Middle Niobrara NRD Rancher Receives Award

Middle Niobrara NRD Rancher Receives Award


NORDEN, Nebraska — A rancher near Norden received the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum’s award for tree-planting Dec. 16. The Johnny Appleseed Award “recognizes an individual who embodies the generous spirit of Johnny Appleseed through a sustained personal involvement in tree-planting in Nebraska.” 

Dennis Bammerlin has been planting trees at their family ranch in Keya Paha County as long as he can remember. His father and grandfather understood the protection windbreaks provided to livestock at their 126-year-old ranch so they had him hand-planting, watering and weeding trees all summer throughout his youth. To him at the time, trees were simply “a lot of work.” As Bammerlin got older and started running the family ranch, however, he understood how those plantings helped protect livestock and the home and other buildings, and how they brought in pollinators and increased biodiversity which had many broader benefits as well.

Bammerlin has planted eight new windbreaks with more than 3,000 trees and shrubs in coordination with the help of the Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District since 2016 and has plans to plant more shelterbelts in coming years. They were planted to replace dead trees and fit into his livestock grazing rotations and calving plans. With such long-term goals, future generations will reap the benefits of his care and planting, Bammerlin said, “just as I have reaped the benefits of the generations of planters before me.”                                        

More information about landscape efforts and statewide gardens can be found at

More information on ordering and planting trees with the NRDs can be found at