Rangeland restoration to a natural habitat.

Asked January 14, 2014, 11:37 AM EST

I have several miles of eroded cattle trails to fill in on a very large piece of land in Nebraska; and I need to find a way to accomplish this task in the most natural way possible. I would like for the land to start taking baby steps towards a complete restoration to its natural form. I've heard that there are certain types of soils developed specifically for this purpose; but after doing a bit of online research, I've hit a dead end. I'm not sure whether to bring in the sandy soil that's already there, because I keep hearing from other ranchers that it erodes away very quickly. I've thought about bringing out equipment to compact the soil, but I really don't want to do any additional damage. The pastures are delicate, and I want to preserve them as much as possible. If anyone has any ideas, or could at least point me in the right direction, I'd greatly appreciate it!

Thank you for your time!

Nebraska rangelands

1 Response

First I would not bring in any soil, that is far from natural. You can also increase the chances of introducing invasive plants. Second, no machinery unless you want to tear up more than you can repair. Two of the pictures look like ranch roads instead of cattle trails. If they are the best thing is to quit using them and just let them recover over time. If you are not running any cattle on the place just let it recover over time. If you are running cattle you could use electric fence and fence off some of the more eroded areas so they can recover. But by putting up fences, electric or barbed wire you may increase new trail development. Also remember that several species of plants and animals in the sand hills require blowouts and bare ground. Areas of bare ground are not bad it is just part of the sandhills ecology. People just think it is bad.