Nine Mile Prairie (named for its location 5 miles (8.0 km) west and 4 miles (6.4 km) north of downtown Lincoln) is a 230-acre (0.93 km2) tract of conserved tallgrass prairie in Lancaster County, Nebraska, United States. Except for one small portion of it that was farmed as recently as the 1950s, Nine-Mile Prairie has never been plowed (some of the land has at times been grazed as recently as the 1960s). As such, it is one of the largest areas of virgin tallgrass prairie in the state of Nebraska. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1986.
Nine Mile Prairie is now administered by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. The university uses it for a variety of research and recreational purposes, especially for studies of prairie ecology. Research on this prairie began in the 1920s when Professor John Ernest Weaver and his students started using it for their studies of prairie plant ecology.
In addition to prairie grasses, some of which including Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) can grow as tall as six feet, the site supports a range of prairie trees, including cottonwoods and honey locust. Invasive sumac plants and (in the absence of fire) eastern juniper trees require control to preserve the original prairie ecology. A total of 392 species of vascular plants and 80 species of birds have been observed at Nine Mile Prairie. Notable species include the federally threatened prairie white fringed orchid (Platanthera praeclara) and the rare regal fritillary butterfly (Speyeria idalia), and it is home to bluebirds and white-tailed deer; herds of bison would have also passed through the site when it was open prairie until the mid-19th century.
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