Sarah Sortum grew up near Taylor, Nebraska, on her family’s cattle ranch in the Sandhills, the descendant of homesteaders. Her family continues to operate on the same property, running their own cattle, custom grazing operations for others, and Calamus Outfitters, a nature-based tourism operation.

Recreational airboating and “jeeping” — driving down the channel when water is low – are how many Nebraskans enjoy their local rivers. But some riverside residents say they’re concerned by the noise and what they see as disregard for the environment and private property along the river.

Driving into Mullen Nebraska, in the heart of the Sandhills, the wind howled outside our Suburban as the sun set over a vast landscape. The few hundred residents of the biggest little town in Hooker County pride themselves on hospitality—a hospitality that the weariest of travelers would certainly have come to love, providing a brief reprieve from powerful gusts.

Across the semi-arid landscape of the Nebraska Sandhills, ranchers have utilized the power of wind since the settlement period more than a century ago. Windmills are used to pump groundwater from the underlying aquifer to the surface where it is stored in stock tanks for livestock.