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

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.

ORIGINAL POST:

The Sierra Club

Some High Plains states charge annual fees – or have pending legislation that would charge annual fees - to owners of electric vehicles.

As Vox reports, at the end of 2015, the Department of Energy identified nine states that levy extra yearly fees on purchases of EVs, including Colorado which charges $50.

LA Dawson / Creative Commons

While concerns continue to mount about climate change, and the skimpy winter the High Plains has received this year, there's one group of High Plains residents who are excited about the unseasonably warm weather: rattlesnakes.

Kansas Farm Bureau

It makes me immensely proud to see the effort that goes into the Kansas Farm Bureau’s advocacy work for more than 40,000 farm and ranch families in Kansas. As I write this, the 2017 legislative session is in full swing, and so are we.

Not unlike previous years, water is a much-discussed topic at the statehouse. Water rights and funding the state water plan are some of the key issues we’re tackling.

Luke Clayton

  

Texas’ plan that will allow the poisoning of wild hogs as a control measure has many Texas hunters and environmentalists upset and in Luke's opinion, is doomed to failure from the outset. Luke is of the opinion that far too little research went into the adoption of this regulation that, if put into effect, will actually do far more harm than good in decreasing the number of wild hogs in Texas.

CC0 Public Domain

As The Denver Post reports, deteriorating, congested and unsafe roads and bridges are costing Colorado drivers a total of $6.8 billion.

You wouldn't think anyone's grandmother would take their grandchild into the woods to pluck a poisonous plant for a noonday snack.

However, today's edition of Growing on the High Plains takes me back to my childhood memories of foraging pokeweed, also known as pokeberry, inkberry, and Phytolacca americana.   

This potentially toxic foliage has applications ranging from succulent side dish to a berry-based dye to a handy home remedy.

 

Management following a wildfire: Effects on vegetation and soils

Mar 1, 2017
Courtesy photo

Dry conditions at this time of year can lead to an increased danger of wildfires. While a fire from a prescribed burn in the spring will not harm perennial grasses on grazing lands, a wildfire may act differently. A wildfire can cause enough damage, especially to bunch grasses, to result in a decline in productivity for a year or two. This is not always the case, however. The best general advice on burned rangeland is to just wait and see how well it recovers.

amarillo.com

On Sunday night the American Meteor Society received a number of calls from four states in the HPPR listening area—Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Kansas—about a strange explosion in the sky.

As The Amarillo Globe News reports, the disturbance was evidently the result of a meteor crashing through the atmosphere, somewhere just south of the Texas Panhandle.

KVII

A fire near Tulia, Texas, has been contained, but not before it consumed two homes and a massive swath of acreage.

As KVII reports, the wildfire raged all night Tuesday into Wednesday, burning up 2,200 acres of land. As of ten a.m. Wednesday morning, all but 15% of the fire had been contained.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma continues to see a drop in the frequency of earthquakes in the state, after fracking regulation was put in place to quell the seismic activity.

But, as The Wichita Eagle reports, regulators are working to ensure that the number of earthquakes doesn’t rise again in the Sooner State.

Last year's rains bring increased fire risk in 2017

Feb 27, 2017
Lindsey Bauman / The Hutchinson News

Spring is the optimal time for many people to do prescribed burns across Kansas, especially in the Flint Hills. It invigorates grass/crop growth, reduces noxious weeds, and eliminates excessive dead plant material. These materials, often called fuels, can be variable from season to season. If an area of land is never burned, fuels accumulate and pile up on the ground over the years, often falling over with winter wind and snow.

Daniel Shaw AU / Twitter

In a virtual tribute to the actor Bill Paxton, star of the popular tornado film 'Twister,' storm chasers and spotters spelled out the star’s initials on an online map that is used to track tornadoes Sunday, after hearing of the 61-year-old actor’s death.

