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

CC0 Public Domain

Legislation meant to protect farmers and ranchers from incurring unnecessary costs when protecting the value of their water right was signed into law by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper last week.

CC0 Public Domain

Farming isn’t getting any easier given low grain prices, rising costs and unpredictable weather, yet many young people in southwest Kansas are staying on the family farm and statewide farming groups are working to further cultivate the younger generation’s interest in agriculture.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A new study has found that the most practical way to deal with leftover wastewater from fracking sites is to reuse the water rather than simply disposing of it. As StateImpact reports, the report from the Produced Water Working Group suggests that wastewater injection can be reduced by reuse.

Justin Gilpin / Kansas Wheat

But the electricity is out at his Stanton County farm, where at least 14 inches of snow blankets his wheat fields.

Amid a slumping farm economy, it might seem like a disaster with harvest just weeks away. But Sipes has seen wheat weather many calamities.

“I never count wheat out,” he said.

It will be a week to 10 days before western Kansas farmers know the outcome of the weekend snowstorm, which closed highways and canceled schools.

Courtesy / Lamar Utility Board

While western Kansas bore the brunt of the late-season winter storm over the weekend, portions of eastern Colorado were also impacted.

As The Prowers Journal reports, areas of southeast Colorado, like Springfield and Campo received 7.5 to 10 inches of snow. About four to six inches of snow fell in the Holly area and Lamar received only some accumulation, but 50 mph winds caused some power outages.

Holly, Bristol, Granada and Hartman suffered the most outages, along with areas south of Lamar.  

CULTURA RF / Getty Images

When one things of cattle rustling, images of the old west come to mind, but it’s happening in Oklahoma even today.

As National Geographic reports, roughly one percent of the Sooner State’s millions of head of cattle – worth from $1,200 to $1,500 per head - are stolen every year, mostly by drug addicts who take them to legal markets to sell them.

It’s time to start growing hemp

May 2, 2017
Jason Probst / The Hutchinson News

Industrial hemp shouldn’t really be something we’re talking about in Kansas.

Yet we are, because of an archaic bureaucratic decision in the 1930s that lumped the inert plant – useful in the manufacture of a variety of products such as paper, rope and plastics – with other drugs, which made it unlawful to grow and use the plant commercially.

BRIAN MCGUIRK / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

U.S. wheat futures increased more than 2 percent Monday as frost across key growing regions stoked fears of widespread production losses, pushing prices to a six-week high.

As Reuters reports, at one point Monday, wheat futures on the Chicago Board of Trade rose to $4.43 a bushel, the highest since March 10.

Andrew Woodhouse, grains analyst at Advance Trading in Australasia, said with frost through Kansas, Colorado, and Oklahoma, the market is concerned about crop damage.

D.J. Gosch Richmeier

Western Kansans are dealing with the aftermath of a winter storm that caused widespread tree damage and power outages before moving out of the area Sunday.

According to the National Weather Service, the highest recorded snowfall total was 18 inches in far western Hamilton County. Stanton, Grant, Scott, Wichita and Logan counties recorded 13 to 16 inches of snow and about 12 inches of snow fell in Finney and Lane Counties.

The heavy snowfall caused power outages and resulted in widespread damage to trees.

Luke Clayton

This week, Luke goes into detail on how he transformed some wild pork into a big skillet full of tasty guisado. This is a dish that can be eaten like a soup or, with less liquid, is tasty served on hot flour or corn tortillas.

Wild hogs are plentiful in many states and they receive a great deal of negative press but pork is pork and the meat from wild porkers is rated as the best of game meats by Luke and many others.

You might want to grab a notepad and jot down a few of Luke's cooking tips this week., 

Jonathan Baker

Thousands of High Plains residents were without power on Sunday afternoon, reports Amarillo.com, after snowstorms blanketed the region and strong winds brought down branches and power lines.

The snowfall broke records for the end of April across much of the area. According to Wes Reeves, spokesman for Xcel Energy, the power company was working to get more than 13,000 Xcel customers who’d lost power up and running again.

