April 2013


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).

Passport 2013

By Shannon Peterson

There are more places to see and things to do in Nebraska than one can imagine. After all, one is able to follow in the footsteps of great explorers, pioneers and writers; discover wildlife from the prairie and revel in the state’s natural wonders; and get in touch with Nebraska’s rich cultural heritage at cafes, museums and galleries. Yet, it’s surprising to learn that many people, travelers and residents alike, don’t recognize what Nebraska has to offer.

The Nebraska Passport program is changing those perceptions and opening eyes to the state’s opportunities. The program was created by the Nebraska Tourism Commission to be fun and simple as it encourages travelers and residents to explore Nebraska, collect stamps from participating attractions and redeem them for prizes.


Unpublished Journal
March 24, 1992

Yesterday I spent most of the day watching the sandhill cranes between Doniphan and Shelton, along the Platte River west of Grand Island. Pastor Bruce Berggren of the Swede Home Lutheran Church has been wanting to go birding with Lee Morris, and I arranged it Sunday evening with Lee, when he and Shirley, son-in-law Earl Fuehrer and four grandchildren came into Coach’s Corner just as I was finishing eating. I joined them to visit and told Lee what I was planning, adding, “I’ll call Berggren about 8 tomorrow morning. If he can’t go, you and I will go anyway.”

Immigration in Nebraska

By Mary Garbacz

In Crete, Neb., the schools, churches and businesses are the infrastructure of a community that works.

And work the community does—with 2,000 people employed by Farmland Foods alone, without considering Doane College, Nestle Purina Pet Care and Crete Mills, all of which are major employers in this town of nearly 7,000, just a few miles southwest of Lincoln. They’re employers that pay wages and also medical, dental and vision insurance for their employees.

Farmland Foods changed the Crete community when it opened its plant doors in Crete nearly 40 years ago. The immigrant workers who came to work from countries south of the U.S. changed the community from its German and Czech heritage, changed the businesses in downtown, changed the language to Spanish.

But it didn’t change families; it didn’t change children. Many things remain the same—parents risking everything, working hard, so their children can have a better life.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Picking Up Where We Left Off, Part Two

By Tamar Jacoby

The third pillar of the comprehensive architecture is the least discussed but arguably the most important: fixing the legal immigration system so workers we need to sustain a vibrant economy can enter the country lawfully in years to come.

Fixing the legal system is an economic imperative. Highly skilled immigrants, knowledge workers, entrepreneurs and unskilled immigrants who fill jobs for which there are not enough willing and able U.S. workers: all are essential to America’s future competitiveness. Fixing the legal system to bring our annual intake more into line with our labor needs is also an essential piece of gaining the control the public craves. As we learned the hard way in the aftermath of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, without fixes of this kind, the problems of the past decade are all but sure to recur in years to come. If we don’t create a legal path, needed workers will be tempted to enter illegally. Meaningful enforcement will be difficult if not impossible, and a decade or two from now, the U.S. is likely to find itself grappling with yet another large unauthorized population.

The Photo Ark

Twin three-month-old red pandas (Ailurus fulgens) at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo in Lincoln, Neb. (Joel Sartore/www.joelsartore.com)

By Joel Sartore

For more than 20 years now, I’ve been a contributing photographer for “National Geographic Magazine.” They’ve sent me to every continent, and I’ve worked on 33 photo essays so far. Most dealt with conservation issues.

But it has not been enough.

Every year I see more habitat lost, more species consumed for food, medicine or simply for decoration.

The Photo Ark was born out of desperation to halt, or at least slow, the loss of global biodiversity. Frankly, I didn’t know what else to do.

Just Add Water, Part One

By Tisha Johnson

When flying over Nebraska, a curious pattern appears; field after field, green circles dot the landscape. Center-pivot irrigation is the painter. Providing the right amount of water at the right times, center pivots have become an essential tool to the farming community. Tapped annually for irrigating crops, there are approximately 24,000 groundwater wells within Nebraska. Due to the interstate agreements between Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska, Nebraska must share the water of the Republican River Basin. For decades and without much deliberation, this water in the Republican River Basin was inadvertently overappropriated by allowing the drilling of more and more groundwater wells.

Studying the Migratory Patterns and Stopover Habitats of the Endangered Whooping Crane

By Dr. Mary Harner

Each spring and autumn the endangered whooping crane (Grus americana) undertakes a great migration through the Central Flyway of North America, traveling over 2,000 miles between wintering grounds along the Gulf Coast of Texas in and around the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and breeding grounds in Canada in and around the remote Wood Buffalo National Park.

The Greater Prairie Chicken: Spirit of the Tallgrass Prairie

By Paul A. Johnsgard

I saw my first greater prairie chicken during the late 1930s, when I was about 8 years old. It was only a freshly killed carcass, a result of a day of pheasant hunting by my father. He had hunted in an area of tallgrass prairie near my mother’s girlhood home along the Sheyenne River in southeastern North Dakota, and had never before shot a prairie chicken. That area, now part of the Sheyenne National Grassland, was by then virtually the last place in North Dakota where prairie chickens were still surviving in good numbers. I studied the bird’s beautiful buff and burnt umber plumage carefully, thinking I might never see another. And, in fact, I did not see another until more than 20 years later, when I moved to Nebraska and began a university teaching career lasting four decades. During that period I made it my sacred duty to never let a spring pass without spending at least one sunrise surrounded by male prairie chickens performing their courtship rituals amid the previous year’s growth of native prairie grasses. I knew I was witnessing a rare sight, as old as the glacier-shaped hills around me, and as entrancing as a ballet performance of “Swan Lake.” It always was a time of spiritual renewal for me, a recognition that, in the face of diminishing habitats, polluted environments and declining populations, the birds were carrying on, with all the determination and energy that a 45-ounce bird can muster.

The Grouse with the Pointed Tail

By Paul A. Johnsgard

Nebraska is one of only two states (South Dakota is the other) that currently supports thriving populations of both sharp-tailed grouse and greater prairie chickens, both of which are largely dependent on large areas of native grasslands for their survival. However, both species have undergone major changes in range and status during the past 150 years. Prior to the Civil War, the center of the greater prairie chicken’s distribution was in the tallgrass prairies of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, but probably extended west to the southeastern corner of what became the state of Nebraska. In the heart of their historic range they probably supplemented their basic diets of native grass seeds with the increasingly available agricultural grain crops, such as corn and wheat.

Immigration in Nebraska

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