August 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).

Pick-Sloan and a New Missouri River Plan

A view of flooding from the Missouri River along the Iowa-Nebraska border, June 20, 2011. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

By Robert Kelley Schneiders

In 1943 the Missouri River flooded three times. In March the river jumped its banks along its upper reach (the army considers the river above the Missouri River-Big Sioux River confluence the upper river) after the melting of the Plains snowpack. In May the river inundated portions of its valley from Sioux City southward after the commencement of heavy spring rains. The third flood arrived in June when the meltwater from the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming and Montana arrived in the already engorged lower valley; it struck the river south of Nebraska City, Neb.


Unpublished Journal
June 17, 1993

What bothers me most these days is how easily I tire. I can remember when it took strenuous effort over a period of days, not hours, before I had to recharge my batteries. Now 10 hours in bed, reading and sleeping are needed. I think new batteries would help, but I’m forced to wait until the heroic technologists have developed a no-fail battery for the electric car. It’s a matter of priorities. A non-noxious car is more important.

A New World of Purchasing Health Insurance: Exchanges and You

By Jon Bailey

One of the primary features of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act law is the creation of health insurance exchanges. An exchange is an insurance marketplace with the goal to help individuals and small businesses access affordable and quality health insurance. Ultimately, these marketplaces will be one of the most important features of the Affordable Care Act as they will represent the method of purchasing health insurance for groups of Americans who have had the most challenges in obtaining affordable and comprehensive health insurance—the low- and moderate-income uninsured, small businesses and families who purchase health insurance on their own through the individual market. It is estimated that about 11.5 million people will use the exchanges in 2014, with 27 million using them by 2018. The marketplaces will also provide a means to distribute premium assistance subsidies and to enroll qualifying individuals and families in public health insurance programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.

Richard Schilling's "Portraits of the Prairie: The Land that Inspired Willa Cather"

By Robert Hanna

Watercolor is an adventure. It is a painting medium based on the overlayering of colors resulting in new colors and transparency. The technique is fraught with danger due to accidental happenings that result in abstract paint formations. It requires years of practice to tame these surprises. With some luck a water colorist might one day claim, “I planned it that way.” Richard Schilling’s new book, “Portrait of the Prairie: The Land That inspired Willa Cather,” shows an abundance of these qualities. It is quite obvious that he has paid his dues. This handsome volume containing 71 paintings and dozens of black-and-white illustrations is now available from the University of Nebraska Press.

Agrarian Art Speaks to the Contemporary Culture: Homestead National Monument Exhibits "M.L. Moseman: Homestead Legacy"

By Amanda Mobley Guenther

In a time of political upheaval around the world, in a time of economic downturn in this country, in a time of major social change, America sits at a precipice. In many ways the heritage of our country is under attack and in some ways it is being revived. Let’s consider for a moment one area that is seeing change for the better.

Grow Local Oaks, Part Two

By Jack Phillips

Regardless of provenance, every bur oak (and most every organism) keeps time with the cosmos. When the sun rises on the oaks of my family home, the green magic that feeds countless creatures from turkeys to toadstools—not to mention the oak itself and the soil it grows in—begins. The photosynthetic system and all the cells that make up the symplast (web of living tree cells) function according to a circadian clock of about 24 hours—the time it takes the earth to make one axial revolution. This does not change; the cellular clock always measures the same length of time in every place and season.

Cover Crops: Increasing Diversity in Nebraska Crop Rotations

By Sam Wortman and Charles Francis

Cover crops are planted for conservation purposes and typically provide soil coverage between cash crop cycles to reduce soil erosion. Depending on what species are planted, cover crops may provide additional benefits to crops and surrounding ecosystems. Some benefits help farmers to increase grain yields and profitability, while others are less tangible and build long-term soil quality that contributes value to farmers, our environment and society as a whole.

Sonny's Corner

By A’Jamal-Rashad Byndon

I would like to share the story of Wilda Chue Stephenson, who passed away at the age of 86. As I am getting older—past 55 years old—I am starting to read the obituaries. Wilda was a wonderful woman who engaged in many conversations with me about the struggles that she experienced as an African-American living in Omaha. Decades ago I was involved in anti-apartheid work against the government of South Africa. There was this South African Episcopalian minister, Sipo E. Mzimela, who was invited to Omaha to speak about disinvestment and help educate the folks on why the U.S. and companies should join in this struggle for disinvestments. So many Americans were in support of investing in that regime because of the high return on their dollars in that country. He also authored a book called “Apartheid, South African Naziism.” The book was a comparison analysis of the Nazi government in Germany and the South African system of apartheid.

Immigration in Nebraska

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