HPPR Environment

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geology
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fauna (wildlife)
climate
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water conservation
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Luke Clayton

In a matter of days, Luke will be heading north to Iskwatikan Lake Lodge to join a few friends for five days of fishing, cooking and eating fish and enjoying the pristine wilderness country.

A trip to this area is well within the means of most people. Tune in and learn how to plan your trip of a lifetime!

On today's edition of Growing on the High Plains, I've decided to thaw out an old memory of a particularly harsh winter and the devastation of vegetation that it brought to our region.

But don't worry! It's not all frozen ground and brittle branches. This is a story that celebrates the pioneer spirit of the Plains. Despite nature's cruel cull during the winter of '91, what sprouted from the loss was a renewed sense of stewardship, community, and loving memorial. 

Typically dry Arkansas River flowing water, for now

May 24, 2017
Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

There has been a rare sight in the normally dry Arkansas River south of Garden City lately – flowing water.

As The Garden City Telegram reports, as much as two feet of water has been running through the normally dried out river bed – the result of wetter weather conditions upstream.

ABBIE FENTRESS SWANSON / HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIA

As the Trump administration takes the initial steps toward renegotiating one of the country’s most influential and controversial trade deals, groups that represent farmers and ranchers are already waving a caution sign.

Wheat ‘a dead man walking’ type crop?

May 23, 2017
Louise Ehmke

The grain traders in Chicago are thinking that the damage to the Kansas wheat crop from the late-season blizzard and freezing temperatures …is only modest. After all, it’s standing up now and field after field looks like it has 70-bushel yield potential. But Jim Shroyer says, “They may have a bad surprise waiting for them.”

After a trip through west-central and southwest Kansas on May 9, Shroyer, K-State Extension wheat specialist emeritus, says much of the wheat he looked at does look great.

Sandra J. Milburn / The Hutchinson News

There’s an old saying that wheat has nine lives.

But in western Kansas, farmers have pretty much used all of them.

Yet, despite just about every plague imaginable that could strike this year’s stand – including snow, freeze and disease – farmers aren’t writing off the 2017 wheat just yet.

“I’ve been told my entire life – never give up on the western Kansas wheat crop,” said Trevor Witt, agronomist and sales manager at the Garden City Co-op who has been scouting wheat fields after the late April snowstorm.

Palmer amaranth and other weeds may develop resistance to common herbicides if they aren't successfully killed.Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public MediaEdit | Remove

Belt-tightening has been the trend for row-crop farmers in the Midwest for the past several years as corn and soybean prices remain low. Reducing application of expensive herbicides may be tempting to save money, but that’s a strategy that could result in severe economic consequences down the road.

R.J. Sangosti / The Denver Post

Following a home explosion in Firestone, Colorado last month, a petroleum company is conducting inspections on wells near occupied structures.

As The Greeley Tribune reports, a home in Firestone exploded on April 17 when an abandoned gas return line leaked methane and filled the basement with gas. Two men were killed and one woman was severely injured in the blast.   

Luke Clayton

Capt. Mike Williams has fished and guided on the upper end of the Texas coast his entire life and has logged in as many, or more hours, fishing the Galveston Bay Complex than any man alive or dead.

Mike and his team of guides know the waters around Galveston and welcome summer vacationers that are visiting Galveston and wish to spend some time on the water catching fish.

On today's Growing on the High Plains, we'll get to the root of a ravishing vegetable, which is a temperamental but tasty addition to any High Plains garden: the radish, of course.

From its early origins in ancient Egypt and Asia, these sweet-and-spicy, salad-dwelling relics can surprisingly unearth a rainbow of -- as I recently discovered -- incredible, edible eggs.   

Christy Huber

A series of storms in Texas and Oklahoma panhandles brought damaging winds, large hail and tornadoes, killing one person in western Oklahoma Tuesday afternoon and evening.

As The Amarillo Globe reports, four tornadoes were spotted in the eastern part of the Texas Panhandle Tuesday afternoon.

ku.edu

After issuing a health advisory for Lake Scott for elevated levels of E. coli bacteria in parts of the lake, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT)  are recommending the following precautions be taken:

NASA / Public Domain/Atlas Obscura

Feral hogs have been in the news as of late, as Texas continues to struggle with the scourge of millions of wild pigs and the damage they cause.

There was the so-called “Hog Apocalypse,” proposed by Ag Commissioner Sid Miller, who wanted to distribute poisoned bait across the state to kill the oinkers. Hunters and environment groups raised a ruckus, and the scheme has now been put on hold while a state district judge thinks it over.

Luke Clayton

Larry Weishuhn (Mr. Whitetail) talks to Luke about how a mother deer will conceal her young and the point at which they are most vulnerable to predators such as coyotes and bobcats. 

Larry hosts his  TV show "Trailing the Hunters Moon" on the Sportsman's Channel and is one of the most popular and visible of outdoor personalities.

On today's Growing on the High Plains, we'll discuss one of my favorite -- and fleeting -- garden guests: English peas. 

