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.

Photo of the Week – January 12, 2019

For this week’s Photo of the Week series, I dug back into the photos from last month’s trip to the Niobrara Valley Preserve. On the last day of the trip, we woke up to fog and frost layered on top of an already snow landscape. The combination created a landscape of nearly monotone white. While I found plenty of photo opportunities across the frosty landscape, any bit of color really stood out against that background. Maybe the strongest examples of that were the numerous wild rose hips scattered around. Here are some photos I took of those rose hips, along with one landscape photo to help set the scene for you. Enjoy!

In other news, I had a post featured in The Nature Conservancy’s Cool Green Science blog earlier this week. It was a great opportunity to share my square meter photo project with a broad audience. If you’re not familiar with the Cool Green Science blog, I’d encourage you to check it out. You can find a great variety of interesting topics there.

Photo of the Week – January 4, 2019

I’ve taken a lot of bison photos over the years. My frequent trips to the Niobrara Valley Preserve have given me extraordinary access to bison in an expansive and gorgeous landscape – something I’m very grateful for. I’ve had one big gap in my bison coverage, though, which is that I have almost no photos of bison in snow. Until now.

While Kim and I were on our holiday break adventure at the Niobrara Valley Preserve in late December, I finally got the chance to hang out with some bison in the snow. As the multi-day snow storm was winding down, I ventured out with the pickup one morning and came upon a small group of bison. The weather was frigid and gusty, but the overcast skies were starting to break up a little and the snow fall had lightened up considerably.

When I first approached them, the bison trotted off over the hill, but not like they really meant it. I let them settle back down and then edged closer with the truck until we reached a tacit agreement that I’d keep a certain distance if they’d resume their grazing. We kept that up for about an hour before I finally backed slowly away and left them quietly munching away in the hills. It was a serene and gratifying experience. I hope you enjoy this selection of photos from that morning.