Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest
|Samuel R McKelvie National Forest|
IUCN category VI (protected area with sustainable use of natural resources)
|Location||Cherry County, Nebraska, USA|
|Nearest city||Valentine, NE|
|Area||116,079 acres (469.76 km2)|
|Established||October 15, 1971|
|Governing body||U.S. Forest Service|
|Website||Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest|
The Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest is located in the north-central Sandhills region of the U.S. state of Nebraska. Created on October 15, 1971 (the forest has been some type of protected area since 1902), the forest is named after former Governor Samuel R. McKelvie. Encompassing an area of 116,079 acres (469.76 km2), the forest is a combination of prairie grasslands and pine forest "islands". Most of the existing forested sections were manmade, planted by hand over the past 75 years. The protein content of the native grasses is among the highest found anywhere in the world and numerous lease options are provided to local ranchers. Planted trees include Eastern Juniper, Scots Pine and Ponderosa Pine which continues to need replanting as it is harvested but has also managed to spread throughout the region independently.
Indigenous wildlife such as pronghorn, white-tailed deer, mule deer, coyote and fox are plentiful. Of the 150 species of birds known to inhabit the forest, pheasant, grouse, hawk and turkey are the more commonly found.
The forest has a small campground. Immediately to the south and east of the national forest is Merritt Reservoir, a dam on the Snake River. The reservoir is stocked with sport fish; it is considered one of the better fishing destinations in Nebraska. Merritt Reservoir is managed by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. The forest is managed by the Forest Service together with Nebraska 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 Nenzel.
- Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest - Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands
- Cool State Parks: Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest