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 have one: that list of  garden chores we scribbled down with good intentions.

It's that back-burner list that is far less pressing than the imminent "dig in the dirt" directives.

Though each year, some of those stagnant "to-do" items never seem to get "to-done." 

Today on Growing on the High Plains, I share my experiences with the daunting task of prioritizing what must be done and what can linger a little longer. 

Michael Gabler / Wikimedia Commons

Texas officials are warning that the pig apocalypse may soon be upon us.

Now, as CBS News reports, Texas is fighting back big time against the rampant proliferation of feral hogs. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller this week approved the use of a pesticide specifically designed to target wild pigs.

In search of profit, some conventional farmers may go local

16 hours ago
Bryan Thomas / Harvest Public Media

Low crop prices have many Midwest wheat and corn farmers looking for ways to supplement their incomes. One possibility for conventional farmers: producing food for farmers markets.

Wikimedia Commons

Several agriculture groups are sending letters to President Donald Trump in support of opening up trade, but with the new president’s recent exit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership along with his threats to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, some farmers and ranchers are starting to worry their entire industry will experience collateral damage as a result.

Kansas Geological Survey

Thanks to timely rains last year, Mount Hope-area farmer Jeff Winter figures on some of his fields he pumped half the amount of water that he normally uses to irrigate his crops.

So did many central Kansas farmers. And it showed. 

While the Ogallala Aquifer continues to decline, the Equus Beds and Great Bend Prairie aquifers saw rises as irrigators shut down their wells more often in 2016.

"We didn't have to pump as much, and we shut off more frequently," said Winter, who also is on the Equus Beds board. He added that on a few fields, he pumped even less.

Luke Clayton

Join Luke this week as he recaps a recent two day outdoor adventure with some good friends.

First, it was trophy blue catfish at Lake Tawakoni in northeastern Texas with guide David Hanson and friends Larry Weishuhn, Rick Lambert (country music singer Miranda Lambert’s dad), and Jeff Rice.

Wheat's merit debated as acreage falls

Feb 16, 2017
Travis Morrise / The Hutchinson News

While farmers across the central plains were gradually easing away from planting wheat, the Horton brothers were doubling down.

Over the past 10 years, Rick Horton and his younger brothers Matt and Alec put together a business at Leoti, Kansas, that consists of portable wheat seed cleaning and seed treatment along with selling certified seed from more than a dozen varieties they test annually on their own farm.

Today's  installment of Growing on the High Plains  might feel a bit like an audio submission to the Antiques Roadshow, as I share with you the history of my prized collection of authentic McCoy pottery.

More than a century ago, Nelson McCoy  founded his famed stoneware company in Roseville, Ohio. The vessels were noted for their simple, utilitarian design, as well as their durable, high-quality construction. In fact, I can attest that these puppies are indeed resilient -- even in the face of a potential catastrophe.

Standing high above the Eastern Plains of Colorado, east of Limon, stands the “World’s Wonder View Tower,” which during the town’s heyday, was a popular stop for tourists traveling through.

The Colorado Preservation, Inc., has selected the aging tower as one of three of the state’s site in danger of disappearing. 

Podcast sheds light on bison herd tug-of-war

Feb 15, 2017
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

There’s a tug-of-war happening in the western United States and the American bison is stuck in the middle.

While some are working to increase bison numbers in the western U.S., others are saying not so fast and the new podcast called Threshold is putting a spotlight on the tug-of-war.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, Threshold’s podcast features those on both sides of the issue.

A new barrier to life on the farm: Student debt

Feb 15, 2017
Kristofer Husted / Harvest Public Media

Liz Graznak runs an organic farm in Jamestown, Missouri, which she calls Happy Hollow Farm. She sells her vegetables to local restaurants, in CSA boxes and at the farmer’s market.  But eight years ago, after falling in love with the idea of growing her own local produce, the farm she runs today looked like a near-impossible dream.

Nebraska planning ahead for climate change

Feb 15, 2017
N.A.S.A.

Average annual temperatures in Nebraska are expected to increase by 8 or 9 degrees by 2075, according to one of the lead authors of a University of Nebraska-Lincoln report on climate change impacts in Nebraska.

Ullstein Bild / Chron.com

Spring is approaching, and that means dangerous High Plains animals will be out on the prowl. The Houston Chronicle has published a helpful guide to know what to do in case of trouble.

If you encounter a wild boar, remain calm and move away slowly. If the boar attacks, climb at least six feet off the ground. If you can’t climb, try to stay on your feet.

Dan Mullin / Flickr Creative Commons

There’s been an unexpected victim of President Trump’s decision to freeze all regulatory action within the Federal Government. The rusty-patched bumblebee has seen its numbers drop by 87 percent in the past couple of decades.

Jason Hartman / Kansas Forest Service

It cost Barber County about $1.5 million to fight the Anderson Creek Fire.

That figure represents suppression costs, such as fuel, repairs, food, ice and water, said Jerry McNamar, the county’s emergency management director. About $400,000 of the cost was for four National Guard helicopters, which dropped water on the fire over two days.

