High Plains Public Radio

HPPR Environment

hydrology (water, aquifers, rivers)
fauna (wildlife)
climate change

Management & conservation
water conservation
soil conservation
wildlife protection
policies & regulations


A group of Oklahoma state energy officials and oil industry experts issued a primer last week on how the state should handle earthquakes caused by oil and gas activity. The report was compiled by a group called StatesFirst, according to StateImpact Oklahoma . It contains the most frank admission yet from any state-sanctioned body that Oklahoma’s recent earthquakes are related to fracking and waste-water disposal. The report provides up-to-date data and suggests several different approaches...

Roger Mills Prescribed Burn Association, Oklahoma

Oct 6, 2015
Heartland Conservation Services

The association formed in 2006 and covers Roger Mills and Beckam counties. The group addresses the four common reasons people do not use prescribed fire: liability, training/experience, labor, and equipment.


Well Folks, Today it's all about setting up to hunt whitetail deer in the geographic center of the United States- Lebanon, Kansas. We just finished up our elk hunting in Colorado, and on the way back to Texas, made a loop to stop by my buddy's farm to get ready to take a big grain-fed deer. The deer in northern Kansas are much bigger than the ones down in Texas. My friend, Mark Balette and I have seen some pretty good deer sign, so I think our blinds are placed well. We've got some mobile...

A New Colorado Water Law Is Put to the Test

Sep 30, 2015
Geoff Elliott / Grand Environmental Services

A groundbreaking 2013 Colorado law allows water rights owners to allocate water to a river during times of low flow. And now that law is being put to the test, reports National Geographic . The law is important because it challenges the old “use-it-or lose-it” rule of water conservation. This rule states that if anyone doesn’t use their water, the unused portion can be allocated to serve the needs of other users. The problem is, this rule actually encourages people to waste water rather than...

Allison V. Smith

The discovery of chronic wasting disease in Texas in June has sent nervous tremors through the state, reports The Texas Tribune . It’s the second instance of the disease in Texas, and it represents a potentially serious blow to the Lone Star State’s $2.2 billion hunting industry. The disease first appeared in the United States in Colorado in 1967. Since then, it’s been seen in 23 states. Chronic wasting disease essentially alters the brain of the deer, causing behavioral changes and eventual...

Grazing Rotation and Patch Burning

Sep 29, 2015
Oklahoma Grazing Lands Conservation Association

Oklahoma State University's Dept. of Natural Resource Ecology & Management is researching effects of limited prescribed burning or "patch burning" to create a mosaic of patches across the landscape. Early research findings indicate better forage grasses and increased biodiversity.

Drought Monitor: Overall US Drying Trend Continues

Sep 28, 2015

the overall drying and warming trend continued recently, according to the most recent US Drought Monitor. Despite plentiful spring rains, drier weather over much of Texas during the summer resulted in rapidly deteriorating conditions. Showers and thunderstorms have continued to spread through northern Texas and western Oklahoma, areas mostly devoid of drought at this time. On the Plains, many farmers are awaiting more rain before planting winter wheat. Above-normal temperatures dominated the...

Luke Clayton

Well, folks this is the last installment from Elk Camp for this year. I'm sending you this last post card on a rainy morning from inside our guide "hut" which is actually a cattle trailer we've partitioned into three separate living areas for the three of us guides. Before you get to feeling too sorry for ole' Luke, it's warm, dry, and it's off the ground, and that's way better than an old tent. Our hunters stay in a nice little cabin about 60 yards away. It's been a good season. We've had...

Supermoon Eclipse is Sunday

Sep 25, 2015

Fall is right around the corner and if you’re a stargazer this is good news. The nights are longer, the temperatures cooler and the bugs will soon be gone. This month is a great time to get out and observe one of nature’s best events - a total lunar eclipse.

Study: Crop Diversity Has Declined in US

Sep 24, 2015
US Census of Agriculture

A new study indicates that the diversity of crops grown by American farmers since 1978 has declined, reports The Rural Blog . The study was performed at the county level. It discovered that the lowest crop diversity was found in the upper Midwest states. States in the West and South fared better. Areas with high crop diversity tend to be more resistant to disease, pest, and crop failure. But there is room for swift positive change. Unlike natural ecosystems, croplands are replanted yearly....

