This week, I made a trip up the Niobrara Valley Preserve. A colleague from Idaho was visiting Nebraska to discuss grazing and other prairie management strategies and I couldn’t very well let him leave without seeing the Niobrara Valley. In addition to Matthew, the Fellows (Chelsea and Mary) also came along. Here are a few photos from the quick visit.
The Niobrara Valley, photographed by drone, just east of The Nature Conservancy’s headquarters.
Backlit ridges with tree skeletons from the 2012 wildfire. This area north of the river is recovering, but we are still discussing how to best guide that recovery to avoid re-invasion by eastern red cedar.
Matthew Ward at “The Chute”, a local landmark waterfall just upstream of the Norden Bridge .
A Rorschach ponderosa pine bark test. What do you see?
A portion of our east bison pasture (10,000 acres), as viewed from across the river.
Chad Bladow points out a potential route for a fire break as we discuss a future prescribed fire on the north side of the river. Chelsea is taking photos and Matthew is just below, enjoying the scenery.
Fungus grows on a log in the middle of a spring-fed creek along the south side (north-facing slope) of the Niobrara River. We started where the creek emerged from the ground and followed it quite a way downstream, enjoying the cool moist air along the way.
Mary (left) and Chelsea (right), photographing slightly different views of the Niobrara River.
Looking southeast from the ridge north of the river.
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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.
I saw an up and down face of a barred-owl.
Good work and I hope you come up with a great long-term plan for that area – and with luck – – maybe even include some neighbors!
You truly work in a beautiful location!
Looks like a coyote head looking down and slightly to the left.