Lincoln, Neb. —The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Grassland Studies will host an open house at the Dalbey Prairie on Sept. 29, starting at 10 a.m. and ending with a noon luncheon. The open house will take place in a fully in-person format.
The Dalbey Section, comprised of 640 acres, near Virginia, Nebraska was given to the University of Nebraska Foundation in January 1944 by Dwight Stout Dalbey. The section was native prairie and the university agreed to never plow it but to use it for livestock and grassland management research and education programs. In April of 2020, 505 acres of the Dalbey Section were sold by the University of Nebraska. The remaining 135 acres of the Dalbey Section were established as the Dalbey Prairie under the management of UNL’s Center for Grassland Studies.
These changes for the prairie were the result of five years’ efforts to honor the intentions of the Dalbey family. A conservation easement with the Nebraska Land Trust was placed on the 505 acres of the Dalbey Section before it was sold in April 2020 to guarantee the land is never plowed, subdivided or developed. This also promises that it will remain productive, private grassland that contributes to the local economy and local tax base.
“We’re interested in maintaining the quality of the habitat and also still showing that it’s compatible with being a working grassland that produces some grazing or hay,” said David Wedin, director of the Dalbey Prairie. “In that sense, it’s kind of a demo project for how conservation and management can go together.”
The remaining 135-acre prairie was kept by the university because it was the property’s best quality prairie with a high diversity of native prairie plants and low numbers of invasive plants. The long-term management and research at the property has always and will continue to integrate haying, with prescribed burns interspersed, as management tools. The stewardship of the hay meadow over the last 75 years is apparent in its biodiversity.
The celebration of the University of Nebraska Lincoln’s commitment and stewardship to protecting and maintaining grasslands will begin at the prairie, which is 5 miles south of Virginia, Nebraska and 10 miles east of Beatrice, Nebraska.
A warm welcome and introductions will kick off the open house, followed by the history of the Dalbey-Halleck Farm and how it became the Dalbey Prairie. Next, a review of what has been done to the 135 acres of Dalbey Prairie and plans for the future in terms of conservation, education and outreach will be given. Archie Clutter, dean of the Agricultural Research Division, will speak about the ownership of the prairie and the work that has been done up to this point. Participants will then have the opportunity to walk through the prairie, viewing plant species of tallgrass prairie and discussing the challenges of managing tallgrass prairie. The open house will wrap up at the American Legion Club building at 208 4th Street, Virginia, Nebraska 68458.
The cost to attend is free. Registration is requested by Sept. 24 at https://bit.ly/3Ee7mZ1. Attendance of the open house at the prairie is open to everyone but space for lunch is limited to the first 60 people who register.
To view location of the Dalbey Prairie, visit https://bit.ly/3ljiRFY. The Dalbey Prairie is part of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. For more information, visit https://grassland.unl.edu/dalbey-prairie.