Photo of the Week – July 12, 2019

I’m sorry for not posting earlier this week, but I spent most of the week in Idaho, visiting The Nature Conservancy’s Flat Ranch. We spent a lot of time on the ranch, as well as a little time in Yellowstone National Park, looking at similar habitats. As a bonus, I went up to the top of Sawtelle Peak twice because it was just south of the Ranch. I plan to summarize some of the intriguing discussions we had in a future post, but for now, here are a few photos from Idaho. I still have a lot of trip photos to get through, so more will be forthcoming.

My trip home from Idaho went really well. I do hope, however, that my luggage decides to follow me home at some point (it apparently stayed in the Jackson Hole airport, for some reason, instead of riding on my airplane.) I understand why it might have felt like staying, but since half my camera gear was in that bag, it would be convenient for me to get it back…

The Flat Ranch visitor center, right off the highway at Island Park, Idaho, is a great place to start a hike. The yellow flower is northern mule’s ear (Wyethia amplexicaulis).
The Nature Conservancy’s Flat Ranch.
Of all the flowers I saw that I don’t have in local Nebraska prairies, I have to say prairie smoke (Geum triflorum) was my favorite. This is one of MANY photos I took of this beautiful flower. I know a lot of you get to see it all the time, and good for you, but it was pretty special for me.
I learned that the bulb of blue camass (Camassia quamash) is edible, but that they are often harvested after flowers have disappeared and you have to be careful not to grab the bulb of the similar-looking mountain death camass (Zigadenns elegans) which lives up to its name.
I have a new favorite Cirsium species and it is elk thistle (Cirsium scariosum). Just wow.
Up on Sawtelle Peak, this mountain goat was sticking its head down into a hole (to get salt?) and then brought its head up and licked its lips repeatedly. After I walked away to photograph flowers, a second goat showed up (I’m told) and a fight ensued. My “friends” neglected to call me back over…
I don’t have shooting stars (Dodecatheon spp) in prairies close to me. I sure did enjoy seeing them in Idaho. They got even smaller and cuter at high elevations. This scene was taken from Sawtelle Peak, just south of the Flat Ranch.
As we were leaving Sawtelle Peak, I looked to the east and saw this hazy scene, which I was able to capture with a telephoto lens.
From Sawtelle Peak, we could look west to Mount Jefferson, the uppermost source of water to the Missouri River. It also feeds the Snake River, which runs west into the Pacific. Mount Jefferson is the highest point shown in this photo.
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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.

4 thoughts on “Photo of the Week – July 12, 2019

  1. Glad you got to explore my post-Nebraska stomping grounds (or at least the area). I hope they took you through the Centennial valley too! If they’re ever looking to hire… I know someone who graduates soon and has experience out there… ;) I loooe forward to reading about what y’all discussed.


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