December 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).


Unpublished Journal
Jan. 2, 1992

I learned, through reading about it, that there undoubtedly was a time when life was evolving on the planet Earth that was lived without eyes. Not to see!? Incredible! There was light and no eyes to see it.

The "Nutcracker"

By Kirsten Drennon

This December, thousands of children will experience the “Nutcracker” for the first time either as audience members or performers in the cast. This trip to see the “Nutcracker” is often a child’s first experience with the performing arts and can provide an introduction that inspires them to want to see more and, in time, become a supporter and donor to the arts.

Human-Altered Missouri Valley Spreads Floodwaters

Deroin Bend on the Missouri River near Indian Cave State Park, Oct. 24, 2011. (Army Corps of Engineers)

By Robert Kelley Schneiders

During the construction of the Missouri River navigation channel, the Army Corps of Engineers erected thousands of pile dikes and revetments to narrow, deepen and straighten the wide, shallow, meandering stream. Once the engineering works went into the river, the Missouri deposited its heavy silt load on the downstream side of the structures. Over time, new, elevated lands appeared in the river’s floodplain. Side channels, marshlands and scour holes—everything that constituted the floodplain—filled with alluvium. Accumulated sediments sharply reduced the floodplain’s ability to store floodwater. Valley farmers benefitted from the newly accreted land. They expanded their operations into the floodplain, planting row crops where native vegetation once grew. The floodplain’s loss meant the farmer’s monetary gain.

Nonpoint Source Pollution: Worse than the XL Pipeline

By Jane Griffin

Who would have guessed that it would be a proposed pipeline that would put in evidence the concern for and interest in the aquifer and the life-sustaining resource it contains: groundwater. But, boy, it sure has. It almost seems as if the fate of the pipeline equates the fate of the aquifer. Instead, the one indisputable fact relevant to this discussion is this: no matter what the outcome is of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, there will continue to be issues that strain or put our water supply at risk as our society grows and evolves.

Listening to the Conversations

By W. Cecil Steward

Water is essential to the sustainability of all life on the planet. Without access to a sufficient supply of clean water, human civilization and even human life itself is impossible. Human activity in Nebraska relies on a combination of surface- and groundwater sources. Surface water is obtained from nine major watersheds in Nebraska, while the High Plains (Ogallala) Aquifer serves as the source for an estimated 2.145 billion acre-feet of water, the second largest source of potable water on Earth.

Exploring Conservation Success in Africa

By Eric Schacht

In today’s economic climate, many beef cattle ranches find it tough to survive. In order to remain successful, grassland management models have been adapting.

In Nebraska, a multiple-enterprise ranch, where nature-based activities like birding, hunting and hospitality are integrated into the traditional beef cattle ranch, is rare, though it has started to pop up here and there around the state. However, internationally, in South America and Africa, landowners have for quite some time now have developed hospitality and tourism businesses that complement their cattle operations.

Energy Efficient Programs Are Best for Nebraska's Future

By Duane Hovorka

Nebraska electric utilities face important decisions in the coming months that will impact Nebraska’s air and water quality, economy and electric rates for decades to come.

At issue are a handful of power plants that burn coal to generate electricity for Nebraskans. Almost all were built in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s, well before modern pollution-control technology like that now required for all new power plants.

The Feathers of Winter

By Paul A. Johnsgard

For many Nebraska birders, the last big event of the year is the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, which is held annually during the last week of December. It is an occasion to join with friends in a day out to try see as many species as possible in a single day. More importantly, it provides a database that, combined with those of more than 50,000 other observers, provides a highly documented population sample of early-winter birds throughout North America, Latin America and the Caribbean region.

Sonny's Corner: Grace Abbott: A Nebraska Progressive

By Jane Renner Hood

I recently thought about Grace Abbott’s progressive legacy, especially for immigrants to the United States, when a young black man approached me in a Lincoln, Neb. library this fall and asked if he could use my cell phone. He wasn’t able to get a connection in the library on his, and so I dialed the number and handed him my BlackBerry. He spoke to his friend in an unfamiliar language, and when he handed back my phone, I asked what language he has been speaking.

Immigration in Nebraska

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