Prairie Plains purchased the Gjerloff Prairie from Eugene (Mert) and Gwen Griffith in 2002 with grant funding received from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.
The Institute became acquainted with Mert while helping with a prescribed burn on his property in 1991. Prairie Plains staff assisted with subsequent fires and stored fire management equipment in the Griffith's quonset. Mert and Gwen were also generous in allowing PPRI to harvest seeds on their pasture and in hosting SOAR (Summer Orientation About Rivers), a summer nature day camp for area students.
In 2001 the Griffiths offered to sell their Platte River bluff property to Prairie Plains, and the rest is history. Considered to be one of the best loess hills prairies in Central Nebraska, the preserve offers many opportunities for people of all ages and levels of interest and the construction of the Prairie Plains Education Center will allow us to reach an even larger audience with our mission.
The land has open vistas, intimate small valleys and draws, steep cliffs, ravines and 0.6 miles of Platte River frontage. Because of the hill and bluff topography and the proximity to the wide Platte Valley, the preserve seems expansive. Guests can explore its many facets on or off the mowed trails and never exhaust all the opportunities for discovery.
Prescribed burning has continued on a regular basis, primarily to control the spread of eastern redcedar trees. Cedar tree clearing will continue until almost all cedars are gone. Grazing and prescribed fire are used annually to manage the diverse native prairie vegetation for purposes of enjoyment by people, native seed production and wildlife habitat.
Eighteen acres of cropland east of the farmstead were planted with a high-diversity prairie seed mix in the early 2000s. Despite many dry years, wildflower diversity and grass establishment continue to improve.
Hwy 14 to Marquette corner, 4 miles west, 0.5 miles north
Latitude/Longitude (NAD83): N41 00 52.3;W98 04 30.9
UTM (NAD83): Zone 14N; 577756 (easting), 4540782 northing)
1307 L Street
Aurora, NE 68818