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 – December 15, 2017

I haven’t done much photography lately, and that always makes me cranky.  I spent a couple days at the Niobrara Valley Preserve this week, but between the short day length right now, a busy meeting schedule, and cloudy/windy conditions, I … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography, Prairie Plants | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Catching Up on Summer Photos

I spend most of my summers in the field, wandering around in prairies collecting data, making observations, and taking photos.  Lots and lots of photos.  So many photos that I only have time and space to post a small percentage … Continue reading

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Photo of the Week – December 7, 2017

A couple quick comments before I share this week’s photos… First, a brief celebration.  This little prairie blog surpassed 1,000,000 hits a few months ago, which is both shocking and humbling.  In addition, more than 3,500 people now subscribe to … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Photography | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

My Wife Finds A Basement Visitor

One of the best parts of a happy marriage is being periodically reminded that you’ve found just the right partner.  My latest example of that came this weekend, when my wife came up from our basement with a jar containing … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography | Tagged , , | 26 Comments

Photo of the Week – December 1, 2017

Back in July, my daughter tagged along with me on a trip to the Niobrara Valley Preserve.  Because she’s in college now, and I don’t see her all that often, it was particularly gratifying to have a few days of … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography | 6 Comments

A Brief Note on Painted Milkvetch

Painted milkvetch (Astragalus ceramicus) is a beautiful plant found in open sandy soils throughout much of the Great Plains and western U.S.  It is a perennial legume with white to pinkish flowers, but is most easily recognized by its ornate … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography, Prairie Plants | Tagged , | 35 Comments

Photo of the Week – November 24, 2017

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I am thankful for much, starting with a loving wife and family, and a stable and (sufficiently) prosperous life.  Much lower on the list, but still important – and relevant to this blog – I’m also … Continue reading

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Open Gate Rotational Grazing

An alternative approach to facilitating wildlife and plant diversity in grazed prairie. Based on the last 20 years of experience and data collection, the shifting mosaic approach to habitat management seems to support plant and animal diversity and foster ecological … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Management | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

Photo of the Week – November 16, 2017

Most of us don’t think about ants very often unless they’re marching across our kitchen counter (or up our leg).  That anonymity isn’t their fault, it’s ours.  Ants play major roles in ecoystems, and their biomass in prairies can rival … Continue reading

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Little Blue Butterflies

Though it’s one of the more common butterflies in this part of Nebraska, the eastern tailed-blue doesn’t get much attention.  One reason is that it is pretty small.  With a wingspan of about an inch, it isn’t much bigger than … Continue reading

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