HPPR Environment

hydrology (water, aquifers, rivers)
fauna (wildlife)
climate change

Management & conservation
water conservation
soil conservation
wildlife protection
policies & regulations

EPA METHANE ROLLBACKS -  Oil and gas drillers across Texas could soon be allowed to emit a lot more methane into the air.    According  to  Houston Public Media, the  Environmental Protection Agency  is moving to roll-back some Obama-era rules on monitoring oilfield methane leaks.   The Trump Administration says its proposal would save energy companies about 484 million dollars in regulatory costs.

Luke Clayton

Fall is definitely in the air and Luke comes to us this week from the porch of his hunting cabin.

He is reminiscing a bit about past hunts and giving some tips for the upcoming bow season for deer.

On a recent scouting trip, Luke noted that there is an abundant acorn crop this season and he is looking forward to a banner season. 

Public Domain

When it came time to plant a new windbreak on my family’s farm back in the 1980s, my father wanted just junipers or elms, while I wanted both of those, plus lilacs, Russian olives and plums, not in rows, but all mixed together randomly, like in a real forest.

We fought over those trees the way close family members will do as if our separate wishes were a threat to our mutual identity. He must have felt as if I were rejecting his very way of life and being, while I yearned for him to accept and share my taste for wildness.

Kansas' long drought is fading.

Drought covered more than 80 percent of Kansas in April. Now the National Weather Service says most of the state is drought-free.

Still, the dry conditions remain severe in parts of northeastern Kansas.

"Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work." —Booker T. Washington 

Many folks take to gardening as a way to relax, focus on nature, and unwind. However, it doesn't take long to realize this hobby can be VERY hard work.

Michael Stravato / The Texas Tribune

A forthcoming report by the Texas Campaign for the Environment Fund says the standards Texas uses to determine how much — and whether — to clean up abandoned industrial facilities and other contaminated sites are 'significantly weaker' than those of neighboring states and the federal government, in part because it tolerates a higher cancer risk.

From The Texas Tribune: 

To be an oil person in Kansas is to understand that bad times follow good and that betting on any dip or upswing is a game for suckers.

Yet it can be so tempting when crude prices soar. There’s so much money to be made.

Or, of course, lost.

High Plains Outdoors: A New Way To Prepare Dove

Sep 7, 2018
Luke Clayton

Luke discovered a new way to prepare dove that differs from the traditional dove breast with a sliver of jalapeno wrapped in bacon! Why not stuff an entire Hatch chili pepper with cheese, onion and boned out pieces of dove breast?

He used strips of wild pork loin marinated in lime juice. 

Luke tested his new recipe at dove camp the day before the opener - BEFORE he had the opportunity to shoot any dove. 

Julene Bair

Last month, my partner and I, having become mutually deluded, decided to go backpacking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Al had done this many times as a younger man. Now 67, he likes to remind me that he is two whole years my junior. I had only backpacked a few times in that long life of mine, but with visions of diving into blue mountain lakes, I thought that a three-mile jaunt into the Sierras should be no problem.

For those who aren't accustomed to its unique landscape, our High Plains home is certainly a sight to see. After a recent visit from East-coast friends, I felt as if I saw the fields of Kansas with new eyes. 

So today's Growing on the High Plains will take a late-summer pause to review some of the spectacular native prairie grasses you might be taking for granted. Did you know that Kansas has the largest contiguous tract of native remnant—or uncultivated—tall grass prairie? I'll detail the different types common to our region, from the short and medium varieties to the towering tall grass favorites. (And living in a state with all three is a pretty rare thing!)

A plan to build a publicly funded seawall to protect oil refineries has highlighted gaps in how oil and gas companies inform investors of potential risks associated with climate change.

Luke Clayton

What is tastier than a big breakfast of eggs, hash browns, biscuits and SUGAR-CURED, SMOKED HOMEMADE HAM?

In this week's High Plains Outdoors, Luke explains how easy it is to make cured, smoked ham at home. We're not talking about whole, bone-in ham here, but rather chunks of ham a couple of inches thick, weighing a pound or two each.

Julene Bair

This May, when I paid a visit to the North Dakota farm of the well-known Soil Health advocate, Gabe Brown, I felt particularly blessed to take part in a conversation with the insightful soil scientist, John Norman. Although he retired some time ago from university teaching and research, John had agreed to oversee a study of the soils on Gabe’s farm.

He was motivated in this research by his understanding of prairies and the soils beneath them as living systems.

Today's Growing on the High Plains peels back the petals and puts them right on you plate. That's right, we'll chew on the murky history of eating floral fodder, from its medieval and herbal medicinal roots to its modern application in haute cuisine.

