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.

Photo of the Week – May 26, 2017

Shell leaf penstemon (Penstemon grandiflorus) is one of the showier wildflowers in the Platte River Prairies during late May and early June.  It is most often found in dry soils and where the surrounding plants aren’t overly competitive.  We often … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Animals, Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Plant Game! (May 23, 2017)

The rules are simple.  Just pick the fake plant name from each list.  Three of the names in each list are official names of plants found in Nebraska.  The other is one that I made up.  See if you can … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Photo of the Week – May 19, 2017

Over the last five years or so, I’ve been learning a lot more about pollinators, and that has changed the way I look at prairies.  As I walk around our prairies, I often think about how I would see the … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Joy, Angst, Excitement and Dread of Walking Through a Young Restored Prairie

Anyone who has watched a prairie seeding go through its first several years of establishment will appreciate and identify with this post.  For those of you who haven’t, the best analogy I can come up with is that the experience … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Management, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Plants, Prairie Restoration/Reconstruction | Tagged , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Photo of the Week – May 12, 2017

When you look closely at Penstemon angustifolius, it’s easy to see why one of its common names is narrowleaf beardtongue. Narrowleaf beardtongue is a widespread Great Plains wildflower that can have blue, lavender, or pink flowers – often, all on … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography, Prairie Plants | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

2017 Field Days! (And a Photo Question)

Mark your calendars if you’re interested in attending either or both of our Platte River Prairies Field Days this summer.  The first will be on Thursday July 6, and will be focused on plant identification.  We’ll have several instructors on … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Photography | Tagged , , | 23 Comments

Photo of the Week – May 5, 2017

During the last week, I’ve been lucky enough to find and photograph two different wolf spiders, so I figured I should probably dedicate a short blog post to them.  The first wolf spider I found was a cute little bugger … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

Frosty Monarchs

Adding insult to injury, the overly-ambitious monarchs in Nebraska this spring had to deal with cold wet weather all last weekend.  Temperatures got down to about 30 degrees F, and maybe lower in some places, and much of the prairie … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Photo of the Week – April 28, 2017

Ten days ago, I wrote about monarch butterflies returning from Mexico and flying much further north than is typical, and some of the risks they face because of that.  Many of you responded with your own similar observations and stories of … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

How Small Is Too Small?

What’s the minimum effective size of a prairie? For example, can a prairie be the size of a kitchen table?  Let’s say someone converted a landscape full of prairie to an immense gravel parking lot, leaving only a round kitchen … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Animals, Prairie Management, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography, Prairie Plants, Prairie Restoration/Reconstruction | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments