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These areas of grass and wildflowers are reminiscent of prairie grasslands which once stretched across much of Nebraska. Farming has greatly reduced the grasslands, but prairie plants still flourish in selected areas and along roadsides and fences. Such places provide vital habitat for thousands of kinds of prairie animals, which, like the plants, are well adapted to live on the open land. Long, branching root systems help many prairie plants survive the harsh environment of wind, extremes of temperature, drought and fire. Years ago prairie fires cleared the land of trees and shrubs, leaving the grasses and wild- flowers to sprout anew. Today, controlled burning is used to maintain existing prairies. But while preservation of open grassland is important, a prairie is far more than an expanse of grass and sky. It is a complex ecosystem: a dynamic, interdependent community of living things, acted upon by climate and season and inseparably linked to moisture, soil and sun. The prairie ecosystem is our natural heritage and understanding its intricacies remains a challenge.

Department of Roads
Nebraska State Historical Society
I-80, Lincoln W-Rest Area, west of 27th, Lincoln
Lancaster County
Marker 256


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Last updated 4 June 2004

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