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

What vegetable is versatile enough to bring a zesty, big crunch to burgers at a backyard barbecue, but delicate enough to add a refreshing refinement to finger sandwiches at a garden party?

That’s right! Today’s Growing on the High Plains is all about the cucumber. Whether relishing them on hot dogs, thick-sliced on a salad, or elevating a normal glass of water to something spa-worthy, cool hands have been on cukes for more than 3,000 years.

Courtesy / Colorado Life Magazine

FORT COLLINS, CO – The Four Corners Monument, where Colorado meets Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, is a well-known road-trip destination. However, the “three corners” marker, where Colorado’s southeast corner meets Oklahoma and Kansas, is pretty much unknown to most Coloradans, many of whom don’t even realize we share a border with Oklahoma.

CC0 Creative Commons

The month of May has long been considered the start of Colorado’s wildfire season so first responders, the insurance industry and government officials are warning homeowners to plan ahead.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, the forest service recommends maintaining 100 to 200 feet between thin standing trees and structures; to mow standing grass to less than six inches; and to remove flammable vegetation within 15 feet of homes.

Kansas is about to make it through the end of April without a tornado for only the fourth time since record keeping began.

Luke Clayton

I believed I mentioned in a previous column that I was heading up to Knox County to hunt turkeys at Ranger Creek Ranch, one of my long-time favorite spots for enjoying a variety of outdoor activities. Well, I’m just back from a couple days of hunting spring gobblers at Ranger Creek with my good friend Jeff Rice. There are no photos of gobblers with 11-inch beards to accompany this week’s column but Jeff and I enjoyed a great time in the spring turkey woods and around camp the evening of the hunt!

Our Turn At This Earth: After Sand Creek

Apr 26, 2018
Alan Hutchins

“Your grandparents started out right over there,” Tobe Zweygardt said, pointing to a farmed hillside in the distance. It amazed me how much information Tobe, an elderly retired farmer, stored under that billed cap he wore. I knew my father had spent his early childhood in Cheyenne County, but until then hadn’t known where.

There’s a particular square-stemmed annual with fragrant leaves and tubular purple blooms that often polarizes High Plains gardeners. Some say it’s a nuisance. Some consider it a colorful harbinger of spring after a long, drab winter.

On today’s Growing on the High Plains, we’re talking about the divisive henbit, a member of the mint family that establishes itself in the fall, matures to thick foliage, and then blossoms in the spring but generally disappears with the first hot spell of summer.

H2O Radio

By H2O Radio:

"Dryland" farmers on the high plains of Colorado grow their crops with whatever falls from the sky—no irrigation, no pumped groundwater—just what Mother Nature delivers. In recent years some have been trying to innovate to protect their soils and conserve water to prepare for climate change. But they're getting pushback—not only from their neighbors and their own families—but also from the government.

The "Dirty Thirties"

CC0 Creative Commons

Living the life of a Texas farmworker 1has always been a precarious proposition. But as Scientific American reports, the onset of global warming is making this work even more difficult.

Each year, ever-increasing heat, drought and mosquito-borne diseases are causing farm workers to worry on a very personal level about the effects of climate change.

Luke Clayton

Turkey season is going strong now and many hunters have already bagged their gobbler and have them in the freezer. But what about those wild turkey legs and thighs? Everyone knows those drumsticks from wild gobblers are too tough to eat, right? WRONG!

In this week's show, Luke tells how to make them fall off the bone tender. He also walks you through the process of preparing smoked wild turkey and sausage gumbo.

Yes, we have no apricots (again)! In theory, apricot trees should thrive in our High Plains climate. They are hardy enough to survive the cold winters, and our dry summers actually aid in the maturation of their soft, sweet summer bounty. So why do our region’s apricot trees only yield fruit every 5 to 10 years?

woodleywonderworks / Flickr Creative Commons

Wildfires erupted across Western Oklahoma again on Wednesday.

As The High Plains Journal reports, nearly 325,000 Acres had burned and were still burning as of Wednesday afternoon. This includes 68,000 acres in Woodward County and nearly a quarter of a million acres in Dewey County.

Wikimedia Commons

It may be hard to believe given the dry conditions, but fishing in southeast Colorado is better than ever.

This from the Denver Post.

In years past, prairie lakes like the John Martin, Queens and Adobe Creek reservoirs, were teeming with wiper, crappie, catfish and more. But all of the reservoirs on Colorado’s eastern plains can be susceptible to water level fluctuations due to dry conditions.

