Shortgrass Prairie

With soils ranging from sand to clays and a greater variety of soil types than other ecoregions of the state the Shortgrass Prairie ecoregion encompasses much of western Nebraska. The ecoregion features diverse topography, including several areas of rocky escarpments. The North Platte River bisects the ecoregion and supports wet meadows, deciduous woodlands, and numerous tributary streams, many of which are cold-water.

Buffalo grass and blue grama dominate the Shortgrass Prairies while forbs such as milk-vetches, scarlet gaura, cuteaf ironplant, prickly pear, purple locoweed, slender-flower scurf-pea, prairie coneflower and scarlet globe mallow are also in abundance. Due to the low precipitation in the ecoregion vegetation rarely exceeds 10 inches in height.

Open canopies of tall cottonwoods and shorter peachleaf willows dominate riparian woodlands in many stream valleys of the ecoregion. In the sub-canopies green ash, box-elder, Russian-olive and junipers can be found. Riparian woodlands and shrub lands have become more prevalent along the North Platte River over the last half century because of dams reducing scouring flows.

Title Category Address Description
Bridgeport State Recreation Area 41.679, -103.111 Wetlands (sandpit lakes) along the North Platte River.
Chet and Jane Fleisbach Wildlife Management Area 41.691, -103.265 Also known as Facus Springs. This W.M.A. preserves one of the best saline marshes in the North Platte Valley.
Chimney Rock National Historic Site 41.703, -103.347 Chimney Rock is located 3 miles south of Bayard, and is worth investigating for nesting golden eagles (either on the column itself or on the eroding escarpment to the north).
Courthouse Rock and Jail Rock 41.598, -103.115 These famous Oregon Trail landmarks have had nesting golden eagles (on Jail Rock), and breeding rock wrens are common.
Goldeneye WMA 41.037, -102.125 Located in Deuel County, near Big Springs and Chappell. Includes 11 acres of wetland.
Goldenrod Wildlife Management Area 41.059, -102.424 Located in Deuel County near Big Springs and Chappell. Area is 97 acres, all upland habitat.
Kiowa Wildlife Management Area 41.922385, -103.936357 Area 540 acres, of which 326 acres are closed during the goose-hunting season as a refuge.
Nine Mile Creek Wildlife Management Area 41.897, -103.435 The area is 178 acres and consists of grasslands plus a trout stream.
North Platte National Wildlife Refuge 41.936, -103.496 The best part of this refuge is the 500-acre Winters Creek Lake Unit northwest of Lake Minatare, where a marshy lake attracts a large number of migratory and breeding water birds.
Oliver Reservoir State Recreation Area 41.225, -103.822 This reservoir is an excellent birding location, attracting many eastern and western migrants during spring and fall.
Scotts Bluff National Monument 41.838, -103.705 At least 100 species have been reported for the area, including prairie falcon and burrowing owl.
Tri-State corner-highest point in Nebraska 41.012, -104 In this area there are lark buntings, horned larks and McCown's longspurs, plus occasional mountain plovers. Be aware that this is private land.
Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area and Buffalo Creek WMA 41.706, -103.672 Buffalo Creek Wildlife Management Area consists of typical Wildcat Hills ridge-and-canyon habitats, covered by pines and junipers.