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The Nature Conservancy's Niobrara Valley Preserve is one of the largest Conservancy preserves in the U.S., and a model for grassland management using bison, cattle and fire. It encompasses majestic pine-clad canyons, extensive grasslands, and a 25-mile stretch of the Niobrara River. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of the preserve year-round, and of special interest is the bison herd grazing in the vast open prairie.
Brown, Cherry and Keya Paha counties
Visitors are welcome on the north trail on the north side of the Niobrara River across from the headquarters and the area around the Norden Bridge. No hunting, diving in the chute, camping or campfires are allowed. Fishing is allowed at the bridge (within Nebraska fishing laws).
The Nebraska Natural Heritage Program identified the Niobrara Valley Preserve as the biological crossroads of the Great Plains. To date, 581 plant, 213 bird, 86 lichen, 70 butterfly, 44 mammal, 25 fish, 17 reptile and 8 amphibian species have been recorded at the Preserve.
The majority of the preserve was acquired by The Nature Conservancy in 1980. First and foremost, the Conservancy’s mission in establishing the Niobrara Valley Preserve was to ensure that its conservation value would be protected for the long term. Secondly, it is operated as a working ranch. We lease grasslands for cattle grazing, two bison herds graze two large pastures, and we pay property taxes like any private landowner. Scientific research and education are important at the Niobrara Valley Preserve.
Steve McCormick, former president/CEO, The Nature Conservancy
Big bluestem, little bluestem, buffalograss, indiangrass, junegrass, needleandthread grass, sand bluestem, sand lovegrass, hoary puccoon, leadplant, prickly poppy, shell-leaf penstemon, yucca, yellow lady slipper, wild begonia, paper birch, ponderosa pine, bur oak, American elm, eastern cottonwood.
Bison, mule deer, bald eagles, Great Plains toad, ornate box turtle, many lined skink, American bittern, great blue heron, horned lark, belted kingfisher, ovenbird, upland sandpiper, whip-poor-will.
Download a map of the preserve location (PDF, 80 KB).