When young, they're tender and refined, boasting a fresh sweetness few vegetables can match. (And in our house, given that they're one of my husband's most anticipated arrivals, they never last long.) 

Growing peas on the High Plains can be a bit tricky, but if you follow these pointers, you'll have a light crop of these pretty pods at your nimble fingertips each year.

US Drought Monitor

For only the fifth time since 2000, Kansas is entirely drought-free.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the late-April winter storm brought more than two feet of snow to some parts of western Kansas and double-digit accumulation to a narrow band that stretched north to south in the western third of the state, erasing the final remnants of a drought that has been gradually receding during a remarkably wet spring.

By the end of 2016, nearly 83 percent of the state was experiencing some degree of drought.

Creative Commons CC0

Farmers and ag officials on hand for the Senate Agriculture Committee’s farm bill field hearing held in Michigan Saturday demanded more investment in international development, better crop insurance and a steady agricultural workforce.

As Politico reports, Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts made it clear that when they develop the 2018 farm bill, lawmakers will be forced to “do more with less.”

Wikimedia Commons

The Sunflower State’s wind power continues to grow.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, according to a first-quarter report from American Wind Energy Association, Kansas will reach 5,000 megawatts of wind power generation capacity this year, behind only four other states – Texas, Oklahoma, California and Iowa.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

New research suggests the strongest earthquake in Oklahoma history may have been caused by hydraulic fracturing that occurred years before the event itself, StateImpact Oklahoma reports.

CC0 Public Domain

Kansas’ hard red winter wheat crop is projected to be around 281 million bushels – about 185 million bushels less than last year’s crop.

Farmers eye LEMA proposal to curb aquifer depletion

May 8, 2017
Kansas Geological Survey

There is an old saying “Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over.”

It rings true in southwest Kansas, were a group of irrigators are fighting for the Ogallala Aquifer.

For years, irrigators and others have been sipping the region’s groundwater reservoir faster than it can recharge. Thinking of his nephews who are returning to the farm, Finney County farmer Dwane Roth is helping spearhead an effort to curtail pumping through a Local Enhanced Management Area – a program implemented in the past five years to help extend the life of the state’s water resources.

Luke Clayton

Larry Large enjoyed a very good career as a professional bass angler a quarter century ago and for the past couple of decades, he's been putting clients on big bass at Lake Fork in east Texas.

Large also discusses fishing other east Texas lakes that are often overlooked. Learn more about Larry's fishing and hunting at www.huntingeasttexas.com.

Travis Morrise / The Hutchinson News

It’s a rainy Tuesday in April, bringing local farmers to the Crazy Mule for a noon meal – which is located in a seven-year-old downtown that is nearly 80 percent full. Down the street is the two-year-old movie theater, which claims to have the biggest screen between Wichita and Denver.

Dixson, who was heading out of town for a funeral, said his wife, Ann, was filling in at the school where the grandkids attend. The countywide school, with its state-of-the-art technology and plenty of windows that bring in natural light, is only seven years old, as well.

Courtesy / Nanci Pratt

Late spring blizzards in the High Plains aren’t very common, especially on the last day of April. Farmers and ranchers in southeastern Colorado, western Kansas and the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles are now dealing with the aftermath. They’ve been digging out, dealing with electricity losses and searching for missing cattle in snowdrifts, rain and mud conditions.

Farmers mad about wheat streak mosaic

May 4, 2017
Courtesy / Vance Ehmke

In one of the most severe and extensive wheat streak mosaic epidemics in untold years, western Kansas farmers are not happy. And they’re letting their attorneys, legislators and farm organizations know about.

CC0 Public Domain

Legislation meant to protect farmers and ranchers from incurring unnecessary costs when protecting the value of their water right was signed into law by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper last week.

CC0 Public Domain

Farming isn’t getting any easier given low grain prices, rising costs and unpredictable weather, yet many young people in southwest Kansas are staying on the family farm and statewide farming groups are working to further cultivate the younger generation’s interest in agriculture.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A new study has found that the most practical way to deal with leftover wastewater from fracking sites is to reuse the water rather than simply disposing of it. As StateImpact reports, the report from the Produced Water Working Group suggests that wastewater injection can be reduced by reuse.

Justin Gilpin / Kansas Wheat

But the electricity is out at his Stanton County farm, where at least 14 inches of snow blankets his wheat fields.

Amid a slumping farm economy, it might seem like a disaster with harvest just weeks away. But Sipes has seen wheat weather many calamities.

“I never count wheat out,” he said.

It will be a week to 10 days before western Kansas farmers know the outcome of the weekend snowstorm, which closed highways and canceled schools.

Courtesy / Lamar Utility Board

While western Kansas bore the brunt of the late-season winter storm over the weekend, portions of eastern Colorado were also impacted.

As The Prowers Journal reports, areas of southeast Colorado, like Springfield and Campo received 7.5 to 10 inches of snow. About four to six inches of snow fell in the Holly area and Lamar received only some accumulation, but 50 mph winds caused some power outages.

Holly, Bristol, Granada and Hartman suffered the most outages, along with areas south of Lamar.  

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