Saline Wetlands

Saline Wetlands Conservation Partnership


Eastern Saline Wetlands

Eastern Saline Wetlands were once estimated to be in excess of 20,000 acres. Now less than 4,000 acres remain and many of these are degraded. These wetlands form a regionally unique wetlands complex located in floodplain swales and depressions within the Salt Creek, Little Salt Creek, and Rock Creek drainages in Lancaster and southern Saunders counties in Nebraska. 

In 2003, a group of state and local agencies joined forces to establish the Saline Wetlands Conservation Partnership which has established an implementation plan to address the preservation of this special land and the needs of the community. There must be cooperation between landowners, conservation interest, and governmental agencies in order to continue to sustain the saline wetlands in Nebraska. 



Water, saltier than the sea, is making its way to the surface in the heart of North America. The story of the saline wetlands of eastern Nebraska is one of incredible resilience from a great deal of habitat loss. In the last 150 years, more than 80% of the historic 20,000 acres of saline wetlands have been destroyed due to the ditching, draining, and filling of many sites to make way for residential, commercial, and industry. Yet hope endures as rigorous restoration efforts are underway, resulting in the reappearance of rare plant and animal species adapted to live within the salt flats. The curious needn’t venture more than a thirty-mile radius from Nebraska’s capitol building to visit these unique inland seashores. This film will take you through a series of stories highlighting the plants and wildlife inhabiting the saline wetlands and the community working to conserve the wetlands for generations to come. You will also meet artists and educators, some with a deep history in the saline wetlands and others who have recently discovered and fallen in love with the wetlands.

Film and statement provided by the Platte Basin Timelapse project,

Visit the Wetlands 

The saline wetland areas are open to the public. Conservation easements are privately owned and can only be accessed with permission of the landowner.

The saline wetlands are great areas to view birds and other wildlife. During the colder months the best time to visit is in the late morning or early afternoon while temperatures are mild. Look for animal tracks and signs of feeding. As a reminder, snow removal is limited in the saline wetland nature areas. 

Come out and visit the Saline Wetland Areas

One of the best known functions of wetlands is to provide a habitat for birds. Wetlands are important bird habitats, and birds use them for breeding, nesting, and rearing young. Birds also use wetlands as a source of drinking water and for feeding, resting, shelter, and social interactions. A favorite activity during spring for these areas is “Bird Watching.” Migrating birds and Shorebirds will stop at saline wetlands in Lancaster County during April and May to rest and eat before heading north to nest and raise their young.  

As summer approaches, the saline wetlands will begin to dry out. The colors of spring will fade and small animals and birds will be more difficult to find as they venture deeper into vegetated areas. 

Download the Success in the Salt Marsh(PDF, 2MB)

successinthesaltmarsh-cover.png(PDF, 2MB)

Story and Photos by Michael Forsberg 
NEBRASKAland Magazine, Aug/Sept 2018 

Nebraska‘s Eastern Saline Wetlands Projects in Progress 

Projects Updates:

Saline Wetlands Digital Imaging Collection 2020 

This collection documents the history of the saline wetlands in Eastern Nebraska, including channel improvements of Salt Creek and Dead Man’s Run, flooding and high water on Salt Creek in the 1950s and 1960s, the early days of the Salt Valley Watershed District and the Salt-Wahoo Watershed Association, current efforts to conserve and restore saline wetland areas, and historical collections from "NEBRASKAland" magazine and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Dates covered are 1940-2018, with the bulk of the materials from the 1980s-2000s. 


wetlandsold.jpg  wetlandsnew.jpg

Collection materials include photographs, maps, and manuscripts. Areas representing saline wetlands include Salt Creek, Little Salt Creek, Oak Creek, Oak Lake, Capitol Beach, and Rock Creek. Photographic materials include images in color and black & white. The materials are accessible in two different locations: Nebraska Game and Parks’ (NGPC) Photo Library and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Digital Media Commons. University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Digital Media Commons and the Nebraska Game and Parks’ (NGPC) Photo Library ( historical collections from "NEBRASKAland" magazine and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission). 


