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

We all know that nothing compares to sun-ripened strawberries, home-grown in your own backyard. Well, spring has sprung, so it’s ripe time to begin planning your future crop.

Big cities in the Midwest are gaining ground on the rural communities that, for many decades, have thrived on the edges of urban development.

From Texas Standard.

Every spring, wildflowers bring Texans and visitors alike out of their homes for all kinds of photo ops. It’s not uncommon to see dozens of cars parked along Texas highways as families pose in patches of bluebonnets.

Luke Clayton

Last week, Luke "ran out of time" telling about a recent night air rifle hunt he enjoyed on his buddy Jeff Rice's ranch in east Texas. This week, Luke recaps the hunt and goes into a bit more detail describing just how he and his buddies harvested the porkers after dark.

Our Turn At This Earth: Indelible Infamy

Apr 5, 2018
Wikimedia Commons

It “…was the worst blow ever struck at any tribe in the whole plains region, and this blow fell upon friendly Indians.

We’ve finally reached that hopeful time of year. It’s the time when winter loosens its icy hold on the High Plains and the first signs of spring burgeon up from the frozen ground, dotting the naked foliage with the budding promise of warmer times to come.

If you’ve spent your life in the city, maybe you’ve never experienced the smell near a dairy farm, cattle feedlot or a newly fertilized field.

Next week experts from across the High Plains will meet to discuss how to protect one of the region’s most valuable resources – the Ogallala Aquifer.

Garden City is hosting the Ogallala Aquifer Summit on Monday and Tuesday at the Clarion Inn. The summit brings together decision makers including producers, policy makers, conservationists, and tribal leaders from across the High Plains.

Luke Clayton

Just a few days ago, Texas adopted a regulation that allows airguns for hunting big game this coming fall/winter. For the past seven years, Luke has been shooting and hunting hogs/exotics with air rifles.

There are more than 1,300 bat species. Some migrate. But for years researchers haven’t had much information about their migration patterns. Now, because of hundreds of telemetry towers and transmitters glued onto bats’ backs, a Texas Tech bat researcher is getting data about where the bats go. That could help Liam McGuire discover why hundreds of thousands of the flying mammals across North America die each year because of wind turbines.

WyoHistory.org

I’m not sure why this never dawned on me when I was a kid, but not until well into my adulthood did I put two and two together and realize that Cheyenne County, just north of our Kansas farm, was—duh!—named after the tribe that used to live there. Indeed, the 1851 Horse Creek treaty, signed at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, had granted the Cheyenne and their allies, the Arapaho, the land where I grew up, along with all the land west from there into the Rocky Mountains.

One of the dinner table’s most divisive vegetables gets some High Plains love. On today’s Growing on the High Plains, everything’s coming up broccoli. This notoriously-fussy grower has been the bane of many a gardener, but there are a few tricks about managing planting time and growing conditions to cultivate a successful crop, from stem to floret.

Watershed conservation groups in Wichita made their pitch Wednesday for more money from the federal farm bill.

But for two Kansas congressmen, conservation falls a bit lower on the wishlist.

Large Portions Of West Texas Sinking At Alarming Rate, New Report Finds

Mar 26, 2018
Rafael Aguilera

Nearly two years after a pair of giant West Texas sinkholes gained national attention, new research in the area shows they likely won't be the last in the region.

report released Thursday by geophysicists at Southern Methodist University says a 4,000-square-mile area near the "Wink Sinks" is showing signs of alarming instability.

Congress has passed a $1.3 trillion spending bill that’ll keep the federal government running. In that package, which President Donald Trump signed on Friday, is a fix for a troublesome provision for some grain businesses.

Passed in last year’s tax overhaul, the provision allows farmers to deduct up to 20 percent of their earnings from selling crops — but only to cooperatives. That threatens businesses that aren’t co-ops but also buy and sell commodities like corn, soybeans and wheat, including large companies like Cargill and Bunge to small, local grain elevators.

Luke Clayton

This week on High Plains Outdoors, Luke tells us about a couple of wild pigs he killed near his house last week. He prepared them "Old School", over an open pit, cooking with oak and hickory wood.

While bigger wild hogs are great eating, there is nothing in the wild that compares to the flavor of young pigs cooked slowly over coals. When making sausage or ham, Luke usually targets bigger hogs but for some awesome 'old school" BBQ, nothing beats a pig weighing 30-50 pounds.

Wikimedia

My cousin Mark Jones ranches in eastern Colorado on what were once the headwaters of the Arickaree, a tributary to the Republican River. Mark calls it the Ricaree. “Was there water here in the Ricaree when you were a kid?” I asked him.

“Oh yeah,” he said.

“Is there ever water in it now?”

“Hardly ever.”

Last week I shared my experience hunting down the elusive McFarland Juniper, so I thought this week I could offer a few more evergreen endorsements to round out your coniferous collection.

Today’s Growing on the High Plains will continue the conversation about landscaping with drought-tolerant evergreens. Gardeners, hedge your bets with a lovely Woodward Juniper perimeter, or perhaps rock out with a stunning, jade-hued Arizona Cyprus accent tree. Both trees are known to reach impressive heights, and neither require quite as much watering as you might expect.

