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

CC0 Creative Commons

Texas has approved the closure of two more major coal-powered energy plants, reports The Houston Chronicle.

The news will mean the layoffs of over 800 workers. Texas’s electric grid operator has determined that the closures will not adversely affect the state’s grid reliability.

Kansas’ energy-regulating agency will investigate nearly a decade’s worth of permits it granted to oil and gas companies after learning recently that some wells received permits without meeting certain state regulations.

The probe, announced Tuesday, will determine the number of wells approved since 2008 without the companies giving nearby residents accurate information about their rights to protest the wells.

The tax reform bill passed Nov. 16 by the U.S. House could slow development in the wind energy sector by reopening a two-year-old deal.

One industry leader says they’ll need the Senate in their court to protect their current agreement, which phases out production and investment tax credits through 2020.

CCO Creative Commons

The yellow Ag Tractor swooped in low, the wheels maybe 30-feet above the ground, as it approached Taxiway Charlie.

Suddenly, a mass of water gushed from the back of the plane, causing it to jerk quickly upward. Banking its wings, the pilot turned the plane toward the Hutchinson Airport.

In this week's show, Luke gives some tips that might help you transform that big buck or doe into some tasty steaks and roasts.

Hanging a deer a couple of days before butchering is always a good idea, but sometimes not possible because of warm temperatures. In a controlled environment, such as a walk-in cooler that can keep the meat just above freezing for several days greatly improves the flavor. If the weather is cool, it's always a good idea to hang the deer in a garage, barn or covered structure for a couple days.

USDA NRCS

The USDA has increased its forecast for Colorado’s corn production.

As The Prowers Journal reports, the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Nov. 9 crop production report is forecasting 187.96 million bushels of corn this fall, due to an anticipated increase in average yield, which is projected at 148 bushels per acre, up about 3 bushels per acre from last month, when the USDA predicted overall corn production in Colorado at 184.15 million bushels.

Our Turn At This Earth: Plains Icons

Nov 16, 2017
Patrick Bolduan

Every few years, I obey the compulsion, as instinctive as a migratory bird’s, to return to the home nest. Last time I visited the northwest Kansas farm I grew up on, I parked my car by the pole that used to bring electricity to our house. The electricity it brought now kept a pivot sprinkler clocking through the ghost of the farmstead my mother’s family had settled in 1906. As usual, I walked down the rows of ankle-high corn, searching for artifacts I might recognize.

Today on Growing on the High Plains, I'll dig back through my memories of the Osage orange tree—a scruffy-but-useful native of our region.

You might know them as the bushy bearer of hedge apples—those puckered, chartreuse orbs that usually just clonk to the ground and rot. Well, I grew up knowing them by a very different name, and our family employed them as pest control, believe it or not. But ask a rancher or farmer trying to secure their property border, and they'll tell you that these trees are good for a lot more!

A panel of Kansas lawmakers says the Legislature should follow through on promised funding for water projects across the state.

Story, headline updated Nov. 22 with ruling — A U.S. appeals court has agreed to the EPA's request for more time to implement the emissions-reporting requirement. The mandate will now go into effect on Jan. 22.

In the hopes of not repeating a problematic year for soybean crops, farmers across the U.S. are deciding how best to protect their crops and their livelihood next year from drift damage caused by the weed killer dicamba.

todbaker / Flickr Creative Commons

The oil boom continues in the Permian Basin region of West Texas, and with the boom comes an increase in natural gas flares. According to The San Antonio Express-News, natural gas flaring in the Permian Basin rose significantly from 2009 to 2014.

Texas Farmer Turning Wine Into Water

Nov 14, 2017
CCO Creative Commons

A Texas farmer is turning wine into water – well sort of.

As The High Plains Journal reports, Steve Newsom of Levelland, Texas recently began growing wine grapes because they are very efficient users of water.

“I get scowled at, but we see ourselves converting irrigated cotton acres to dryland and convert some of that water saved to drip irrigation and still have the same amount of acres in production,” he said.

The World Health Organization released recommendations this week to curb the use of antibiotics in livestock, saying it could help reduce the risk of drug-resistant infections in humans.

But the U.S. Department of Agriculture says some of the guidelines from the United Nations’ public health agency would place “unnecessary and unrealistic constraints” on farmers and veterinarians. It's a disagreement that could have an impact on farm exports.

usgs.org

Sustainable irrigation and better field management practices to reduce the degradation of reservoirs are something Gov. Sam Brownback is foreseeing as the future of Kansas agriculture.

As The Topeka Capital-Journal reports, Brownback predicted greater public support for both practices at the Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Manhattan Wednesday.

Angie Haflich / High Plains Public Radio

Kansas v. Colorado was the first interstate water lawsuit case to come before the U.S. Supreme Court, setting a precedent for all other interstate water suits in the U.S.

