Author Archives: Chris Helzer

About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is an ecologist and Eastern Nebraska Program Director for The Nature Conservancy. He supervises the management and restoration of approximately 4,000 acres of land in central and eastern Nebraska - primarily along the central Platte River. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press.

Karen’s Wetland Videos

One of my favorite places within our Platte River Prairies is a restored wetland we usually call “the sandpit wetland” because it is a former sand and gravel mining pit.  We restored the site over about 10 years, a little … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Animals, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography, Prairie Restoration/Reconstruction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Photo of the Week – October 17, 2014

Who could be mad at these big beautiful brown eyes? As it turns out, lots of people can. The differential grasshopper is one of a long list of native North American species, headlined by white-tailed deer and raccoons, that have … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

So Similar, Yet So Different

It’s wrong to assume that successful restoration or management tactics from one prairie will work in another.  Instead, every prairie has its own “personality” and responds accordingly.  The key to success is experimentation and adaptive management. Bill Kleiman is one … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Management, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Plants, Prairie Restoration/Reconstruction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Photo of the Week – October 10, 2014

For the second time in two weeks, I got to travel west into drier, shorter prairie.  This week, our crew attended the Nebraska Natural Legacy Conference in Gering, Nebraska – at the far western end of the state.  While there, … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography, Prairie Plants | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Color, Movement and Noise

A couple months ago, I wrote a post asking you how you evaluate your prairies as you walk around them.  I appreciated the thoughtful responses you shared.  This week, I’ll be facilitating a discussion on the same topic at the … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Management, Prairie Natural History | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Photo of the Week – October 3, 2014

I made my first ever visit to The Nature Conservancy’s Smoky Valley Ranch in western Kansas this week.  It won’t be my last.  Situated along the boundary between mixed-grass and shortgrass prairie, the Smoky Valley Ranch contains 16,800 acres of … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Hubbard Fellowship Post – S’Mammals with Jasmine

This is a post written by Jasmine Cutter, one of our 2014-15 Hubbard Fellows.  All photos are by Jasmine. Howdy, Prairie Ecologist friends! I remember how much I looked forward to the Fellows’ posts before coming to the Platte River … Continue reading

Posted in Hubbard Fellowship, Prairie Animals, Prairie Natural History | Tagged , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Continuing Wildfire Recovery at the Niobrara Valley Preserve

When I was at the Niobrara Valley Preserve a couple weeks ago, I spent some time exploring the area north of the river where the 2012 wildfire ripped through oak savanna and ponderosa pine woodland.  As discussed in earlier posts, … Continue reading

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Photo of the Week – September 25, 2014

Some people have the mistaken impression that I know a lot about bees.  Those who know me better understand that while I have a decent understanding of the ecology of bees and other pollinators, my identification skills are very rudimentary.  … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Management, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Caterpillar Crossing

While driving through central Nebraska last week, I couldn’t help notice all the fuzzy creatures crossing the highway in front of me.  They weren’t raccoons, deer, or even voles.  They were tiny little caterpillars, and they were moving FAST. I’m … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments