The Nebraska Sandhills


The Nebraska Sandhills

Edited by Monica M. Norby, Judy Diamond, Aaron Sutherlen, Sherilyn C. Fritz, Kim Hachiya, Douglas A. Norby, and Michael Forsberg

256 pages
184 color photographs, 15 black-and-white photographs, 28 color illustrations, 15 color maps, 2 tables


April 2024


$34.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

April 2024


$34.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

“Like a rumpled wool blanket, the Nebraska Sandhills spreads out over twenty thousand square miles of north central Nebraska and is the largest stabilized dune field in the Western Hemisphere. It is also the largest intact mixed-grass prairie left on the continent.”

This description by photographer Michael Forsberg alludes to the exceptional physical geography of the Nebraska Sandhills, a place of rolling grasslands, rivers, and wetlands created by the Ogallala Aquifer that underlies the region. Home to abundant wildlife, from pronghorn antelope to sandhill cranes, the Sandhills are an ecological treasure. Dotted with ranches and small towns, the Sandhills are rich with deep cultural history, including those of Indigenous peoples, settlers, Black homesteaders, immigrants, ecotourists, and some adventurous golfers.

The Nebraska Sandhills features nearly forty essays about the history, people, geography, geology, ecology, and conservation of the Nebraska Sandhills. Illustrated with hundreds of remarkable color photographs of the area, this is the most up-to-date and illuminating portrayal of this remarkable yet largely unknown region of the United States.


"By the book's end, the reader will be familiar with the history, geography, and topography of the region as well as the daily lives of the hardy cattle ranchers who now reside within. . . . The book should appeal to anyone residing within driving distance of the Sandhills."—J. Kemper Campbell, Lincoln Journal Star

Table of Contents

Michael J. Boehm
My Introduction to the Nebraska Sandhills
Mary Harner
A Kingdom of Grass – The Nebraska Sandhills
Michael Forsberg
Part I. Sense of Place 
1. Tantalizing Clues as to Indigenous Peoples’ Lives in the Sandhills
1a. Humphrey Site Reveals Sandhills’ Apache Presence      
John R. (Rob) Bozell and Courtney L.C. Ziska
2. The Turtle at the End of the World   
2a. Skidi Pawnee Mythic Journey
Roger Echo-Hawk  
3. Cheyenne Sanctuary: The Northern Cheyenne Exodus, Mari Sandoz, and Lost Chokecherry Lake 
Emily Levine
4. Settlers: Ranchers, Homesteaders, Immigrants    
Andrew Pollock  
4a. The Black Homesteaders of DeWitty   
Richard Edwards
5. Town Life  
Mark Harris    
6. Nebraska’s Human-made National Forest   
Carson Vaughan
7.  An Abandoned Stone Schoolhouse in the Nebraska Sandhills   
Ted Kooser
Part II. Land                        
8. Physical Setting of the Sandhills in Maps  
R. Matthew Joeckel, Clayton L. Reinier, Paul R. Hanson, Jesse T. Korus. Troy E. Gilmore, and Aaron R. Young
9. The Sandhills Through Time   
David Loope, James Swinehart, and Joe Mason
10. What It takes to Form a Giant Dune Field   
David Loope, James Swinehart, and Joe Mason
11. The Last Five Million Years of Grasslands and Grazers  
11a. Where the Buffalo Roam … or Not
Chris Widga
12. Sandhills Grassland, Large Grazers, and Conservative Use   
Al Steuter
13. Sandhills Soils – Interactions among Topography, Water, Sand, Vegetation, and Grazers         
Martha Mamo
Part III. Water                       
14. Groundwater – How the High Plains Aquifer Shapes the Sandhills  
Erin Haacker
15. Sandhills Streams and Rivers as Influenced by Groundwater, Climate, and Humans    
15a. The Niobrara -- a National Scenic River
15b. March 2019 Floods
Jessica Corman and Troy Gilmore
16. Sandhills Lakes in Space and Time   
Sherilyn C. Fritz
16a. Sandhills Alkaline Lakes
David Dunigan
17. Diverse Groundwater-Fed Sandhills Wetlands
Ted LaGrange   
17a. Fens
Ted LaGrange and Gerry Steinauer
18. A River in Motion: Platte Basin Timelapse   
Michael Farrell, Michael Forsberg, Kim Hachiya, and Mary Harner
Part IV. Climate and Weather
19. The Times They are a Changing – Seasonal, Inter-annual, and Long-term Variability in Sandhills Temperature, Wind, Rain, and Drought   
Martha Shulski
20. How and Why Storms Form in the Sandhills: Location, Location, Location
20a. Storm Chasing   
Adam Houston
21. When Too Much Water is the Problem: 2019 and the Flooding of the Sandhills  
Bethany Johnston
Part V. Sea of Grass
22. The Unique Diversity and Habitat Structure of Sandhills Grasslands
22a. Are the Sandhills Resilient or Fragile?
Chris Helzer
23. Sandhills Prairie  
Gerry Steinauer
23a. Blowout Penstemon 
Cheryl Dunn
24. Grazing Management for Beef Production and Wildlife Habitat
24a. Grazing, Landscapes, and Greater Prairie-chickens
Walt Schacht and Larkin Powell
25. Irrigation in the Sandhills  
Jerry Volesky
Part VI. Ranching      
26. Ranching Through the Seasons: Planned for the Worst. Hoped for the Best.    
Sara Sortum   
27. Leopold Award Winners   
Douglas Norby
28. Rotational Grazing and Sustainable Grasslands  
Jim Jenkins
Part VII. Wildlife     
29. Birds of the Sandhills
29a. Wilson’s Phalarope 
29b. Long-billed Curlew
Larkin Powell
30. Sandhills’ Inconspicuous Mammals Make the Region Unique  
Shaun Dunn  
30a. Kangaroo Rats’ Habits Enhance Plant Diversity  
Keith Geluso and Jeremy A. White
31. Sandhills’ Sweet Water Lakes are Productive Fisheries  
31a. Common Carp: Invasive Scourge
Daryl Bauer  
32. Herpetofauna Adapt to Sandhills’ Idiosyncratic Landscapes
Dennis Ferraro
32a. Blanding’s Turtles: Sandhills Smileys     
Ashley Forrester
33. Diverse Landscapes Enrich Insect Diversity and Numbers
Jeffrey Bradshaw
33a. American Burying Beetle  
33b. Giant Skipper
33c. Sandy Tiger Beetle
Steve Spomer
Part VIII. Future of the Sandhills  
34. Sandhills Task Force
34a. Eastern Red Cedar
Shelly Kelly
35. Economy, Ranching, and Ecotourism in the Sandhills  
Richard Edwards and Katie Nieland
35a. World-Class Golf Courses  
Douglas Norby
36. Demographics of the Sandhills Over Time  
Dennis Bauer
37. Local Knowledge and the Future of the Sandhills   
Mary Ann Vinton and Jay Leighter   
38. Alternative Futures of the Sandhills  
Craig Allen and Caleb Roberts
Selected Books for Further Insights into the Sandhills
Author Information

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