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Awareness:
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geology
hydrology (water, aquifers, rivers)
flora
fauna (wildlife)
climate
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Management & conservation
water conservation
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kansas.com

In 1810, the explorer Zebulon Pike wrote about Kansas, saying: “These vast plains may become in time as celebrated as the sandy deserts of Africa.”

Ripe, fragrant fruit from the orchard is the apple of any gardener's eye.

Too bad this year's crop of apples had an abundance of beady, little eyes of their own. 

This week's installment of Growing on the High Plains gets to the core of how to avoid "coddling" common uninvited guests that often make cozy homes in our summer fruit trees.

Getty Images

Oklahoma now has more earthquakes than any state in the lower 48, including California. And, as CNBC reports, the cause of all this shaking appears to be manmade. But can anything be done?

"The fairies break their dances and leave the printed lawn." —A.E. Housman

This week on Growing on the High Plains, I have an offbeat tale about odd circles that seem to crop up supernaturally on the grass. Rest assured: there's a logical reason for the peculiar presence of these "fairy rings," especially given this summer's peculiarities.  Whether they're marked by darkness or puffs of white, learn more about this serpentine fungus among us.  

They pray. They prey.

But pray/prey tell: why is it that gardeners have been seeing more of these elegant insects this year? Whatever the reason, they're a welcome sight -- not only for their alien-esque arabesques, but also because they feast on pests like something out of a horror film.

Hear more about mantids on this week's edition of Growing on the High Plains.

And it's a good one! (Don't forget your popcorn.) 

fivethirtyeight

In early 1952 an Oklahoma City petroleum geologist named William Atkinson raised eyebrows by purchasing earthquake insurance for his home.

His odd decision looked like a bit of psychic brilliance a month later. In April of that year Oklahoma City experienced a powerful earthquake—the most powerful in the state’s history until last week.

Kool Cats Photography / Flickr Creative Commons

Last week’s 5.6-magnitude earthquake in Oklahoma has now been upgraded to a 5.8, making it the highest magnitude earthquake in the state’s history.

In the wake of this massive quake, CNN Money has published an overview of what we know about these quakes.

USGS

Oklahoma fracking operations are facing a potential backlash in the wake of last week’s 5.6-magnitude earthquake, Bloomberg reports.

Last year, Oklahoma had almost 900 earthquakes of magnitude three or higher. Earlier this year Oklahoma regulators limited the disposal of oilfield wastewater in the state, hoping to prevent seismic activity. But this latest quake may trigger calls for more limits on wastewater wells in the state.

KFOR.com

Some Oklahoma drivers have grown concerned about the structural integrity of the state’s bridges after last week’s 5.6 magnitude earthquake.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

By Skip Mancini

It's back to school for kids across the High Plains, so I'd like to submit this audio essay about my summer travels.

As we revel in the centennial of the U.S. National Park Service, what better time to check out what Ken Burns's documentary calls "America's Best Idea?" Today's episode of Growing on the High Plains highlights our extraordinary trip to  Yellowstone National Park. 

Gardeners, when was the last time you had a young one at your side while you played in the dirt? Consider turning your next venture outdoors into a little life lesson for a child unfamiliar with our methods. When you plant a seed in the mind of a child, you never know what will grow.

Today we'll consider the many important lessons that can be learned from a visit to the garden. By encouraging a child's natural curiosity about plants, dirt, and how things grow, you teach them valuable knowledge about their world -- and where exactly they fit within it.

Paulmcdonald / Wikimedia Commons

Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado have agreed to a method of managing the Republican River, a waterway shared by all three states.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the river has long been a source of costly legal disputes and bitter exchanges between the states. The new resolutions were praised by the governors of the three states.

David Zalubowski / AP photo

The federal government’s Clean Power Plan is currently on hold after a judge ordered a stay on the legislation. But that isn’t stopping Colorado from trying to cut down on carbon emissions on its own, reports The Colorado Springs Gazette.

Children seem to experience a singular wonder when you put them in a garden -- something beyond the splendor of the grass, the blush of a plump pear, and the inviting smells and creatures. They also tend to tune in to what that garden says about its curator.

Today we'll take a walk through my garden, but please enter with a child's honest curiosity. As you survey the bean vines flanked with flowers, perhaps you'll see an unlikely shelter. I know I did. 