Four Things to Know About the September Equinox

Sep 23, 2015

Today is the September Equinox. The number of hours in the day and night are equally balanced all over the world- that's about 12 hours. The change in tilt causes the seasons. Here in the United States, the fall equinox is usually characterized by huge variations in temperature. The leaves are changing color, and an increase in low pressure usually brings in more rain, and maybe snow.

In Oklahoma, Continued Tilling Could Bring Trouble

Sep 22, 2015
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Tilling and planting on the same land in Oklahoma for generations has left the soil in poor shape. And StateImpact Oklahoma warns that if farmers don’t change the way they grow crops, there will be trouble. After losing more than 800 million tons of topsoil in a single year during the Dust Bowl, farmers planted trees. They irrigated crops and changed plowing techniques to prevent another disaster. But they continued to plow, tilling the soil and planting wheat again in the same spot. Ray...

Nathan Rupert / Flickr Creative Commons

Conservationists are upset by a new Colorado Parks and Wildlife effort to kill mountain lions in order to boost the mule deer population for hunting season. On the Huffington Post blog, a professor at the University of Colorado called the plan a “kill-kill” proposition. Professor Mark Bekoff added, “ we already know that killing mountain lions to save ungulates does not work.” There are a number of factors that contribute to mule deer decline, but mountain lions are the least of them, he says...

A Prescription for Burning

Sep 22, 2015

Burning is a cost-effective method of controlling invasions of Eastern Red Cedar, but there's more to burning than simply touching torch to ground. Prescribed burns follow a precise, multi-page "prescription" to ensure efficacy and safety.


Oklahoma is considering installing a gun range in the state’s largest and oldest state park. NPR member station KGOU reports that state tourism officials are weighing plans for an outdoor sports shooting complex, which would be built at Lake Murray State Park. The proposal has generated complaints that the gun range could disturb the park’s ambience. The idea comes at a time when the state Department of Tourism and Recreation has suffered deep funding cuts. Falling tax revenue has raised the...

Luke Clayton

It's Elk Camp season, and I'm in the Rockies with the crew. I'll be sending you audio postcards. This show we're getting settled in, you'll hear from the ramrod of our outfit, and my partner Larry Large. It's going to be a great time. Listen to the audio, and enjoy the sounds of Elk Camp in the Rockies.

Food Companies Show Concern About Farm Runoff

Sep 18, 2015
Abby Wendle / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media : The federal health reform law known as the Affordable Care Act prevents insurers from considering pre-existing health conditions when setting premiums for consumers. But they are able to consider age, location and tobacco use. And that means some Kansans who smoke are charged higher insurance rates, which may discourage low-income smokers from getting health coverage, according to a new issue brief from the Kansas Health Institute . Download the Kansas Health...

Wes Jackson has headed the Land Institute since it was established in 1976. Next year he plans on stepping down from his leadership position.

Flood waters from the Brazos River encroach upon a home in the Horseshoe Bend neighborhood, Friday, May 29, 2015, in Weatherford, Texas. Credit Brandon Wade / AP Edit | Remove A new study reported in The Guardian has determined that human pollution is partly responsible for the recent flooding in Texas and Oklahoma. Dr. Simon Wang of Utah State University and his colleagues studied the effects of greenhouse gases on warming and cooling trends in the Pacific Ocean. These trends, known as El...

Ranchers Rediscover Burning

Sep 15, 2015
Roger Mills, Prescribed Fire Association

Biologist Peter Berthelsen of Pheasants Forever took action to educate land managers how to burn and created burn trailers stocked with all the hardware required to safely conduct prescribed burns. Scotia, Neb. rancher Tom Hartman talks about using fire to control an Eastern Red Cedar invasion.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

last month Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin finally acknowledged the oil industry’s culpability in the state’s recent spate of earthquakes. Meanwhile, on August 3 rd the state imposed strict new limits on how much waste fluid companies can pump. These cuts are the state’s latest effort to stop the earthquakes, reports NPR member station KOSU. The new regulations require the amount of waste fluid to be cut by 38 percent by October. The state has dispatched inspectors into the field to make sure...


