Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
|44a. Nebraska Sand Hills||Level IV Ecoregion|
|Home||The Nebraska Sand Hills ecoregion
is the largest grass-stabilized dune region in the Western Hemisphere.
This "sand sea" formed in the last 8,000 years, following the Pleistocene
glaciations. The region is largely treeless and lacks tilled agriculture.
Precipitation passes through the porous sands to continually recharge
ground water, resulting in interdune areas of wetlands, lakes, and streams
with a relatively constant annual discharge. The Sand Hills are an important
recharge area for the Ogallala aquifer.
The profile of wavelike dunes on the horizon and a broad expanse of sky characterize this northern outpost of the Nebraska Sand Hills. Cattle ranching is the predominant land use in the region. The prairie grass associations are specific to the sandy environment, but the fragile vegetative cover is susceptible to blowouts, prompting ranchers to employ rotational grazing strategies to maintain it.
Area (square miles): 488
Surficial Material and Bedrock
Order (Great Groups)
Precipitation - Mean annual (inches)
Potential Natural Vegetation
Sand associated grasses: Sand bluestem, little bluestem, prairie sandreed. Big bluestem and switchgrass in wetter interdune areas.
Land Use and Land Cover
Cattle ranching, some hayland. Grassland cover.