Nebraska National Forest
|Nebraska National Forest|
IUCN category VI (protected area with sustainable use of natural resources)
|Nearest city||Chadron, NE (Pine Ridge unit)|
|Area||141,864 acres (574 km2)|
|Established||July 1, 1908|
|Governing body||U.S. Forest Service|
The national forest comprises two ranger districts. The 90,000-acre (364 km2) Bessey Ranger District is located in the Sandhills of central Nebraska. Encompassing about 63.9% of the forest's total area, it lies in parts of Thomas and Blaine counties. It was established in 1902 by Charles E. Bessey because he believed the area to have once had a natural forest and as an experiment to see if forests could be recreated in treeless areas of the Great Plains for use as a national timber reserve. This effort resulted in a 20,000-acre (80.9 km2) forest, the largest human-planted forest in the United States. Today the forest's nursery supplies 2.5 to 3 million seedlings per year. The Bessey Nursery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The 52,000 acres (210 km2) Pine Ridge Ranger District is located in the Pine Ridge region of northwest Nebraska. It contains about 36.1% of the forest's total area, and it lies in part of Dawes and Sioux counties. The native ponderosa forests were added to the National Forest system in the 1950s. The Soldier Creek Wilderness, a federally designated wilderness area, is located in the forest.
In descending order of land, the forest lies in parts of Thomas, Dawes, Blaine, and Sioux counties. It is managed by the Forest Service together with Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest and the Buffalo Gap, Fort Pierre, and Oglala National Grasslands from common offices in Chadron, Nebraska. There is a local ranger district office located in Halsey.
Nebraska National Forest was established on November 15, 1907 by the consolidation of three smaller forests: Dismal River, Niobrara and North Platte National Forests. It was the largest man-made forest until a forest in the South African city Johannesburg was determined to have more trees.
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