Nebraska Game and Parks Photo Library    Digital Media Commons

Nebraska's Eastern Saline Wetlands - Recorded bird species(PDF, 447KB)  Updated fall 2017 

  • This is periodically updated by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. 

The Upper Little Salt Creek Saline Wetlands Plan 

  • Completed December 2015  Executive Summary(PDF, 984KB)  
  • Identifies land management, rehabilitation and conservation goals for planning area 
  • Field level and spatial data were collected to evaluate existing conditions of saline wetlands 
  • Prior saline wetland rehabilitation projects were evaluated to determine successful applications and potential improvements 
  • The plan provides Partnership a basis for future planning and project development 
  • Final Design initiated in 2018 

Nebraska’s Eastern Saline Wetlands Conservation Plan 2018 

ImpPlancover.jpg(PDF, 4MB)

Updated Reports 

Recent News Coverage 

Funding Provided in Part by:  


What Are Saline Wetlands?

Wetlands are among some of the most productive ecosystems in the world, providing several key functions, or ecological services, that both directly and indirectly affect wildlife, the environment, and the human sector.  The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission had defined four regional wetland complexes that occur naturally in the state of Nebraska.  These complexes include:  Playa, Riverine, Sandhill, and Saline/Alkaline.  Combined, Nebraska’s total wetlands cover over 1,500,000 acres statewide, and demonstrate different physical, chemical, biological, geological, and hydrological properties.  

Of the four wetland complexes found in Nebraska, the Eastern Saline Wetlands of Lancaster and Saunders counties are among the most unique and threatened wetland communities in the state.  Limited to the floodplain swales and depressions within the Salt Creek, Little Salt Creek, and Rock Creek drainages, it’s estimated that the Eastern saline wetlands once covered an area in excess of 20, 000 acres.  Today, due to extensive degradation, draining and filling, through commercial, residential, and agricultural development, less than 4,000 acres remain and many of these remnants are highly degraded.  

Nebraska’s saline wetlands are characterized by saline soils and halophytic (salt tolerant) plant species such as spearscale, inland salt grass, sea blite, prairie bulrush and the state endangered saltwort.  Soils are saline belonging to the Salmo Series of deep, poorly drained bottomland soils of low permeability.  This soil type commonly occurs near creeks, intermittent lakes, and marshes, and is usually only briefly flooded.  The source of salinity for these wetlands is not fully understood, but it’s postulated that the salinity is from groundwater inflow that passes through a rock formation containing salts deposited by an ancient inland sea that once covered much of the Great Plains (USDA 1996).  The remaining saline wetlands may be sustained by saline groundwaters that flow up through Dakota sandstone, the underlying bedrock of soils along the Salt and Little Salt Creeks.  Dakota sandstone is very porous allowing saline groundwater from deeper shale rock formations containing salt depositions to seep up into overlaying soil horizons.  The seepage of groundwater over thousands of years from deeply buried saline aquifers has accumulated in salts in the floodplain soils, allowing for the unique wetland type to form.  

The abundant mud flats of the saline wetlands are rich in invertebrate life and frequented by a variety of migratory shore birds, other bird species, and wildlife.  During the last century, more than 230 species of birds have been reported from the salt basins of Lancaster and Saunders counties.  This includes a large number of water birds and migratory species including black and king rails, white-face ibis, herring gulls, western and eared grebes, the threatened least tern, two species of plovers, and most species of ducks and geese.  The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has held two annual district birding days within the Little Salk Creek Saline Wetlands. In May of 2008, over 60 species of birds were sited at Frank Shoemaker Marsh, and in May 2014 over 90 species of birds were sited in the upper Little Salt Creek Saline Wetlands (Little Salt Form marsh preserve, Little Salt Creek West WMA and Little Salt Springs). The Eastern Saline Wetlands are also home to many saline plants that are found nowhere else in Nebraska.  There are three plant species found growing in the salt marshes considered rare in Nebraska including: the saltmarsh aster (Aster subulatus var. ligulatus), Texas dropseed (Sporobolus texanus) and the state endangered saltwort (Salicornia rubra).  In addition to the many unique invertebrate, bird, and plant species, the Eastern Saline Wetlands are also home to hundreds of familiar mammal, fish, and reptile species.  

