Friday, December 9, 2011

Friends purchase supports Homestead

Through grants and the Opal Shum bequest, the Friends of Homestead National Monument of America purchased 140 acres of cropland located south of and contiguous with the monument. This created an opportunity to support landscape and habitat in the park, including the oldest restored tall grass prairie in the region.

By Jesse Bolli
Reprinted with permission
from HTLN Weather Vane

In spring of 2009, the Friends group enrolled the parcel into the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program administered by the US Department of Agriculture. The Friends received a grant to hire Prairie Plains Resource Institute from Aurora, Nebraska to begin restoration of cropland into high diversity tall grass prairie.

Bill Whitney using an fertilizer spreader
to plant a high diversity seed mixture.
During the 2009 growing season, the area was dominated by mares tail (Conyza canadensis), an annual weed species. By 2010, some of 160 different species of local genotype seed planted in 2009 started to appear.

The land increases the park managed, 100-acre prairie by 140 acres. It also provides a landscape buffer for historic hedgerow trees listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks, and it buffers rare lowland bur oak forest. The additional land will reduce agricultural runoff into Cub Creek. Planned walking trails will add recreational and educational opportunities for visitors.

An unconfirmed sighting of a greater prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido) on the monument may be the result of efforts to increase habitat. The park and Friends group are encouraged that this additional prairie restoration will likely benefit this once abundant, but now rare native bird.

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry introduced legislation (H.R. 112) to include this property within the boundary of Homestead National Monument of America. Once Congress approves monument expansion, the Friends of Homestead NM of America plan to donate the land to the NPS.

Are you a descendant of Homesteaders?

If you are a descendant of Homesteaders, send you name and address along with any family histories to the Friends of Homestead. The Friends of Homestead are collecting the names and addresses of all descendants. This information should be sent to:

Friends of Homestead
8523 West State Highway 4
Beatrice, NE 68310

or email

Homestead National Monument to be Featured on US Quarter in 2015