The Nebraska Natural Heritage Program
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Providing the scientific basis for effective conservation
The mission of the Nebraska Natural Heritage Program is to develop, manage
and distribute scientific information critical to the conservation of Nebraska’s
The Nebraska Natural Heritage Program collects information on the status,
distribution and ecology of natural communities and rare, threatened and endangered
species in Nebraska and analyzes and manages this information using standardized
methods. The Program disseminates this information to a wide array of conservation
decision makers and uses this information to actively promote the conservation
of Nebraska’s natural heritage. Downloadable resources, including range maps, are available on the Natural Heritage Resources Page.
Data on natural communities and rare, threatened and endangered species is
collected by Program staff, contract biologists, and contributing researchers
using standardized methods. The Program uses a standardized information management
system (Biotics 5) to track a variety of biological and non-biological information.
Tracked biological information includes data on taxonomy, distribution, abundance,
population trends, threats, and habitat and management requirements. Examples
of critical non-biological information tracked are land-ownership type, land-use
and management, and distribution of protected areas within the state.
The Nebraska Natural Heritage Program is a member of NatureServe ,
an international conservation organization that is the hub of the Natural Heritage
Network. The Network includes Heritage Programs in all 50 states, all Canadian
provinces and more than a dozen Latin American and Caribbean countries. Because
a standard methodology is used by Heritage programs in all states, data can
be aggregated and Nebraska’s biological diversity can be considered within
a regional and national context.
Information collected and maintained by the Program aids in the conservation
of Nebraska’s biological diversity in five main areas:
Review. Degradation of biological resources
can be minimized by incorporating biodiversity considerations into environmental
reviews early in the development planning process. To help facilitate the
design and implementation of ecologically sound development, the Program
provides biological and ecological information to local, state, and federal
agencies, private corporations and consulting firms.
Planning. The Program’s methods for ranking the conservation status of species,
communities, and sites allows conservation priorities to be set based on
sound scientific information. Integrated biological and land-use information
is used to identify critical areas in need of protection and to establish
conservation priorities based on a statewide, regional and national context.
State and federal agencies and private conservation organizations use this
information in land acquisition and other protection activities.
- Habitat Management. Wise stewardship of natural areas requires detailed knowledge
of sensitive and endangered species and communities. Information maintained
by the Heritage Program on the requirements of plants, animals and natural
communities is used to guide habitat management.
- Research and Education. Results from the Program’s inventory work guide
new scientific research. The Heritage database represents an important resource
for long-term ecological monitoring.
- Threatened and Endangered Species Listing Review. The database provides
current information on the abundance and distribution of rare and imperiled
species, which is used in the state and federal processes of listing or de-listing
these species as threatened or endangered. Heritage information and expertise
is also utilized in writing recovery plans for state and federally listed
Rick Schneider, Program Manager/Ecologist, primary Program contact
Mike Fritz, Zoologist,
Michelle Koch, Environmental Analyst,
Rachel Simpson, Data Manager/GIS Specialist,
Gerry Steinauer, Botanist/Ecologist,