High Plains Public Radio

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

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

We all learned it as kids: Old MacDonald has a farm and on that farm he has a cow that says “moo.” But why? Why do cows moo?

Whenever I’m out reporting in the field I can tell many ranchers have a powerful connection with their cattle – they can almost understand them. But researchers today are trying to figure out exactly what cows are saying.

presbyirisgardens.org

My grandmother called them flags, they've also been known as "poor man's orchids," but this flower is hardy and just right for growing on the High Plains.

Bureau of Reclamation/NY Times

As the water crisis in the West grows more dire, many officials are realizing that the 20th century’s solutions are not sufficient for a 21st century problem. Many of the West’s big dams, reports The New York Times, are much less effective than once hoped. The massive structures have disrupted fisheries and left taxpayers saddled with debt. And—perhaps the worst part--these dams lose hundreds of billions of gallons of water each year to evaporation and leakage.

Luke Clayton

This week on High Plains Outdoors, Luke visits with Shawn Ballard, owner of Diamond Park Homes www.diamondparkhomes.com in Alba, Texas. Ballard's company builds tiny homes (399 sq. feet or less) and ships them all over the country. There is a boon in Tiny home living today. Tune in and learn all about this downsized way of living.  

CBS 4 Denver

Two High Plains states lead the nation in hail damage, reports The Denver Post. Over the past three years, Colorado ranks second behind Texas for the number of insurance claims filed due to hail strikes on homes, property and cars.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma House of Representatives has chosen a new leader to take the reins next year, reports member station KOSU. Charles McCall is a Republican from Atoka in southeast Oklahoma. It’s hoped that he will bring a unique perspective on water to the capitol.

Conservation Colorado

During this Colorado legislative season, GOP and Democratic lawmakers found little common ground between them. But they did find one issue they could agree on. After years of debate, rain barrels are now legal in the state of Colorado, reports KDVR.

Luke Clayton

The natural world is governed by cycles that repeat themselves in a pretty predictable pattern! We have learned much about the cycles or “patterns” of fish and wildlife. We know when to expect the whitetail rut or the crappie to move shallow. We fishermen have also learned when the time is right for catching trophy-size blue catfish or smaller fish better suited for the frying pan.

pinterest.com

There's a new kind of cherry that seems just right for our High Plains.  It's easier to harvest, sweeter, and by all accounts has great potential to be a cherry of a deal in an edible landscape.   

MBT Centennial: Swainson’s Hawk

May 10, 2016
Dustin Huntington/VIREO / National Audubon Society / audubon.org

This year, 2016, marks the centennial of the first Migratory Bird Treaty, which the United States signed with Great Britain on behalf of Canada. That treaty and the three that followed — with Japan, Russia and Mexico — form the cornerstones of our efforts to conserve migratory birds, like the Swainson’s Hawk.

Bloomberg News

Following Texas’s lead, Colorado’s Supreme Court has ruled that local municipalities in the state are not allowed to ban fracking, according to The Wall Street Journal. Cities like Fort Collins and Longmont had previously sought to halt the controversial drilling technique. But now the state’s high court has deemed those local laws “invalid and unenforceable.”

Luke Clayton

 For the past couple of decades, my friend Randy Routh has been telling me about the White Ranch where he has been hunting since the 1990s. Randy and several of his friends help the White family work cattle on the ranch and through the years, the group has set up a nice little hunting camp on the property.

Many youngsters have been introduced to the outdoor lifestyle thanks to these veteran outdoorsmen. In essence, the hunters trade their skills and labor working on the ranch for hunting rights, but it’s easy to see the relationship between hunter and landowners go much farther than this.

After spending a couple of days hunting turkey with Routh on the ranch, it was clearly obvious to me that all these folks have become very close through the years.

weather.gov/norman / KGOU

April’s weather was exceptionally aggressive this year in Oklahoma, reports KGOU. Despite early fears of a growing drought, the state saw the seventh-wettest April on record. Statewide, Oklahoma received more than six inches of precipitation during the month.

StateImpact Oklahoma

Faced with increasingly strict federal emissions regulations, some energy companies that use coal to produce power have struggled to find the funds to meet the new criteria. One such company is Oklahoma Gas and Electric. The energy giant has twice before requested funds for a new coal scrubber project to bring their coal plant up to compliance. Now, reports NewsOK, it appears the third time is the charm. This week state regulators approved a half billion dollars to cover the cost of the scrubbers. 

teachmama.com

A Christmas gift from a friend inspires Skip to learn to try her hand at growing and processing her own supply of pickled beets.

MBT Centennial: Cassin’s Sparrow

May 3, 2016
Christopher L. Wood / allaboutbirds.org / Cornell University

This year, 2016, marks the centennial of the first Migratory Bird Treaty, which the United States signed with Great Britain on behalf of Canada. That treaty and the three that followed — with Japan, Russia and Mexico — form the cornerstones of our efforts to conserve migratory birds, like the Cassin’s Sparrow.

