There will hopefully be more people enjoying the wonders of sandhills’ birds due to a grant recently received by the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway group.
"We hope to have more birding enthusiasts experience wildlife viewing in the undisturbed and wide open spaces of this region, and increase visitation," said Jeanne Davis, the group’s volunteer coordinator. "Birders can enjoy unique habitats and diverse birdlife. People will be able to share their personal experiences on the byway website."
"Habitats along the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway are home to a wide variety of bird species," Davis noted. "From the great spring crane migration in the Platte Valley to the amazing grassland dance during the courtship rituals of the Sharptail Grouse and Greater Prairie Chicken, this area offers birding enthusiasts fantastic opportunities to observe nature at its finest."
"There are many great birding sites" along the Highway 2 byway, Davis said. They include the Bessey Division of the Nebraska National Forest by Halsey, Valentine NWR, Crescent Lake NWR, several notable state recreation and wildlife management areas, as well as private wildlife viewing opportunities, according to the grant application.
Plans include advertisements in suitable publications, including Bird Watchers Digest, Bird Watching Magazine, Nebraskaland and Nebraska Life. Group volunteers will also have a booth at a Nebraska sports/travel show and state fair. There will be 10,000 bird guides printed for distribution to people interested in byway activities.
The $19,000 grant is from the Outdoor Recreation Marketing program sponsored by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Overall the group will spend over $30,000, including match dollars from the byway group.
Efforts are currently underway to initiate these projects, with "some of them underway by early summer," Davis said. The project will be completed during 2014.
"The byway has adopted the theme ‘World Class Natural Wonders’ and strives to inform the public on the unique ecological region found in central Nebraska."
The Sandhills Scenic Byway extends along Highway 2 from Alliance to Grand Island.February 6, 2014. Jeanne Davis speaks on birding area along the scenic byway. Grant County News 129(27): 1.