Grasslands once spanned across Nebraska in waves, from the tallgrass prairies in the east to the shortgrass prairie in the west and all the mixed-grass prairies in between. The history of Nebraska’s grasslands are deeply intertwined with the history of its people. Indigenous peoples across the Great Plains possess diverse and intimate knowledge about the […]

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 […]