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

Lindsey Bauman

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday that more than $6 million in funding is now available for those affected by the wildfires in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

The funding, delivered through USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program, will assist farmers and ranchers as they attempt to restore grazing lands, rehabilitate devastated landscapes, rebuild fencing and protect damaged watersheds, according to a news release.

Update: Fence rebuilding bill clears Legislature

Mar 20, 2017

Burned fencing lines U.S. 160 near Ashland on Thursday, March 9, 2017 following the March 6 wildfires in Clark County.Credit Lindsey Bauman / The Hutchinson NewsEdit | Remove

TOPEKA – A bill offering a state sales tax exemption on supplies and services to rebuild fences damaged by 2016 and 2017 wildfires cleared the Legislature on Friday morning.

Courtesy photo / www.stopfowlplay

Which topic do you think today’s consumer would rather talk about: GMOs or sustainability in agriculture?

Surprisingly, ag leaders are being told that consumers don’t really care about GMOs but are very interested in talking about sustainability. When I hear "sustainability in agriculture," two things happen: First, I get angry because most equate sustainability with environmentalism, which will never feed a growing population, and secondly, my eyes roll into the back of my head because I cannot think of a more boring topic.

Luke Clayton

It's nice to have four walls and a roof over one's head when hunting, but getting the materials into some remote area and constructing a hunting blind can be challenging and downright hard work.

These easy to assemble blinds are idea for hunting remote, hard to get to spots. 

www.k-state.edu

Efforts to fund Kansas’ long-term water plan are at a standstill, at least for now, as legislators face massive revenue shortfalls, as well as a Supreme Court order to increase school funding.

As The Lawrence Journal-World reports, a new committee tasked with dealing with water and environmental policy has made little progress and has come to a virtual standstill, at least for now.

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the loss of grassland will mean financial losses for years to come for some ranchers in western and south central Kansas.

Clark County rancher Greg Goodnight is one of only a few ranchers who did not lose any cattle, but he did lose over 14,000 acres of grassland that forced him to round up his 294 cattle on Monday and send them to Dodge City to be sold.

Lindsey Bauman / The Hutchinson News

The last thing Greg Gardiner saw before everything went black was his brother Mark heading to the horse barn.

Fire and smoke was spreading through Clark County from the southwest Monday afternoon. By 3 p.m., the ranch was in the war zone. An orange firewall was heading toward his brother’s home as Greg pulled up with a truck and trailer to help save three horses.

“I knew it was too late,” Greg said.

Lindsey Bauman / The Hutchinson News

You can hear the emotion in Ashland Mayor Kendal Kay's voice as he tells about the worn-out rancher who showed up Tuesday - his home destroyed and almost all his cattle dead. 

But he wanted to know, as wildfires still burned across Clark County, where he could help.

"They lose their home, their ranch burns, and they will still try to figure out a way to help others," said Kay, who also is president of the Stockgrowers State Bank in Ashland. 

That is what living in a close-knit community in rural America is all about, he said.

TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) encourages farmers and ranchers who have lost livestock in the ongoing wildfires to contact the agency as soon as possible for assistance with disposing of dead livestock.

KDHE’s Bureau of Waste Management can help farmers and ranchers determine the safest and most effective means of livestock disposal. The agency works with the Kansas Department of Agriculture to help farmers and ranchers with disposal, including selecting and permitting locations for those who wish to bury dead livestock on-site.

CC0 Public Domain

There’s a method to my madness when it comes to growing potatoes and it has nothing to do with March. While many people plant their potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day, perhaps because Irish cobbler is everyone’s favorite spud, my planting schedule is determined entirely by, well, when I have time.

Then in late summer, after I have unearthed the brown roots as if hunting for buried treasure, I stash them away. Then, with a little luck of the Irish, hope they will last through the holidays to the New Year so they can make their way into some soup.

Kansas House panel passes industrial hemp bill

Mar 15, 2017
Creative Commons

A bill that would allow for industrial hemp research was passed Monday by the Kansas House commerce panel.

As Kansas Agland reports, House Bill 2182, would allow research and business development related to hemp cultivation, processing and distribution. It would encourage public-private partnerships and academic research to that end.

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

The Kansas House passed a bill Tuesday that provides a tax exemption on materials and services needed to rebuild or repair fencing for ranchers and farmers affected by wildfires

As The Wichita Eagle reports, lawmakers on Tuesday afternoon advanced House Bill 2387 with a 122-0 vote, after the Legislature set the bill on a fast track - bypassing its typical procedure - giving the legislation both early and final approval on Tuesday.

Lt. Seth Frizzell / Holcomb Community Fire Department

As fire crews in north central Oklahoma continues efforts to contain fires in Beaver, Harper and Woodward counties Tuesday, Kansas’ governor signed the final State of Disaster Emergency declaration for 20 Kansas counties affected by last week’s wildfires.

As The Oklahoma Forestry Service reports, the Northwest Oklahoma Complex was 63 percent contained Tuesday.

ARAH NISHIMUTA / Woodward News

When confronted with the level of tragedy wrought by last week’s wildfires, it is difficult to find a silver lining, but the generosity of others is providing just that.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, residents of Ashland, which was encircled by a fire that has burned over 60 percent of Clark County, Kansas, have been serving up to 600 meals per day to firefighters battling the blaze.

GARY KRAMER / TEXAS WILDLIFE AND PARKS

Beginning Thursday, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) will begin aerial surveys to document population trends of the lesser prairie-chicken in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado.

As The Prowers Journal reports, The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies conduct the surveys annually in areas that contain lesser prairie-chicken habitat.

