June 2011


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).

Celebrate National Trails Day

By Tim Montgomery

Now that National Bicycle Month is drawing to a close, National Trails Day offers another reason to celebrate trails. Trails have long provided corridors to link resources necessary for human survival. Today’s trails infrastructure are no different, continuing to provide transportation links within and between communities, safe routes to work and school, opportunities for economic development and options for physical activity and improved health.


Unpublished Journal
Jan. 13, 1992

I have always had a special interest in trees, which seems odd considering I was born on the Midwest plains, which were more grass than trees. The individuality of trees—cottonwoods, in particular—were the cause of this compelling interest. When I think about the plains, my thoughts concentrate on space.

Using the Floodplain to Store Floodwaters

The Ohio River flooding Louisville, Ky., March 1936 (Carl Mydans, photographer; Library of Congress)

By Jill Kostel, Ph.D.

On May 2, 2011, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blew up a two-mile stretch of levee in Missouri to save the town of Cairo, Ill., from catastrophic flooding. This intentional breach opened the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway—a 130,000-acre area of farmland—to take in some of the rushing floodwaters of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Within two weeks, two floodways in Louisiana, the Bonnet Carre and Morganza, were opened to lower Mississippi River flood levels from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. This marks the first time in history that all three of these floodway systems have been in operation at the same time.

The Making of No Child Left Behind: A Participant's View, Part One

By Randall Moody

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was a 2002 law that gave the federal government an unprecedented involvement in K-12 public education, touching in some way every school district in the country and proposed by conservative Republican President George W. Bush. It had survived a long and torturous journey in 2001, including many months of congressional debate over content and funding, the distraction of the Sept. 11 terror attacks and a shift in the majority from Republican to Democrat in the Senate.

"Paint the Light," Said American Artist Dale Nichols

By Amanda Mobley Guenther

One of Nebraska’s most famous artists, Dale Nichols (1904–1995) is the cornerstone artist of the collection of Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art. Almost since its inception the museum has sought to examine and explain the deviations in Nichols’ art from his formal associations with regionalism, an art movement of the 1930s that sought to portray the unique culture of America. Early on it became clear to Mark L. Moseman, chief curator of the museum, that there was more to Dale Nichols than nostalgic pictures.

Fighting to Protect Community Forests

By Becky Erdkamp

The term community forest refers to the collection of trees, shrubs and related vegetation growing in cities and towns. Simply put, community forests are the trees around us. Individually and as a whole these trees improve water and air quality, reduce noise pollution, increase property values, reduce heating and cooling costs and improve community cohesion.

Native Plants + One Suburban Lot = Wildlife Preserve

By Benjamin Vogt

This past summer I taught my wife the term “herbaceous perennial.” After I pronounced it a few times, defined it and used it in sentence as if at a spelling bee, she began to roll it around in her mouth as she walked our garden. “Her-BAY-shus,” she said over and over. “Perennials that die back to the ground each year,” I called after her from a distance as I weeded. “Is this a herbaceous perennial?” she asked, smirking as she touched the 8-foot stem of a joe pye weed in late August. “Yup,” I said, “and a native one at that.”

Bt-corn and GMOs

Bt-corn is a genetically modified organism (GMO) that was developed to increase resistance to corn borer larvae, which cause millions of dollars in damage per year to Nebraska cornfields. A GMO is a plant or animal that has been genetically modified through molecular techniques with material from another organism. The technique is done to give the plant or animal genetic traits to provide protection from pests, tolerance to pesticides or improve its quality. Growers use Bt-corn (one of several GMO crops, including Bt-potatoes, Bt-sweet corn, Roundup Ready soybeans, Roundup Ready Corn and Liberty Link Corn) as an alternative to spraying insecticides for control of European and southwestern corn borer.

Diversity versus Fragmentation: Using Partnerships as a Tool for Habitat Conservation on a Landscape Scale

By Sandy Benson

Public land is relatively scarce in Nebraska. In fact, 97 percent of land within the state is privately owned, producing a mosaic pattern of land use, management and ownership. Such diversity is not a bad thing. Fragmentation, however, can be problematic for wildlife and ecosystems.

Immigration in Nebraska

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