The Switzer family lives on the eastern edge of the Nebraska Sandhills, an iconic region of the Central Great Plains. The Nebraska Sandhills rise from the north edge of the Platte River Valley and spread to the west, encompassing nearly 20,000 square miles of contiguous wind-blown sand dunes—the largest such region in North America.

Written and Produced By Mary Anne Andrei

The Nebraska Sandhills

Through the winter dawn, a light flickers on in the gift shop at Calamus Outfitters near Taylor, Nebraska. Bruce and Sue Ann Switzer brew coffee and wait. Their children, Sarah Sortum and Adam Switzer, live with their own families now on opposite sides of the Switzer Ranch, but they come every morning for a family […]



“It’s very important to have grazers out there. In our grazing plan that we do here on the ranch, we try to mimic what the bison did.” —Bruce Switzer Ranching plays an important role in fostering conservation and sustainability in the Sandhills. Wise management practices maintain and protect rangeland vegetation while preserving the historic role […]

Water in the Sandhills

It’s a story with a twist, much like the braided river where it begins. Along the lower Platte River in Nebraska, small channels of water continually split and join, creating changing sandbars that provide habitat for least terns and piping plovers.


Range Management and Biodiversity

“I know that in the time that we’ve had part of the ranch… We have made it better… We’re leaving more grass… I think we can get through a longer dry spell just because we have a better root system and we’ve left more grass.”—Bruce Switzer The Sandhills prairie was long ago designated as rangeland. […]

Ecotourism and Conservation

Ecotourism and Calamus Outfitters “I love helping people to experience nature, to slow down, breathe it in, and open their eyes to what is around them. The magic is when you help them understand the intricate and complex grassland ecosystem. We learn and laugh and just have fun in this huge playground of sand […]



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