Niobrara River near Valentine NE
Fort Niobrara NWR – Valentine NE
Fort Niobrara Wildlife Refuge was established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 by Executive Order. The principal aim was to protect bison and elk herds which had dwindled almost to extinction under the pressure of market hunting in the 19th century. It was created out of the old frontier Fort Niobrara and today covers almost 20,000 acres of grasslands and riparian forest in Nebraska.
In October 1933, the CCC began work in the refuge. A number of projects were identified, including a big game fence measuring twenty-one miles, a seven mile four-wire stock fence, fire prevention around the buildings including the construction of a 3000 gallon pressure tank to connect to the fire hydrants, and dams and wells for water conservation. A wagon and car bridge was built across the Niobrara River to connect the north and south pastures, also to be used for a game crossing. Thirty-five men were employed at the preserve, all taken from the relief rolls of the county. (Cherry County News)
According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, “In the 1930’s, the Civilian Conservation Corps and Work Projects Administration staff rebuilt several original earthen dams, constructed new dams, planted various wetland plants, constructed predator fencing around ponds to improve nesting conditions, and planted shelterbelts for birds.”
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service also reports that, “Tree Plantations established in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and later by refuge staff are located mostly in administrative areas and consist of Eastern red cedar, black and honey locusts, American elm, green and white ash, and/or ponderosa pine totaling approximately 59 acres.”
“Comprehensive Conservation Plan: Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge,” U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, September 1999, accessed August 14, 2014.
Cherry County News, 22 March 1934.
Project originally submitted by Jill Dolberg on August 19, 2015.
Additional contributions by Brent McKee.
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