Nebraska Environmental Trust Projects
Eastern Cedars Thinning on Prairies
A major problem on the native prairie lands of Nebraska is the invasive Eastern Cedar. This tree was introduced because it is hardy and provides good cover in shelter belts. Unfortunately, it likes to spread out through the open prairie, crowding out native grasses and eliminating livestock forage. As shown in the two pictures below cedar trees can be successfully removed, allowing restoration of the native prairie plants. (Top picture is before, bottom is after.)
Restoring Oak Woodlands
A similar problem is occurring in the hills and draws of Nebraska where native Burr Oak trees are being crowded out by non-native invasive plants. Once again, the combination of human power and machines removes the invasive plants and allows the native species to flourish. (Top picture is before, bottom is after.)
Using Conservation Easements to Preserve Native Habitat
We are hopeful that soon a new conservation easement will be protecting native prairie and woodlands in southeastern Nebraska. A combination of a landowner’s strong desire to preserve the land for future generations along with funding through the Nebraska Environmental Trust will preserve prime habitat and allow a working ranch to continue in an area of potential development.
Public Education and Meetings
Interacting with the public to provide information or new perspectives is an important part of starting and maintaining conservation programs. These interactions range from more formalized education meetings on important topics such as managing grasslands for wildlife habitat and livestock forage, to freestyle and innovative workshops to introduce new ideas. The photos below are from a workshop for educators designed to introduce new ideas to help get our younger generation back to the outdoors.
The use of prescribed burns to control invasive species in prairies and woodlands, and rejuvenate native plants has proven to be a valuable tool, and is increasing in use. While Northern Prairies does not conduct prescribed burns, we do assist landowners by helping them organize cooperatives so they can carry out the burns themselves and also by providing some of the tools necessary for the burn to be conducted safely and efficiently. Our office in Royal, Nebraska is in the process of putting together a “burn trailer” with all the supplies necessary for landowners to complete the prescribed burns. Our offices in Beatrice and Valentine have also been very active in providing workshops and equipment for landowners.
Sandy Benson, Northern Prairies’ Wildlife Biologist for a number of years in Valentine, NE has taken a new position with the Nebraska Forest Service. She will continue to work in the region employing conservation and habitat measures. Sandy will be remembered for her active role in engaging the general population in her work, especially schoolchildren. We wish her all the best.