Photo of the Week – November 20, 2015

Early last week, a group of us spent a couple days enjoying the Nebraska Sandhills at Calamus Outfitters, a working ranch that also offers a number of outdoor recreation opportunities.  Here are a few photos from those days.

Sand bank on the Calamus River. Sandhills of Nebraska near Burwell.

A steep textured sandy bank on the Calamus River, a beautiful river that flows out of the Nebraska Sandhills.

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Sharp tail grouse feather. Sandhills of Nebraska near Burwell.

Sharp-tailed grouse feathers on a hilltop often used as a lek (courtship area) in the spring.  Calamus Outfitters provides viewing opportunities for both sharpies and greater prairie chickens.

It’s great to see entrepreneurs like Calamus Outfitters provide people a chance to explore the Nebraska Sandhills – one of the great grasslands of the world.  Since the majority of the Sandhills is privately owned, it can be difficult to find places to hike, hunt, birdwatch, photograph, etc.  I don’t think hosting numerous outsiders on their land is an idea many ranchers find attractive ( most of those I know list solitude as a big reason they enjoy ranching) but I applaud Calamus Outfitters for doing so.  The most important role they play might be to put a face to ranching so that visitors from cities or out of state can see ranchers as thoughtful, caring land stewards.  It doesn’t take much talking to Bruce, Sue Ann, Sarah, and Adam for that to become clear.

TNC Nebraska staff at Calamus Outfitters. Sandhills of Nebraska near Burwell.

A jeep trail ride across the Sandhills was one of the high points of the trip.  Even in November, the landscape was beautiful.

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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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7 Responses to Photo of the Week – November 20, 2015

  1. Lisa says:

    I’m adding this to my list. I didn’t know Calamus Outfitters existed, and finding private land opportunities for wildlife photography in Nebraska isn’t always easy. Thank you for sharing this!

  2. Stew Magnuson says:

    Especially in November! I love the Sand Hills and its tan colors in the fall

  3. Joanne says:

    Thank you for a tour of my “homeland” Beauty is happens here, both the land and the people.

  4. Jane Papsdorf says:

    In our General Ecology class this am we had a discussion on drones. Do you use them in your research/work? Thank you for your reply.

    • Chris Helzer says:

      Jane, yes, we have a drone we’ve experimented with. We are still trying to figure out how best to use it. We’ve used it so far for photographing our sites and work but would like to use it more for monitoring and potentially get a different one (with greater range) that would help us do things such as check fence and windmills at our 56,000 acre Niobrara Valley Preserve.

  5. btremback says:

    Lots of history in the first photo: water cutting through an old dune.

  6. James McGee says:

    You are an asset to your state. Keep up the good work.

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