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Nebraska Sand Hills mixed grasslands (NA0809)

Nebraska Sand Hills mixed grasslands
Sand Hills, Nebraska, USA
Photograph by NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission photo


Central North America: Central United States
Temperate Grasslands, Savannas, and Shrublands

23,600 square miles (61,100 square kilometers) -- about the size of West Virginia
Relatively Stable/Intact

· Sand in a Grassland?
· Special Features
· Did You Know?
· Wild Side
· Cause for Concern
More Photos

Sand in a Grassland?

It's not hard to figure out how the Sand Hills got their name. Sand dunes and sandy soil make this piece of grassland unique. The Nebraska Sand Hills are located almost entirely within the state of Nebraska.

Special Features Special Features

The irregular dunes and sandy soils of the Sand Hills are so distinct within the Great Plains that they are considered an ecoregion. There are also small lakes and wetlands in the western portion of the northern Sand Hills. These provide important habitat for many species of water birds, such as swans, ducks, and grebes.

Did You Know?
This ecoregion is an important staging and stopover area during migration for sandhill cranes. Up to 80 percent of the total population sometimes can be found on the Platte River, which is on the south side of this ecoregion.

Wild Side

This ecoregion contains distinct grass communities that can survive in sandy soil, particularly sand bluestem communities. Bison used to be the main grass-eaters here, but they have been displaced by cattle.

Cause for Concern

As much as 85 percent of the Nebraska Sand Hills Mixed Grassland is intact. Toward the eastern section, habitat loss is higher because of irrigation and development. The absence of farming in the Sand Hills has allowed this ecoregion to escape extensive plowing. Excessive cattle grazing is the primary disturbance here.

For more information on this ecoregion, go to the World Wildlife Fund Scientific Report.

All text by World Wildlife Fund © 2001