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The London Blitz involved nine months of German bomber-induced devastation that drove people who lived there into a state of constant awareness regarding the location of the nearest bomb shelter. While the banks of Big Creek won’t echo with the drone of mechanical motors and sound of carpet bombs exploding one right after another, one locale faces a dive bombing hawk intent on scoring a fresh chicken dinner.

School's Out for.... Severe Weather?

Jul 16, 2013
rootsweb.ancestry.com

  The Oklahoma Department of Education requires schools to provide 175 days of instruction.  Districts can cancel school for any weather, anytime of the year.  

wordpress.com

Prairie dogs are a keystone species on the high plains.  That means others rely on them for food and shelter.  The Amarillo Globe-News reported a study is being conducted to keep them healthy by vaccinating them for the bubonic plague.  

www.nm.nrcs.usda.gov

The sprawling Weaver Ranch near Causey, NM, is located in important Lesser Prairie-Chicken habitat. Ranch manager Willard Heck talks about removing 400-500 acres of mesquite plant that had encroached onto prairie land, fragmenting the bird's habitat.

Dingle Images

Somewhere I saw this quote, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” I agree and add you’ll meet interesting creatures along the way. Sometimes those new acquaintances look like something from an intergalactic space bar.

Luke Clayton

If I was going to tell you that Christmas comes twice a year for deer hunters, you would say I was just plain crazy.  But for those who know about the delicious axis deer, it is the absolute truth.  One of my favorite places to hunt these is with my good friend Mark Balette

The Canadian River Municipal Water Authority board of directors verbally agreed to begin negotiations to sell Texas water rights to Oklahoma investors and users.  The Amarillo Globe reported the parcel under consideration is over 11,000 acres, and located in Lipscomb County.

Texas Wildlife and Parks / Gary Kramer

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has partnered with hundreds of groups to restore and link back together the Lesser Prairie-Chicken's eastern New Mexico habitat. Crews are removing petroleum welljack pads and service roads, reseeding with native grasses, and removing other vertical objects like mesquite, trees and old windmills in effort to restore a habitat more friendly to the needs of the bird.

  While communities in the Texas Panhandle work to improve severe weather warning systems and equipment, experts say the best plan is your own.  

Fishing for large mouth bass on live bait used to be controversial because fish could  swallow the bait, however, Seth Vanover has perfected reeling in the big ones and releasing them back into the lake- healthy and ready to go again.

If you’ve ever closely examined vintage Ellis photos, you know the town had even more big trees shading yards, parks, and walkways than exist today. Seeing old pictures made me think about trees growing around town. Fortunately, I didn’t have to look long before I found a history of local tree culture.

Red, White, and Blue

Jul 3, 2013

It's not too late, even in midsummer to plant a flowering Old Glory.  Petunias are the flower of choice for high plains conditions. 

okmag.com

Scientists researching the population declines of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken say the bird's habitat has been damaged by vertical structures and human activity like road-building and oil and gas mining. Vertical structures include mesquite and other woody invasives, which the bird is averse to nesting near.

Texas Game Warden's facebook page

  If you work for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, a typical day does not exist.  The day could bring a drug bust, seizure of gill nets, or rescuing a youngster drifting from shore in the family's boat.  State Impact Texas recently featured a few of the more unexpected situations game wardens face on a "typical" day.  One tense incident occurred at Palo Duro Lake in the Texas Panhandle.

Art on the Move

Jun 28, 2013

Frequently, I see ornate box turtles crossing a country road or highway. Because I like this home-carrying little reptile, I dodge these little speed bumps. While seeing them slowly lumber across the road triggers a smile, I hadn’t thought much about these Kansas state reptiles until recently.

This summer, I’ve been waking up early to enjoy the cool morning air as I water, weed, and pick veggies. A bonus of rising with the sun is meeting some of my yard neighbors that hide during the heat of the day.

Oklahoma is the beating heart of tornado alley. State Impact Oklahoma reports community tornado shelters are closing because they are, "too popular." Listen to the audio feature.

