The Nature Conservancy is hosting morning prairie hikes from 9:30 am until noon on Saturday, July 11th. Conservancy staff will be on hand for the grand opening celebration to be held at the Conservancy’s Derr House in Wood River, Nebraska, west of Grand Island. This event is free and open to the public.
“It is a great time of year to get out on the prairie,” said Chris Helzer, the Conservancy’s Eastern Nebraska Program Director. “The plants are at their flowering peak, there are lots of butterflies and the rain has been wonderful.”
Two trails are available for public hiking. The west trail winds through restored lowland prairie—former cropland that was seeded with over 200 plant species between 1999 and 2002. Plant species such as big bluestem, indiangrass, Canada milkvetch, purple prairie clover, and wild bergamot are common in these prairies.
The east trail passes through both restored and native (unplowed) sandhills prairie. The restored portion was seeded in 2002 with over 160 plant species. Both the restored and native portions are underlaid by dunes constructed by historic winds blowing sand from the wide Platte River valley. The plant communities on these sandhills are dominated by plants such as sand lovegrass, sand dropseed, needle-and-thread, stiff sunflower, blazing star, spiderwort, and many others.
Those wishing to visit the trails on another day are invited to use the self-guided guide available at the trail site. "We hope people will come out and take advantage of these trails on their own. It's a great way to enjoy some beautiful prairies along the Central Platte River,” said Helzer. Those planning to attend on Saturday are asked to RSVP by calling (402) 694-4191. This event will be held rain or shine.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.