May 2009

Byways for bicycles: Nebraska rails-trails offer gateways to outdoor adventure

By Matt Gersib

In the 1900s, railroad lines crisscrossed Nebraska’s plains, transporting grain from small towns to larger hubs. While the days of the short-haul rail lines have long since passed, the open corridors they left behind offer a unique opportunity for the development of recreation trails that allow cyclists to get out and experience beautiful places they may not otherwise find. As they run amidst the corn, wheat, soybean and alfalfa fields common to the region, these trails pay homage to the agricultural roots that gave birth to the rail beds on which they are built.

Alfredisms

“Polking Around”
March 14, 1974

County Agent Donald Sigler sent a March 13 news release with advice about planning and planting a garden. In it he states: “Your garden size will depend on space available.” This is the kind of pertinent comment that inspires us to continue publishing the Progress, so we can relay this needed information to our readers.

Fiddling contest showcases the musical world of the homesteaders

“I’ve come a long way to file claim to a parcel of land. If you could see your way clear to help me…” He explained his plight.

“You halfta talk with Jim Bedford, he’s the assistant. Jamison’s outta town. He’s the registrar.”

Where do I find this Jim Bedford?” Strains of “Turkey in the Straw” yanked from the resilient gut of the bango strings competed with the zee-zwa-ing of the two fiddles to be heard.

—from “Daniel and Agnes Freeman, Homesteaders” by Beverly S. Kaplan

The creative spirit of Floyd F. Nichols

By Amanda Mobley

Floyd F. Nichols (1897–1958), whose retrospective exhibit will open May 22, 2009, at Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art, was an adventurous creative man. His exciting life story is important to examine in conjunction with his artwork. He joins the ranks of prominent American writers, poets, artists and musicians, who sought to find and express themselves through the arts shortly after the beginning of the 20th century. The creative voice inside of him was strong. Throughout his life, he searched to realize his vision. He was a craftsman of ingenuity. He created a wide variety of fine arts and crafts that were authentically American.

Wasteful consumption

Illustration by Paul Fell

By Joel Sartore

It would break my heart to be a garbage man.

It’s not the work I would mind. It’s seeing the wastefulness of our society on a daily basis. In a way, I guess I already do…

You see, I live in nice neighborhood. When I’m home—which isn’t often, according to my wife—I see what everyone throws away on trash night because I stop to look. I guess it’s because I am a photographer, always looking for that perfect picture.

You would be amazed what people send to the landfill. It’s shocking, really.

Fighting water with water: A vision for 21st-century flood management

By Rebecca Wodder

August 2007: Major storms in the Midwest caused significant flooding in six states and killed 18 people.

June 2008: A “500 year flood” devastates the region, claiming 13 lives and causing tens of billions of dollars in damage. This flood hit just 15 years after the epic 1993 flood, another “500 year flood,” which claimed 32 lives and caused $15 billion in damage.

A look at climate change

By Kenneth G. Hubbard

Informed businessmen, including farmers and ranchers, are asking, Can short- to long-range planning/decisions be aided by accounting for climate variability and global warming trends? Indeed, all citizens may ask what elected officials are doing with regard to current and future climate while puzzling over how government remedies will affect federal and possibly state and local commerce. Will new legislation result in increased taxes or increased regulation, and will the biggest carbon dioxide producers bear the bulk of any costs to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2)?

Escaping the prison house

By Jerry Wilson

Having descended from dinosaurs, modern birds are timeless, yet they keep track of time. Should I ever complete my calendar of birds, it will be less accurate than calendars devised by ancient peoples, whose calculations were based on the faithful tilting of the Earth and the shifting of planets and stars. Bird habits, by contrast, vary with the season and the weather, and are increasingly affected by climate change. Yet the arrival and departure of most of our resident birds is predictable.

Nebraska's Sand Hills Discovery Foundation: Continuing the vision of paleontologist and scientist Morris Skinner

By Barbara J. Skinner Lamb

But ask now the beasts and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: or speak to the earth and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.” (Job 12:7–8, King James Version of the Bible)

Morris Skinner, a world-renowned paleontologist, believed in this particular chapter and verse in the Bible. He was not a church-going Christian, but he practiced all of the tenets of the Bible in his daily life. First and foremost, he was a very dedicated scientist who studied and searched for ancient life throughout the North American continent.

The sea turtles of Ghana, part one

By Mitch Paine

As the crashing waves on the Ghanaian coast fade with the receding daylight, the time of the turtle has begun. The daytime beach, ruled by scurrying crabs and stray dogs, sleeps after an exciting day to be replaced by the nighttime beach, dominated by nesting female sea turtles meticulously digging deep holes in order to lay hundreds of eggs. But the nighttime beaches of Ghana host a more sinister crowd and one over which sea turtles have no power: poachers.

Immigration in Nebraska

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