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

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.

Now that we’re used to seeing huge spinning blades across the high plains, there may be a new visual icon on the horizon in the future – enormous tall narrow poles that simply quiver in the wind. This report from Wired. They’re called Vortex Bladeless. Their purpose is the same: turning breezes into kinetic energy that can be used as electricity. But, that’s where the similarity to bladed wind turbines ends. Instead of capturing wind energy with the circular motion of a propeller, The Vortex uses vorticity. That’s an aerodynamic effect that produces a pattern of vortices. Whirling air patterns that are the enemy of architects and engineers, could now be have new purpose in renewable energy.

Kitchen Gardens

May 13, 2015
mountvernon.org

This year I'm making some changes in my vegetable garden layout, and moving some of it closer to the kitchen door.  On the way, we'll look at a brief history of the term 'kitchen garden' and find out what things usually grow there.  

People from nine countries and seed librarians from across the country were busy sowing big ideas about tiny seeds during the first The International Seed Library Forum reports the Daily Yonder. The gathering was held in Tucson last week. The group shared ideas and inspiration for improving local access to diverse seeds. The conference also included discussion of climate change and the role agriculture diversity and seed saving play. Cary Fowler is an agricultural pioneer and a former executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. He says in the past circumstances were adapted for the crops we wants to grow using things like irrigation and pesticides. He says in the future we’ll have to adapt the plants themselves.

A Kansas-based study comparing results on almost 30 years of winter wheat trials across the state points researchers to say global warming will cut wheat yields. Wheat demand is expected to increase by 60 percent by 2050 to meet population demands. A lead author of the study says one way of adapting the world to warming temperatures maybe be to shift wheat farming more toward the poles.

wsj.com

Western Kansas is a semi-arid region, with yearly precipitation at 17-19 inches. Progressive farmers understand their biggest challenge is capturing and holding every drop of moisture they can. A group of Northwest Kansas producers meets regularly to discuss production practices. These growers are firm believers in no-till and planting cover crops whenever it's feasible. While some producers say cover crops unnecessarily sap moisture, members of Living Acres Network are more likely to say that the careful selection of a cover crop leaves residue that helps build the soil for better precipitation infiltration.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Scientists say oil and gas activity is probably responsible for the surge in earthquake activity in Oklahoma.  They call the phenomenon “induced seismicity.”  But, researchers are puzzled.  Oil and gas production is nothing new in the Sooner State, and why is there an increase in quakes in Oklahoma, or for that matter Texas, Colorado, and Kansas when it doesn’t seem to be happening in other major players like North Dakota?

Pond Boss

Just a matter of a few short months ago, many farm ponds and private fishing lakes were almost void of water, thanks to several years of sparse rainfall. I live a short distance from some old gravel pits that a few friends and I lease for fishing. I remember five or six years ago, I could launch a my 14-foot aluminum boat and use an electric trolling motor to push me to the very back of the farthest pond, a distance of at least a quarter mile. The fishing lease consists of several deeper pits that, during periods of normal rainfall, are connected by strips of shallow water.

mayihavethatrecipe.com

Put some new colors in your garden by planting and growing purple asparagus.  This springtime taste treat is guaranteed to be as tasty as the traditional green varieties, and some say it's sweeter and more tender because it has a 20% higher natural sugar content.  Add to that the high levels of anthocyanins that give it the purple color and some great health benefits such as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous properties.  It's not readily available in stores, so you might as well listen to this week's show and learn to grow your own.

Mark Hilliard of Hale County, Texas, says, "This is cotton country. It's rare to find a pristine playa lake." He bought the native grassland on which the playa sits from family members, then protected the playa and a grassland buffer with a permanent Wetlands Reserve Easement. He couldn't be more happy with NRCS assistance removing sediment from the playa to improve its function and create bird habitat. NRCS conservationist Blake McLemore discusses what's involved in negotiating a perpetual easement.

Pam Zubeck / Colorado Springs Independent

Pam Zubeck remembers when the Arkansas River flowed every day outside Garden City, Kansas.  Zubeck writes of old-timers recounting about a river so wide, you had to board a ferry to cross in the Colorado Springs Independent.  High School kids used to pedal their bikes to the river to check fishing lines in the summer. 

Now, where there was once a river, there's a dry riverbed- a mecca for dirt bikers and four wheels.  It’s also home to water guzzling tamarisks. 

Luke Clayton

Lake Fork guide Seth Vanover eased his comfortable guide boat up to a stick up in the back of a cove and secured the craft with a looped bow rope. The area had been deluged with a heavy rain the night before and the lake was on a welcome rise. We were fishing during the calm between two spring thunderstorms. The rising water had undulated shoreline grass introducing worms, crawfish and all sorts of insects into the food chain. This was classis text book spring time catfish waters if ever I’d seen them!

A Western Kansas Highway Worth Your Time & Travel

Apr 30, 2015
Kansas Public Radio

Warmer weather brings out the wanderlust in many of us. Something about springtime can create a desire to get outside, hit the road and see something new. Commentator Rex Buchanan has been up and down a highway in western Kansas that he says is worth your time and travel.

Commentator Rex Buchanan is the director of the Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas and a regular contributor to Kansas Public Radio.

foodfromtheearth.wordpress.com

One of the major markets for mint occurs during the Kentucky Derby, when mint juleps are served up to anyone with a desire to taste them and toast the famous horseracing event.  But the sharp taste and smell of mint makes it a major player not only at the racetrack, but in herb gardens, gourmet kitchens, and apothocary shops throughout the world.  This week we'll investigate the many kinds of mint, and issue some well-intentioned warnings about planting it, in a way that will allow it to become a highlight and not a nightmare in your garden.   

