Friday, March 8, 2013
ROUNDUP TIME IN THE SANDHILLS
Note: geologically, the Sandhills are ancient dessert dunes, eventually clothed and stabilized over the eons by short and mid-grass prairie grasses and forbs. They are structurally very fragile and unstable, and overgrazing and long periods of drought can damage the vegetational cover and the dunes can start to move. "Blowouts" in the hills reveal the sand beneath the grass, and have to be stabilized immediately to prevent serious erosion. Cattle grazing is about the only environmentally safe use of the dunes, although level ares along river valleys can be irrigated and hay harvested.
The Nebraska Sandhills occupy most of the west-central part of the state. There are a few streams that run through the area, notably the Niobrara on the northern edge, the Platte on the south and the Loup (North,South and Middle branches) and Dismal Rivers in the interior. There are numerous "prairie pothole" ponds and small lakes, which are essential to waterfall migration and production. Many of these are federal and state wildlife refuges.
There are many interesting small and not-so-small cities and towns associated with the Sandhills, and the region is historically very interesting. For those who want to get off the beaten path the Sandhills are a good getaway.
It is good to know the Old West still exists.