Wheat producers in Kansas are worried about the potential for freeze damage after temperatures stayed below freezing for much of the weekend.

While it’s not unusual for Kansas to see spring freezes, the frigid temperatures and blowing wind over the weekend likely caused some damage to the state's wheat crop.

Luke Clayton

This week, Luke visits with us about a recent hog hunt he enjoyed close to home during what could be our last blast of Arctic air until next fall. Luke referred to this as his "last cold weather hog hunt of the season."

After 38 years of hunting wild turkeys, Luke has experienced turkeys doing some downright comical things. He gives us the "short version" of one of these experiences in today's show. 

We all know that nothing compares to sun-ripened strawberries, home-grown in your own backyard. Well, spring has sprung, so it’s ripe time to begin planning your future crop.

Big cities in the Midwest are gaining ground on the rural communities that, for many decades, have thrived on the edges of urban development.

From Texas Standard.

Every spring, wildflowers bring Texans and visitors alike out of their homes for all kinds of photo ops. It’s not uncommon to see dozens of cars parked along Texas highways as families pose in patches of bluebonnets.

Luke Clayton

Last week, Luke "ran out of time" telling about a recent night air rifle hunt he enjoyed on his buddy Jeff Rice's ranch in east Texas. This week, Luke recaps the hunt and goes into a bit more detail describing just how he and his buddies harvested the porkers after dark.

Our Turn At This Earth: Indelible Infamy

Apr 5, 2018
Wikimedia Commons

It “…was the worst blow ever struck at any tribe in the whole plains region, and this blow fell upon friendly Indians.

We’ve finally reached that hopeful time of year. It’s the time when winter loosens its icy hold on the High Plains and the first signs of spring burgeon up from the frozen ground, dotting the naked foliage with the budding promise of warmer times to come.

If you’ve spent your life in the city, maybe you’ve never experienced the smell near a dairy farm, cattle feedlot or a newly fertilized field.

Next week experts from across the High Plains will meet to discuss how to protect one of the region’s most valuable resources – the Ogallala Aquifer.

Garden City is hosting the Ogallala Aquifer Summit on Monday and Tuesday at the Clarion Inn. The summit brings together decision makers including producers, policy makers, conservationists, and tribal leaders from across the High Plains.

Luke Clayton

Just a few days ago, Texas adopted a regulation that allows airguns for hunting big game this coming fall/winter. For the past seven years, Luke has been shooting and hunting hogs/exotics with air rifles.

There are more than 1,300 bat species. Some migrate. But for years researchers haven’t had much information about their migration patterns. Now, because of hundreds of telemetry towers and transmitters glued onto bats’ backs, a Texas Tech bat researcher is getting data about where the bats go. That could help Liam McGuire discover why hundreds of thousands of the flying mammals across North America die each year because of wind turbines.

WyoHistory.org

I’m not sure why this never dawned on me when I was a kid, but not until well into my adulthood did I put two and two together and realize that Cheyenne County, just north of our Kansas farm, was—duh!—named after the tribe that used to live there. Indeed, the 1851 Horse Creek treaty, signed at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, had granted the Cheyenne and their allies, the Arapaho, the land where I grew up, along with all the land west from there into the Rocky Mountains.

One of the dinner table’s most divisive vegetables gets some High Plains love. On today’s Growing on the High Plains, everything’s coming up broccoli. This notoriously-fussy grower has been the bane of many a gardener, but there are a few tricks about managing planting time and growing conditions to cultivate a successful crop, from stem to floret.

Watershed conservation groups in Wichita made their pitch Wednesday for more money from the federal farm bill.

But for two Kansas congressmen, conservation falls a bit lower on the wishlist.

Large Portions Of West Texas Sinking At Alarming Rate, New Report Finds

Mar 26, 2018
Rafael Aguilera

Nearly two years after a pair of giant West Texas sinkholes gained national attention, new research in the area shows they likely won't be the last in the region.

report released Thursday by geophysicists at Southern Methodist University says a 4,000-square-mile area near the "Wink Sinks" is showing signs of alarming instability.

Congress has passed a $1.3 trillion spending bill that’ll keep the federal government running. In that package, which President Donald Trump signed on Friday, is a fix for a troublesome provision for some grain businesses.

Passed in last year’s tax overhaul, the provision allows farmers to deduct up to 20 percent of their earnings from selling crops — but only to cooperatives. That threatens businesses that aren’t co-ops but also buy and sell commodities like corn, soybeans and wheat, including large companies like Cargill and Bunge to small, local grain elevators.

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