- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 25, 2018

SUTHERLAND, Neb. (AP) — Preservation groups are discussing how to protect a portion of the Oregon-California Trail in Nebraska during construction of an electrical transmission line.

The proposed 220-mile (350-kilometer) transmission project would pass through the trail’s rest stop in Sutherland, the Scottsbluff Star-Herald reported .

The Nebraska Public Power District’s project is part of necessary upgrades to prevent power outages.

But the Oregon-California Trails Association and the Nebraska State Historical Society argued the line could threaten the remains of travelers who died on the trail.

The graves are believed to be near the area, though it hasn’t been confirmed.

The project has been under review for many years because all organizations involved must negotiate compromises and review related legislation. The review process includes identifying historic properties and the project’s potential effects to them.

The power district is considering ways to avoid disrupting natural habitats or areas with potential historical significance.

The ruts formed by those who traveled along the trails can’t be moved, which rules out excavation.

“With this scar left on the landscape, you can’t dig it up and move it,” said Jill Dolberg, deputy state historic preservation officer with the Nebraska State Historical Society.

The power district has already looked into how to mitigate damage to the ruts.

“We’ve looked at using other building techniques, such as using helicopters to pull the lines instead of by taking them over land,” said Mark Becker, a spokesman for the utility.

Dolberg said the historical society would ideally like to move the line. If moving isn’t possible, the group wants to ensure minimal impact to the landscape.

“Whatever we do, we’re going to have to work together,” Dolberg said. “And we’re going to have to be creative.”


Information from: Star-Herald, http://www.starherald.com

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