cover. When ranchers first settled the region, there were no trees. Today 90% of the land is privately owned. There are about 1600 lakes, 1.3 billion acres of wetlands and over one billion acre feet of groundwater.

In the late 1980s, some conservationists promoted federal land acquisition to protect open spaces, other people harbored some anti-cattle sentiments, and at the same time federal wetland legislation was passed. Many Sandhill ranchers felt threatened by all these pressures. At the same time some ranchers began promoting Holistic Resource Management (HRM) grazing strategies. While there were different motivations, about 80 % of what the different groups wanted was similar. So, in the early 1990s, the Sandhills Task Force was formed to protect the rolling prairie landscape as well as a thriving ranching economy. Board members included ranchers, county commissioners and representatives from Nebraska Cattlemen, Game and Parks Commission, US Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, NRCS and the NRDs.

The taskforce uses different strategies to protect the natural landscape: restoring hydrology to streams and wetlands, designing grazing plans, combatting invasive species, conservation easements and research/education. Other information shared included: rotational grazing strategies, habitats needed for diverse wildlife, methods for stream restoration and lake renovation, and strategies to reduce invasive species like carp in Sandhills lakes and Eastern Red Cedar originally planted in wind breaks and now rapidly taking over grasslands and stream beds. Control methods include mechanical cutting, prescribed burning and chemical spraying. For more information, contact – 308-214-0065.

Summary and Strategy

Next meeting: 5:15 p.m. Monday, January 25, 2016

Location: Student Lounge, North Campus, North Platte Community College 1101 Halligan Drive, North Platte.

5:15 p.m.Call to Order
Public Comment Period
5:25 p.m.Announcements and Introductions
5:35 p.m.Community Round Table
  • Announcements
  • Questions/Concerns
5:40 p.m.

Meeting Topic: Pending

6:30 p.m.Supper Break
7:00 p.m.Recognition of Panel Members completing their 3 year term
Committee organization for 2016
7:20 p.m.Summary and Strategy
Plan for next meeting
7:30 p.m.Adjourn