Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest
|Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest|
Typical Sandhills scene with planted ponderosa pine forest at McKelvie National Forest, Nebraska
|Location||Cherry County, Nebraska, USA|
|Nearest city||Valentine, NE|
|Area||116,079 acres (469.76 km2)|
|Established||October 15, 1971|
|Named for||Gov. Samuel R. McKelvie|
|Governing body||U.S. Forest Service|
|Website||Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest|
The Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest is a United States National Forest located in the north-central Sandhills region of the U.S. state of Nebraska. The total area of the national forest is 116,079 acres (181.373 sq mi). The forest is managed by the U.S. Forest Service's Nebraska Forests and Grasslands Supervisor's Office in Chadron, Nebraska. The national forest is located entirely within Cherry County, Nebraska. There is a local ranger district office located in Nenzel.
In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt issued a proclamation establishing the Niobrara Forest Reserve, later the Niobrara Ranger District of the Nebraska National Forest. On October 15, 1971, President Richard Nixon designated the Niobrara Division the Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest after former Governor Samuel R. McKelvie.
Flora and fauna
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 wild 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.
Management and additional lands
The Nebraska National Forest is managed by the Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands Supervisor's Office in Chadron. Additionally, this office manages the following public lands:
- Nebraska National Forest
- Buffalo Gap National Grassland
- Fort Pierre National Grassland
- Oglala National Grassland
- Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest - Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands
- Cool State Parks: Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest
- "Land Areas of the National Forest System" (PDF). U.S. Forest Service. January 2012. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
- "The National Forests of the United States" (PDF). ForestHistory.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 28, 2012. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
- "Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest". Cool State Parks. Retrieved September 22, 2012.