January 2012


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Unpublished Journal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. 8, 1992

The weather has been stormy Jan. 7 and 8. Most of the moisture came as rain on the 7th. Today started out warm and then a north gale brought a sifting of snow and freezing temperature—a January thaw preceded a January freeze. Today is a day for staying inside and looking out. Inside the print shop the chores are now cleaning the presses, organizing material, ridding it of the remains of children’s toys and sorting through adult’s tools.

Politics and the Missouri River

By Bob Kerrey

I have come home to talk about the politics of the Missouri River. In so doing, I want to call your attention to a problem. The problem is the residents of the basin through which this river flows have no public authority charged with the responsibility of resolving the constant conflicts we humans have over the uses of the river’s water. We have delegated that authority to a number of federal agencies. This, in turn, guarantees that the politics over the river are at best dysfunctional; at worst, they are counterproductive.

Fostering Small Town Innovation and Local Entrepreneurship by Copying Google

By Joanne Steele

I have spent 40 years living, working and volunteering in small towns. As a marketing specialist, I have been professionally focused on the unique marketing needs of rural communities and towns with populations well under 10,000. As a former teacher, I relish the challenge of translating complex marketing concepts into simple, doable steps that can be tackled by the busy business owners and volunteers who are the engines of small towns.

The Budget: Where Do We Go from Here?

By Dan Schlitt

The failure of the super committee to complete their assignments returns the responsibility of budgeting to the members of the House and Senate, where it belongs. What needs to be done now? There is one area of the budget that needs serious attention. If we are to bring the federal budget under control, the largest “entitlement,” Pentagon spending, must be controlled.

Book Review: "Growing with Nature: Supporting Whole-Child Learning in Outdoor Classrooms"

Review by Woodrow Nelson

“Growing with Nature: Supporting Whole-Child Learning in Outdoor Classrooms”
Publisher: Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation

Much has been said about the problems of children’s disconnection from nature and its consequences.

New terms have been invented—“nature deficit disorder” and “biophobia,” the fear or aversion of nature.

Children engage in creative play less and less. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that American children spend roughly six hours per day plugged in electronically. Time outdoors has declined dramatically. “Free-range” time in nature has virtually disappeared.

The Kingsley Eagles

Bald eagles vie for a fish on the ice in Keith County, Neb., Jan. 27, 2008. (Jorn Olsen)

By Mark M. Peyton

One of the best, if not the best, places to observe American bald eagles in Nebraska is below Kingsley Dam and Lake McConaughy, which are located on the North Platte River near the community of Ogallala, Neb.

In 1988 Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District opened its Johnson #2 Power Plant located south of Lexington to the public to view the collection of up to 60 bald eagles fishing and loafing in the tailrace of that plant. Rodger Knaggs, Kingsley Dam superintendent said, “Come to McConaughy, we have more eagles than that!” He was right (as he usually is).

Listening to the Conversations, Part Two: Energy and Materials

By W. Cecil Steward

Energy is the great equalizer—permeating every facet of our lives in Nebraska and on the planet. Energy heats our homes, powers our buildings, computers and vehicles. Energy grows our food and is the force behind mining and manufacturing raw materials into products for human consumption. Energy is everywhere.

Birding the Lake McConaughy Area

By Stephen J. Dinsmore

Situated at the base of the Nebraska Panhandle, the Lake McConaughy area is one of the premier birding areas in Nebraska and the entire Great Plains region. Much of this is a result of the diversity of habitats in this small area—a large lake with sandy beaches, lush marshes, riparian habitat along major river corridors, extensive thickets of cedars, the Sandhills grasslands and urban areas. Ornithologists and birders visiting this area have documented an incredible 363 species of birds, largely a result of the habitat diversity. In this article I’ll begin with some general advice on birding locales and then detail when and where some of the region’s birdlife can be viewed.

Buffalo Roads and River Bottoms: Restoring an Ancient Ecology

By Robert Kelley Schneiders

An ancient mammalian road network once crisscrossed the northern reaches of what is now the United States. Its trails had existed since the last ice age. For thousands of years, large mammals—such as the wooly mammoth, saber-toothed tiger, sloth, bison antiques and later bison bison, cut pathways across the land. Over the years the mammal trails became deeper and wider from the incessant pounding of hooves. Even before humans arrived on the continent, bison, deer and elk located the routes of least resistance through the landscape. After the peopling of North America, humans adopted those same roads for their own use.

Sonny's Corner: Grace Abbott as Progressive Crusader for America's Children

By Jane Renner Hood

As Nebraskans and their legislative representatives wrestle with important issues this next session—children’s welfare will be one, although at last report, it seems that immigration will not be for now—it may be useful to consider what a Nebraskan who played a vital role in shaping our nation’s social policy in the 20th century had to say about both issues. We considered Grace Abbott’s important work with the Immigrants Protective League in the last issue of Prairie Fire. This second half considers Abbott’s work as the nation’s foremost voice for children during the Progressive Era up through the early years of the New Deal with her work in the U.S. Children’s Bureau.

Immigration in Nebraska

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