Come Out of the Light…
At Homestead step into a still, dappled woodland world from the inescapable sunlight and relentless wind of the prairie. Feel the same smoothing relief as the homesteaders that settled in this area.
Their relief was not only physical but mental as well. This forest meant security. It gave homesteaders warmth, shelter and animals to hunt.
But this ribbon of lowland bur oak forest along Cub Creek and on the edge of the Great Plains was rare even then.
Help for a Forest on the Edge…
Just in this century, scientists of the National Park Service’s Heartland Inventory and Monitoring Program crawled all over this forest finding 116 types of plants and an overstory of 60 foot tall oaks with large spreading crowns.
They also discovered a natural community critically imperiled not just in Nebraska but in the United States.
Scientists have also revealed that this rare forest today is not the same as what American Indians and Homesteaders would have experienced. Over 140 years of tree cutting, grazing and lack of fire have changed this forest.
How do you think it has changed? It may not in the way you imagine. The bur oak forest at Homestead is bigger and denser than the forest of the past.
Forest At Ease…
Despite the changes this forest represents the best example of what settlers in Nebraska would have encountered. It is the edge of the world of tree to the east; a last creeping finger of shade.
Homesteaders’ relief came from how such forests eased the day to day struggle to survive. Today, can this forest give us more than just physical relief as well?
The lowland bur oak forest at Homestead is one of your best chances to take a trip into our natural past. Take the trip; hear the soft hoot of a barred owl; look up into a patchwork quilt of light through the leaves of a towering oak and see a rare forest being protected so it can just do what forests do. In a human world constantly manipulated and contrived see something real and natural. Let it ease your mind.
Last updated: September 19, 2019