A Forest Built By Hand
Every lonesome motel in the Nebraska Sandhills is booked solid. It’s mid-November, unseasonably warm, and every outdoorsman in the state with a deer license and a few vacation days is in a field, eager to bag a trophy buck. Out here—the Sandhills are always out here or out there, always out, out—in one of the largest intact grassland ecosystems in North America, the fescue snaps beneath their feet. The grama. The bluestem. The needle and thread grass. The fuel that once marshaled great wildfires across the dunes, across what author Jim Harrison called “without a doubt the most mysterious landscape in the United States,” wiping the slate clean, consuming everything but the sand.
“You begin to doubt your sensibilities,” Harrison wrote. “My feeling for the Sand Hills competes with the magnificent Pacific Ocean. The vastness and waving of the hilly grasslands in the wind make you smell salt.”