Photo of the Week – March 12, 2015

We conducted our first prescribed burn of the Spring this week.  It was very small – about an acre or so – surrounded by gravel roads.  The first burn after a long winter is always a little rocky; everyone’s a little out of practice, the crew isn’t yet used to burning with each other, and equipment hasn’t been fully tested…  So it was nice to start small, though the low humidity and warm day made it plenty exciting, even within a small, safe unit.

After the smoke cleared and everyone headed out, I stuck around and poked around in the ashes a little.  I found a patch of prickly pear cactus scorched by the fire, and liked the patterns of color and texture, so I grabbed my camera.

Prickly pear cactus after a prairie fire.  Fire doesn't kill the plants, but does set them back for a while.

Prickly pear cactus after a prairie fire. Fire doesn’t seem to kill the plants, but does set them back for a while.  The Nature Conservancy’s Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.

I was mesmerized by the colors and patterns in the scorched cacti.

I was mesmerized by the colors and patterns in the scorched cacti.

I photographed scorched cacti for an embarrassingly long time.  Then, since my knees were already black with soot, I wandered around a little more and photographed a few other interesting post-burn scenes.  I’m a little eccentric that way.  Here are some of the other images from the day – enjoy your weekend!

Tall dropseed (Sporobolus compositus) on ashes.

Tall dropseed (Sporobolus compositus) on ashes.

Common mullein leaves, fuzzy and partially blackened by fire.

Common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) leaves, fuzzy and partially blackened by fire.

Partially burned seed pods of fourpoint evening primrose (Oenothera rhombipetala).

Partially burned seed pods of fourpoint evening primrose (Oenothera rhombipetala).

The remains of a milkweed pod (Asclepias syriaca).

The remains of a milkweed pod (Asclepias syriaca).

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.
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10 Responses to Photo of the Week – March 12, 2015

  1. elfinelvin says:

    You have an excellent eye for patterns.

  2. Noel Rose says:

    I love your pictures. Noel Rose

  3. bennysplace says:

    I love all these photos. Thank you! I am waiting to hear back from Mardell as to what volunteer opportunities are available. It would be great to come out in some way. Thank you again for all the inspiration you provide with your images!

  4. Pingback: Science News / Photo of the Week – March 12, 2015

  5. Joanne says:

    Artsy Photos — you do good work

  6. marilyn faulk lanser says:

    Such beauty in all things prairie, scorched or frozen or sprouting up! I appreciate you sharing your eyes and prairie. Thanks for posting.

  7. Michael Thompson says:

    Chris what is the equipment you use for your macro pictures-outstanding work with them thanks Mike Thompson

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  8. I miss the days when we used to help with a friend’s prairie burns. I enjoyed your photos.

  9. Pingback: From the Ashes | The Prairie Ecologist

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