AP photo

Groups fighting the proposed anti-fracking ballot measures in Colorado are spending more than 35 times what supporters of the measure are investing, reports The Colorodoan.

Don't let chaos reign in your flower garden!

 Join me as we embark on PART TWO of our segment discussing those beautiful-and-beastly blooms: perennials. On today's show, you'll learn to parse out the "spreaders" from the "clumpers." 

Plus, just a few tips on digging up the mother plant, handling the root ball, and singling out which species might be invasive.   

  

Kelly Colgan Azar / Flickr Creative Commons

One hundred years ago, the Migratory Bird Treaty was signed between the US and Canada. The treaty was intended to protect endangered birds, and allow them to travel unharmed. But, as StateImpact Oklahoma reports, one particular protected bird is causing a good deal of harm to Oklahoma farmers and ranchers.

caninest / Flickr Creative Commons

One of the world’s most famous wolf packs may be gone thanks to years of excessive hunting, reports The Guardian.

Alaska’s wolves were celebrated in novels by Jack London, and the East Fork pack has been studied for longer than any other collection of wolves on earth.

Rural Blog

Last year, there were 640 oil spills in the US that affected groundwater or surface water in some way. As The Rural Blog notes, many of these crude oil spills go unnoticed and unreported.

In the last seven years there have been 2,500 reported spills. And that number is probably low due to underreporting.  Some oil and gas agencies don't even track spills at the state level.

Gardeners have a saying about perennials: "The first year they sleep; the second year they creep; and the third year they leap."

Today on Growing on the High Plains, we'll unearth a few common myths about these boisterous blooms, which are quite misunderstood by beginning gardeners. If you go into the ground with a deeper understanding of what to expect from perennials, you'll sooner reap the sweet smell of success.

usgs.gov

You probably don’t think much about all those grassy strips and medians you pass on the highway during your morning commute. But, as PRI reports, those medians are providing shelter to a whole world of critters.

Some days it's so hot you have to shake your fists at the sky and ask, "Are you Sirius?" And the dog star would blink down at you and answer, "I sure am."

In this week's edition of Growing on the High Plains, Skip takes us through the origins of the phrase "Dog Days of Summer," which has more to do with  ancients musing about the night sky than it does panting pups on the prairie. 

Environmental Protection Agency / Public Domain

Looking across the endless flickering grass of the Kansas plains, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a simple ecosystem. But underneath that grass, a symphony of life hums.

A teaspoonful of Kansas soil contains tens of thousands of microbial species, says phys.org. And now scientists have managed to untangle the complex strains of life that make up the Kansas prairie symphony.

News 9

Two Oklahoma contracting companies have settled claims over a fire at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Oklahoma, reports News 9 Oklahoma.

In today's High Plains Outdoors, Luke tells you how to use inexpensive cuts of pork to make some of the tastiest smoked sugar cured ham you can imagine.

Rural Blog

It’s no secret wastewater injection wells linked to fracking have led to a staggering rise in earthquakes in Oklahoma and Kansas. But now, notes The Rural Blog, oil and gas companies appear to have discovered a method to reduce man-made seismic activity.

Let's talk about native plants, and what they can add to YOUR High Plains garden. Not only do these natural neighbors have what it takes to survive in our unpredictable climates, they also make a seamless habitat for indigenous birds and bugs -- many of whom are crucial to the health of our landscape. 

AP photo

Last year was the hottest planet Earth has experienced since humans began keeping records over a century and a half ago. Before 2015, the warmest year on record was . . . 2014. And this year is on pace to be—once again—the hottest ever. As The Guardian put it this week, “we’re living in astonishingly hot times.”

This week's episode of "Growing on the High Plains" jabs into the secret life of A-G-A-S-T-A-C-H-E. How do you pronounce that? You'll have to listen to find out! Truly, it can be pronounced many ways, just as it's also known for its many spikes of blooming color. Enjoy this in-depth peek at a southwest native, also known as hyssop, that can add beautiful brushstrokes across your High Plains garden. 

MZMO / Flickr Creative Commons

As the threat of Zika increases, scientists are searching for creative ways to stem the tide of mosquitos in the United States. One answer may come in an animal that has traditionally been the stuff of classic horror movies: bats.

“In the United States, the vast majority of bats are insectivorous bats,” Dianne Odegard recently told Texas Standard. Odegard is a “bat rehabilitator” in Austin.

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