Aside from providing habitat for wildlife and plant species, the saline wetlands offer several other ecosystem services.  A watershed has many components and wetlands play an important role in this management by providing functions which improve water quality, reduce flooding and soil erosion, and supplying water.  Saline wetlands are critical in protecting stream quality by filtering and collecting runoff water and aid flood control by storing water after heavy precipitation events and reducing peak flows.  The unique landscape also provides for recreational opportunities such as hunting, trapping, wildlife watching, photography, and enjoying the serenity a wetland can offer.  These wetlands offer an exceptional opportunity to study and observe flora and fauna not found on other landscapes. 

Saline Wetlands Conservation Partnership

Although several existing programs have been recognized to address saline wetland conservation needs, they alone have not been enough to ensure the long term protection of this endangered resource.  Thus, the Saline Wetland Conservation Partnership (SWCP) was created to offer additional protection and management of the state’s diminishing saline wetlands.  The SWCP is unique in its approach to preserve and restore the integrity of Nebraska’s Eastern Saline Wetlands, in that it takes a partnership approach to address the conservation of saline wetlands and the needs of the community.  In 2002, the City of Lincoln received a $750, 000 Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) grant for the implementation of the Eastern Saline Wetlands Project to meet the further conservation needs of Nebraska’s Eastern Saline Wetlands.  The initial inter-local agreement was signed in 2008 between the City of Lincoln, Lancaster County, Lower Platte South Natural Resource District, The Nature Conservancy, and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.  The agreement specified these entities, as full-share partners, to establish the Saline Wetlands Conservation Partnership, and draft and implement a conservation plan for the Eastern Saline Wetlands.  Further funding for the Partnership has been provided through Nebraska Environmental Trust grants and state and federal funding programs.   

The current (2018) full-share partners include the City of Lincoln, Lower Platte South Natural Resources District, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and the Nebraska Chapter of Pheasants Forever, Inc. These partners work together on activities to conserve Nebraska’s eastern saline wetlands.

The Implementation Plan for the Conservation of Nebraska’s Eastern Saline Wetlands(PDF, 4MB) was completed by the Partnership in 2003 and was updated in 2018.  The plan is a holistic watershed approach designed to preserve both wetlands and their surrounding watersheds, and its implementation involves local, state, and federal agencies working in concert with private individuals and organizations to develop additional strategies and programs that encourage saline wetland conservation.  The plan’s goal is “No net loss of saline wetlands and their associated functions with a long-term gain in sustaining wetland functions through the restoration of hydrology, prescribed wetland management, and watershed protection.” To meet this goal the plan includes comprehensive strategies that address:  

Partnership Management 

  1. Coordinator 
  2. Education and Outreach of Community 
  3. Planning and Coordination 
  4. Priority Conservation Plan 
  5. Funding 
  6. Taxes 

Natural Resource Management 

  1. Wetland Protection 
  2. Stream Restoration 
  3. Wetland Buffer Management and Development 
  4. Research 
  5. Private Lands 

The plan highlights seven landscape objectives to establish projection and restoration targets for the conservation of about 4,000 acres of saline wetlands in Lancaster and Saunders counties.  

The implementation of this plan is the primary responsibility of the SWCP’s full-share partners.  To ensure the success of the plan, full-share partners are often required to work closely with other partners and private land owners.  Other partners have contributed to the SWCP through their support of Nebraska Environmental trust grants awarded in 2002, 2005, 2008, 2012, and 2016 by providing resources for the conservation and restoration of the Eastern Saline Wetlands.  

These Partners Include: 

The partnership utilizes several strategies, including purchase of wetlands from willing sellers through fee title acquisitions or conservation easements, initiating wetland and stream restoration projects, and actively managing saline wetland property.


