Greg Wright, Wildlife Biologist for the Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands (NNFG) was recently awarded the prestigious regional award for his work for ‘Sustaining our National Forests and Grasslands”, working on the Bessey Ranger District and McKelvie National Forest. His regional award is significant as the proposal required competing with other projects submitted from all National Forests and Grasslands in Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado and Kansas.
Greg is a native Nebraskan, raised in North Platte and now living in Valentine. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and then finished his graduate studies at New Mexico State in Las Cruces.
Greg‘s professional career has spanned work for Universities, Nebraska Game and Parks, contractors, and the Crane Trust. In 2015 he joined the NNFG as the Wildlife Biologist for the Bessey Ranger District and McKelvie National Forest, the position he holds today.
When asked what spurred his interest in wildlife biology, Greg said, “Since grade school I have always been enthralled with wildlife and the outdoors. I am also drawn to underdogs and most of my work has involved some component of endangered species recovery. On Nebraska’s public lands in the sandhills prairie grouse, grassland birds, and blowout penstemon are focuses, but none of that work can happen unless we prevent eastern red cedars from overtaking Nebraska’s grasslands. We are lucky to have a committed team at Bessey that all contribute to this work in some way.”
He explained that eastern red cedar threatens grazing lands relied upon by the sandhills’ ranching economy.
Greg is a master of creating partnerships with all other people and organizations that share interest in “keeping the grasslands grass”. Since starting with the NNFG, Greg has built or enhanced partnerships with many conservation agencies in the state of Nebraska, including Nebraska Game & Parks, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Sandhills Task Force, The Nature Conservancy, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Sandhills Task Force, National Wild Turkey Federation, Nebraska Environmental Trust, Pheasants Forever, Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, Turner Ranch, and others.
Greg is also very savvy at finding opportunities to fund projects to work towards the shared goal of improving public lands and helping neighbors – part of the Forest Service’s mission of Caring for the Land and Serving the People. Greg and coworkers have applied for and been awarded millions of dollars since 2016 that has improved over 75,000 acres of sandhills grasslands and brought economic opportunities to the area. Funds have strategically enabled the NNFG and partners to conduct prescribed burns and mechanical clearing to build core grasslands more resilient to invasion by eastern red cedar. Concurrently efforts have improved wildlife habitat, improved riparian enhancement, and greatly advanced community education.
Greg and his wife Angelina have two daughters, Harper and Hattie.