Last Rites

Jun 27, 2013

I've finally given up the ghost in terms of trying to grow azaleas in a climate where they are not meant to be.  I don't really know why some of us who like to garden on the High Plains won't take no for an answer, and stick to the plants that are meant for our near-desert terrain and weather.  As I write this the calendar has just moved past the first week of June and the thermometer is edging above 104 degrees at early afternoon.  Azaleas are Southern belles, needing moisture, reasonable winds and more acidic soil than we have in Western Kansas.  If I want azaleas in my life from now on, they'll come in pots with foil wraps and big bows that put a touch of springtime on the Easter buffet table or a Mother's Day brunch.

Twisterfiddler.com

The storm chaser known online as Twisterfiddler posted video recently of an impressive dust cloud rolling over southwest Kansas.

As of early-2013, much of the High Plains region is under extreme or exceptional drought. Ungerer, Crouch and Hagen discuss the significance of enrolling grassland in the NRCS Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative.

Lake Fork guide Seth Vanover buried his face in his side imaging sonar and instructed Billy Kilpatrick, Phil Zimmerman and myself to study the image.

Nobody told me when I married a game warden that a pelican would take up temporary residence in my children’s wading pool. Nor did I realize my two tiny daughters and I would spend a couple of days throwing our hooks and lines off a bridge over Big Creek trying to catch enough fish to satisfy that visitor’s insatiable appetite. On the other hand, that eating machine never expected to vacation at our house either.

Recent rains have caused flash floods, washed out farming terraces, and helped dryland crops, but the U.S. Drought Monitor says it won't change the summer outlook.

English peas are a challenge for High Plains gardeners.  To increase your chances to taste the color green from the garden, I've discovered these keys:

  • Plant early
  • Stake against the wind
  • Water continuously
  • Check often because they go from tender orbs to hard marbles almost instantly

Black-footed ferrets may be returning to the Texas Panhandle.  Kevin Welch reported in  a recent article, found in the Amarillo Globe News, that public comments will be accepted this week by state and federal agencies.  The proposed plan is to reintroduce ferrets to the High Lonesome area of the Rita Blanca National Grasslands in northwest Dallam County.  High Lonesome is the largest contiguous piece of land in the grasslands.

photofeather.wordpress.com

Land manager Tom Turner of St. John, KS, manages grazing land in west-central Kansas in the sandhills south of Kinsley. Owing to sandy soil composition the grassland is fragile.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Parts of the 2013 Farm Bill remained unresolved, but sections concerning conservation programs - like the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative - were funded through FY2013 at the end of 2012.

Arizona Cypress

Jun 18, 2013

What began as a decorative planting in a city park has developed into a love affair with an evergreen tree that may hold one of the keys to solving a major problem on the prairies and pastures of the High Plains.  Three years ago, we planted a memorial garden for my mother in our local city park.

Lone Star Tick Bites Can Be Agents for Meat Allergy

Jun 18, 2013
npr

Lone Star Ticks are becoming more common on the High Plains.  They look like other ticks, but females have a white spot on their back.  On my return from hiking in western Kansas canyon breaks last weekend, I found one had hitched a ride home with me.  I didn't think anything of it until I came across an article from the Wichita Eagle telling about an allergy to meat that can develop a few hours after being bitten by one of these little buggers.  In the piece, allergist, Thomas Scott, says the allergy is not to the tick bite itself.  The tick is just the vehicle.  As with any allergy, some reactions are serious.  The article can be found here.  A little digging led me to another article by NPR last fall about the increased distribution of the tick, the causative agent of the allergy, and said there are no governmental warnings at this time.  It also reminded me that an ounce of prevention, in the form of DEET, before I head out is worth avoiding the whole worry.

Oklahoma Water Statutes Trump Texas Compacts

Jun 16, 2013
PHOTO BY REUTERS/MIKE STONE

A recent Supreme Court ruling found the interstate water compact between the states of Texas and Oklahoma does not supersede Oklahoma's water statues.  Recent stories from State Impact Texas, provide the legal document and insight from Gabriel Eckstein, law professor and water expert, as well as Sara Tran, SMU law professor.

This past week, I was one of Jay’s students and after some intensive one on one instruction, learned some things I never knew about rifle shooting and also was reminded of some of the basics of rifle shooting that I had forgotten.

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