HPPR Environment

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

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


Playas benefit from practices that result in good soil health. Improving the health and quality of the soil is one of the easiest and most effective ways producers can increase crop productivity - hence profitability - while benefiting wildlife and improving the environment.


The National Drought Mitigation Center’s latest Drought Monitor has been released, and areas of southern Kansas and eastern Colorado were 2-4 degrees above normal for the week. Above-normal precipitation was confined mainly to portions of northern and eastern Kansas and western and central Nebraska, with departures of up to 3 inches above normal observed over north central Kansas. With the cooler conditions and recent rains, most of Nebraska and northwest Kansas was no longer classified as “abnormally dry.”

Die Fly!

Aug 16, 2015

If curses and death wishes worked, a fly couldn’t survive, let alone buzz in anyone’s ear or crawl on their flesh, near my house. In the last two weeks, I’ve thought or said, “Die fly,” at least a 10,000 times. Unfortunately, wishing these creepy crawlers into the afterworld has had absolutely no effect. It’s time for an attack plan.


Today, I'm sharing a recipe from my book, Kill to Grill.  It's a variation of a dish my grandma and mom used to make.  I modified it to take less time, but still taste just as wonderful!  

Creepy Crawlies

Aug 12, 2015

A look at perennial and annual weeds that vine, twine, and torment gardeners throughout the HPPR region.  These creepy crawlers require almost daily purging, whether by hand weeding or a healthy spritzing of weed killer.  And still they often return, like the cast of a bad horror flick!  

Clean Power Plan Adds More Doubt to Holcomb Expansion

Aug 11, 2015
Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio

From Kansas Public Radio:

The Clean Power Plan recently announced by President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by almost one-third over the next 15 years. And, as Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson reports, tucked into the plan’s thousands of pages is language that makes it even less likely that a new coal-fired power plant will ever be built in southwest Kansas.

Dale Daniel

Playa wetlands benefit from practices that result in good soil health. The Natural Resources Conservation Service says there are four principles to improving soil health: 1) keep soil covered as much as possible; 2) disturb the soil as little as possible; 3) keep plants growing throughout the year to feed the soil; and 4) diversify as much as possible using crop rotation and cover crops.

Pesticide Drift Threatens Organic Farms

Aug 10, 2015
Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Chert Hollow Farm sits nestled between rows of tall trees and a nearby stream in central Missouri. Eric and Joanna Reuter have been running the organic farm since 2006. That means they don’t plant genetically modified crops and can only use a few approved kinds of chemicals and fertilizers.

A few years ago, we replaced the windows in our house. I expected dust, noise, flies, and suffering through hundred degree plus July days, but I didn’t expect an Oscar quality actor to make an appearance. One thing about living in the country, something unexpected always happens. Because of our remodeling project, I faced one of my most dreaded fears—a snake in the kitchen.  

Luke Clayton

 Well, hello folks!  Today, Cindee sat down with me and we talked a little about how hogs came to the United States.  They're aren't a native species.  They've been brought to the area in multiple waves, starting back as far as the Spanish explorer, Desoto.

Take a listen, you just might learn a thing or two.

The rains have turned brown back to green once again, but in terms of the aquifer, it's not enough.

In a Changing World, Texas Expands Solar Usage

Aug 6, 2015
Portuguese_eyes / Creative Commons

As the second-largest state and one of the hottest. Texas leads the US in solar energy potential, reports The Texas Tribune. But up to now, Texas has squandered that opportunity as lawmakers provided few incentives to encourage solar expansion. Solar energy still makes up a tiny percentage of the state’s power supply.


Last week we visited about a weed called nutsedge that was relatively new to me until I put in a garden fountain and thus created an ideal world for this water loving bad boy.  Today, we'll begin to revisit a series of stories about weeds- those pesky, prankish guests who come to the garden party without an invitation and can wind up taking over the entire  homestead.   Though originally aired 4 years ago, I think you'll find most of those bad boys of the garden world are still around and still causing headaches for gardeners. 

Slideshow: Amarillo Residents Concerned About Flooding

Aug 4, 2015

Overnight storms in Amarillo this week broke the record for year-to-date rainfall. Amarillo.com reports that the city has seen almost 27 inches of rain this year. This brings the total past the previous record, set in 1960. In neighborhoods around Amarillo’s playa lakes, flooding has become a serious concern. Citizens near the 77th street neighborhood have been stacking sandbags around their houses.

Texas Observer

The Texas Observer has reported on a new study which found that greenhouse gas emissions could cost Texas billions if left unchecked. The report, by the Risky Business Project, studied many factors, including rising energy costs and heat-related deaths. Texas is expected to be most affected by extreme heat and rising sea levels. Hot temperatures could have a debilitating effect on agriculture, and the encroaching ocean will lead to significant property damage.

Oklahoma Lags Behind Nation in Solar Usage

Aug 3, 2015
U.S. Department of Energy / National Renewable Energy Laboratory

In Oklahoma, oil and gas are king. The state is also a powerhouse when it comes to wind energy, ranking fourth in the nation.  But when it comes to solar energy, the state has some catching up to do, according to StateImpact, a reporting project of NPR stations. Oklahoma’s deficiencies in the area of solar energy have nothing to do with the sun, and everything to do with state policy.

