Policy: Environment & Energy

Anti-Keystone XL protest inspires massive crop art

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Beltway Confidential,Agriculture,Nebraska,Keystone XL,Energy and Environment,Justin Green,Protests

The controversy over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline has inspired what may well be the largest piece of crop art ever.

The Cowboy and Indian Alliance, a coalition of farmers, ranchers and Native American tribes who oppose the pipeline, recently unveiled a massive display of crop art that covers roughly 80 acres of farmland in rural Nebraska.

(For perspective, when you fly over the Midwest and upper Great Plains, each of the big circles you see is 160 acres, an area equal to that of a half-mile square.)

Jane Kleeb of BOLD Nebraska, a partner in the alliance, told the Washington Examiner that the group "had the idea for the last several years" and had just never known an artist who could execute the project.

Enter John Quigley, the project's artist, who Kleeb says "called out of the blue," telling her that he couldn't sleep and had a vision of "doing a massive crop art on the pipeline." The project was inspired by Richard Vollaire, a tribal artist of the Tongva Nation.

Using a small, rotating crew of about 15 people, the alliance used tape measures and crop flags to mark the pattern. It was "amazing that it came out," Kleeb said.

(Kleeb noted that the group declined to use a GPS-guided tractor to handle the project, which would have been substantially easier.)

While spring planting is almost here, the crop art won't be gone forever. It will return this fall thanks to the efforts of landowner Art Tanderup, who is using a small, horse-drawn planter to mimic the pattern with a slightly different type of soybean seeds than the rest of the field. When the soybean leaves dry, the Image will reappear.

The Cowboy Indian Alliance will be in Washington, D.C., starting on April 22 to draw further attention to the Keystone XL pipeline issue.

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