Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway
Contact: Linda Lacy, President FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE H: 308 458-8051
Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway Introduces New Nature Trail
The Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway Visitor/Interpretive Center in Broken Bow is happy to announce the addition of an exciting new educational trail, the Sandhills Journey Nature Trail. The public is invited to an Open House on Friday, June 17, from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (CT) to share in the celebration of this new outdoor experience. A short program and ribbon cutting will be held at 1:00 p.m. “The trail will give visitors a chance to learn more about the history, geography, culture, and wildlife of the Sandhills at their leisure when the Visitor Center is closed,” says Rick Maas, chairman of the Custer County Tourism Committee and coordinator for the volunteers that operate the SJSB Visitor Center during the tourism season.
The nature trail, approximately one-half mile in length, begins just south of the Visitor Center. It winds through grassland prairie, past native grass plots, a pond, a working windmill, butterfly garden, and climbs to an observation deck on the hilltop south of the Visitor Center for a panoramic view of the valley below.
There are seven colorful and informative panels along the trail with smartphone technology allowing users to access information with a quick swipe of the QR code on each sign. There is a welcome sign orienting visitors to the area and the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway (NE Hwy 2, between Grand Island and Alliance). The second stop on the trail is the nature trail panel which outlines the world-class natural wonders of the Sandhills. Another tells the story of the formation of the Sandhills, while others describe the history, culture, and laws that help influence the settlement of the Sandhills. There is also a panel about the wildlife of the Great Plains, birds, and the miracle of migration. The final panel, located at the Observation Deck, is one-third of a mile from the Visitor Center. The panel at this location was provided by Sempra Energy and features the technological advances that changed the Sandhills over the years.
The Nature Trail is part of a plan which began in 2012 when the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway received a Federal Highway Transportation Grant and initiated a project with Ted Eubanks of Fermata to provide an in-depth interpretive plan. The resulting plan encompasses a unique set of stories related to the qualities that makes the byway distinctive, and connects specific sites to themes and corresponding storylines. The panels along the Nature Trail illustrate this vision. Fermata provided the insight, photography, design and production, working with the Nebraska Department of Roads, Custer County Economic Development, the U.S. Forest Service, and Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway representatives.
In addition to the panels at the Visitor Center in Broken Bow, the project provided for a panel at the Nebraska National Forest/Bessey Ranger District near Halsey. This panel is placed at the center of the pedestrian bridge which crosses the Middle Loup River between the Ranger Station and the fishing pond. This informative panel describes the unique nature of Prairie Rivers.
The Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway Visitor Center is located east of Broken Bow at 44106 NE Hwy 2. Look for the big Red Barn – phone (308) 872-8331. The Barn is open May – September and the Nature Trail is open year-round. There is also an accessible covered picnic shelter available. The ‘Barn’ is becoming a popular place to book for reunions or special events as plenty of parking is available. Contact Rick Maas for more information or call the Chamber office in Broken Bow at 308-872-5691.CE