Creative Commons

Texans are being asked to curb their electric usage as demand has reached record-breaking levels, reports The Texas Tribune. The operator of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which covers most of the state, is asking Texas consumers to use less electricity wherever possible.

Luke Clayton

Howdy, Folks!

Here's my view this morning.  As I sit here, waiting for the feeder to bring the fish to this corner of my pond, my thoughts are running to how I got to this place in my life.  Why is my life about the outdoors?  The answer came to me relaxing on this dock.  Being outdoors gives me space to think.  There's a tranquility I can't find anywhere else.  Take a listen, you'll hear the crickets, the birds, the peacefulness of it all.  I'm encouraging you to spend a little time in the stillness of the country, away from people, traffic, and noise before summer's over.  You might discover something about yourself you never took time to find.

Until next time, enjoy the great outdoors.

Nutsedge Nightmares

Jul 29, 2015

There's a new weed at my place that has been making an appearance the last couple of years and shows no sign of leaving.  It's a true bad boy of the garden, and it's called nutsedge, though some plant people commonly call it nutgrass.  But be warned, it's not a grass but a true sedge which can replicate itself by segments, roots, seeds, or nut-shaped underground tubers.  This week we'll try to get a handle on how to handle it, but be forewarned that it's a tough nut to crack! 

dr_relling / Creative Commons

Three water managers in Colorado have stated that the state might have enough water to sustain it in the future, despite dwindling resources, climate change, and a growing population. However, these experts stressed that the state MUST be smart about its water and use it wisely, reports Colorado Public Radio. Colorado’s first state water plan, which is available now for viewing, will be finalized in December.

Slideshow: Kansas's Dwindling Water Resources

Jul 28, 2015
Travis Heying / Wichita Eagle

For decades, Kansas farmers have relied on an ancient underground reservoir to provide water for their crops. But now the aquifer is drying up, reports The Wichita Eagle. Most farmers in Kansas are already feeling the effects of the depleted Ogallala aquifer. For some farmers, the energy bills for pumping water are costing more than the leases paid on the land itself. Water from the aquifer has gone down as much as 200 feet in some areas, doubling what it costs to pump it.

Luke Clayton

 Well, hello folks.  Boy, I tell you what, my work is so hard.  I have to spend time outdoors with friendly people, who've come to be my friends.  To top it off, they want to share what they've learned!  One of those is fishing guide, Seth Vanover.  This guy knows how to catch fish, and today, he's reminding me of what it takes to bring in the big ones.  The tips he gives can be applied anywhere to help you catch those summer cats.


 A visit to San Francisco brought me to the historic estate and nationally recognized garden called Filoli, slightly south of the Bay Area.  The day-long visit included tours of the 46 room country house and the magnificent gardens, orchards, fountains, and pools that surround the structure.  Built by a wealthy family that survived the Earthquake of 1906, Filoli became a showplace during America's Gilded Age.  Fortunately the entire estate was deeded to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1975, and is host to visitors from around the world.

Bee Hotels Give Native Species a Place to Call Home

Jul 21, 2015
Abigail Wilson / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

A patchwork of bamboo and paper tubes, with diameters no bigger than a nickel, are stacked artfully inside a 4-by-4 wooden frame near the edge of a public hiking trail in Lawrence, Kan.

Organized by size, each hollow tube is about 8 inches long, designed as nests for Kansas’ wild bees. This structure is called a bee hotel.

Wikimedia Commons

The increasing rate of earthquakes in Oklahoma has resulted in a crackdown on disposal wells in the state, reports StateImpact, a reporting project of NPR member stations. Last year, Oklahoma experienced nearly 600 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or larger. This year, the state has already suffered 500 such earthquakes.

Ian Boggs / Creative Commons

As CNN reported this week, a 31-year-old woman was struck and killed by lightning while hiking on Mount Yale this week.

Here is a reminder of NOAA's guidelines for lightning safety.

If you're indoors:

Dan Dzurisin / Creative Commons

Caprock Canyons boasts a unique feature that can’t be found anywhere else in the world, reports The Canyon News. The herd of bison there is the last remaining true herd, genetically identical to the buffalo that roamed the plains before the animals were almost completely decimated at the end of the 19th century. The bison in the park are the direct descendants of the herd Charles Goodnight’s started in 1878.


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.

Luke Clayton

 Howdy folks!

It seems hard to believe that I was just fishing for Northern Pike in the land of the midnight sun, and now I'm thousands of miles south with the grandsons on a fishing trip in Galveston Bay.  I'm fishing with the crew of Captain Mike Williams.  You might remember Mike, we went shark fishing with him last year.  He owns Galveston Fishing Guides.     

This is the closest salt water for most of us, and I tell you, if you could an opportunity, head on down to the bay and do some fishing... and take the family.  You'll be glad you did.

Sweet Annie

Jul 15, 2015

 A favorite herb has responded to our recent rains and taken up an expanded residence at my place.  I welcome it with open arms and nasal passages, as its aromatic aura clears my head and provides fresh potpourri all around the house.  It's also a good keeper in the dried stage, filling in dried floral arrangements with lacy backgrounds that last well into the winter months.  Though it has a somewhat colorful past in the wormwood family, its gentle fronds and somewhat spicy scent are best known by it's common name of Sweet Annie.