Photo of the Week (And Two Milestones) – March 29, 2013

Continuing with the theme of the week (at least for me) here’s yet another prescribed burn photo.  We ended up burning three days in a row this week, making the week both productive and exhausting!  However, just getting three consecutive days of appropriate weather for burning is worth of celebration!

Controlling the backing fire on one end of a prescribed burn, with the flames of the headfire in the background.  The Nature Conservancy's Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.

Crew members control a backing fire on one end of a prescribed burn while the flames and smoke of the head fire fill the sky in the background. The Nature Conservancy’s Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.

Today is also a good day to celebrate two milestones related to this blog.  First, this is the 300th post I’ve written, since starting this blog in the fall of 2010.  It’s hard to believe I’ve written that much in just a few short years!

As I’ve said before, writing this blog makes me a better ecologist. The process of synthesizing ideas into blog posts forces me to take the time to think much more carefully about subjects than I otherwise would.  My job always keeps me hopping, and it’s tempting to just jump to the next urgent task without paying sufficient attention to what’s happening in our prairies or finding out what others are learning.  This blog motivates me to pause and focus on the bigger picture.

It’s also gratifying to know that there are others interested in the same topics I am – and there are a LOT of you!  The second milestone I wanted to mention is that the number of people who follow this blog via either email or Twitter recently exceeded 1000!  More than a thousand people are sufficiently interested in prairies, photography, or both, that they’ve added this site to the bombardment of emails or tweets they sort through each week.  That’s fantastic – and it doesn’t include many more of you who check in regularly to see what’s new but aren’t subscribers. 

Thank you for following, reading, and commenting on this blog.  It’s invigorating for me to put posts together, and equally invigorating to read and respond to the insightful comments you give back. 

Now, I’d love to say more, but I’ve got to start thinking about what I’m going to write about for next week…  Plus I’ve got this list of urgent tasks staring at me from my desk!

Have a great weekend.

Reader Feedback Opportunity – What Do You Think?

I’ve been writing this blog for about eight months now, and it’s been an extremely enjoyable and fulfilling experience.  As I’ve told many people, I learn something from every post.  I learn by forcing myself to research, justify and corroborate my viewpoints and facts as I write about each subject.  I also learn from the many insightful comments and questions you’ve sent back to me through replies to posts, emails, and phone calls.

Stormy sky over a recently-burned Griffith Prairie, north of Aurora, Nebraska. Owned and managed by Prairie Plains Resource Institute, this diverse mixed-grass prairie has undergone extensive eastern red cedar removal and is managed with prescribed fire and grazing.

While writing the blog is fun for me, I’m doing it on work time – – so I have some responsibility to justify the time I spend on it.  It’s difficult to measure the effectiveness of something like a blog because although I get some statistics on how many times each post is read, I don’t really have any idea who’s reading it or what they think about it (except when people reply with comments/questions). 

I’ve decided that the most effective way to see whether or not the blog is achieving its objectives is to simply ask.  So – I’m asking. 

Here are my rough objectives for this blog:

1. Provide an interactive and updated source of prairie-related information as a companion to my book on prairie management.

2. Raise awareness and enthusiasm about prairies.

3. Provide a searchable on-line forum for discussion about challenges related to prairie management and restoration.

4. Improve the management and restoration of prairies by providing useful (and sometimes provocative) information and ideas.

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If you have a few minutes this week, I’d love to hear back from you about how I’m doing on those objectives.  You can simply reply to this post or you can send me an email (chelzer@tnc.org).  Please tell me what you think so far. 

–  Has the blog changed the way you think about or manage/restore prairies?

– Is the information technical enough?  Too technical?

– What do you like most/least about the blog?

– Do you have ideas for future blog post topics?  Any other suggestions for improving the blog?

I can’t thank you enough for reading (and responding to) the posts I’ve written so far.  I look forward to many more future discussions!