The Sandhills Task Force (STF) is a non-profit organization consisting of a 16-member board of Sandhill ranchers and conservation agencies. The organization’s focus is on affecting sound environmental and economic practices in the Sandhills of Nebraska. This is accomplished using a variety of approaches including promoting research, education, technical assistance, and on-the-ground conservation practices. The policy of the STF is to remain non-political in affecting change within the area. Its interest, rather, is to help ranchers, land managers, and governing bodies make informed decisions regarding the Sandhills’ resources. The organization serves 20,000 square-mile sandhills area counties including Arthur, Blaine, Brown, Cherry, Custer, Garden, Garfield, Grant, Holt, Hooker, Lincoln, Keith, Logan, Loup, McPherson, Morrill, Rock, Sheridan, Thomas, and Wheeler in Nebraska.
Our Goal and Mission
The goal of the Sandhills Task Force is to enhance the Sandhill wetland-grassland ecosystem in a way that sustains profitable private ranching, wildlife and vegetative diversity, and associated water supplies.
The STF strives to partner with Sandhill ranchers; local communities, groups, and organizations; and local, state, and federal agencies to identify, prioritize, plan, and implement mutually acceptable projects. These projects are designed to sustain the intact rolling prairie landscape intermixed with wetlands, meadows, and streams, where diverse native plant and animal life prosper along with robust communities supported by a thriving ranching community.
The Sandhills Task Force began as a group of people concerned about the future of the Sandhills. Beginning in 1990, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hired a person to assess the Sandhills’ resources and develop a program that would ensure the future of the grassland resource. While resource organizations welcomed the initiative, Nebraska Cattlemen and ranchers were concerned about the growing control government was having on their land and ranching operations.
In 1991, the Nebraska Cattlemen and Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to bring individuals from both sides together to provide input to the Service in developing a plan that would be both beneficial and acceptable within the Sandhills. In 1993, the plan was signed by each member of the group and the Fish and Wildlife Service. It was at this time that the Sandhills Task Force decided to continue as a group to ensure the plan was implemented. Within the next three years, the group became a non-profit corporation recognized by the state of Nebraska. It became instrumental in obtaining funding to finance conservation projects on privately owned lands, grazing workshops, an educational video, and research projects.
Its ability to find practical, win-win solutions to resource problems has given it recognition at the state and national levels. The Task Force has been recognized as a workable model of a grassroots approach to landscape conservation.
In 2000, the Sandhills Task Force received its tax-exempt status (501 (c) 3) from the Internal Revenue Service.
Cost Share Programs
The STF raises grant funds to aid private landowners with cost-share towards conservation projects. We provide financial assistance towards mechanical Eastern red cedar control, prescribed fire, grazing system improvement, stream and wetland restoration, and lake renovation.
In 2020 the STF launched Sandhills Stewards – a collaborative effort by the STF, The Nature Conservancy, and the World Wildlife Fund, to provide technical assistance for Sandhills ranchers. The program is designed to enhance the management practices and profitability of ranch operations by building relationships, identifying goals, devising action plans, gaining cooperation, monitoring progress, and gathering, creating, and disseminating information.
Strategic Plan and More Information
For more information check out our Strategic Plan, or contact Shelly Kelly at email@example.com.