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

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.

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.

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.

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