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

Our Turn At This Earth: The Exploratory Impulse

May 24, 2018
Pexels

At age 12, my older brother Bruce knew more about the native plants in our pasture and the birds in our windbreak than I would learn by the time I was 30. I brought his wrath down on my head once for placing stamps of cardinals and woodpeckers, muskrats and badgers—crookedly, poorly torn, and in the wrong spaces—in his Junior Audubon Society booklet. But for the most part, I didn’t share my brother’s drive to understand the natural world.

My grandmother called them "flags," but they're also known as "poor man's orchids." Anyone aware of common flowers that take to our climate will surely recognize -- and likely know a little about --these blooms.

On today's Growing on the High Plains, I'll tell you all about the iris, a flower that's heady, hardy, and just right for thriving on the High Plains. 

From Texas Standard.

More than 40 percent of Texas is in some stage of drought right now, according to the latest data from the U.S. Drought Monitor. Some parts of the state are especially dry, like the Panhandle and the plains south of the area. That has caused some farmers and ranchers to face difficult choices – like what to do with cattle when there’s not enough grass to graze.

Public Domain

A black bear cub was killed in an accidental crash Monday near a Southwest Kansas town.

As the Wichita Eagle reports, the bear was found dead near Elkhart, Kansas. Black bears are an unusual sight for the area -- the last confirmed sighting in that county was in 2011.

But game wardens and biologists say there may be more bears in Southwest Kansas this year due to droughts and wildfires in New Mexico and Colorado. These conditions experts say, often push bears, especially young males, into Kansas.

Luke Clayton

Luke's guest for today's show is fishing guide Seth Vanover.  Seth guides on Lake Fork and Lake Of The Pines in eastern Texas for crappie, catfish and trophy largemouth bass. 

In today's show, Seth goes into detail explaining the subtleties of summer fishing for crappie using a jig and light tackle.    

Our Turn At This Earth: Well-Developed And Settled

May 17, 2018
Courtesy
Nancy Morill nancym@iinet.com / rittenhouseneedlepoint.com

“We saw it go from raw prairie to a well-developed, settled condition.” That is how one settler’s descendant, writing in a family history volume, describes the transformation of Sherman County, Kansas. Of course, not everyone would agree with the cultural outlook embedded in that statement.

Blink and you’ll miss the brief, springtime bloom of these purple-hued beauties. But not to worry—they’ll be back again this time next year…and the next…and the next. Because believe it or not, these sweet-smelling shrubs can have a lifespan of more than 300 years.

On today’s Growing on the High Plains, we’re talking about lilacs. Revered worldwide for their intoxicating fragrance and graceful cascading flowers, it’s actually their resilience to travel and transplantation that placed them on American shores early in our history.

CC0 Creative Commons

The State of Oklahoma is auctioning off an entire herd of buffalo, KOKH reports.

The herd of bison is currently located at Foss State Park, near Elk City, about 90 miles west of Oklahoma City. The herd consists of around 50 buffalo.

Luke Clayton

This week, we find Luke recouping from last week when he spent  three days in the mountains of southeastern Oklahoma hunting wild turkey with his friend Travis Benes, manager of The Choctaw Hunting Lodge.

Then, Luke went fishing for a couple of days at Lake Fork at the annual Yantis Catfish Classic , he also served as Grand Marshal.

Patrick Feller / Flickr Creative Commons

The Texas Panhandle has seen a high number of wildfires in recent years, as climate change and drought take their toll. Last year alone, grass fires in Potter, Gray, Wheeler and other Panhandle counties burned more than half a million acres and killed four people.  

Now, as The Texas Observer reports, that problem may be about to get worse. Experts say a federal initiative called the Conservation Reserve Program has exacerbated the fire risk.

From Texas Standard.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor Map shows most of Texas is in some stage of drought. The worst of it is up in the Panhandle, but almost everything southwest of the Brazos is affected.

Our Turn At This Earth: Mother's Girl

May 10, 2018
Julene Bair

My father, a farmer, took pride in his work, and, little sponge that I was, I took pride in him—for staying on top of things the way he did, for seizing, as he often told us a man must, the first opportune moment to ready, plant, cultivate, and harvest his fields. The markets rewarded my father’s accomplishments. His income supplied us with the essentials and then some—new cars and family vacations every few years, Christmas presents, nice furniture, college educations. He was our breadwinner.

Are you in the market for a little feline companionship? Perhaps some silver, furry buds to bring joy to your life? But maybe a friend that won’t sharpen its claws on the edges of your furniture or sit on your head at 4:00 a.m. begging for food?

On today’s Growing on the High Plains, we’re talking about another early-spring bloomer: the pussy willow! Though it’s fluffy catkins won’t purr, they’ll bring just as much feckless enjoyment to your home, inside and out.

Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson / The Texas Tribune

Three years after one of the worst droughts in Wichita Falls history, life is returning to normal. But as Texas creeps back into a drought, water experts say residents in the city and around the state can do more to conserve water and prepare for the next shortage, which is always on the horizon.

From The Texas Tribune:

Luke Clayton

This week, Luke visits with his friend Travis Benes, manager of The Choctaw Hunting Lodge, in Southeastern Oklahoma and discusses a recent hunt for eastern wild turkey. 

