Nebraska Academy of Sciences


Date of this Version


Document Type



Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, vol. 5 (1978)


Copyright by the author.


Forest surveys of Nebraska were conducted in 1955 and 1977 (Shasby, 1977). These surveys sought to characterize species, total area, and size classes of economically important trees. Information gained from these surveys is very alarming. The counties of Nernaha, Otoe, and Richardson in the southeastern survey district have lost between 34.7% and 53.9% of their trees during that 22-yr period. These are critical losses considering that these counties are only 2.8% to 5.5% forested.

The purpose of this study was to investigate historical changes in tree vegetation that occurred in Nemaha County. The trees as they occurred in the county when settlers started to colonize this part of Nebraska were studied. For this, the General Land Office surveys were helpful. Information of this type has been used to categorize presettlement forests in several states (Steams, 1949; Spurr, 1951; Shanks, 1953; Bourdo, 1956; Wuenscher and Valiunas, 1967; Leitner and J ackson, 1981). Most of these studies did not concentrate on using available information to define losses in vegetation that occurred since the original surveys. Information in the General Land Office surveys can be used to determine the location, area, size classes, and species of trees that occurred in the past.