Author Archives: Chris Helzer

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.

Choosing Your Destination Before You Choose Your Mode of Transport

Last week, I attended a science and stewardship conference of The Nature Conservancy in Madison, Wisconsin.  It was an inspiring and thought-provoking week.  There were a lot of topics that will provide fodder for future blog posts, but I wanted … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Animals, Prairie Insects, Prairie Management, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Plants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Photo of the Week – September 13, 2018

Hello from Wisconsin!  I’m spending this week in Madison, Wisconsin with about 250 colleagues at a conference for scientists, land managers, and other conservation staff of The Nature Conservancy.  It’s been a fantastic conference, but also an awful lot of … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Animals, Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

Something Blue

One of the most striking plants in our prairies this time of year is pitcher sage, also known as blue sage (Salvia azurea).  It’s tall, of course, but more importantly, as the surrounding prairie is dominated by green-becoming-gold grasses and … Continue reading

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Please Take Alex’s Survey!

Alex Brechbill, one of our Hubbard Fellows, is conducting a survey to help us improve visitor experiences at our Platte River Prairies.  If you’ve ever visited the Platte River Prairies to hike, volunteer, attend one of our field days, or … Continue reading

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Photo of the Week – September 6

Well, August was an awesome month for my square meter photography project.  An unbelievable number of insects visited my little plot of prairie during the month, many of them drawn by the abundant and very charismatic Maximilian sunflowers.  After a … Continue reading

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Counting Gayfeather Stems Out Of Scientific Curiosity – Year 2

Science doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult.  In fact, the essence of science is really just a way to satisfy our curiosity about the world. There is great value in rigorous science, with sufficient replication and statistical power to … Continue reading

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Photo of the Week – August 31, 2018

Earlier this week, we spent a few days collecting data at the Niobrara Valley Preserve.  It was a quick trip up and back, but we still managed to see quite a bit of wildlife, including mule deer, pronghorn, grouse, lizards, … Continue reading

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Admirable, Abundant, and Adaptable, But Not Aggressive

During the last month or so, I’ve had several people tell me how aggressive marestail (horseweed, aka Conyza canadensis) is, and how this is a particularly bad year for it.  One person suggested marestail should be added to Nebraska’s noxious … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography, Prairie Plants, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Photo of the Week – August 24, 2018

Former Hubbard Fellow Evan Barrientos came back for a visit last week and the two of us wandered around with our cameras for a couple hours on a wet foggy Saturday morning. (Quick reminder – applications for the next round … Continue reading

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Japanese Beetles in Prairies – How Much Should We Worry?

Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica) first appeared in the U.S. back in 1916 (in New Jersey) and have been spreading west since then.  They’ve only started to be abundant in our part of Nebraska during the last several years.  As a … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments