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

Art on the Move

15 hours ago

Frequently, I see ornate box turtles crossing a country road or highway. Because I like this home-carrying little reptile, I dodge these little speed bumps. While seeing them slowly lumber across the road triggers a smile, I hadn’t thought much about these Kansas state reptiles until recently.

This summer, I’ve been waking up early to enjoy the cool morning air as I water, weed, and pick veggies. A bonus of rising with the sun is meeting some of my yard neighbors that hide during the heat of the day.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

The High Plains Journal has reported on concerns of High Plains farmers about the returning presence of sugarcane aphids to the region this season, which could be a threat to sorghum yields. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts have suggested that hybrid pearl millet might be an alternative for growers.

In the Great Smoky Mountains, A Lightning Bug Symphony

Jun 25, 2015
Ryan Atkins

Just for fun, while there's still some summer left, here's a travel idea to see one of nature's most magnificent light shows. During hot summers on the High Plains, we still get a chance to see lightning bugs dancing at twilight. But the Great Smoky Mountains National Park takes it to a new level.  

tortoiseforum.org

A look at a seasonal bug that's not really a garden pest but more of an outdoor nuisance at this time of year.  Buzzing incessently around any bright light to be found, and then crashing into anything that stands in their way, junebugs are a favorite menu item for toads.  So I put out the welcome mat for toads big and small, giving them right-of-way on garden paths and offering a cool dark hiding place during the day.  When it's suppertime, I leave the light on outside and offer the toads the best table at the Junebug Cafe.

Big Companies Expand Testing of Organic "Biopesticides"

Jun 23, 2015
Dan Charles / NPR

One of the biggest hurdles farmers have faced in recent years is the sticky problem of how to kill weeds organically. As conventional farmers fall under increasing pressure to use fewer toxic chemicals, they have begun to search for less pernicious methods of eliminating weeds, according to NPR.com. One answer is microbe-produced pesticides, known as biopesticides.

Panhandle Corn Crops May Recover from Wet Conditions

Jun 23, 2015
killermart / Flickr Creative Commons

Many Texas and Oklahoma panhandle corn producers have had to delay planting due to wet conditions produced by record levels of rain in recent months.  The High Plains Journal reports that corn farmers are considering planting corn hybrids that mature earlier, or perhaps planting other crops such as grain sorghum.

William C. Johnson

The town of Eads in Kiowa County, Colorado, was already familiar with wildlife tourism. The community saw the cleanup and preservation of a wetland south of town as an economic development opportunity, which would attract birders to the habitat to observe local and migrating waterfowl. A ConocoPhillips grant, administered through Playa Lakes Joint Venture, got the project rolling.

The Evolution of the Great American Combine

Jun 22, 2015
Edmund Garman / Flickr Creative Commons

Kansas Agland has a report on how much wheat combines have evolved over the last century. According to the ag website, harvesting wheat a century ago involved cutting wheat stalks with a horse drawn binder and gathering them in bundles. The bundles were then stacked into windrows to dry, after which a giant steam-powered threshing machine separated the wheat kernels from the straw. The entire process was extremely labor intensive.

Study Links Fracking to Low Birth Weight

Jun 22, 2015
todbaker / Creative Commons

A new study has linked hydraulic fracturing with low birth weight, according to The New York Times. Scientists studied almost 16,000 live births in southwest Pennsylvania, categorizing mothers by their proximity to sites where fracking was taking place. The study found that babies born in high exposure areas were 34% more likely to be small for their gestational age.

Nobody told me when I married a game warden that a pelican would take up temporary residence in my children’s wading pool. Nor did I realize my two tiny daughters and I would spend a couple of days throwing our hooks and lines off a bridge over Big Creek trying to catch enough fish to satisfy that visitor’s insatiable appetite. On the other hand, that eating machine never expected to vacation at our house either.

Latest EPA Water Ruling Ruffles Feathers of Farm Lobby

Jun 20, 2015
unknown NOAA employee / Public Domain

The EPA’s latest rule defining which US waters are subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act has come under attack by America’s largest farm and ranch lobby. The Rural Blog quotes the head of the Farm Bureau as saying that “the waters-of-the-U.S. proposal is even worse than before. Our analysis shows yet again how unwise, extreme and unlawful this rule is." The Farm Bureau noted the EPA has broadened its definition of a tributary.

Luke Clayton

 Howdy Folks!

I'm finishing up a book on wild hog hunting and processing, and my research has led to a surprising discovery.  

Trappers can sell the pigs to processors.  the processing plants have a USDA Inspector on the premises.  

Each hog being shipped to Europe is tested for trichinosis, a parasite sometimes prevalent in hogs, and very widespread in bear.  I thought all hogs, both domestic and feral were carriers of trichinosis.  That's not so.  I learned in thousands of pounds of meat, not one has tested positive for this disease.

William Majoros / Creative Commons

Scientists in Wichita who’ve been studying the feathers of a small bird called the dark-eyed junco have come across something interesting, and possibly troublesome. The Wichita Eagle reports that scientists found pathogens resting in the birds’ belly feathers. This might not necessarily be a concern normally, but here’s where things get interesting:   The winter habitat of juncos is being degraded. Intensified agriculture is causing the birds to choose less than optimal habitats.

Cromwell Solar

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Westar Energy faces a challenge — or at least it’s anticipating a challenge — in the growing number of Kansas homes sporting solar panels on their roofs.

