May 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).

Medical marijuana and Nebraska

Medical marijuana and Nebraska - Illustration by Paul Fell

By Byron L. Barksdale

Before 1930, Fremont, Neb., farm fields were plush with hemp (cannabis), not corn. A large factory in Fremont processed hemp to make cords to bind wheat. When hemp production was banned by the U.S. government in the 1930s, the hemp plants remained and went “feral” in the ditches and riverbeds of Nebraska. Today, throughout Nebraska, marijuana and hemp grow well and wild from the Missouri River to the Wyoming state line. The tall cannabis plants provide coverage and food (seeds) for pheasants.


"Polking Around"
June 12, 1969

The Nebraska State Department of Roads has issued a news release explaining the mysterious green and white mileage markers erected on all rural state highways in Nebraska. On the highways which cross the state from border to border, the number indicates the mileage from the state line to the motorist’s present position. Depending on the direction of the highway, the number tells the mileage from the southern border or from the western state line. If the highway does not cross state lines, the number indicates the mileage from the origin of the highway, also from west or south.

Pumpkin Creek: Lawsuit points to need for expansion of water laws

By J. Michael Jess

With the scenic buttes and monuments of the Wildcat Hills nearby, Eric, Kim and Rex Nielsen grew up on the Spear T Ranch, located some 40 miles southeast of Scottsbluff. During the 1950s, chores assigned to the three boys included helping with livestock and with irrigation. Flows running in Pumpkin Creek provided water for the cattle and for the crops.

A water hole: Ashfall quarry, 10 million years ago

By Barbara J. Skinner Lamb

Imagine Africa. Imagine the Serengeti Plain an area covered with sedges and a variety of grasses and very few trees. Then imagine a volcano erupting at least a thousand miles to the west of the water hole. The eruption was 10 times larger than the Mount St Helen’s eruption that occurred in the 1980s. The skies were dark and heavy with volcanic dust falling out of the sky

The High Plains aquifer, part one

By Jason Gurdak, Ph.D.

In the book “Ogallala: Water for a Dry Land,” John Opie writes that “The enormous Ogallala aquifer is groundwater trapped below 174,000 square miles of fertile but otherwise dry plains farmland. Unlike most of the world’s water supplies, Ogallala groundwater is largely nonrenewable because its sources were cut off thousands of years ago. It is essentially ‘fossil water’ that was generated ten thousand to twenty-five thousand years ago from the glacier-laden Rockies....However, more than three billion acre-feet (an acre-foot is a foot of water across one square acre, or 325,851 gallons) had been deposited under the plains.”

Opie was right.

Invasive species: A continued battle on the economic and environmental fronts

By Karie Decker and Craig Allen

An invasive species is a plant or animal that is not native and has, or is actively, spreading to new environments. Other terms used to describe nonnative species include exotic or alien. In some cases they are extremely damaging to the economy, the environment or human health. Not all nonnative species are harmful, however. Some nonnative species invade native habitats without noticeably disrupting the environment. Those that do cause harm have escaped their natural “enemies” and may occur at extremely high densities. Harmful invasive species often outcompete native plants and animals for food and other resources and may dominate invaded habitats.

A birder's eye view

By John Carlini

Tired of the same old bike path? Is that hiking trail starting to lose its luster? A pair of binoculars and a birding field guide can transport you to a brand new world. Discovering the world of birds is a treasure hunt that’s always full of surprises. Bird-watching or “birding” isn’t just for seniors anymore—why should they have all the fun? It requires a combination of skill, patience and luck.

Sonny's Corner

By Sally Herrin, Ph.D.

Distraction is the modestly self-confessed theme of the newest book by the best writer I know personally, say, to have to supper on a Sunday evening. For those readers ever brutalized by English teachers (the language-police sort—most ETs are harmless nerds who loved to read), theme just means idea.

Immigration in Nebraska

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