Niobrara Valley Preserve From The Air

We arrived at the Niobrara Valley Preserve yesterday in pouring rain.  The road in from the south was nearly impassable and our data collection plans were scrapped for the day.  As evening neared, though, the rain started to let off, and just as the sun was nearing the horizon, it popped out from behind the clouds.  Suddenly, the entire Niobrara Valley was bathed in gorgeous golden light.  I scrambled to get the drone up into the air.

Looking downriver with the sun behind. Can you see Alex on the sandbar?

Facing the sun as it drops below the horizon.

The Nebraska Sandhills extend nearly forever south of the river (12 million acres of contiguous prairie). You can’t even see the entire 12,000 east bison pasture in this photo. The scale is just immense.

The Niobrara Valley Preserve headquarters is nestled between the Sandhills and the river. The campus now includes a couple new buildings, which will greatly help us improve visitor access and experiences.

The Niobrara Valley Preserve is already magical, but when you add that kind of evening light, it just becomes absolutely spectacular.  Below is a 30 second video showing more of a panorama view of just one small part of the 56,000 acre property.

Thank you to everyone who supports our conservation work, both at the Niobrara Valley Preserve and elsewhere around the state, country, and world.

Special thank you to the Nebraska Environmental Trust for funding this effort through a PIE (Public Information and Education) minigrant, administered through the Nebraska Academy of Sciences.

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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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12 Responses to Niobrara Valley Preserve From The Air

  1. [ Smiles ] You really know how to take breathtaking photographs.

    I love the bird’s eye view of the Niobrara Valley Preserve!

  2. I can’t wait to get out there for a visit! Beautiful post and photos.

  3. Anna says:

    In photography the light makes all the difference.

  4. Patrick says:

    Just curious Chris. The dead tree skeletons along the prairie appear to be cedars. Makes sense. But along the river, there appear to be several dead cottonwood trees among the cedar skeletons. Are these trees that were killed in the fire a few years ago when the cedars went up in flames, or was there another cause of death? Are you seeing good regeneration of cottonwoods?

    • Chris Helzer says:

      Hey Patrick,
      Yes, the cottonwoods died in the 2012 fire. I haven’t seen much regeneration because they’re pretty far from the river, but a year like this with lots of rain might give them some chances.

  5. lindachafin says:

    Thank you! These pics saved my day.

  6. Susan Kleiman says:

    Wow, I need to get there. Thanks for all you do, Chris!

  7. Risto Vuoripalo says:

    And Thank You for the wonderful pictures, once again! Someday I’ll fly over…

  8. Lynne Eggers says:

    One word – beautiful!

  9. Terry Cox says:

    Thanks for the pics. Beautiful country… :)

  10. Pingback: Photo of the Week – June 29, 2018 | The Prairie Ecologist

  11. Pingback: Photo of the Week | The Prairie Ecologist

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