Flood waters from the Brazos River encroach upon a home in the Horseshoe Bend neighborhood, Friday, May 29, 2015, in Weatherford, Texas.Credit Brandon Wade / APEdit | Remove

Roger Mills, Prescribed Fire Association

Biologist Peter Berthelsen of Pheasants Forever took action to educate land managers how to burn and created burn trailers stocked with all the hardware required to safely conduct prescribed burns. Scotia, Neb. rancher Tom Hartman talks about using fire to control an Eastern Red Cedar invasion.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

last month Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin finally acknowledged the oil industry’s culpability in the state’s recent spate of earthquakes. Meanwhile, on August 3rd the state imposed strict new limits on how much waste fluid companies can pump. These cuts are the state’s latest effort to stop the earthquakes, reports NPR member station KOSU. The new regulations require the amount of waste fluid to be cut by 38 percent by October.

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Texas continues to see sales tax revenues decline. The Austin American-Statesman notes that the drop is linked to struggles in the state’s energy sector. August revenues were down .4 percent compared to the same time a year ago. Over the past six months, the state’s sales tax revenue collection has generally been slowing down.

Bo Rader / The Wichita Eagle

The battle in Kansas between the Republican leadership and the state courts has entered a new phase, reports The Kansas City Star. Four district court judges are now suing the state of Kansas. They’re upset about a 2014 law enacted by Governor Sam Brownback and the legislature, which took the power to appoint chief district court judges away from the state supreme court and handed it over to local judges.

Friends of ours who ranched along the Saline River found elk sheds buried in a bank when they were working cattle years ago. My first response was, “Impossible! We don’t have free-roaming elk in western Kansas.” After examining their treasures, it was clear the creature that lost these antlers inhabited this country over a century earlier. The ungulate that’d sported this rack had grazed native grasses and forbs before white men began tilling rich bottomland and running herds of cattle where buffalo once roamed.

Power Company to Invest in West Texas Solar Energy

Sep 11, 2015
Andreas Demmelbauer / Texas Tribune

the biggest power company in Texas has plans to harness sunshine. Luminant, a Dallas-based company, announced Tuesday that it would tap 116 megawatts of West Texas solar energy. That’s enough to power almost 60 thousand homes, reports The Texas Tribune.

2016 Presidential Race Lacks Rural Focus

Sep 11, 2015
Shawn Poynter

With all the hullabaloo surrounding the 2016 presidential race, The Daily Yonder wondered why so little was being said about rural issues. The blog noted that only Hillary Clinton has released any version of a rural platform. In the face of so much silence, the blog asked several prominent advocates for rural life what they believed to be important in the election.

Many Kansas Students Fall Short in Test Results

Sep 11, 2015
Mike Hutmacher / Wichita Eagle

Kansas residents had a look at state public school test assessment results this week, and the news isn’t good. As The Wichita Eagle reports, a majority of Kansas students are not ready for college-level work. The results were the first collected from new Common Core-aligned state tests administered last spring. In English, only 42 percent of Kansas students met grade level expectations for college readiness. In math, the level of prepared students fell to 34 percent.

Warren Vieth / Oklahoma Watch

Enrollment in Oklahoma’s state-supported health insurance program continues to dwindle, reports Public Radio Tulsa. The program, known as “Insure Oklahoma,” has been shrinking steadily for five years.

New ER to Open in Texas Panhandle

Sep 10, 2015
The Canyon News

The Texas Panhandle is getting a new emergency room, reports The Canyon News. But this ER isn’t in a hospital—it will be located on the block between I-40 and Amarillo Boulevard. Having an emergency room outside of a hospital is not new to Texas, but it’s new to the Panhandle. The facility is being opened by four seasoned ER doctors, who have 60 years of combined ER experience. The new emergency room, known as ER/NOW, opened for business at 7 a.m. last Friday.

US Farmers Markets Evolve with Changing Times

Sep 10, 2015
Meagan Perosha / Civil Eats

Farmer’s markets are thriving in the US. As of last year, there were over 8,000 of them across the nation. But these American institutions have changed a good deal over the past decades, notes Harvest Public Media.

For example, while many farmer’s markets are thriving, they are no longer the only way to sell local food. Consumers now turn to grocery stores, delivery services, and community supported agriculture, or CSA, programs.

Flower Power

Sep 9, 2015

We'll finish out our special series on weeds with a look at plants that could sometimes be mistaken for regular residents of a flower bed or border.

Their blooms can be colorful, but for the most part they will ultimately try to take over your garden space.  They also sometimes grow to ungainly proportions, so best to stay with basic well-known blooms and keep these interlopers out of your flower beds.

Farm Incomes Decline in 2015

Sep 9, 2015
Let Ideas Compete / Flickr Creative Commons

Net farm incomes in 2015 will be down 36 percent from last year, according to the US Department of Agriculture. That’s the sharpest drop since 1983, notes The Rural Blog.

