March 2010


Prairie Fire Newspaper went on hiatus after the publication of the September 2015 issue. It may return one of these days but until then we will continue to host all of our archived content for your reading pleasure. Many of the articles have held up well over the years. Please contact us if you have any questions, thoughts, or an interest in helping return Prairie Fire to production. We can also be found on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you to all our readers, contributors, and supporters - the quality of Prairie Fire was a reflection of how many people it touched (touches).


"Polking Around"
March 15, 1984

Norris Alfred, as many of our readers know, was an artist as well as a writer (and a few other things besides). The proof press piece featured below is from the Polk Progress and was provided by Dick Herman, former editor at the Lincoln Journal, to Bill Lock.

Community Supported Agriculture

By Barb Brockley

CSA is an acronym that seems to be ubiquitous these days. For those of you not familiar with it, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. In basic terms, CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation in return for a portion of the farm’s harvest. Over the last 20 years, it has become a very popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from the farmer.

Cranes in Nebraska: The most regal of birds has a long history in the Cornhusker State

Sandhill cranes. (Michael Forsberg)

By Alan J. Bartels

The brief history of humans in North America pales in comparison to that of sandhill cranes (Grus Canadensis). For many years and as many springs, waves of the large gray birds have sailed north on thermal winds, set their wings and slowly descended into the nurturing flows of the shallow Platte River.

Nebraska Digital Newspaper Project

By Katherine Walter

In an age when news is increasingly being sought online, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress have stepped up to the plate to fund and develop a major online resource of historical newspapers. Eventually, the National Digital Newspaper Program will include papers from each state in the U.S., and the state projects are beginning to round the bases. Through the program, the Nebraska Digital Newspaper Project hit its first home run last summer.

Czech and Slovak Americans from an international perspective

By Bruce Garver

Most Americans of Czech and Slovak ancestry are descendants of immigrants who came to the United States from Bohemia, Moravia and northern Hungary between 1865 and 1914. At least half of all such immigrants settled in the states bordering the Great Lakes, while nearly a quarter of all Czech immigrants settled in the Great Plains states to which they were attracted by affordable agricultural land, greater political and religious freedom and lucrative commercial opportunities. Just as the history of these states cannot be comprehended without reference to the rest of the nation, neither can their economy be understood apart from that of the upper Middle West and especially Chicago, as William Cronon has so clearly demonstrated in his imaginative and solidly documented monograph, “Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West” (New York, N.Y.: W. W. Norton Co., 1991).


"How Big Will Farms Become?"
April 25, 1974

By Norris Alfred

The definitive story about abandoned farmsteads is yet to be written for this agricultural area. Perhaps it is just as one grows older the past is viewed with increasing nostalgia because the present is so different. As size of farms increase by merging smaller units into larger ones, a way of life is obliterated and the countryside littered with sets of lifeless farm buildings.

"Rare": A new book by Joel Sartore features portraits of endagered species

By Joel Sartore

It all started in 2005 when my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Though she’s fully recovered now, at the time we knew we were in for a long haul—at least a year of chemo, followed by surgery and radiation. My high-flying days as a National Geographic photographer were over.

China's Route 312

By Rob Gifford

We walk to the Amway office, past huge posters of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, advertising their new movie “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.” The office is a third-floor walk-up. Six other Amway reps are already there. Teacher Hu is there as well, the man who appears to have been responsible for bringing Amway to Zhangye. They all shake my hand and welcome me, and offer me a seat for what turns out to be a meeting to encourage new salesmen to join. Each salesperson has brought along at least one friend, and we sit in the large office on chairs which have been laid out to face a speaker’s table at the front.

Fraud and mismanagment in public pension plans

By Rex Holsapple

The most recent headlines from the world of public pensions are about “pay to play” and “placement agents.” Before that was Bernie Madoff, market timing, Enron and Orange County. The list goes way back. Public pensions are run by boards of trustees. (Sometimes there is only one member of the board.) What has not really been talked about is the role trustees played in these scandals.

MRRIC brings collaboration to Missouri River issues

By John E. Thorson

The Missouri River is synonymous with western history. From its mouth near St. Louis to its headwaters west of Bozeman, Montana, America’s longest river evokes the legends of Lewis and Clark, Sacagawea, steamboats, epic floods and monumental dams. Congressional passage of the 1944 Pick-Sloan Plan initiated decades of dam construction, flood control and navigation improvements on the river. The Missouri has also been the venue for waves of litigation and conflict—somewhat ironic given the generally plentiful river. For example, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s (USACE) revision of the Master Water Control Manual for operating main-stem reservoirs on the river, commenced in 1989, took 15 years to complete in the face of controversy over how the many users of the river would be affected.

Tutelage on the Platte: There is a need to connect people of all ages to the Platte River and the cranes who require it

By Brad Mellema

Nature centers are a tough business. Last time I checked, Warren Buffet had no nature centers in his holdings, and the business of outdoor education is not on the top of the list for career-minded young people. Despite the obstacles, there is a need, a need for a place for people to connect. What we now call Nebraska Nature & Visitor Center has come about because of a need to connect people of all ages to the Platte River and, in larger part, to Nebraska and the Great Plains.

Green and Healthy Homes Initiative

By Ruth Ann Norton

In today’s economic circumstances, many public health and housing department officials face rising challenges of increasing need and decreasing budgets: how to do more with less. Through an integrated, holistic Green and Healthy Homes intervention strategy, the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) is producing homes with reduced energy consumption costs that yield better health, social and economic outcomes for occupants and their children.

Keeping watch on the Niobrara

By Bruce Kennedy

Most Nebraskans visit the Niobrara River in the summer, for leisurely float trips through a scenic landscape. But decisions that affect whether you can continue to make such float trips, and whether that landscape will remain so scenic, are made at all times of the year. Sometimes, as now, they are made during late winter in the faraway corridors and galleries of the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln.

Norma Wilson

Poet Norma Wilson lives in rural Vermillion, S.D. She taught English at the University of South Dakota for 27 years and currently serves on the board of the South Dakota Peace and Justice Center and as president of the Vermillion Area Arts Council. Her poems have been published in several publications, including South Dakota Magazine and Paddlefish.



Immigration in Nebraska

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