CC0 Creative Commons

Recent radar imagery shows a large portion of West Texas, near the New Mexico border, is sinking at alarming rates.

Two massive sinkholes are heaving and moving near Wink, Texas, according to a geophysical team from Southern Methodist University. The sinking is occurring across a 4000-square-mile region. Some areas have sunk as much as three and a half feet in a little over two years, reports phys.org.

Jonathan Baker

Several fires burned throughout the Texas Panhandle this weekend, on a Sunday that was windy even by West Texas standards. One fire near the northwest loop of Amarillo ultimately burned 400 acres of grassland before being conquered by firefighters from Potter County Fire, the Texas A&M Forest Service, and the Amarillo Street Department.

Kansas Fire Service

State officials said yesterday that the recent rain helped emergency responders across Kansas put out the latest wave of wildfires. Sixty-two wildland fires burned more than 17,000 acres between March 14th and 18th. The wildfires initially broke out in Rice county but were followed by fires in eight other counties -- including Barber and Reno, which were affected by fires earlier in March as well.

Update: Texas Panhandle Wildfires

Mar 19, 2018
Texas A&M Forestry Service / tfsgis.tamu.edu/currentfireactivity/

Over the weekend, several fires broke out across the Texas Panhandle.

According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, the County Line fire that started in Hartley County on Thursday and spread into Oldham and Moore counties burned 15,682 acres. It is now 100 percent contained.

The second largest fire, the Old Muddy Road fire, began in Potter County Sunday and burned 4,480 acres as of Monday morning, at which time it was 65 percent contained.

Luke Clayton

Join Luke at the campfire in front of his cabin this week and learn one of his simple, but very tasty camp recipes.

We don't always have a lot of time for cooking on fishing or hunting camps, but this tasty recipe takes canned beans and sausages to the next level!

CREATIVE COMMONS CC0

Hays-based non-profit Sunflower Electric announced at the end of February that it will purchase energy from the Johnson Corner Solar Project when it opens in 2019.

As the Hays Daily News Reports, the 240-acre solar facility in Stanton county will likely be Kansas’s largest solar plant and will produce around 55,000-megawatt hours, annually. That’s around 1% of the total energy that Sunflower Electric and its sister company Mid-Kansas Electric produce.

L. A. Huffman

When we were kids, my brother Bruce had a knack for finding arrowheads on the pasture hills surrounding our family’s farm. Once, he even found a point resting in the grass at the base of a neighbor’s light pole. I would drag sharp edges of against my palm and imagine braves racing bareback over our once unfenced pastures.

But despite the fact that these artifacts practically littered the ground beneath my feet, I grew up ignorant of Indian history. I didn’t know that many of the battles I’d seen on TV and at the movies, between cowboys, or cavalry, and Indians had taken place right in the Kansas-Colorado border region where we lived.

I’ve long admired McFarland juniper trees—capable of growing to towering heights like an Italian Cyprus, but sturdy enough to withstand the severe High Plains droughts and wind. It had been a long-time dream to add one of these majestic trees to my landscaping, but would I actually be able to locate one?

Jeff McGrew stood in line with about 30 other western Kentucky farmers awaiting certification that they’ve been trained to apply the herbicide dicamba. The two-hour session explained the Environmental Protection Agency’s new restrictions on use of the controversial herbicide.

The session left McGrew uncertain about whether to use the spray.

“I'm undecided right now but I'm leaning towards not spraying it,” he said. “I don't think in our area we're going to have much of any place that there will be enough area that we won't have buffer zones or other sensitive crops and I'm not sure that it's going to work out for us.”

Luke Clayton

In today's High Plains Outdoors, Luke discusses planning a summer fishing trip to Canada. There is a wide array of options when planning a trip; everything from five-star lodges to "do it yourself" camps. Prices of these fly-in trips vary greatly.

In today's show, Luke tells about his trip last summer where cost, including float plane, lodging in a comfortable cabin, fish cleaning, and boat and motor was just under $1,000 US dollars.

Our Turn At This Earth: In Search Of Live Water

Mar 8, 2018
Julene Bair

I once read a beautiful definition of a spring:  “a place where, without the agency of man, water flows from rock or soil.” That water can just appear in this way, often in a very dry place, has enchanted me ever since I was a young woman, traveling and camping in the Mojave Desert.

In those miraculous places where water trickled through cracks in granite or up from an otherwise dry creek bed, life sprang forth as magically as the water. Fish weaved through clear pools, casting shadows on sand or gravel bottoms. Birds darted among willow shrubs and cottonwoods. Bees buzzed. Butterflies flitted from flower to flower. Invariably, I found places in the lush grasses where deer or antelope had slept.

The gift of live plants can be a welcome addition to any garden, but briars beware: it’s important to perform the proper due diligence of your recently acquired flora before you begin laying roots.

Today on Growing on the High Plains, I share a cautionary tale about my own personal experience integrating misidentified gifted plants into my garden, and the resulting siege that they aggressively waged against my existing vegetation. So gardeners take heed and head off any invasive maneuvers by properly identifying acquisitions before you plant!  

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