Great Plains Research journal examines flood control, much more

Released on 04/24/2007, at 2:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Lincoln, Neb., April 24th, 2007 —
A color JPEG image of the cover of the spring issue of Great Plains Research.
A color JPEG image of the cover of the spring issue of Great Plains Research.

The October 1998 flooding of the Guadalupe River system in central Texas provided useful lessons to several plains states. The most dramatic was the inability of headwaters flood-control structures to reduce downstream flood damage, when a massive storm produced 15-19 inches of precipitation in 24 hours. The flood resulted in 31 deaths and more than $1 billion in property damage.

In the spring issue of Great Plains Research, a publication of the Center for Great Plains Studies ( at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Texas State University geographer Richard A. Earl analyzes the 1998 flood in the context of the regional flood hazard, effects of land use on the runoff, and the effectiveness of existing flood-control measures.

Acid rock weathering, a phenomenon that produces sulfate minerals and salts, had not been described in Nebraska until UNL geologist Robert M. Joeckel and colleagues discovered a large occurrence at an outcrop near Brownville. Their study suggests acid rock weathering should be considered in assessments of surface-water and groundwater chemistry in southeastern Nebraska.

Former UNL researcher Venkataramana Sridhar studied the evapotranspiration of the Nebraska Sandhills. "The Sandhills is predominantly covered by grass, which plays a key role in the stability of sand dunes. It is therefore crucial to understand and quantify evapotranspiration over this vast landscape," wrote Sridhar, who is now at Boise State University.

South Dakota State University scientist Eric Mousel collaborated with faculty from UNL and the University of Minnesota to study carbon sequestration potential of subirrigated meadows dominated by cool-season and warm-season grasses throughout the semi-arid environment of the Nebraska Sandhills. Historically the Sandhills were dominated by tall, warm-season grasses, but the introduction of exotic cool-season grasses early in the 20th century created a new mixture of cool-season species domination.

Terry Huffman from George Fox University in Newberg, Ore., and Ron Ferguson from Ridgewater College in Willmar, Minn., report their findings from a five-year study that examined the attitudes, perceptions, and expectations of higher education among American Indian students attending predominantly non-Indian colleges. "Ultimately, greater understanding of how American Indian students personally experience and assess college would be tremendously helpful," wrote Huffman and Ferguson.

What are the unexpected benefits of small towns in the Great Plains who are offering free land and other incentives to entice new residents? Kansas State University geographer Max Lu and Darci A. Paull from the Kansas Department of Agriculture discovered this question in their recent study of the free land programs for reversing rural depopulation. "The influx of new residents is only one measure of the free land programs' success," said Lu and Paull. "The new residents are bringing new businesses and new ideas to rural communities, improving their future viability."

Missouri State University sociologist Suzanne E. Walker and colleagues studied the population characteristics and use of health services by Latino immigrants in southwest Missouri. They said the relatively recent phenomenon of high Latino immigration rates to rural areas in the Midwest and Great Plains states is having an impact on a medically under-served region. Results from several interviews and surveys of 300 Latino households showed that low socioeconomic status and poor English proficiency are associated with lack of regular preventive medical and dental care.

University of Nebraska at Kearney economist Allan Jenkins and colleagues from UNK and Texas State University looked at water rights and land values in the west-central Plains. They found different prices for irrigated cropland in Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska, even when the production characteristics of the land are similar. "After accounting for factors like productivity and local property tax differences, we argue that it is the difference in water marketing rights between the three states that explains the price difference," wrote Jenkins, Bruce Elder, Ram Valluru and Paul Burger.

The journal is available for purchase from the center at (402) 472-3082 or in the Great Plains Art Museum gift shop, 1155 Q St., Lincoln.

CONTACT: Robert F. Diffendal Jr., Editor, Great Plains Research (402) 472-6970