National Forest Along the Byway

The Nebraska National Forest, Bessey Ranger District, near Halsey, is the largest handplanted forest in the nation. The Bessey Ranger District lies in the heart of the unique Nebraska Sandhills grasslands. The ranger district lands encompass over 90,000 acres of a very fragile terrain with high wind erosion potential. The forest’s heritage runs deep as numerous Civilian Conservation Corps workers hand planted the over 20,000 acres of forest on the district in the 1930’s. When President Franklin Roosevelt revitalized the faith of the nation with programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps, he brought together two wasting resources, unemployed young men and the land, in an effort to save both. Currently, the Bessey Tree Nursery is the oldest Federal tree nursery in the U.S. It was established in 1902 and is producing over 3 million seedlings annually of over 40 species.