Photo of the Week – January 13, 2017

I’ve often said that Interstate 80 through Nebraska is a great population control mechanism for our state.  While I actually enjoy much of the scenery along the interstate, it’s particular route helps feed the widely held stereotype that Nebraska is a big flat state with nothing to see but corn and cows.  We certainly have lots of corn and cows, but if you take the time to explore beyond the interstate, you quickly see that Nebraska is anything but flat.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not promoting Nebraska as a place that you should move to.  In my personal opinion, we have plenty of people here already.  I happen to love that there are still large areas of the state where I can drive for miles without ever seeing another human being.  I’m sure that’s not a universally-held opinion among our tourism board or chambers of commerce, but that’s how I feel.  I’m going to show you a few photos of a non-flat Nebraska today, but please don’t take those as a personal invitation to move to our state.  I guess you could come visit, but you’ll be much happier living in your own state.

The Blue Creek valley in Garden County.

The Blue Creek valley in Garden County.

Fort Robinson State Park in the Pine Ridge of northwest Nebraska.

Fort Robinson State Park in the Pine Ridge of northwest Nebraska.

The Wildcat Hills of the Nebraska panhandle.

The Wildcat Hills of the Nebraska panhandle.

The Niobrara River. Cherry County.

The Niobrara River. Cherry County.

Anyway, I bet your state is really pretty too.  You should live there.  Thanks.

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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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22 Responses to Photo of the Week – January 13, 2017

  1. Peggy Tilgner says:

    I’m a sustaining member of Keep Nebraska for Nebraskans Committee proposed by the late Omaha World Herald columnist Robert McMorris😊

  2. The Midwest has its own unique beauty but large open space not covered by corn and soybeans is rare indeed. The sand hills of Nebraska are one of my favorite places in the country but don’t worry I am firmly rooted in the Midwest and will only visit your great state from time to time.

    When people here go west their destination is usually the Rockies or west coast. Not me, I prefer the western plains. Sky, wind, long views and solitude – good for the soul.

  3. pathill682056510 says:

    Gorgeous photos.

  4. James McGee says:

    Does this mean you want to build a wall? Who worries you most? Is it the Kansans, South Dakotans, Iowans, Wyomians, Coloradans, Missourians, or all of the above? (Joke)

    I guess I will just have to tell my aunts, “Sorry, I can’t visit. I could not get a Nebraska VISA.” :)

    • James McGee says:

      Of course the president would have to make an executive order a little less than two weeks after I made the above comment that makes me feel like a jerk for even joking about not being able to get a VISA.

  5. Marcus Young says:

    Beautiful! The Midwest is so unique. The sand hills and open space are a favorite. Specifically the Wildcat Hills! Great shot of it.

  6. shoreacres says:

    I’ve never heard of the Wildcat Hills. All of the photos are beautiful. I smiled at the mention of I-80. I’m old enough that I remember its opening in Iowa, and we lived close enough that I could sit on the front steps at night and listen to the trucks, but I never made it to Nebraska. I do need to remedy that — but I promise not to stay.

  7. Patrick says:

    I’ve been wanting to visit the Wildcat Hills. It is precisely these places in Nebraska that need to be protected by easements to prevent subdivision so they are not broken up into ranchettes for folks that want a piece of solitude. If you want solitude, rent in town and visit these areas. Don’t buy, and don’t build your “dream cabin/dream home” in these areas. You just ruin it for the next generation.

    • James McGee says:

      People have tried building their lives in these landscapes in the past. They had to make good on manifest destiny and all the foolishness promoted by it. If you search the internet for Nebraska and ghost town you will discover how this has often turned out.

      There was a reason the Native Americans lived in teepees. There were simply not enough resources in western landscapes to sustain permanent settlements. I expect people will continue to build, droughts will continue to occur, and in the end the prairie will mostly win.

      • Patrick says:

        Perhaps that’s true, but folks can’t seem to stop trying this foolishness, and while their attempts might ultimately be futile, they nevertheless do a great deal of damage trying,

  8. Gay Gilbert says:

    Loved these photos. Give a bit more info if you have time, what is the yellow flower bush in 1+ of the photos? Where are these views? Thanks

  9. Deb Ratzlaff says:

    Favorite places, all. Thanks for your posts. Always enjoy photos and your take on things.

  10. Lovely shots of a lovely state but to appreciate it you have to get off the interstate.

  11. I always relish my Monday morning coffee with your posts Chris. Wide-open spaces in the ‘fly-over states’ are a tourism challenge- thankfully.

  12. canoeing Niobrara is on our family bucket list. Perhaps in 2017? Promise not to buy land and build a home where it would impede one of your controlled burns.

  13. good one Chris! I agree that we have plenty of folks in Nebraska already and really enjoyed your photos today!

  14. John I. Blair says:

    Isn’t there some kind of Legacy consideration? Several of my great grandparents pioneered in the Broken Bow and Hastings areas in the 19th century. Seriously, I’m kind of a man without a country — a native of Kansas who left 48 years ago; a resident of Texas since then who can’t quite bring myself to identify as a Texan. Oh well, Nebraska gets too cold for my old bones anyway. You are lucky to live there in the place you do.

  15. Becky R says:

    Another great post Chris. My grandfater was from Nebraska. He did not speak of it often. Guess he did not appreciate those wide open spaces like I do. Need to see the horizon where earth meets the sky and the wind blows free. Promise to visit but will not stay.

  16. Claude says:

    Dear Chris, I’ve been following your blog for quite a while, and I do admire your excellent photos, writing skills, humor, science, etc… But I must say I am not at ease with the philosophical/political undertones of this “please stay in your state” message… In a time of world crises, not everybody has this choice. And it might be good to remember that the US have always been a country of immigrants, and then of liberty of movement. As a great-son of refugees (Spanish civil war), I am happy that such message was not delivered to my grand-parents.
    Thanks for considering this!
    PS: this is not to advocate for uncontrolled growth, urban sprawl, etc…

  17. James C. Trager says:

    I would love to visit Nebraska, especially those parts northwest of where I’ve already been.

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