Friends of ours who ranched along the Saline River found elk sheds buried in a bank when they were working cattle years ago. My first response was, “Impossible! We don’t have free-roaming elk in western Kansas.” After examining their treasures, it was clear the creature that lost these antlers inhabited this country over a century earlier. The ungulate that’d sported this rack had grazed native grasses and forbs before white men began tilling rich bottomland and running herds of cattle where buffalo once roamed.

Power Company to Invest in West Texas Solar Energy

Sep 11, 2015
Andreas Demmelbauer / Texas Tribune

the biggest power company in Texas has plans to harness sunshine. Luminant, a Dallas-based company, announced Tuesday that it would tap 116 megawatts of West Texas solar energy. That’s enough to power almost 60 thousand homes, reports The Texas Tribune. This is just one more sign that solar power is gaining ground in the Lone Star State. Texas leads the nation in solar energy potential because of its size and plentiful sunshine. But the solar industry has struggled to gain a foothold in the...

Flower Power

Sep 9, 2015

We'll finish out our special series on weeds with a look at plants that could sometimes be mistaken for regular residents of a flower bed or border. Their blooms can be colorful, but for the most part they will ultimately try to take over your garden space. They also sometimes grow to ungainly proportions, so best to stay with basic well-known blooms and keep these interlopers out of your flower beds.

Benefits of Using Fire on the Landscape

Sep 8, 2015
Kansas Pheasants & Quail Forever

Native Americans used fire to manage rangeland for thousands of years, but a 100-year burning hiatus followed settlement by Europeans of the North American heartland. Those decades of fire suppression allowed invasive plants to negatively alter the landscape. But rangeland researchers and managers are awakening to the benefits of burning.

Brownback Works to Preserve Ogallala

Sep 4, 2015
cstoddard / Flickr Creative Commons

Plentiful rains will not be enough to replenish the Ogallala Aquifer, notes the Hays Daily News. Last week, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback paid a visit to southwest Kansas, touring the bountiful fields there. But he stressed that the recent rains are insufficient to solve the crisis. “Rain is a wonderful thing,” said Brownback, adding: “But we can’t count on that, so we have to prepare for a different horizon.” The Kansas economy is deeply dependent on water. And the Ogallala, the vast...

Prickles and Stickles

Sep 2, 2015

Though a far cry from cactus, today's weed entries definitely bring up some thorny issues. We'll examine this sticky situation by defining the difference between grass burs and goatheads. And then we'll take a look at thistles that have come from other countries to make their home in the heartland.

Texas Astronomers Discover Dying Star Bursts

Sep 2, 2015
ESA/Hubble, NASA, S. Geier.

Texas astronomers announced a new discovery this week. According to Marfa Public Radio, scientists in the Lone Star State recently found that dying stars display huge outbursts as they decay. This phenomenon, characterized by hot, bright flashes, hasn’t been seen in stars like these before. Most dying stars end up as white dwarves, which pulsate like a heartbeat or vibrate rhythmically like a ringing bell. But the Texas astronomers noticed an interruption of the pulsing, where the stars would...


Many producers have converted to no-till, and now progressive farmers are learning to cover crop to keep soil covered after harvesting a cash crop. Ryan Speer is such a producer. He farms in central Kansas along the Arkansas River south of Halstead.

High Plains States Tackle Water Shortage

Aug 31, 2015
Vonoth Chandar / Flickr Creative Commons

High Plains states are working to combat the water shortage, reports Beef magazine. Kansas plans to implement a 50-year vision for water in the state. The process began in 2012, when Governor Sam Brownback called on the Kansas Water Office and the Kansas Department of Agriculture to develop a long-term water plan. The plan includes consideration of groundwater needs, mostly in Western Kansas and surface water needs, mostly in Eastern Kansas. The plan also takes into account water quality...