“That’s the total cost of putting the fire out,” he said.

Wages are a very small part of the total. Moreover, Barber County’s fire crews are all volunteer. Each volunteer firefighter in Barber County gets $15 a run.

Luke Clayton

Guide Billy Carter is Luke's guest this week.

Billy has lived and guided on this huge cypress swamp/lake for the majority of his life. He and his wife Dottie have several rental houses located right on the water  www.spatterdock.com  and Billy also manages Johnson's Ranch Marina, the oldest inland marina in Texas.

Tune in this week and learn a bit of history about this mystical place. 

Valentine's day is coming, and love is in the air. So today on Growing on the High Plains, I'll tell you about an enchanted, amorous bloom often referred to as "Love in a Mist." 

You know how that special someone makes you feel like you're walking on air? Likewise, these bright, ethereal blooms appear to levitate over a frothy, feathered bed of foliage.  But watch out! Like lovers, they'll grow thorny with time. Thankfully, like love, they're always worth the trouble.

Creative Commons CC0

Colorado and Texas each rank in the top 10 un the nation as hubs of solar energy employment.

As The Denver Post reports, Colorado’s solar companies added more than 1,000 workers last year, according to the National Solar Jobs Census, allowing the state to maintain its top-10 ranking as a hub of solar energy employment.

FuelFix

Protesters have been amassing in West Texas, down near Big Bend, to challenge the construction of yet another oil pipeline.

As FuelFix.com reports, the activists are setting up to oppose the Trans-Pecos Pipeline. The protest camp is made up of a combination of environmentalists and ranchers who own the land where the pipeline is being built. The pipeline is being constructed by Energy Transfer Partners, an outfit in Dallas.

Travis Morrise / The Hutchinson News

With Kansas' Ogallala Aquifer continuing to decline, a Haskell County farm family tested the age-old water law adage "First in time, first in right," and won.

Haskell County District Court Judge Linda Gilmore ruled Wednesday in favor of the Garetsons and their more-than-80-year-old vested senior water right in the county, granting a permanent injunction against American Warrior - shutting off the company's two junior water wells that are impairing the Garetsons' right.

Luke Clayton

Luke's Dragon Claw 50+caliber air rifle shoots not only 50-caliber round balls and pellets but also the Air Bolt, which is an arrow.

The Dragon Claw is pressured to about 3,000 psi via a scuba or carbon fiber tank and provides multiple shots on each filling. There is a low and high power setting. Low power works great for many shots when target shooting but when hunting big game such as wild hogs or exotics, the high power setting is recommended.

Creative Commons CC0

A large unseen force is pushing the Milky Way across the universe, according to a new research study.

As CNN reports, the newly discovered Dipole Repeller explains the why behind what researchers have known for the past three decades – that the galaxy is moving at a relative speed.

To some people, a plant is a plant is a plant. But to the phytophilous (or plant-loving) High Plains gardener, identifying our native flora can often be as fun as tending their beds.

Today's installment of Growing on the High Plains compares two competing conventions.

First, we'll discuss the often-complex botanical naming system used to identify various species of plants. (Sometimes, it's all Latin to me.)

Next, I'll share a few of the delightful "common names" often used as shorthand when describing three of my favorite house plants.

Amy Bickel / The Hutchinson News

MEADE – Off a dirt road on an abandoned farmstead in Meade County, Rex Buchanan searched for a metal pipe hidden in tall weeds.

Back a few decades ago, the search would have taken much longer – almost like finding a needle in a haystack. But GPS pinpointed the location and sure enough – in the middle of the thickest clump – a tube is sticking out of the earth.

We've all seen them.

Those curious mirrored balls, perched among the pansies, gracing the gladiolas, and reflecting a fish-eye panorama of the garden in which it resides?

Well, these ocular orbs have a long history! On today's Growing on the High Plains, I'll round out your knowledge of these garden globes, including a personal story of how I acquired my own.  

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Colorado is being sued by an environmental group over the state’s controversial plan to kill mule deer predators.

San Antonio Express News

Nuclear power plants could be on their way out of the Lone Star State. As the San Antonio Express-News notes, Texas’ nuclear fleet is confronting some of the same issues that have led to plant closings in other states.

The main reason? The success of wind power, combined with oil market oversaturation due to fracking technology.

Ice storm brings much needed moisture to Kansas crops

Jan 24, 2017
Kansas State Research and Extension

While last week’s ice storm wreaked a lot of havoc in the form of power outages, broken tree limbs and icy roads, it also brought much needed precipitation to Kansas’s wheat and alfalfa crops.

Residents of Colorado will need to provide proof of ownership for certain recreational vehicles to meet a new requirement enacted by the Colorado Legislature to assure that stolen vehicles are not being bought or sold.

An international study published in the journal, Nature Communications, reports that harvests in the United States are likely to shrink by a between one-fifth to half their current sizes due to rising temperatures over the next century.

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