Endangered Species of the Saline Wetlands

Salt Creek Tiger Beetle 

(Cicindela nevadica lincolniana Casey) 

SaltCreekTigerBeetle.jpg The rare Salt Creek Tiger Beetle, a tiny insect that makes its home exclusively on the salt flats along stream banks of Salt Creek and its tributaries, is one species that utilizes the saline wetlands.  As one of the rarest insects in the United States, the tiger beetle’s population has been steadily declining over the past decades due largely to loss of habitat.  The beetle received federal protection under the Endangered Species Act in October of 2005; before, it was protected as an endangered species by the State of Nebraska.  The Salt Creek Tiger Beetle is considered a bio-indicator species. Its presence signals the existence of a healthy saline wetland and serves as an important link in a complex food chain of the saline wetland ecosystem. The tiger beetle is often used as an indicator species signally the existence of a healthy saline wetland and serves as an important link in a complex food chain of the saline wetland ecosystem.  

Critical Habitat Designation: In 2010, the service designated 1,933 acres of critical habitat for the beetle along Little Salt Creek and Rock Creek in Lancaster County. As a result of a 2011 settlement agreement, on June 3, 2013, the service revised critical habitat to include saline wetlands along Little Salt Creek, Rock Creek, Oak Creek, and Haines Branch Creek, all of which are functioning saline wetlands or have the potential to be restored to that capacity. The service sought public comment on that proposal, and conducted an economic screening analysis on its potential impacts. 

The revised critical habitat designation consist of 1,110 acres. It is smaller than the previous designation, but contains sufficient suitable habitat to support recovery of the species. It includes two additional stream corridors that were not previously included, which could support Salt Creek Tiger Beetle populations in the future. The goal of this designation is to support at least six populations of Salt Creek Tiger Beetle in the future. This designation will accommodate growth of existing populations and reintroduction of additional tiger beetle populations, as well as protect dispersal corridors and support sufficient prey insects to ensure adequate food for the species. 

US Fish & Wildlife Service | Endangered Species: Salt Creek Tiger Beetle Information

Description:  The Salt Creek Tiger Beetle is metallic brown to dark olive green above with a metallic dark green underside.  It’s a relatively small beetle reaching about 10-13mm in total length.  Although similar to other tiger beetles, it’s distinguished by its form and unique dorsal and ventral color patterns.  A predatory insect preying on other arthropods, the tiger beetle gets its name from the way it captures its prey, grasping other insects with its mandibles (mouthparts) in a “tiger-like” manner.  

Similar Species:  From a distance, a well-marked specimen might resemble the Common Shore tiger beetle (Cicindela repanda).  

Range:  The Salt Creek Tiger Beetle is endemic to the remnant saline wetlands of Lancaster County in eastern Nebraska, located along Salt Creek and its tributaries.  Only three small populations are believed to persist.    

Habitat:  The beetle can be found in moist, muddy areas along stream banks and has adapted to the extreme saline conditions associated with saline wetlands and exposed salt flats.  They can tolerate brief periods of high water inundation. Critical Habitat designated by the USFWS for the Salt Creek Tiger Beetle can be seen here(PDF, 1008KB)

Seasonal Occurrence:  The adult Salt Creek Tiger Beetle has a life span of only two years and spends the majority of its time underground, surfacing for a brief time between late spring and early summer. 

Status:  Endangered; State and Federal endangered species. 

For articles and documents regarding the Salt Creek Tiger Beetle and critical habitat, see the Publications and Resources section. 


Bringing the Beetles Back to Life in Lincoln

Since 2011, volunteers from various partnerships have collaborated to improve the habitat and aid in the breeding and eventual release of one of the most endangered invertebrates in the world. These partnerships include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nebraska Game and Parks, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL), the City of Lincoln, the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District, the Saline Wetlands Conservation Partnership, the Lincoln Children’s Zoo, and the Henry Doorly Zoo. The Omaha and Lincoln zoos have worked together to breed the beetles in captivity so the larvae (or adults after one to two years of care) can be introduced into their new habitat.


(Salicornia rubra A. Nels.) In late spring the the leafless jointed branches of the Saltwort plant are a bright yellow green.

Field Marks:  Saltwort plants have leafless, jointed stems and flowers in fleshy cylindrical spikes. The saltwort is an annual with joints of the spike that are longer than thick. 
Stems:   Upright or ascending, branched from the base, up to 1 foot tall, smooth, with opposite, jointed branchlets, with the joints longer than thick, usually turning reddish. 
Habitat:   Grows in wet, saline or alkaline soils. 
Seasonal Occurrence:   Annual, flowering July - November 
Status:   Endangered; State endangered species   

More About Saltwort

Visit the Saline Wetlands

The saline wetland areas are open to the public.  Click here(PDF, 405KB) for a map of the saline wetlands in Lancaster County. 