William C. Johnson

McPherson County landowner Dale Schmidt bought ground he intended to farm, but often it was too wet to plant, or to harvest. He's pleased he enrolled the land as a perpetual wetland easement. Schmidt and his NRCS District Conservationist Blake McLemore discuss the improvements made to the parcel.

If you see smoke on the horizon, it could be deliberate. Some farmers burn their fields to get rid of plants that are there, and help those that are coming up.

Sharks in Kansas

Apr 26, 2015
thefossilforum.com

Sharks swimming in Kansas waters? Looking for dorsal fins cutting through waters where I fish, wade, and swim gives me goose bumps. I’d already spent too much time focusing on such worries as a teenage body surfer in Huntington Beach, California.

biggamehunt.net

Howdy Folks!

I tell you what, I have just had a conversation with Milo Hanson about the day he shot his world record whitetail buck.  I feel like I've just been on the set of The Red Green Show.

Milo is from Biggar, Saskatchewan.  He tells the story of that day better than any radio theater.  Pour yourself a cup of coffee, lean back, and listen to Milo.

Last week brought some severe weather to the region. A video from social media shows the twister on Thursday in the Texas Panhandle. There were 11 tornado reports submitted to the National Weather Service on Thursday afternoon. Four in the Texas Panhandle and far western Oklahoma.

http://stateimpact.npr.org/

The Oklahoma state seismologist said disposal wells used by the oil and gas industry are ‘very likely’ responsible for the recent surge of earthquakes in Oklahoma at the recent Oklahoma Geological Survey.  This report is from State Impact Oklahoma.

Austin Holland says the rates and trends in seismicity are very unlikely to represent a naturally occurring process in a joint statement with agency interim director Richard D Andrews.

The agency’s acknowledgement follows years of peer-reviewed research linking disposal wells and earthquakes.

gardening-forums.com

A new sensation is sweeping the nation of niche gardeners, and  this week's show looks at the popularity of fairy gardens. We'll cover the background of fairies and why people decided to open their homes and gardens to them.  We'll also look at some basics of plant selection and care of these minature landscapes.  

Look at How Lawsuits Shape Regulation

Apr 17, 2015
MARY ANN MELTON

There is still time for the public to comment on an Environmental Protection Agency proposal to reduce smog in Big Bend National Park and Big Bend State Park.

This haze is nothing new, a lot of it comes from coal power plants far away from Big Bend. State and federal officials have been trying to fight it for years, and most recently the EPA stepped in with its own proposal, reports State Impact correspondent Mose Buchele.

PECAN in a Nutshell

Apr 16, 2015
NSF, NOAA, NASA & U.S. Department of Energy

If you’ve spent any time in Southern United States, then one would expect you to be very well acquainted with the Pecan. However this rendition may be something completely new to you. The Plains Elevated Convection at Night, aka PECAN is a study aimed at understanding severe thunderstorms at night over the High Plains.

Looking to the Gulf to fill the Gap

Apr 16, 2015
Ivan Pierre Aguirre / The Texas Tribune

As the population of Texas continues to grow, the water level is dropping fast. Recently state lawmakers discussed the feasibility of utilizing the Gulf of Mexico as a water source for the state.

An alternative that is costly and fraught with controversy, however saltwater desalination could catch on in ways that groundwater desalination never did.

The number of rabies has doubled so far this year, and a K-State rabies expert says vaccinating your pets will help keep your family safe from the virus.

Carol Hillendahl / HPPR

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the grid for 24 million Texans, nearly doubled from 2009 to 2014. Wind power was responsible for over 10% of the electricity for Texas in 2014, that is up from 9.9 in 2013 and 6.2 in 2009 as per the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Vegetable study targets water savings in the High Plains

Apr 13, 2015
Texas A&M AgriLife Research

High Plains vegetable crops are being re-examined in a Texas A&M AgriLIfe Research Study to determine water saving alternatives to some cereal grain production.  "Everybody knows we are generally water short in the Texas High Plains and can no longer meet 100 percent of all crop water needs," said Thomas Marek, AgriLife Research senior research engineer for irrigation water conservation and management in Amarillo.

Texas Parks and Wildlife

Research indicates that a buffer surrounding a playa lake, consisting typically of native grasses and forbs, prevents migration of upland topsoil and farm chemicals into lowland wetlands such as playa lakes and rainwater basins.

Chronic Wasting Disease Found in Western Kansas Deer

Apr 13, 2015
http://jenniferajarrett.blogspot.com/2012/03/deer.html

Chronic Wasting Disease is a palpable threat to the wildlife of western Kansas; CWD is a transmissible neurological disease of deer and elk that is 100% fatal to the animal. At this point the disease has not been passed to humans or livestock; however it is related to mad cow disease and scrapie in sheep, as well as other diseases that can be fatal across the board.

Divide in the Debate: Americans on Fracking

Apr 12, 2015

  From recent data collected by a Gallup poll, reporter Art Swift reveals that Americans are split fairly evenly on the issue of fracking for oil and natural gas.

According to Swift, "Fracking has helped contribute to a substantial increase in natural gas and oil production across the U.S., and now in other parts of the world, and is credited with helping lower its price for the average consumer."

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