Farm income hit a record high in 2013. But since then, it’s dropped by 53 percent. Livestock income is also expected to fall 10 percent from last year. The USDA "expects growers to accelerate sales of 2015 crops this year to help generate more cash."

Texas Enacts New Breastfeeding Law for State Employees

Sep 9, 2015
Christina Rutz / Creative Commons

Breastfeeding mothers who are employed by the State of Texas will now have an easier time of things. A new law took effect on September First that will provide legal protections to breastfeeding state employees, reports The Texas Observer.  

Kansas Narrowly Escapes Judicial Funding Disaster

Sep 9, 2015
John Hanna / AP

The budget battle in Kansas has spilled over into the judicial branch. And as reported by The Atlantic Monthly, the state narrowly avoided disaster last week.

The online magazine Slate has come up with a list of favorite slang words for each of the fifty states, plus the District of Columbia. Some are widely recognized, such as California’s “hella” and Hawaii’s “aloha.” Others are less well-known, such as Connecticut’s “glawackus.”  

New Website Helps Laborers Locate Work

Sep 8, 2015 The Rural Blog

There’s a new website aimed at helping skilled workers find jobs, reports The Rural Blog. The site,, contains a map function similar to Google maps, where skilled trade workers can locate open positions. The website provides information on available work for machinists, electricians, pipe fitters, tool and dye makes, and crane operators, among others.

Kansas Pheasants & Quail Forever

Native Americans used fire to manage rangeland for thousands of years, but a 100-year burning hiatus followed settlement by Europeans of the North American heartland. Those decades of fire suppression allowed invasive plants to negatively alter the landscape. But rangeland researchers and managers are awakening to the benefits of burning.

In Colorado, Rents Are at an All-Time High

Sep 7, 2015
Dipankan001 / Wikimedia Commons

Colorado rents are at an all-time high, reports Denver station KUSA. The average rent for an apartment in Colorado is nearly $1,200. That's up about 7 percent from last year. To deal with increased demand, housing units are being constructed throughout the state. Even so, Colorado’s vacancy rate sits at a steady 4.4 percent. As soon as one renter leaves, another renter fills their place. And when that happens, the landlord often raises the rent.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

When President Obama announced his Clean Power Plan to cut power plant emissions, he enraged Oklahoma leaders. But researchers and officials now say that the effort to could create new opportunities in Oklahoma, reports StateImpact.

In regional news, state and public college employees in Texas now have a new gauntlet to pass through during the hiring process, reports The Texas Tribune. As of September 1st, state hires will have their information run through a verification system managed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

From the time we’re little, our parents teach us to watch out for muggers, pickpockets, and other lurkers. What is more difficult is protecting ourselves from invisible germs we pick up either in public or at home where we think we can let down our guard. Somehow, somewhere, an unseen virus targeted my immune system the first week of school. I apparently didn’t wash my hands nearly enough.

A Texas teenager has developed an invention that could help fight water contamination. According to The Guardian, Perry Alagappan has developed a new filtering device which could provide a cheap and easy way to way to purify water.

Steven Acerson / New York Times

The New York Times recently reported on a growing problem in America’s backcountry. Hikers and backpackers in the nation's public lands are increasingly coming into contact with recreational target shooters.

Brownback Works to Preserve Ogallala

Sep 4, 2015
cstoddard / Flickr Creative Commons

Plentiful rains will not be enough to replenish the Ogallala Aquifer, notes the Hays Daily News. Last week, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback paid a visit to southwest Kansas, touring the bountiful fields there. But he stressed that the recent rains are insufficient to solve the crisis.

Texas Secessionist Movement Continues Its Push

Sep 3, 2015
Glyn Lowe / Flickr Creative Commons

The Texas Nationalist Movement made trips to 31 Texas cities last week to drum up support for the state’s secession from the United States, reports Reuters. The group is attempting to gather the necessary 75,000 signatures to get the question onto the primary ballot next spring.

Amid Oil Bust, An Industry Thrives

Sep 3, 2015
Mose Buchele / StateImpact

As oil prices continue to plummet, there’s one industry in rural Texas that’s booming: the repossession business. StateImpact Texas reports that repo men (and repo women) in Texas are thriving amid the bust.

A Peek into America's Unusual Culinary Past

Sep 3, 2015
Di Qiu / Creative Commons

Of regional interest, Americans of the 19th century had some rather unusual eating habits, according to the History Department, an NPR project that takes a fresh look at American History.

Prickles and Stickles

Sep 2, 2015

Though a far cry from cactus, today's weed entries definitely bring up some thorny issues.  We'll examine this sticky situation by defining the difference between grass burs and goatheads. And then we'll take a look at thistles that have come from other countries to make their home in the heartland.