HPPR Environment

Awareness:
geography
geology
hydrology (water, aquifers, rivers)
flora
fauna (wildlife)
climate
weather
ecosystems
climate change

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

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.”

H2ORadio

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

"Walk me out in the mornin' dew, my honey." —Grateful Dead

As you know, healthy gardens love to grow (and grow and grow), so it takes a loving hand to keep nature's chaos under control. Today's Growing on the High Plains offers a snippet of wisdom about "deadheading," the process of eliminating dead or spent flowers from living plants. Not only does it refresh and fortify the foliage, it keeps the color poppin' and gives the bushy beauty a blowout.

Veterinarians and officials are hoping to keep a deadly foreign virus from infecting the American hog industry. African swine fever has been making its way off its namesake continent and into Europe, including Russia. Now, it’s reached China, leading to the culling of about 8,000 hogs.

Can Markets Save The Prairie Chicken In Kansas?

Aug 13, 2018
Ben Kuebrich / Kansas News Service

The booming calls of the lesser prairie chicken once rung out across western Kansas.

Accounts from the 1800s mention bands of hunters bagging dozens of birds each. Railways advertised special trains that brought sportsmen to shoot the birds in the Texas panhandle, complete with ice cars to preserve the meat on the ride home.

jbsa.mil

Texas is on pace to experience its worst year for wildfires since 2011, reports The Austin American-Statesman.

According to Texas A&M Forest Service data, weather conditions this year have resulted in nearly 900 wildfires statewide since the beginning of 2018.

From Texas Standard:

Raising cattle anywhere is hard, but it’s especially hard in the Rio Grande Valley. And that’s thanks to fever ticks. They can spread a fatal disease that decimated cattle herds through the 1900s and is still feared today. And it’s not just the ticks themselves that can cause headaches, but the regulations designed to control them.

Luke Clayton

In today's show, Luke tells of a recent hog hunt that required a bit of paddling of a small boat to get the fresh pork out of the woods.

A trail camera picture of wet wild hogs helped Luke decipher the whereabouts of the hogs and ultimately led to a successful hunt.

Take a listen! If you are a hunter, chances are pretty good you will be able to relate! 

Our Turn At This Earth: Nature Won Them Over

Aug 9, 2018
USDA NRCS South Dakota

Often in our culture, when thinking about land, we think only about how much money we can make farming its soils, grazing its grasses, mining its minerals, or harvesting its trees. We think this way, understandably, because we need to make a living and secure our futures, but in that pursuit, we sometimes fail to notice what the land already gives us in its natural state.

When it comes to High Plains weather, the only constant is change...and maybe unpredictability. So for those of us tending gardens in this region, the trifecta of odd weather, fickle heat, and apprehensive precipitation are forever a safe bet.

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. 

Farmers in a federal class-action lawsuit filed two main complaints this week against agro-chemical giants Monsanto and BASF regarding the herbicide dicamba, which is blamed for millions of acres of crop damage, especially to soybeans, over the last couple years.

Public Domain via PXhere

This summer, Texas has broken records for heat levels and electricity. The summer has been the second hottest on record and still may become the hottest ever if temperatures rise again in August.

Luke Clayton

More states are adopting hunting regulations that include the use of air-powered rifles and shotguns.

In today's show, Luke gives us a look at a double barrel air-powered gun that shoots both shot and bullets as well as arrows.

Courtesy

That’s the question I first asked myself some months ago when I began learning about the Soil Health movement. I’d seen a video of Ray Archuleta, the agronomist who spearheaded the movement, demonstrating how non-tilled versus conventionally farmed soils absorb water. When he placed a clump of soil from a field that had been tilled year after year into a jar of water, it immediately fell apart and turned the water brown, while a clump from a field farmed without tillage held together for over 24 hours.

Do I dare to eat a peach? - T.S. Elliott

On today’s Growing on the High Plains, I’ll wax poetic on the glories of this golden tree-ripened delight. Not those items you buy in the store picked green and shipped hundreds of miles, but those found on a backyard tree or roadside stand.

Peach trees thrive in many North American habitats including the high plains. All they need is cold winter weather and luck in avoiding a late freeze. Their relatively fragile blossoms can't take freezing temperatures.

Four large wildfires have broken out in Central Texas in just about a week. It’s part of a bad year for Texas fires, and climate researchers say the uptick in fires bears the fingerprints of climate change.

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