Wikimedia Commons

Xcel Energy’s plan to boost renewables was approved by Colorado regulators Monday.

As The Denver Post reports, Xcel Energy Colorado plans to boost the share of power it gets from wind and solar and retire a third of its coal generation.

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission voted 2 to 1 in support of Xcel’s Colorado Energy Plan, which the company says will increase its renewable energy sources to 55 percent within the next eight years.

Turtles across the state can breathe a sigh of relief this weekend, thanks to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. In a vote this week, the statewide environmental regulator prohibited commercial hunting of Texas turtles – a measure that's been slow-moving for years.

Luke Clayton

Like most folks from my generation, I was dragged kicking and screaming into the modern era of fast speed internet, phones that do way more than allowing me to hold a conversation. I can now actually request a ride by typing my destination on my phone and watch the device plot the route of my driver as he comes to get me!

Julene Bair

“This farming has gotten so industrialized and out of hand,” Gabe Brown said.

We were sitting in the shade on his North Dakota regenerative farm, watching several hundred chickens scratching in a field of mixed cover crops. They provided ready contrast to the ills Gabe was describing. Most chickens these days live in cages so small they can’t even spread their wings.

Abe Collins, a soil advocate colleague of Gabe’s, felt he understood the root of the problem.

Consumers are buying more certified organic fruits and vegetables every year, and in the Midwest and Plains states, much of it is grown on small farms.

To comply with organic rules, some use livestock to provide natural fertilizer. Two separate studies in Iowa are trying to quantify the soil health, yield and, eventually, economic impact of grazing animals on the fields after vegetables are harvested.

New Trump administration rules aimed at protecting the coal industry reverse Obama-era regulations on greenhouse gases by letting states set their own rules.

That means Kansas regulators could clear the way for more coal, but economic trends have already driven a shift to natural gas and wind power.

"Maybe seeing the Plains is like seeing an icon: what seems stern and almost empty is merely open, a door into some simple and holy state." —Kathleen Norris 

On today's Growing on the High Plains, I'd like to share a recent field trip I made in April to the Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Heston, KS. This natural museum has held a special place in my heart for years, so I wanted to make sure the girls who help me in my garden were also able to experience it firsthand.

On the High Plains in West Texas, hot winds blast through cotton fields as far as the eye can see.

In the middle of it all is a tiny vineyard.

Andis Applewhite is the owner. She's an artist whose family has worked this land for a century. They once planted crops more typical of the neighborhood, like cotton and wheat. Applewhite decided to try something different: She put in a couple of acres of cabernet franc grapes.

Seven years ago, a toxic form of algae bloomed in Milford Lake near Junction City. Kansas had never really seen a bloom quite like it before. It lasted for almost three months and has returned every summer since.

The event set state scientists looking for what spurred the blue-green algae, scientifically known as cyanobacteria, and how to stop the return of what is essentially killer pond scum.

From Texas Standard:

Up and down the Gulf Coast, Texans are still trying to get back to where they were before Hurricane Harvey hit. Some have had to rebuild from the ground up. For others, the trouble is with the ground itself.

Pesticides are all over, from backyard gardens to cornfields. While their use doesn’t appear to be slowing, concern over drift and the resulting effects on health is driving research — and more worries.

Those concerns are bringing pesticides to a different venue: courtrooms. 

After 13 years of work, a consortium of 200 scientists from 20 countries has released the first complete genome sequence for wheat. The discovery sets the stage for advances in a staple crop at a time when rising temperatures are beginning to threaten global production.

Luke Clayton

Tune in this week and listen to Luke tell how he got his start as an outdoors writer 29 years ago.

Luke has been penning an outdoors newspaper column that now appears in 41 newspapers. He also freelances for several hunting and fishing magazines.

To learn more about Luke and all that he does, visit his website www.catfishradio.org.

Our Turn At This Earth: The Missing Loop

Aug 16, 2018
Julene Bair

By lucky coincidence, my visit this May to the North Dakota farm of the remarkable soil health advocate Gabe Brown corresponded with a study being led by two other remarkable men. One of them was Abe Collins, who has spent most of his life raising cattle and sheep.

Collins is now mapping the soils on regenerative farms such as Gabe’s, hoping to create what he calls a “translation utility.”


Agriculture uses a lot of water. But what if that water were used for more than growing food? What if it could generate energy—renewable energy? It can, and a program in Colorado is helping farmers harness hydropower to lower costs, save time—and conserve the water itself.

From H2ORadio