Come out and visit the Saline Wetland Areas 

  • Arbor Lake 
  • Frank Shoemaker Marsh 
  • Helmuth Marsh 
  • Jack Sinn Wildlife Management Area 
  • Lincoln Saline Wetlands Nature Center 
  • Little Salt Creek West Wildlife Management Area 
  • Little Salt Creek Wildlife Management Area 
  • Little Salt Fork Marsh Preserve 
  • Little Salt Springs 
  • Marsh Wren 
  • Pioneers Park Nature Center 
  • Warner Wetlands 
  • Whitehead Saline Wetlands 
  • Zoetis Saline Wetlands 


Do your part in protecting the saline wetlands by following these simple guidelines when visiting the areas: 

  • Casual clothing (in general: long pants, heavy socks, comfortable walking shoes) is recommended. During the hotter months shorts may be acceptable depending on the activity. 
  • Insect repellent is advisable during certain seasons. 
  • Where provided, it is recommended to stay on trails or within designated areas only. 
  • All visitors to the saline wetlands are expected to practice good stewardship of the environment. 
  • Please and pick up and remove trash and do not collect plants or harm wildlife. 
  • Adequate adult supervision is recommended for children visiting these areas. 
  • Unless otherwise posted, open fires and grills, including gas grills, are prohibited. 

Publications and Resources

Want to find out more about saline wetlands conservation?  Click on the links below to read more about what’s being done to preserve our saline wetlands. 

News Articles


Important Bird Areas

Four Eastern Saline Wetland sites in Lancaster and Saunders counties are part of Audubon Nebraska’s Important Bird Areas (IBA) program. The IBA program identifies key sites in Nebraska that are critical to the survival of birds, and promotes the conservation of these sites in order to maintain healthy bird populations. The program is part of an international program overseen by National Audubon in the United States and BirdLife International in over 150 countries around the world. 

Important bird areas provide essential habitat for one or more species of birds, either during breeding season, on migration, or in winter. These areas range in size from a few acres to thousands of acres, and can be found on public, private or mixed ownership lands. 

Bird Survey Data from the 4 Eastern Saline-Wetland IBA's: 

Data from Additional Saline-Wetland Bird Surveys:

ESpots - Birding Website

A real-time, online checklist program, eBird has revolutionized the way that the birding community reports and accesses information about birds. eBird documents the presence or absence of species, as well as bird abundance through checklist data. 

Click the links below to view the birding hotspots at these Saline Wetland areas:

Research in the Saline Wetlands

Salt Creek Tiger Beetle 

Various projects have been conducted regarding the Salt Creek Tiger Beetle (SCTB). Such research includes: soil-slope preference, field collection and rearing, insecticide poisoning, light pollution effects on the beetle, and prey-based experiments. These studies are being conducted by the School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). 

Soil-slope preference study: Using optimum salt concentrations previously determined, a study was conducted to determine the egg-laying preference by female Salt Creek Tiger Beetles as to whether they preferred sloped (simulating the banks of Little Salt Creek) or flat (simulating original habitat 100+ years ago) soil. The results have been inconclusive. 

Field collection and rearing: From 2007 to 2010, adult SCTB's were collected from the field and held in a lab for two weeks in order to produce larvae. The females were held for two weeks to produce eggs. Reproductive success varied depending upon collection circumstances, such as weather, in capturing fecund females. Beyond the issue of collecting fecund females, the most important conclusion drawn from this data is that the ovipositional substrates and other egg laying criteria are acceptable. For more information on the field collection and rearing study that took place between 2007 and 2010, see the SCTB Research section of the 2010 Progress Report(PDF, 7MB)

Insecticide poisoning study: Using another salt-flat endemic tiger beetle (C. circumpicta), larvae were exposed to technical grade bifenthrin (Talstar®), imidacloprid (Gaucho®), and glyphosate (Roundup®) in various concentrations. These chemicals are frequently used in both agricultural and urban settings and SCTB adults and/or larvae may be potentially exposed to these chemicals in nature. No negative impact at concentrations which tiger beetles would be exposed to was found. 