Larry Weishuhn

Alan Cain whitetail deer program leader for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). Alan and Ellis Powell, also with TPWD, recently used big bore air rifles to do a bit of research into the effectiveness of big bore air rifles for harvesting game.

Cain recently spoke at the TPWD Commissioners meeting in Lufkin and gave his opinion of the power and effectiveness of big bore air rifles in cleanly and humanely dispatching deer-sized game. 

Saltwater injection. Fracking. Enhanced oil recovery.

News of protests in recent months against oil- and gas-related activity in the Flint Hills has drawn fresh attention to these and other terms — as well as some confusion.

Our Turn At This Earth: An Introduction

Nov 9, 2017
CCO Creative Commons

“I grew up on the mild-green, short-tufted buffalo grass prairies of northwestern Kansas.” That is the first sentence in my first book, One Degree West. Not all people define themselves by their childhood past, but still today, if asked to explain who I am, I would begin there—on that western Kansas farm, under a broad sky on the dry sunlit plains, in a family who never had to question who we were, because we were directly connected to the source of our identity.

The time is ripe for a flash of red and gold over a white rump, flickering through the sky and trees,  as well as digging dinner from the ground. (All you High Plains ornithophiles will know what I’m talking about!)

Today on Growing on the High Plains, I'll discuss Northern flickers (Colaptes auratus)—the medium-to-large, brownish woodpeckers that tend to appear when the colder seasons are near. Spotting their showy, dotted plumage always pairs well with our vibrant, changing leaves in the fall. 

For part two of our winter squash series, we'll get into the guts of a tender, lovely little fellow you might find much easier to handle and prepare for your harvest table. 

High Plains, meet the delicata! Its skin is edible, and the food scientists have perfected the bush variety so it resists the issues many other varieties face.  

We hope you enjoy today's Growing on the High Plains and are inspired to grow delicata squash in YOUR fall garden.

Kansas’ energy-regulating agency is trying to determine why permits were issued for half a dozen wastewater wells whose operators didn’t accurately inform nearby residents of their rights to protest the wells.

The deficiencies were discovered by a resident of Matfield Green in Chase County who objects to the wells, into which companies can pour hundreds or thousands of barrels of oil- and gas-related wastewater per day.

Cindy Hoedel wants the Kansas Corporation Commission to shut down the wells and make the companies in question redo the application process.

CCO Public Domain

Colorado’s booming solar industry could experience cloudier days because of an increase in the cost of solar panels.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, the U.S. International Trade Commission recently upheld a complaint from two manufacturers that has opened the door for the Trump administration to potentially erect trade barriers on solar panel imports, which in turn is driving up the cost of panels in Colorado.

kteague / Wikimedia Commons

Arby’s recently began serving deer meat nationwide, and a hunting conservation group is objecting.

As Colorado Public Radio reports,  the Montana Wildlife Federation, which was founded by hunters, anglers and other conservationists, sent a letter to Arby’s earlier this month asking the company to reconsider serving venison and elk steak sandwiches because of concerns that marketing meat from bison, elk and other wildlife could potentially lead to extinction of those species.

Republican and Democratic senators from top corn- and ethanol-producing states say their pressure helped prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from changing rules governing renewable fuel production.

But at least one senator, Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, says President Trump was their ace in the hole against an EPA chief who has deep ties to the oil and gas industry.

Luke Clayton

Luke gives an update on the whitetail rut and some tips on rattling bucks during early season. Whitetail bucks have started breaking away from the bachelor herds where they spent the summer months.

You don't need bees and butterflies to grow corn and soybeans, but a majority of farmers do rely on pesticides, which don't discriminate between helpful and harmful insects.

The widespread use of pesticides is considered a major factor in the large-scale decline in bee populations in recent years. But it's unlikely farmers will give up or limit pesticide use, so instead, a team of researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is looking at designing agricultural landscapes with pollinator health in mind.

In other Plains and Midwestern states, researchers are having farmers plant prairie strips between fields to help combat water contamination from pesticides and fertilizer. UNL's five-year project wants to find out whether windbreaks, planted pollinator habitat, cover crops or a combination of those techniques can help limit pesticide drift.

Today's Growing on the High Plains digs DEEP into the hearty meat of the winter squash.

While many are taken aback by their thick skin, heft, and cloistered cluster of slermy seeds, these gourds are sweet, succulent siblings that enrich every seasonal table. So don't be afraid to chop hard and enjoy these winter treasures. 

SARAH&BOSTON / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

A new study by the University of Colorado has found more evidence that links earthquakes along the Colorado-New Mexico border to wastewater injection wells, similar to human-caused quakes in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas.

Burkey Farms in southeast Nebraska looked into the future a couple of years ago and didn’t like what it saw — a continuation of depressed prices for conventional corn and soybeans. So, the families who run the farm together started discussing how the operation would make money if they couldn’t earn more from their crops.  

Their conversation took a turn toward organics, a $40 billion industry and growing, especially in Iowa and Colorado.

Pages