Nebraska Wildlife Action Plan

By the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

Nebraska’s Natural Legacy Project took a habitat-based approach to conservation, identifying 40 biologically unique landscapes to help prioritize where conservation work can best be directed. These landscapes contain representative samples of each of the state’s natural communities and host the greatest known assemblage of biological diversity, including many populations of at-risk species.


Of Nebraska’s 49 million acres, more than 97 percent are privately owned, mostly in family farms and ranches. Approximately 1.1 million acres of private land are enrolled in the USDA Conservation Reserve Program. Nebraska contains only approximately 1.1 million acres of Federal land and 247,000 acres of state-owned land, ranking the state 48th in the amount of Federal and state lands.

Wildlife Highlights

Nebraska supports one of the largest wildlife migration spectacles in the nation, as more than 500,000 sandhill cranes and 10 million waterfowl visit the state each spring. The diminutive swift fox is a resident of the shortgrass prairie in western Nebraska. The state and federally endangered American burying beetle appears to be faring better in Nebraska than over most of its range. The northern redbelly dace is found in high-quality prairie streams in grass-dominated landscapes. The state and federally endangered salt creek tiger beetle is found only in Nebraska’s Lancaster County.

Primary Challenges to Conserving Wildlife in Nebraska

Nebraska’s wildlife action plan identifies conservation barriers and priority stress factors at statewide, ecoregion and landscape levels. In total, several hundred actions are proposed based on input from natural resource professionals and private citizens.

Key conservation barriers and stresses include:

  • Insufficient communication and collaboration between conservation organizations and private landowners;
  • Insufficient environmental education;
  • Insufficient and ineffective conservation programs and incentives;
  • Improper habitat management (e.g., fire suppression, hydrologic modification, invasive species);
  • Inefficient use of resources;
  • Incomplete network of public and private conservation lands; and
  • Inadequate wildlife-viewing opportunities.

Working Together for Nebraska’s Wildlife

The Natural Legacy Partnership Team, made up of 20 of the state’s major conservation and agricultural partners, was assembled at the outset to develop a public input process and guiding principles, as well as to develop a shared responsibility for conserving biodiversity. Twenty public meetings were held across the state to gather input from private landowners.

In addition, a workshop of conservation practitioners was held to solicit advice from natural resource professionals, and a series of small workshops was used to gather input from species experts. Since most of the state is under private ownership, it was agreed that conservation actions would focus on working lands, be voluntary and incentive based, and be implemented using a local community-based approach.

Through these public meetings, expert workshops and outreach activities, an effort was made to reach the greatest possible number of interested professionals and citizens. More than 500 Nebraskans directly contributed to the development of the plan.


The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies represents all of North America’s fish and wildlife agencies, promotes sound management and conservation, and speaks with a unified voice on important fish and wildlife issues.

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