Nebraska National Forest

October 14, 2010

The sign pointed toward the “Nebraska National Forest.” My brother Mauri and I saw the sign, but as we sped along the interstate, the scenery made us wonder where they put the tree. Fred and Suzi Dow, national forest specialists, answered my curiosity (and smart-alecky skepticism):

“Yes, Virginia, there is a forest in Nebraska. … the largest hand-planted forest in the United States.” Apparently visionary botanists have been planting trees in Nebraska’s sandhills for over a century now, taking their cues from Indian legends about a pine forest there.

Two campgrounds offer recreation near the experimental forest – horseshoes, volleyball, gawking at non-native Ginkgo trees, etc. Those annoyed by trees can find a national forest campground in the wide-open spaces of the prairie overlooking the Dismal River. You can’t see it from the interstate. I have a friend who would love it. When he lived near us in western Oregon he complained that you couldn’t see anything – there were too many mountains, hills, and trees.

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  1. Miriam (Mesner) Allison says:

    I remember going to the Nebraska National Forest as a young girl with my Girl Scout troop. It seems a little oxymoronic, especially for western Nebraska, but there really is a forest there.

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