Located in South Central Nebraska, lands surrounding Harlan County Lake are primarily classified as mixed grass prairie land. Harlan County Lake grasslands are made up of Big and Little Bluestem, Indian grass, western wheatgrass, buffalo grass, blue gramma and switch grass.
Natural Resource management efforts at Harlan County Lake focus on maintaining and enhancing natural ecosystems. Native grasses are managed by controlled burning and hay production. These practices attempt to prevent envasion by introduced species, enhance prairie community health, and increase wildlife habitat value.
Harlan County Lake’s woodlands are restricted to locations providing sufficient moisture. A band of mature woodlands may be found along the Republican River and throughout the deeper drainages leading into the lake. Wood cutting permits are utilized to manage the woodland community. This practice assists with maintaining age and species diversity.
One of the most effective tools for enhancing wildlife populations and habitat at Harlan County Lake is the Agricultural Lease Program. Under this program several thousand acres of public lands are leased to farmers for the purpose of crop and hay production. Conditions of these lease agreements require the operator to incorporate specific wildlife management practices into their operation. These requirements often include specific crop rotations, food plots, and native grass and shrub establishment.