Light pollution: A study, as part of a Master's Thesis project, was conducted to determine the light sources tiger beetles are attracted to, and if ecological light pollution affects their oviposition success. Using a center chamber with tubes to six different light choices, he determined the beetles preferred in decreasing order; blacklight, mercury vapor, compact fluorescent, incandescent, and high pressure sodium vapor. Allgeier also found that gravid females distracted by light ecological light pollution may not lay as many eggs, likely reducing the number of offspring in the next generation. Females lay their eggs at night during a 4-6 week period. Disruption of normal nocturnal behavior, such as increased light pollution, has the potential to impact tiger beetle populations by attracting beetles out of their habitats and making them susceptible to mortality. (Allgeier, William J. "The Behavorial Ecology and Abundance of Tiger Beetles Inhabiting the Eastern Saline Wetlands of Nebraska." MS Thesis, 2005. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. May 2005). 

Prey-based experiment: Washers, 1 ½" in diameter (to simulate a mature tiger beetle larva's strike distance) were covered in sticky trap and placed at 1 meter intervals from the water's edge to near the top of the bank along Little Salt Creek and left for 24 hours. Washers were collected and insects identified to the family level. The experiment ran at two week intervals from April through September, except during the time when adult SCTB were active (to avoid injury to SCTB). Analysis is not complete, but concentrations of insects tended to be much higher near the water. This experiment may be repeated in the future. 


(F. Edwin Harvey, PhD, PG, Associate Director, School of Natural Resources, UNL) 

UNL hydrologists installed and continuously monitor wells throughout the Little Salt Creek watershed in order to better understand the local groundwater-flow dynamics. Each well is sampled for temperature, conductivity, pH, dissolved oxygen, cations, anions, and isotopes. A total of 28 wells have been drilled at various depths at several of the saline wetland locations. 

Number of Wells
 Shallow (15-20 ft.)   Intermediate (80ft.)   Deep (200 ft.) 
Arbor Lake
3 2 -
Dakota Springs/Whitehead   5 4 1
Frank Shoemaker Marsh   3 3 1
Little Salt Creek WMA   3 3 -
Totals: 14 12 2
     Overall Totals: 28

Source: F. Edwin Harvey, PhD, PG, Associate Director, School of Natural Resources, UNL 

In 2010, electrical resistivity measurements were taken at Whitehead Saline Wetlands and Little Salt Creek WMA. Using Electrical Resistivity Imaging (ERI), will provide the hydrologists with an expanded understanding of groundwater distribution through the acquisition of a large number of resistivity measurements collected at the surface. 

Geophysical surveys were taken in-stream on Little Salt Creek near north 27th St. and Arbor Road. The distribution of surface resistivity measurements can be displayed in cross-section, and groundwater flow can then be inferred. Using piezometers installed in Little Salt Creek, measurements of electrical conductivity values were collected from the small diameter observation wells. These measurements will help correlate resistivity measurements with electrical conductivity values of groundwater at these sites. 

Data from ERI images, electrical conductivity measurements, and bore logs have shown distinct plumes of saline water, migrating below the surface and discharging into local streams. With additional analysis, UNL hopes to develop an understanding of the complicated three-dimensional pathways that saline groundwater takes to surface water channels. The future plan is to begin looking more closely at the chemistry and hydrology of the springs in Little Salt Creek. 


(Dave Kohake, MLRS Soil Scientist, U.S.D.A Natural Resources and Conservation Service) 

The Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS) initiated field investigations at the Arbor Lake Complex using an Electro-Magnetic (EM-38) sampling device in 2009 and continued with the project in 2010. The device is useful for mapping variations in soil salinity and moisture content. Further EM-38 data collections may be conducted at other saline wetland sites in the future. The Electro-Magnetic sampling results for Arbor Lake can be seen here(PDF, 223KB)

Sampling pits were dug at two saline wetland areas in 2009. The sample analysis was conducted by the National Soil Survey Laboratory (through NRCS) and is pending full characterization, which will be available in 2011. 

