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

Assistant Pollinator

Jun 14, 2013
treehugger.com

Watching bees and butterflies with pollen-coated legs buzz about my garden fascinates me. While I don’t plan to grow my leg hair until it can collect yellow nodules of plant magic, I have decided to join these insects’ efforts to pollinate my tomato blooms.

Rotating clouds drive High Plains residents to cover. Timelapse photographs reveal there is beauty to be found in the beast.

America's Health Rankings

Colorado ranks 8th, Nebraska 14th, Kansas 18th, Texas 39th and Oklahoma 49th in overall senior health according to the 2013 America’s Health Rankings® Senior Report.  

When Water Burns

Jun 12, 2013
livinggreenmag.com

Advances in fracking and horizontal drilling make it possible to access gas and oil deposits previously out of reach.  The process has lowered energy prices, created jobs, and reduced emissions.  It could also be contaminating ground water from the Rockies of Wyoming to Pennsylvania.  It is possible, but people affected by the pollution won't talk.     

Dust Storm Deja Vu?

Jun 10, 2013
Jane Stulp
Jane Stulp, Special to The Denver Post

Picture this:  A software engineer pulls off Highway 83  because the dirt is so thick he can't see.  Dirt drifts that require a farmer to get the scoop out for the tractor so he can clean up.  A layer of fine dust covers everything in the house, and people huddle in their bed and cover their heads so they can breathe.  Scenes from a Ken Burn's documentary?  No, it's happened seven times over the past few months right here on the high plains. 

Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling allows drillers to retrieve oil and gas from places that were previously inaccessible. There are comparisons likening current conditions to the days of wildcatters. In the midst of drought, oil is once again having significant economic impact in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, but it's not a risk-free. A Texas man's legal battle with an oil producer brings another issue to light... abandoned oil wells. Who will clean up the mess after the party is over?

Luke Clayton

“These bottoms remind me of south Louisiana. I thought everything was bone dry down here in Texas,” says Jake Hebert, pronounced "A-Bear,"  as my friend Larry Large and I drove them into the area we hunt hogs. Jake’s girlfriend Courtney Dugas, also a 110 Carat Cajun, agreed.

It Could be a Long Fire Season in Texas

Jun 7, 2013

In the past few months, red flag warnings for areas of the high plains seem to be in effect more often than not. This summer could hold more of the same.

Prairie Invaders

Jun 5, 2013

A trip to the Red Hills southwest of Medicine Lodge, Kansas, can be an eye opener for both beautiful countryside and an invading horde of Eastern Red Cedars -- a good tree gone bad.  Red cedars have been a part of the history of the Great Plains from Texas to Canada, and were once controlled from over-population by natural wildfires.  But with the advent of civilization, fires have been controlled to the point that the tree is taking over grazing lands and disastrous results are being reported.  Reduced cattle forage, numbers of grassland birds (especially the prairie chicken), lesser numbers of other wildlife, and decreased stands of  wildflowers are a result of the forestation of the prairie.  One of the most serious side effects is the drain on water supplied from natural aquifers and annual rainfall.

Loss of Storm Chaser Has Rippling Effects

Jun 5, 2013

Credit The Discovery Channel/Denver PostTim Samaras, right, an engineer who designed and deployed his own instruments in the path of tornadoes, recorded data to help scientists understand the thermodynamics of tornado formation.Edit | Remove

Current Drought Conditions on the High Plains

Jun 4, 2013

The High Plains Regional Climate Center, based in Lincoln, Nebraska, released its updated report ending May 30. Read the status reports directly from the source, as well as links to the seasonal drought outlook, the drought impact report, and individual state statistics.

Keep Important Documents Safe During Storm Season

Jun 3, 2013

The spring storm season is in full force across the high plains, and one thing to cross off your worry list is your important documents.  The official federal government website, USA.gov, recommends that you keep one copy of vital documents in an off-site location, such as a safe deposit box, and another in a fire and water proof container at home for easy access.  You also may want to consider digitizing documents so they can be placed on a thumb drive.

Here is a partial list of documents to be included for safe keeping:

Necessity is the mother of invention, and that is certainly true for Don Gresham.  He had a problem with feral hogs tearing up his ranch, and decided to try a new approach to catching them.  He began using a portable pen, a feed broadcaster, and a wildlife camera.  He and his son discovered that even with evidence of a previous night's hunt, the animals still came into the pen.  They thought they could be onto something that would help other ranchers dealing with the same pest, and started to market it.  A buddy of Don's developed an ap for smart phones to monitor the trap from any location, and Goin Fencin was born. 