Bryan Thompson / Harvest Public Media

Wildfires that have been sweeping across the heart of cattle country since last weekend could decimate some ranchers’ herds. Fires have been reported in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado.

The largest of the fires spread from the Oklahoma Panhandle into southwest Kansas, and has consumed more than 800,000 acres of prime grassland. Todd Domer, of the Kansas Livestock Association, says the losses have been devastating.

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

High Plains wildfires killed countless numbers of pigs, cattle and other livestock last week.

As Reuters reports, a wildfire killed thousands of hogs at Smithfield Foods, Inc.’s hog farm in Laverne, Okla.

Wildfires also killed close to 2,000 hogs at two of Seaboard Foods’ farms south of Perryton, Texas.

About 1.2 million acres burned in the Texas Panhandle, northwestern Oklahoma and adjacent parts of southwestern Kansas within a 24-hour period last week.

Kansas Division of Emergency Management

As many of the grassfires in Kansas were brought under control by the end of last week, emergency workers and residents began picking up the pieces in Lane County, where an estimated 18,000 acres burned. An estimated 39,000 acres burned in neighboring Hodgeman and Ness counties.

Luke Clayton

I truly believe that really great anglers are born with an uncanny ability to catch fish or at least the burning desire to learn how to catch fish.  Stubby Stubblefield who resides on the shores of Lake Fork in east Texas is a good case in point.  “Stubby” spent his time as a touring bass pro in his younger years, guided for years for a variety of species and then, about 12 years ago, decided to slow down and concentrate on catching catfish.

Lt. Seth Frizzel / Holcomb Community Fire Department

What's being called the Starbuck Fire in south central Kansas and north central Oklahoma continued to burn on Thursday.

As ABC News in Amarillo reports, Beaver County Emergency Management Coordinator Keith Shadden said the fire was about 30 miles long and 25 miles wide as of Thursday morning, as crews continued to work on hot spots and flare-ups from the fire.

Lt. Seth Frizzel / Holcomb Community Fire Department

TOPEKA – Legislation is in the works that would provide tax assistance to farmers, ranchers, homeowners and utilities that have suffered losses from wildfires.

“We are working on it right now. We’re working with the Revisor’s to use similar language that we used last year,” said Rep. Ken Rahjes, R-Agra.

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

The Rocky Mountains can be blamed for the 50 to 60 mile-per-hour wind gusts that spread an unprecedented number of wildfires in the Sunflower State and other areas of the High Plains region over the past several days.

As the Wichita Eagle reports, low-pressure areas tend to set up just east of major mountain formations and that routinely occurs in eastern Colorado.

Joe Amon / The Denver Post

Farmers are being hailed as heroes in the battle against a northeastern Colorado wildfire that broke out Monday.

As The Denver Post reports, as a wildfire fueled by high winds ripped across farm land northeast of Sterling in Logan County and rapidly approached the small town of Haxtun in Phillips County, farmers from the area drove their tractors to dig fire lines to aid a small army of volunteer firefighters.

Mash them. Hash them. Slice, dice, or fry them. No matter how they're prepared, the potato remains one of the world's most popular side dishes. However, a little research will unearth quite a history.

On this week's edition of Growing on the High Plains, we'll dig up the dirt on this radical root vegetable -- from it's little-known origin story to it's controversial reception across the globe.

Whether whipped into wig dust, carved for a crime, or impaled for juvenile amusement, this shape-shifting spud has certainly seen a lot through its many eyes.

Flickr Creative Commons

Last month was the hottest February on record in Texas, topping every February since record-keeping began in the 19th century, reports The Texas Observer.

This should come as no surprise to West Texans, as some Panhandle counties approached temperatures of 100 degrees in the dead of winter. All-time records were set at weather stations across the state, and this winter is on pace to be the hottest ever in the Lone Star State.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma is looking to store water underground, in hopes of staving off future catastrophe.

Steve Sisney / The Oklahoman

Oklahoma has yet another invasive species that’s causing headaches in the state, alongside feral hogs and eastern red cedar. As NewsOK reports, the Bradford pear tree was once confined to front lawns and mall parking lots, but now the tree has broken free and is spreading out into open prairie land.

The tree began to move into unwanted areas 10 years ago. Now the Oklahoma Invasive Plant Council has put the Bradford pear on its invasive species watchlist.

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

At least seven deaths, massive losses of land and livestock, are being blamed on wildfires that erupted across the High Plains Monday.

As CNN reports, wildfires across the region consumed more than 1 million acres by Tuesday night and killed people five in Texas, one person in Oklahoma and one person in Kansas.

The fires in the Texas Panhandle claimed at least five lives, including three ranchers who were trying to save their cattle in the Texas Panhandle.

Wildfires break out across Kansas

Mar 7, 2017
Lt. Seth Frizzell / Holcomb Community Fire Department

Firefighters across the state had their hands full as grass fires fueled by high winds broke out in 21 Kansas counties late Monday and continued burning into Tuesday.

According to the Kansas Adjutant General Department’s website, there were active fires in Clark, Cheyenne, Comanche, Ellsworth, Finney, Ford, Hodgeman, Lane, Meade, Ness, Pratt, Pottawatomie, Rawlins, Reno, Rice, Rooks, Russell, Seward, Shawnee, Smith and Stevens Counties.

Neil Starkey / amarillo.com

UPDATE: By late Wednesday night, CNN was reporting that the Texas wildfires were responsible for five deaths and 325,000 burned acres. Some of the lives lost in the Panhandle belonged to ranchers trying to save their cattle. Nationwide, fires this week have consumed over a million acres and killed seven.

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