Last summer, Nebraska’s Passport program led us to the Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center near Denton. The Center’s focus is on conserving Nebraska’s native tallgrass prairie ecosystem and the birds that inhabit it.

In the spirit of conservation, Spring Creek’s main education building is constructed of straw bales. Inside, visitors will find several interactive exhibits.

Outside, several miles of walking trails winding through the nature preserve’s 850 acres of tallgrass prairie allows visitors to experience the Great Plains as it once was. Nearly 650 of those acres are native prairie that has never been plowed.

While exploring the trails, visitors can enjoy the area’s ponds and wetlands, diverse bird and wildlife species, various wildflowers and grasses, and historic wagon ruts dating back to the 1800s.

Bird watchers, in particular, will enjoy this preserved prairie. Around 235 different bird species have been documented at Spring Creek. Visitors can use the center’s eBird kiosk to record their bird sightings and learn about a whole new world of birding available to avian observation fanatics.

Protecting this unique ecosystem is important, not only to the birds, bees, and animals that call it home, but also to those of us humans who appreciate beauty and wild places. Today, less than two percent of tallgrass prairie remains, making it one of the rarest habitat types in all of North America.

John James Audubon was a naturalist, painter, hunter, woodsman, and ornithologist best know for his extensive paintings of birds. He was also a conservationist, writing about the importance of protecting birds and their habitats. Spring Creek keeps his spirit and vision alive by preserving a portion of the endangered tallgrass prairie ecosystem.

Spring Creek Prairie will host numerous events this summer and fall, including sunset yoga sessions July 24 and 31 at 7:30 pm, Paws on the Prairie Saturday, August 10 from 9:30 to 11:30 am, which is the only time dogs are allowed on the area, and Third Tuesday Bird Walks on August 20, September 17, and October 15 from 8 to 10 am.

Spring Creek Prairie is open every day except major holidays. The visitor center is open 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday, and 1 pm to 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Admission costs $4 for adults, $3 for seniors and children (kids under 5 are free). For more details, call 402-797-2301 or visit springcreek.audubon.org.

The Nebraska Passport Program has led my family to some interesting places. There’s still time to participate. For more information, visit nebraskapassport.com.

Jarrod Spilger writes an outdoor column for The Independent.

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