The Shortgrass Steppe Research and Interpretation Center is the gateway to the 6000 ha Central Plains Experimental Range managed by the Agricultural Research Service and the the 80000 ha Pawnee National Grasslands managed by the US Forest Service. It is also the location of the Shortgrass Steppe Long Term Ecological Research project.
Located in north-central Colorado, just 45 minutes from CSU, the Shortgrass Steppe Long Term Ecological Research (SGS-LTER) area is one of 26 sites in the Long Term Ecological Research network supported by the National Science Foundation. The SGS-LTER is administered by faculty and staff at CSU, and has close working ties with the USDA Agricultural Research Service Rangeland Resources Unit, the Central Plains Experimental Range, the USDA Forest Service Pawnee National Grassland Ranger District, and the Colorado Agricultural Experimental Station.
The field station headquarters main building includes offices, laboratory space, meeting areas, computers, a kitchen, and a dining/meeting area. There is also a small library that contains field guides and manuals that may be used at the station. Adjacent to the main building are storage buildings, a sample processing area, and dormitory-style rooms for visiting researchers and field technicians.
The classroom and conference building, with a 270-degree view of the grasslands, is the most recent addition to the SGS-LTER Field Station (construction completed 2008), and contains two seminar rooms, a computer room, and a catering room. The seminar rooms can each accomodate up to 50 people, or can be combined to accomodate up to 100 people. There are 15 computers in the computer room, which can be used for data analysis or workshops. There are two 5-bedroom, 3-bathroom houses with full kitchen facilities located adjacent to the classroom and conference building. There are currently plans to build four additional houses.
Research on the shortgrass steppe was initiated in the early 1900s by the Department of Agriculture. From the late 1960s to the mid-1970s, this area was an important focus of the International Biological Program's Grassland Biome Project, which was followed by the SGS-LTER. Much of this research has been summarized and synthesized in a book edited by former GDPE co-directors, Bill Lauenroth and Indy Burke published in 2008:
Ecology of the Shortgrass Steppe: A Long-Term Perspective is available from Oxford University Press
A large collection of long-term data is available for research use. For more information about access to LTER data, please refer to the main LTER Data Access Policy and the SGS-LTER Data Access Policy.