Land Management

In addition to increasing stream flows, the NCORPE project is believed to be the largest conversion of irrigated cropland to native prairie on a contiguous or nearly contiguous tract of land in Nebraska’s history. Approximately 17,500 acres of cropland in the Sandhills Ecoregion of Nebraska, as defined by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, is being converted to native prairie and rangeland with help from the Nebraska Environmental Trust. The property was purchased so that crop irrigation would cease on the property and groundwater that would otherwise be used to grow crops could be redirected to the Platte and Republican Rivers for the purpose of increasing river flows.

In the Spring of 2016 the seeding project was completed and all formerly irrigated acres totaling 13,388 acres were drilled to the following grasses: Sand Bluestem, Blue Grama, Prairie Sandreed, Little Bluestem, Switchgrass, Sand Lovegrass, Western Wheatgrass, Indiangrass, and forbs: Purple Prairie Clover, Upright Prairie Coneflower, Blackeyed Susan, Leadplant, and Shell Leaf Penstemon. This seed mixture was drilled into a cover crop of Sorghum Sudan that was established on the property in 2013. In addition to the Sudangrass hybrid a minor amount of row crop stubble was also used as a cover crop during the seeding project.

The seed mixture was established in consultation with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offices in North Platte and Imperial. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has also provided input on the establishment of native plant species.

The Nebraska Environmental Trust awarded a $700,000 grant to NCORPE to help establish these native plants on the property. Without the grant, the diversity of species seeded on the property would not have been possible. The project site presents exciting opportunities to learn more about the establishment of native plant species on formerly irrigated land.

NCORPE has and will continue to have leased grazing and haying opportunities. These management tools aid in the establishment and future management of the prairie reconstruction project. All leasing opportunities will be announced publicly and details can be found on the land management portion of the NCORPE website.