Luke has hunted Rio Grande turkeys for many years in Texas, but his experience with eastern "woods birds" is limited. Luke wasn't able to tag a bird on this hunt but he did have a couple of excellent opportunities, saw lots of turkeys, and learned a great deal about hunting them from Travis.

New research suggests that no-till farming could help mitigate climate change.

Our Turn At This Earth: High On Spring

May 3, 2018
Creative Commons CCO

Every year about this time there comes a Saturday when I begrudgingly forego plans with friends and commit myself instead to working in the yard. This year, that Saturday came last weekend. Respect for my neighbors demanded that I address the unsightly weeds and grass that had grown up in the wood chips around my shrubs.

What vegetable is versatile enough to bring a zesty, big crunch to burgers at a backyard barbecue, but delicate enough to add a refreshing refinement to finger sandwiches at a garden party?

That’s right! Today’s Growing on the High Plains is all about the cucumber. Whether relishing them on hot dogs, thick-sliced on a salad, or elevating a normal glass of water to something spa-worthy, cool hands have been on cukes for more than 3,000 years.

Courtesy / Colorado Life Magazine

FORT COLLINS, CO – The Four Corners Monument, where Colorado meets Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, is a well-known road-trip destination. However, the “three corners” marker, where Colorado’s southeast corner meets Oklahoma and Kansas, is pretty much unknown to most Coloradans, many of whom don’t even realize we share a border with Oklahoma.

CC0 Creative Commons

The month of May has long been considered the start of Colorado’s wildfire season so first responders, the insurance industry and government officials are warning homeowners to plan ahead.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, the forest service recommends maintaining 100 to 200 feet between thin standing trees and structures; to mow standing grass to less than six inches; and to remove flammable vegetation within 15 feet of homes.

Kansas is about to make it through the end of April without a tornado for only the fourth time since record keeping began.

Luke Clayton

I believed I mentioned in a previous column that I was heading up to Knox County to hunt turkeys at Ranger Creek Ranch, one of my long-time favorite spots for enjoying a variety of outdoor activities. Well, I’m just back from a couple days of hunting spring gobblers at Ranger Creek with my good friend Jeff Rice. There are no photos of gobblers with 11-inch beards to accompany this week’s column but Jeff and I enjoyed a great time in the spring turkey woods and around camp the evening of the hunt!

Our Turn At This Earth: After Sand Creek

Apr 26, 2018
Alan Hutchins

“Your grandparents started out right over there,” Tobe Zweygardt said, pointing to a farmed hillside in the distance. It amazed me how much information Tobe, an elderly retired farmer, stored under that billed cap he wore. I knew my father had spent his early childhood in Cheyenne County, but until then hadn’t known where.

There’s a particular square-stemmed annual with fragrant leaves and tubular purple blooms that often polarizes High Plains gardeners. Some say it’s a nuisance. Some consider it a colorful harbinger of spring after a long, drab winter.

On today’s Growing on the High Plains, we’re talking about the divisive henbit, a member of the mint family that establishes itself in the fall, matures to thick foliage, and then blossoms in the spring but generally disappears with the first hot spell of summer.

H2O Radio

By H2O Radio:

"Dryland" farmers on the high plains of Colorado grow their crops with whatever falls from the sky—no irrigation, no pumped groundwater—just what Mother Nature delivers. In recent years some have been trying to innovate to protect their soils and conserve water to prepare for climate change. But they're getting pushback—not only from their neighbors and their own families—but also from the government.

The "Dirty Thirties"

CC0 Creative Commons

Living the life of a Texas farmworker 1has always been a precarious proposition. But as Scientific American reports, the onset of global warming is making this work even more difficult.

Each year, ever-increasing heat, drought and mosquito-borne diseases are causing farm workers to worry on a very personal level about the effects of climate change.

Luke Clayton

Turkey season is going strong now and many hunters have already bagged their gobbler and have them in the freezer. But what about those wild turkey legs and thighs? Everyone knows those drumsticks from wild gobblers are too tough to eat, right? WRONG!

In this week's show, Luke tells how to make them fall off the bone tender. He also walks you through the process of preparing smoked wild turkey and sausage gumbo.

Yes, we have no apricots (again)! In theory, apricot trees should thrive in our High Plains climate. They are hardy enough to survive the cold winters, and our dry summers actually aid in the maturation of their soft, sweet summer bounty. So why do our region’s apricot trees only yield fruit every 5 to 10 years?

woodleywonderworks / Flickr Creative Commons

Wildfires erupted across Western Oklahoma again on Wednesday.

As The High Plains Journal reports, nearly 325,000 Acres had burned and were still burning as of Wednesday afternoon. This includes 68,000 acres in Woodward County and nearly a quarter of a million acres in Dewey County.

Wikimedia Commons

It may be hard to believe given the dry conditions, but fishing in southeast Colorado is better than ever.

This from the Denver Post.

In years past, prairie lakes like the John Martin, Queens and Adobe Creek reservoirs, were teeming with wiper, crappie, catfish and more. But all of the reservoirs on Colorado’s eastern plains can be susceptible to water level fluctuations due to dry conditions.

Pages