Like other utilities, Westar relies on a pricing structure that largely depends on customer usage. The company charges a small monthly fee for customers to access its grid. But for the most part, how much customers pay each month depends on the number of kilowatt-hours of electricity they use.

United States Fish and Wildlife Service

A ConocoPhillips grant provided seed money to assist the state of Kansas purchase 160 acres of salt-marsh wetland in Lincoln County, Kansas, from an elderly landowner who wanted to preserve the land perpetually. Kansas state biologist Matt Smith dealt with owner Jim Gurley, helped Gurley achieve his goal, and says the process was a very satisfying experience. As it was non-federal funding, the ConocoPhillips grant got leveraged multiple times by increasing the amount of federal and state funding made available to the project.

Luke Clayton

 Howdy Folks!

Hop in the truck with me.  This week I'm taking you on a wild hog hunting adventure with Billy Kilpatrick and Terry Tate.  Billy and I are headed down to Terry's.  We're hoping Billy will be successful with one of Terry's big bore rifles.

Tomtato/Pomato

Jun 12, 2015
kplu.org

This week we'll look at some new doings in food production, as science makes the scene in both the garden and the fruit orchard.  A brief history of efforts to produce grafted tomatoes and potatoes brings us from the early 70's to today's promise of a single plant with tomatoes on the top and spuds beneath.  But this is nothing new to folks who have been grafting fruit tree limbs to produce tangelos, plucots, plumcots, and more.     

Jerod Foster

ConocoPhillips has teamed with Playa Lakes Joint Venture for more than 25 years to provide in-kind assistance and funds to provide conservation grants -- seed money to get conservation and habitat projects off and running. We talk about the importance of this non-federal source of money, which gets leveraged time and again by federal or state funds to make conservation/habitat projects happen.

Fawn Nurseries

Jun 7, 2015

Years ago our family tent-camped at Slough Creek Camp Ground, a primitive site at the north end of Yellowstone National Park where wildlife is abundant and close. That particular summer, the area’s fawn population had exploded. Does led babies to the stream bank directly across from our tent. While my husband fished, transfixed little girls and I watched the tiny creatures scamper and nurse while their mommas browsed and occasionally cleaned a baby. This is my fondest memory of camping with small children.

Luke Clayton

Well, howdy there folks!  It's big bass time on Lake Fork in East Texas.  As a matter of face, it's not just big bass time, but it's trophy bass time!  This week, I'm talking with guide Seth Vanover about the most effective method of catching trophy largemouth bass.   

Seth has perfected his method of catch and release.  He has Lake Fork Cat and Crappie.

Calendar Confusion

Jun 3, 2015
denimandplaid.blogspot.com

This spring's harvests of blooms and berries have really been a guessing game.  A bin-buster harvest of strawberries came at least a month earlier than usual, along with irises.  But normally plentiful peas and other cool-weather crops seem to playing a waiting game.  I have to place the blame on an on-again-off-again winter weather season, but what else is new in our corner of the world.

The Texas State Climatologist has declared the statewide drought effectively over. But, the main source of the Lone Star State's water supply hasn't recharged, and that's the aquifers. The biggest benefit of recent rains to the underground supply is less water is being pumped to the surface.

It takes a flood

May 29, 2015
Luke Clayton

This time last year, we were in the midst of a drought that seemed to be unending. Week after week, we watched our lake levels drop steadily. The outlook for ground nesting birds such as wild turkey and quail seemed bleak. Moisture is important for a good hatch and possibly even more necessary for the survival of young birds. Last year, there was very little ground cover in many areas to conceal newly hatched birds. Our stock ponds which often serve as private fishing hotspots were drying up. What a difference a couple of months make!

wikipedia.org

This week we'll look at the hows and whys of growing gourds, on both an ornamental or functional level.  Related to squash and cucumbers, few varieties are popular as edibles, but numerous types can serve in various ways.  Most of the work of producing gourds comes not with the growing but with how they are treated after the harvest.  Curing and cleaning are the first steps in a process that can produce bird houses, feeders, nifty containers, or art objects.

Recent rains might have pushed the drought out of our minds, but climate scientists say the hot, dry weather is a glimpse into the future, and Oklahoma is a good place to study what adaptations will work.

wikipedia.org

The past couple weeks have brought rain, rain, sorely needed rain.  It’s also saturated the ground and left some standing water.  That’s the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.  This report from KGOU.

Luke Clayton

Join Luke this week while he visits with Seth Vanover about the impact the fresh water from all the rain is having on catfishing.

Midwesterners rarely have the opportunity to hear the sound of the 17-year cicada, and this is the year. Some say it's annoying. Regardless of your assessment of the song, you won't get the chance again until 2032.

http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

The big story from the U.S. Drought Monitor for our region is rain.  Recent rains are made large scale drought improvement across southwest and west central Kansas.  There’s a small area of severe drought in northwest Kansas where the recen rains haven’t been as substantial.  Oklahoma and Texas has experienced big improvements, but some residual dryness is evident.

Exceptional drought conditions have been completely eliminated from Texas and Oklahoma for the first time since July of 2012.

Courtesy Ben Wheeler/Pheasants Forever and Nebraska Game & Parks Commission

Dave Hilfterty grows dryland winter wheat and irrigated corn in Perkins County, Nebraska. Dave had a challenge that was perfect for Wetlands Reserve Program assistance. Amongst his five irrigation circles there's a lagoon, which he got tired of trying to farm through.

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