Paxton, who starred in Apollo 13 and Titanic, played a veteran meteorologist and storm chaser in the 1996 hit movie 'Twister,' and became an icon for many of the real-life storm chasers who took part in Sunday’s tribute.

Luke Clayton

In this week's High Plains Outdoors, Luke is joined by his friend, veteran coastal guide Capt. Mike Williams.

Mike has logged in more hours fishing the Galveston Bay Complex than any person alive today.

Galveston is a great spring break destination for the entire family and Mike's guide service specializes in taking Mom and Pop and the kids on the fishing trip of their lifetime.

He also caters to veteran "old salts" that feel the need to do battle with some BIG fish!

Oklahoma Climatological Survey / KOCO

Moore, Oklahoma, in Cleveland County, has gotten a dangerous reputation recently because of the spate of tornadoes the town has received. But, believe it or not, Cleveland County is nowhere near the most tornado-prone county in the Sooner State.

KOCO has published a study analyzing which Oklahoma counties have seen the most tornadic activity since 1950.

We all have one: that list of  garden chores we scribbled down with good intentions.

It's that back-burner list that is far less pressing than the imminent "dig in the dirt" directives.

Though each year, some of those stagnant "to-do" items never seem to get "to-done." 

Today on Growing on the High Plains, I share my experiences with the daunting task of prioritizing what must be done and what can linger a little longer. 

Michael Gabler / Wikimedia Commons

Texas officials are warning that the pig apocalypse may soon be upon us.

Now, as CBS News reports, Texas is fighting back big time against the rampant proliferation of feral hogs. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller this week approved the use of a pesticide specifically designed to target wild pigs.

In search of profit, some conventional farmers may go local

Feb 22, 2017
Bryan Thomas / Harvest Public Media

Low crop prices have many Midwest wheat and corn farmers looking for ways to supplement their incomes. One possibility for conventional farmers: producing food for farmers markets.

Wikimedia Commons

Several agriculture groups are sending letters to President Donald Trump in support of opening up trade, but with the new president’s recent exit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership along with his threats to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, some farmers and ranchers are starting to worry their entire industry will experience collateral damage as a result.

Kansas Geological Survey

Thanks to timely rains last year, Mount Hope-area farmer Jeff Winter figures on some of his fields he pumped half the amount of water that he normally uses to irrigate his crops.

So did many central Kansas farmers. And it showed. 

While the Ogallala Aquifer continues to decline, the Equus Beds and Great Bend Prairie aquifers saw rises as irrigators shut down their wells more often in 2016.

"We didn't have to pump as much, and we shut off more frequently," said Winter, who also is on the Equus Beds board. He added that on a few fields, he pumped even less.

Luke Clayton

Join Luke this week as he recaps a recent two day outdoor adventure with some good friends.

First, it was trophy blue catfish at Lake Tawakoni in northeastern Texas with guide David Hanson and friends Larry Weishuhn, Rick Lambert (country music singer Miranda Lambert’s dad), and Jeff Rice.

Wheat's merit debated as acreage falls

Feb 16, 2017
Travis Morrise / The Hutchinson News

While farmers across the central plains were gradually easing away from planting wheat, the Horton brothers were doubling down.

Over the past 10 years, Rick Horton and his younger brothers Matt and Alec put together a business at Leoti, Kansas, that consists of portable wheat seed cleaning and seed treatment along with selling certified seed from more than a dozen varieties they test annually on their own farm.

Today's  installment of Growing on the High Plains  might feel a bit like an audio submission to the Antiques Roadshow, as I share with you the history of my prized collection of authentic McCoy pottery.

More than a century ago, Nelson McCoy  founded his famed stoneware company in Roseville, Ohio. The vessels were noted for their simple, utilitarian design, as well as their durable, high-quality construction. In fact, I can attest that these puppies are indeed resilient -- even in the face of a potential catastrophe.

Scroll down for some snapshots of my assembled assortment of antique McCoy planters. As you can see, they're almost as pretty as the plants they present.

Pages