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        Photographs of the Nebraska Sandhills

        Learn about the beauty of the Nebraska Sandhills by viewing this image gallery.

        “I like the way the sun comes up some mornings—it’s really pretty—and I like the way the sun sets and I like the quiet evenings. . .We see the wildlife and we see the bright stars at night and we see the Milky Way. . .It’s special.” —Bruce Switzer

        Platte Basin Timelapse | Learn

        View of the Sandhills Landscape

        The Switzer family lives on the eastern edge of the Nebraska Sandhills, an iconic region of the Central Great Plains. The Nebraska Sandhills rise from the north edge of the Platte River Valley and spread to the west, encompassing nearly 20,000 square miles of contiguous wind-blown sand dunes—the lar

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        The Switzers Ride Horseback into the Sandhills

        The Switzer family lives on the eastern edge of the Nebraska Sandhills, an iconic region of the Central Great Plains. Defined by its rolling grass-covered dunes, the Sandhills are ideal for cattle grazing, giving rise to a rugged ranching culture.

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        Birdwood Creek through the Rolling Sandhills

        Fed by groundwater, Birdwood Creek snakes through the rolling sandhills.The giant dunes in the Sandhills are as much as 400 feet high and 20 miles long—the size of those found today in the Mojave Desert of southern California or the Sahara of North Africa.

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        Two Mule Deer on a Grass-Covered Dune

        Two mule deer traverse a grass-covered dune, the dunes have been stabilized by prairie vegetation, but there have been concerns that they would start to move again if prolonged drought conditions cause the Sandhills to lose their plant cover.

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        Profile of Bruce Switzer

        As Bruce Switzer knows ranching plays an important role in fostering conservation and sustainability in the Sandhills.

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        Weanling Calves on the Switzer Ranch

        Calves on the Switzer Ranch wait to be separated and weaned from their mothers. The cows and calves stay on the grass for about 150 days. They are then brought back to the ranch so that the calves can be weaned from their mothers, and then they graze until they reach about 700 pounds.

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        Sandhills’ River the North Loup

        The water supply in the Sandhills depends on local precipitation, which is relatively low. Yet, there are several rivers, including the Niobrara, Dismal, and Loup Rivers that originate in the Sandhills.

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        Windmill Pump in the Nebraska Sandhills

        A windmill pumps water into a stock tank in the Nebraska Sandhills. On the Switzer Ranch, cattle have access to creeks, lakes, and groundwater pumped to the surface by windmills and stored in stock tanks.

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        Blowout Penstemon (Penstemon haydenii)

        Although much of the vegetation can be found elsewhere, there are a few species that grow only in the sandy areas of the Sandhills, including blowout grass and the endangered Hayden’s (blowout) penstemon (Penstemon haydenii).

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        The Greater Prairie Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido)

        The greater prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido). There are only a few bird species that are endemic to the Sandhills. Among these are the greater prairie chicken, upland sandpiper, and long-billed curlew.

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        Fence Lines in the Nebraska Sandhills

        A fence line in the Nebraska Sandhills. Public lands in the United States are often set aside for conservation of land and wildlife. In Nebraska, less than three percent of the land is protected public or conservation land.

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        Managing Eastern Red Cedar Trees with Prescribed Burning

        Fire is a natural component of the grassland ecosystem. In only one growing season, large amounts of dead plants, what scientists call “biomass,” can accumulate on the prairie. In the past, wildfires caused by lightning could burn for hundreds of miles.

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