Allwine Prairie Preserve.
Allwine Prairie Preserve has an exciting proposition on the horizon: a unique environmental education facility, renovated from a historic dairy barn, and proposed land expansion, buffering the existing preserve. The preserve is currently seeking funding opportunities for these two exciting additions. If the proposals are fully funded, the education center and land expansion would provide a one-of-a-kind opportunity to the Greater Omaha and surrounding communities and schools: a glimpse into Eastern Nebraska's tallgrass prairie heritage. Read more. . . .
History and Description
Allwine Prairie Preserve is a 243 acre reestablished grassland research area situated northwest of Omaha in Douglas County, Nebraska. The original 160 acre farm was donated to the University of Nebraska at Omaha Biology Department in 1959 by Arthur A. Allwine. In 1970, 130 acres were seeded with native tallgrass prairie species; an additional 7 acres were seeded to mixed-grass species. In 2010, 83 acres northeast of the preserve were purchased with financial support from the Nebraska Environmental Trust, Papio-Missouri River NRD and UNO. This area will soon be restored to wetland, stream and prairie habitat. Management during the course of establishment of the original prairie included various combinations of fire and mowing to simulate historical effects of widespread fire and grazing on tallgrass prairie.
Tallgrass prairie once extended throughout much of eastern Nebraska but cultivation of the rich prairie soil reduced the extent of this ecosystem such that today only scattered remnants remain. With the gradual disappearance of the grassland habitat, prairie plant and animal populations also declined. Preservation of the remaining prairie remnants is important for several reasons: (1) to make native biota available for the enjoyment of future generations, (2) to enable comparisons to be made with other uses of grasslands, such as cattle grazing or haying, and (3) to preserve the gene pool of native plants and animals. Allwine Prairie Preserve has been developed to achieve these goals. In addition, the Preserve provides a site for research on prairie ecosystems and on grassland management and maintenance, and a field laboratory for classes and for other interested individuals or groups.
Fire and Grazing Management
Prescribed burning is an essential part of the management at Allwine Prairie Preserve. A section of the prairie is burned every spring, and research plots are burned every spring, summer and fall. Prescribed burns, unlike wildfires, are carefully planned in advance, and can reduce the risk of wildfires by reducing fuel loads. Mowing is currently used at the Preserve to simulate grazing in tallgrass prairie. Future plans include introduction of grazers at Allwine Preserve.
Research plays an important role at Allwine Prairie Preserve. Long-term research at the preserve provides information on changes in plant and animal populations that occur over time, and it aids in deciding how to best manage the preserve. Examples of completed surveys or on-going studies include (1) vegetative and faunal surveys of grassland and woodland habitats, (2) effects of burning and mowing on plants and small mammal and bird populations, (3) effects of terraces on grassland establishment, (4) physiological and feeding behaior of certain bird species, (5) soil evaluations, (6) forb establishment, (7) transplanting prairie sod, and (8) effects of land-use on breeding bird nest success.
Flora and Fauna
More than 250 species of woody and herbaceous plants have been identified at the Preserve. Slopes and hilltops of the tallgrass areas are dominated by big bluestem with little bluestem and sideoats grama common; lowland areas are predominantly big bluestem, reed canary grass and switchgrass. The midgrass area is primarily little bluestem with sideoats grama abundant. Common forbs include pussytoes, prairie phlox, indigo, black-eyed susan, pale coneflower, lead plant, yellow coneflower, ironweed, blazing star, round-headed bush clover, and many others.
Over 109 species of birds, 12 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 24 species of mammals have been observed in various locations throughout the Preserve. Breeding bird species include the Bobwhite, Mourning Dove, Meadowlark, Dickcissel, and Grasshopper Sparrow. The prairie also serves as a haven to migrant species such as LeConte’s and Harris’ Sparrows, Marsh Hawk, and Blue-Winged Teal; other species overwinter on the Preserve. Mammals of the prairie and woodland include the White-tailed Deer, Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel, Prairie Deer Mouse, White-footed Mouse Prairie Vole, Coyote and Red Fox. Fox Snakes and Red-sided Garter Snakes are also relatively common.
Species lists are available at the following links:
Use of Allwine Prairie Preserve
We encourage the use of Allwine Prairie Preserve for research projects, educational activities, and visitations to the extent that such use does not affect the long-term value of the Preserve as an ecological research site. Hunting and collection of plants, animals, or other material are not permitted except when approved for research or classroom activities by the director or manager of Allwine Prairie Preserve. Individuals or groups desiring to make use of the Preserve may make arrangements by contacting the Preserve Manager.
The entrance to Allwine Prairie Preserve is at 96°8'44.101"W 41°20'8.842"N. The Preserve is located northwest of Omaha in Douglas County, at 14810 State St., Bennington, NE, 68007.