Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 1999


Published in Great Plains Research 9 (Spring 1999). Copyright © 1999 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


The Sand Hills region, the largest stabilized sand dune formation in the western hemisphere, presents a varied landscape from lush, productive wetlands to wind-swept dune tops with frequent "blowouts." Covering about twelve million acres in central and north central Nebraska, it represents about 25% of the state's surface area. The region's extreme importance to Nebraska-residing in its vast supply of forage for beef cattle production, its critical role in recharging the High Plains Aquifer, and its aesthetic and recreational values-has long made it a major topic of study for students in agricultural and natural resource sciences. Moreover, coursework related to such topics as rangeland conservation and management, livestock production, animal-plant-soil relations, and the hydrologic cycle commonly focuses on the Sand Hills for examples of concepts and practices. Students and teachers did not have a standard and complete reference on the natural history of the Sand Hills, however, until 1989 when An Atlas of the Sand Hills was first published. In addition to providing reference material to college and university students, the editors state the atlas's purpose is to "help natural-resource managers and others making decisions about the Sand Hills" and to "stimulate not only a general interest in the area but also continued research in the unique region."