Plant Communities 

(Tyler Janke, Wetland Restoration Specialist, The Nature Conservancy of Nebraska) 

An inventory of saline wetland plant communities on SWCP properties began in 2009. The inventory provides baseline data on the extent and condition of existing saline wetlands from which future changes in saline wetland areas and their condition can be monitored. This ground-based plant community inventory provides valuable data for further analysis of saline wetlands, including saline species population studies and threat assessments. 

The study is being conducted with funding provided through an agreement between The Nature Conservancy and the Lower Platte South NRD. Plant assemblage has been completed on Arbor Lake Extension (Anderson Property), Allen Parcel, Little Salt Creek West WMA, Warner Wetlands, and Little Salt Fork Marsh Preserve. 

The inventory of most of the areas was restricted to lowland areas displaying saline soils to prioritize wetland plant communities. The table seen here(PDF, 391KB) identifies native plant communities in acres for the areas. An example of the plant community mapping for the low areas of the Allen Parcel can be seen here(PDF, 178KB)

Educational Opportunities 

Viewing Areas 

There are several viewing areas located at various saline wetland areas, which are easy to access. 

Arbor Lake 

There are benches next to the parking area which provide an opportunity for visitors to observe saline wetlands and the plant and animal life in the area. 

Frank Shoemaker Marsh 
A trail winds through portions of the site. There is a handicapped accessible observation pier overlooking the greater marsh area, a wildlife-viewing pier, and a bridge over Little Salt Creek allowing visitors to enjoy the beauty of the marsh and its wildlife up close and personal. 

Lincoln Saline Wetlands Nature Center 
A walking trail is available, which unlocks the treasures of this dense and rare saline wetland to the public. There is also a wildlife viewing blind overlooking two of several wetland ponds frequented by a wide variety of waterfowl. 

Little Salt Fork Marsh Preserve
A trail leads from the parking area off of Raymond Road down to a bridge over salt creek. From here you can proceed along a small walking path on top of an embankment to the water area. To view plant and animal life in the area. 

Pioneers Park Nature Center
Containing 668 acres of tallgrass prairie, woodlands, wetlands and a stream. Since 1963 the Nature Center has served the Lincoln area as an environmental education center and wildlife sanctuary. Eight miles of hiking trails wind through various habitats and take visitors past non-releasable raptor exhibits, as well as bison, elk, and white-tailed deer. A portion of the Prairie Corridor trail was recently constructed on the south end of the Nature Center and travels past some remnant saline wetland areas. 

Whitehead Saline Wetlands 
In 2009, an observation deck was constructed along 28th Street, overlooking the wetland area. Informational panels and benches are located on the deck for visitors to learn about the saline wetlands and the wetland's native plants and animals, and to relax and view the wetland area. 

Zoetis Saline Wetlands
A pavilion and a 3/4-mile interpretive trail is available for use. The pavilion offers multiple views of this restoration including saline wetlands and prairie landscape and provides information regarding the natural history of the area and the types of vegetation you will encounter as you walk along the trails. 

Earth Wellness Festival

The annual Earth Wellness Festival held by the University of Nebraska –Lincoln Extension, is an environmental-education event for 5th-graders in Lancaster County. The 2-day event offers hands-on activities and engaging presentations dealing with water, air, land, and living resources. Each year, the Saline Wetland Conservation Partnership coordinator offers a fun and exciting game of Saline Wetland Jeopardy. 

Partners involved with the Earth Wellness Festival include: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County, Lower Platte South Natural Resources District, City of Lincoln, Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department, Lincoln Public Schools, National Drought Mitigation Center, Southeast Community College-Lincoln, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Natural Resources Environmental Studies Program. 

Pioneers Park- Saline Wetland Exhibit 


ppnc1.jpg.          ppnc2.jpg

The saline-wetland educational kiosk is located in the Chet Ager building at Pioneers Park. The exhibit includes general information about Nebraska's saline wetlands and its flora and fauna, endangered species, a map of the saline wetlands in Lancaster and Saunders counties, and includes a tabletop interactive ecosystem balance. The saline wetlands conservation partnership provided funding for the kiosk.