Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

August 1995


Published in Great Plains Research 5:2 (Fall 1995). Copyright © 1995 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Books like this are rarely written. Today, most writings about natural features and charismatic landscapes tend to be of two types: those with subjective, generalized descriptions written for the layperson, or technical articles with great detail but little in the way of human emotion. This book, written by a professor who spent fifteen summers in the Nebraska Sandhills, presents sufficient technical detail to satisfy the professional, but at the same time conveys the images and emotions of the Sandhills plants, animals, and people.

About 50,000 square kilometers-one-fourth of Nebraska-are covered by the Sandhills, making this the largest area of sand dunes in the Western Hemisphere. These dunes, which reach heights of 140 meters above the intervening valleys and overlay sandy geological substrates (among them the famous Ogallala aquifer) that may reach a total depth of 300 meters, are covered with grasslands and associated shrublands, wetlands, and small amounts of forests. In addition to describing vegetation patterns and successional pathways, the author provides engaging accounts of the life histories of several typical sand dune inhabitants, including the burrowing owl, box turtle, yucca moth, long-billed curlew, kangaroo rat, grasshopper mouse, brook stickleback, eared grebe, and cliff swallow and barn swallow.