Chris Helzer / The Nature Conservancy

Laurel Badura, wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, found incentive funding allowing ag producer Bart Jacobson to renovate and conserve a rainwater basin on grassland that's grazed by cattle and sheep under aggressive management.

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

A 21-county area of south central Nebraska is home to thousands of rainwater basins. These basins are identical in function to the wetlands of the southern plains known as playas, but different forces formed rainwater basins and playas.

ks-mo-hunt.org

Chester Peterson, Jr., of Lindsborg, Kansas, owns grass and cropland on the western margin of the Flinthills, a rolling landscape of tall- and shortgrass prairie largely unchanged since settlers crossed it in the 1860s.

colorado open lands

When Denver physician and sportsman Kent Heyborne bought land in northeast Colorado, his intent was to leave it undeveloped as bird habitat. But working with Ducks Unlimited along the South Platte River, he created a water-conservation project resulting in neighboring farms gaining additional irrigation credits.

USDA Risk Management Agency

Nearly $17 billion has been paid out to farmers in crop insurance indemnities to cover the losses from the catastrophic drought of 2012, the government reported this week.

Playa Lakes Joint Venture

Southeast Colorado rancher Grady Grissom and Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory manager Seth Gallagher discuss renovation of a playa on the Grissom Ranch. The wetland had been "pitted," and a flat playa bottom was restored, which normalized plant-life, then birdlife, around the playa.

LOGAN LAYDEN / STATEIMPACT OKLAHOMA

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built more lakes in Oklahoma than any other state. Some of those reservoirs struggle to fill, especially during drought, or end up holding more silt than water. But none have been a bigger failure than Lake Optima.

Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory

Research indicates that a buffer surrounding a playa lake, consisting typically of native grasses and forbs, prevents migration of upland topsoil and farm chemicals into lowland wetlands such as playa lakes and rainwater basins. The buffers are important to rangeland playas, but are vital when playas are situated in fields under crop production. This story is part three of a four-part series on playa health. It originally aired on HPPR Tuesday, February 26, 2013.

U.S. EPA

Playa lakes are effective vectors for groundwater recharge and water filtration, but that assumes they're in a healthy state.

Melissa Widhalm, NDMC

There’s a border war going in the Midwest and it’s over water. Kansas and Nebraska have been battling for years over the water in the Republican River, which runs from Colorado to Kansas, through Nebraska.

Farmers in all three states depend on the Republican River to irrigate their fields and with agriculture such a prominent industry in the Midwest, the water battle amounts to a big deal. Kansas and Nebraska’s current dispute will eventually head to the U.S. Supreme Court. And with many farmers dealing with drought and planning for water restrictions, the battle is heating up.

Ogallala Aquifer Conservation

Jan 8, 2013
sitename.com

The USDA promotes Ogallala Aquifer conservation with NRCS money for cost-share projects, and a significant report published by the National Academy of Sciences stresses the need to conserve groundwater, and the state of Kansas changes water-rights laws to foster a culture of conservation rather than consumption.

Providing Biodiversity in the Plains

Dec 31, 2012
Texas Cooperative Extension

Scientists are increasing their understanding of how playas contribute to the landscape. They’ve learned these temporary lakes are a major source of aquifer recharge, but there's another aspect - the abundant bio-diversity playas create.

Recharging the Ogallala Aquifer

Dec 18, 2012
Texas Parks and Wildlife

We grew up on the High Plains thinking of those occasionally muddy pasture depressions as "buffalo wallows," "rainwater basins" or "mud holes."

Prescribed Burning: success stories

Dec 10, 2012
Kansas Pheasants & Quail Forever

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.

The Benefits of Burning

Nov 26, 2012
Heartland Conservation Services

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.

Jim Mason

On Tuesday at 6:44 pm central time, we will hear the final episode of Invasive Species on Playa Country. This report covers woody shrub invasions and control efforts in Nebraska. Biologist Kirk Schroeder of Grand Island enumerates particular weeds invading Nebraska: phragmites is a growing problem in waterways and riparian land, Russian Olive and Eastern Red Cedar (ERC) are invading uplands. Tom Hartman of Grand Island manages the family ranch at Scotia, NE, and faced an onslaught of ERC. He and neighbors have been controlling with mechanical removal followed by fire.

Oklahoma Historical Society

The second in the three-part series on invasive species airs this week on Playa Country.  On Tuesday at 6:44 pm central time, Biologist Gene Miller describes the problem with invasives along the banks of the Canadian River in the Texas panhandle and western Oklahoma. He and NRCS rangeland manager Clint Rollins created the consortium the Canadian River Cooperative Weed Management Area, a group of agencies, non-governmental organizations and landowners conducting invasive weed control efforts.

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