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Nebraska

Niobrara Valley Preserve




Open to the Public

Yes

Things To Do

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Plan Your Visit

Email the Preserve at tnelson@tnc.org or call (402) 722-4440. View All

Get Directions
Why You Should Visit

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.

Location

Brown, Cherry and Keya Paha counties

Size

56,000 acres

Public Use Areas

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).

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

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.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

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.  

“The Niobrara Valley Preserve is a flagship project for The Nature Conservancy and one of our largest preserves worldwide. The ground-breaking work in grassland management forged at the NVP has helped inform our prairie conservation efforts throughout the Great Plains and as far away as Brazil's Pantanal.”

Steve McCormick, former president/CEO, The Nature Conservancy

 

What to See: Plants

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. 

What to See: Animals

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.

Directions
From Ainsworth, drive west 10 miles on U.S Highway 20, then 16 miles north on the country road towards Norden.

Download a map of the preserve location (PDF, 80 KB).

Discussion

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Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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