Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site (NHS) was established in 2007, in part to preserve and protect the cultural landscape of the massacre. Protection of native biological resources, including animals, is integral to preserving the cultural landscape. Sand Creek Massacre NHS is primarily composed of shortgrass prairie and sage shrubland. Sandy Creek, an intermittent stream, crosses the site. Shortgrass prairies support numerous animal and plant species, including federal and state listed endangered, threatened, and candidate species.
Species that have adapted to the specific conditions of their environment can be indicators of a healthy ecosystem. These specialized species are susceptible to changes in water availability, temperature, elevation, geology, and land use. In 2006, 11 special-status species were documented in Sand Creek Massacre NHS, including species listed by the State of Colorado, federal agencies, and conservation organizations. These species are: the burrowing owl, mountain plover, black-tailed prairie dog, Swainson’s hawk, scaled quail, northern harrier, loggerhead shrike, bleached skimmer dragonfly, red-headed woodpecker, white-faced ibis, and northern leopard frog. Lesser prairie chickens historically occupied Sand Creek Massacre NHS, though the species may be locally extinct (extirpated) from the area.