A little Texas Bucket List Postcard

Apr 29, 2016
Cindee Talley

Luke, 

Thanks for letting me share my Texas Bucket List adventure, but mostly thanks for being my friend and my tour guide.  This trip was great because of you.  

Three of us, my dear friends Rick and Kelly Reece, and I left Western Nebraska on Wednesday morning with a goal of experiencing two destinations: Mark Balette's ranch near Goveton, Texas; and the Gulf Coast.

Thomas Bougher / Texas Tribune

When Texas industrial plants break down or close for maintenance, they often spew tons of pollutants into the atmosphere. And they aren’t being properly held accountable, reports The Texas Tribune. A new report has found that 679 facilities from the Gulf of Mexico to West Texas emitted more than 68 million pounds of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, benzene and other toxic substances last year.

Prowers Journal

Recent precipitation has helped to alleviate drought conditions across parts of Colorado, reports The Prowers Journal. Parts of the central mountains and Front Range saw as much as 3 inches of precipitation. And there’s more good news: short and long term forecasts favor continued precipitation. And reservoir storage looks good, so there are no immediate concerns for water providers.

Wikimedia Commons

If Nebraska were to switch from coal to wind energy, it could save the state almost two billion gallons of water a year, according to the Center for Rural Affairs. Nebraska currently ranks fourth in the nation for wind energy potential and 13th for solar power potential. But the state relies heavily on coal to provide energy for its citizens.

Daffodils and Poetry

Apr 27, 2016
bay.ifas.ufl.edu

 Plants and poetry are frequent partners, and perhaps no combination of the literary and the horticultural is better known that Wordsworth and daffodils.  His love of the great outdoors prompted him to walk across England and then all of Europe, during which time he penned his famous descriptive poem that begins,

"I wandered lonely as a cloud/That floats on high o'er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd/A host, of golden daffodils."

This week we're exploring my fondness for daffodils, and the reasons they're perfect for growing on the High Plains.

MBT Centennial: Mountain Plover

Apr 26, 2016
planetofbirds.com

This year, 2016, marks the centennial of the first Migratory Bird Treaty, which the United States signed with Great Britain on behalf of Canada. That treaty and the three that followed — with Japan, Russia and Mexico — form the cornerstones of our efforts to conserve migratory birds, like the Mountain Plover.

Cindee Talley

This week’s High Plains Outdoors is the start to a grand adventure for Cindee and three of her friends.  The men are headed to Mark Balette’s ranch, B&C Outfitters, to hog hunt, while Cindee and her dear friend, Kelly, are headed to the Gulf. 

Friday marked the 46th anniversary of Earth Day, and our planet has come a long way since the inaugural holiday. But there have been struggles, too, notes The Kansas City Star. Earth Day began in 1970 in response to a 1969 massive oil spill near Santa Barbara, Calif.

Chris Hill / examiner.com

It’s been a crazy spring on the High Plains, to say the least. Last week, as reported by Newschannel 10, the Oklahoma panhandle saw torrential rains, hail, and tornadoes. Water flooded roads, and highways were closed. Meanwhile, roads were closed in the Texas Panhandle, too, and tornadoes touched down in the area.

MBT Centennial: Burrowing Owl

Apr 19, 2016
Stan Keiser/Audubon Photography Awards / audubon.org

This year, 2016, marks the centennial of the first Migratory Bird Treaty, which the United States signed with Great Britain on behalf of Canada. That treaty and the three that followed — with Japan, Russia and Mexico — form the cornerstones of our efforts to conserve migratory birds, like the Burrowing Owl.

Olivia Morrison / Wichita Eagle

Last month saw the worst wildfire in Kansas history. The fires in Kansas can be partially blamed on a plant that was of little concern a half century ago. Fifty years ago red cedar trees in Kansas were counted in the tens of thousands. Now the number is closer to 100 million, reports Kansas.com. Just in the last ten years the number of cedar trees in the state has jumped by thirty million. The cedars, sometimes called junipers, make ideal kindling for wildfires. And when you toss in recent high winds and drought conditions, you’ve got a deadly combination.

NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Wild hogs have overtaken Oklahoma’s farmland, and the problem is costing farmers thousands, reports KOCO.com.

Vox.com

As the residents of Flint, Michigan, grapple with the thorny problem of how to live in a place where the water is toxic, concern about drinking water safety has spread across the US.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Food waste is an expensive problem. The average U.S. family puts upwards of $2,000 worth of food in the garbage every year.

What some see as a problem, however, others see as a business opportunity. A new facility, known as the Heartland Biogas Project, promises to take wasted food from Colorado’s Front Range and turn it into electricity.

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