Nebraska Forest Resources

Niobrara Valley river system landscape.

Many Nebraskans would be surprised to learn that in our largely agricultural and grassland state, unique and diverse forest resources are substantial and growing.

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Fast Facts

  • Nebraska has nearly 1.3 million acres of timberland, an increase of almost 300,000 acres since 1994.
  • The predominant forest types are riparian forests, ponderosa pine forests and the Niobrara Valley's unique
  • hardwood-conifer-northern boreal mix.
  • Other forest types present in Nebraska include eastern redcedar/rocky mountain juniper, oak/hickory and
  • oak/pine. These forest types make up almost 500,000 acres of Nebraska's timberland.
  • Nebraska's timberland produces at least 1 million net tons of wood each year, every year.
  • Nebraska's timberland contains more than 40 million oven-dry tons of standing woody biomass.
  • The vast majority (87%) of this biomass is on privately owned land.

Riparian Forest Resources

There are more than 329,000 acres of riparian forests along rivers and streams throughout the state.

  • These forests consist of cottonwood, ash and, to a lesser extent, elm.
  • Riparian forests stabilize soil and protect watersheds from agricultural runoff.
  • Many cottonwood trees are in decline and not regenerating due, in large part, to changes in flooding frequency.
  •  Our state’s ash trees are at risk to emerald ash borer (EAB), a highly-invasive, exotic insect that attacks and kills all native species of ash trees. There are an estimated 30 million ash trees in native forests and conservation plantings throughout Nebraska and an estimated 2.2 million ash trees in Nebraska communities.

Ponderosa Pine Forest Resources

Overly dense stands of ponderosa pine cover more than 250,000 acres of western Nebraska’s Pine Ridge and Wildcat Hills.

  • Fuels reduction thinning reduces the risk of catastrophic fire and improves forest health and productivity.
  • These thinnings provide tens of thousands of tons of woody biomass fuel each year, creating full-time year-round jobs and generating $1 million in economic impacts in rural areas.

Niobrara Valley Forest Resources

pine trees at sunset.The diverse species composition of the Niobrara Valley’s forest resources is not found anywhere else in the United States, making these forests uniquely Nebraskan.

In the Niobrara Valley, more than 225,000 acres of timberland form an ecologically unique combination of:

  • central hardwood (oak, walnut, ash) forests,
  • overly dense ponderosa pine/eastern redcedar, and 
  • forests and remnants of northern boreal (aspen, birch) forests.