My stomach still shivers when a flame is set to dry grass. Maybe it’s the culture I was brought up in, a few personal experiences, or instinct programmed into my DNA. Whatever the reason, after all these years of successfully using fire on our rangelands I still feel my nerves rise in tandem with the […]

Time-lapse produced by Carlee Koehler  The first time I saw a trumpeter swan in the wild, up close, I was so cold I couldn’t feel my face. It was early January along Blue Creek in the western Nebraska Sandhills, and most of the high plains lakes, rivers and streams were locked in ice after a […]

While driving down a two-track road, deep in the Nebraska Sandhills, one may be so lucky to witness a heavenly white bird gliding across one of the many spring-fed lakes. The trumpeter swan is the largest waterfowl species in the world. Almost hunted to extinction, these birds have since been reintroduced to the Nebraska Sandhills […]

A common misconception is that fire is always bad, that it destroys landscapes and tears communities apart. When settlers arrived in the American West, wildfire suppression became a standard practice. What many did not realize is that the suppression of fire allowed for fuel loads to build, causing larger, hotter, and more destructive wildfires.   Today, […]

When I was in high school, my environmental science teacher had our class plant a prairie garden on campus. Inspired by the idea of ripping up sod and replacing it with the native plants that rightfully belonged there, I asked my parents if I could plant a prairie garden in our backyard. They said yes. […]

A line of fire blazes in an ocean of grass. The smell of burning bluestem wisps through the air. A man dressed in leather boots carefully tips a drip torch to spark a flame onto the landscape–a familiar sight by those who live on working landscapes in the Great Plains. In early spring, I photographed […]