The Nebraska National Forest and its units are committed to quality land and resource management within a multiple use context.With exception of the Pine Ridge in northwest Nebraska and the planted portion of the Bessey Ranger District in central Nebraska, grass is the primary vegetation type.
From the short grass prairies of extreme western South Dakota and Nebraska to the taller more diverse mixed grass prairies of central South Dakota and the Nebraska Sandhills, livestock grazing is the primary commodity use. There are approximately 400 ranch operations with permits to graze livestock on the Nebraska National Forest and associated units.
Grazing is only one aspect of the multiple-use spectrum and is managed to integrate with other uses and values that depend upon a common denominator--grass. The Fort Pierre National Grassland in central South Dakota and the Bessey Ranger District in central Nebraska support healthy, huntable populations of greater prairie chicken and sharp-tailed grouse. Other prairie wildlife species such as pronghorn antelope and black tailed prairie dogs also call the public lands home. The country’s most endangered mammal, the black-footed ferret, has been reintroduced into its native habitat on the Buffalo Gap National Grassland and nearby Badlands National Park in southwest South Dakota.
While managing habitat for current wildlife populations is important, the Forest also manages an unusual abundance of fossil resources--remains of past wildlife populations. Toadstool Geologic Park on the Oglala National Grassland is a moonscape of eroded badlands features. Museums around the world contain 30 million year old mammal fossils from this area, and fossils of giant marine animals over twice as old, from the Buffalo Gap National Grassland. The Forest is taking an aggressive inventory, education, and law enforcement approach to identifying public fossil resources and protecting them for current and future scientific research and public enjoyment.