To conclude our three-part series on how gardeners new to our region can overcome reduced water access, today's installment of Growing on the High Plains goes underground -- literally. 

In addition to thoughtful xeriscaping and maximizing moisture with mulch, those committed to making water conservation a top priority can consider planning and installing a drip system.  With the flip of a switch, you can ensure that every drop goes  where it's needed -- saving time and energy.

Across much of the western part of the state, conversations are happening about what to do about the future of water.

It’s an overdue conversation in an area that relies heavily on the declining reserves of the Ogallala Aquifer for its economic prosperity. In some areas, the decline of the aquifer has been dramatic – with the water level dropping more than 70 to 80 feet in some parts of Kearny and Finney Counties.

Texas Parks and Wildlife

In The Texas Panhandle, the pronghorn antelope population has remained strong over the past three decades. At the same time, western Texas has seen a dramatic decrease in its pronghorn population, so wildlife and research groups are working to balance things out.   

As The Texas Observer reports, the pronghorn antelope is the fastest land mammal in North America.

CC0 Public Domain

Despite concerns that repair and cleanup costs would hurt already cash-strapped public schools, a bill  that aims to test the water supply of the aging Colorado public schools for lead over the next three years is advancing in the state legislature.

Luke Clayton

Mark Balette, owner of B & C Outfitters, just set up Luke's new Darton Maverick 2 bow and Luke put it to work and harvested a couple of tasty BBQ wild porkers.

A total of 12 porkers were harvested on the hunt and the guys are around the camp house in today's show, shooting the bull and talking hog hunting. 

Weed control strategies in grain sorghum

Apr 21, 2017
Kansas State University

Severe grass and broadleaf weed pressure will reduce grain sorghum yields and can make harvest very difficult. Good crop rotation and herbicide selection are essential components of managing weeds in grain sorghum.

Controlling weeds prior to planting: Burndown and soil-applied residuals

Wikimedia Commons

Oklahoma ranks third in the nation for installed wind power capacity, thanks in large part to a tax incentive that is soon coming to an end.

As State Impact reports, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday signed House Bill 2298, which requires wind farms to be operational by July to qualify for the state’s Zero Emission Tax Credit, an incentive program Fallin credited with establishing Oklahoma’s wind industry.

Drought-tolerant corn hybrids: Yield benefits

Apr 20, 2017

Figure 1. Yield for the DT versus non-DT corn hybrids across site-years for the 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 growing seasons. DT vs. non-DT corn hybrids: Yield Environment Analysis Edit | Remove

In recent years, drought conditions have raised questions about the utilization of corn as the main crop for maximizing yield production per unit of available water in dryland environments.

You might remember that last week we reviewed important insider intel' about how to keep High Plains gardens growing without wasting water.

Today’s installment of Growing on the High Plains continues this topic, so as not to leave anyone high and dry when it comes to best practices regarding conservation.  

Wallethub

As wind turbines and solar panels continue to crop up across the High Plains, you may have wondered how green your state is, compared to other states.

The personal finance website WalletHub has compiled a list of all states, ranking them according to how friendly they are toward the environment. The site judges states on 20 key metrics, ranging from eco-friendly buildings per capita to share of energy consumption from renewable resources. States in the HPPR listening area did not fare well in the rankings.

A long-lost city in south-central Kansas could put south-central Kansas on the map as the second-biggest settlement of Native Americans found in the United States.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, Etzanoa, near Arkansas City, has remained a mystery for 400 years. Archaelogists could not find it and historians thought reports of a permanent settlement with 20,000 Native Americans in it were exaggerated.

Dwane Roth knows the worth of water. 

Peering 20 years into the future, the Finney County farmer can see the outcome clearly if nothing changes.

“The Discovery Channel will be out here doing a documentary on us,” he said, adding the synopsis would be “ ‘What the hell were you guys thinking?’ “

With his water levels declining, Roth wants to make sure there is water for the next generation, including his nephews who all recently returned to the farm.

“We are going to have to do something if we want to continue irrigating,” Roth said.

Sandra J. Milburn / The Hutchinson News

ASHLAND - Over the phone, Jenny Giles Betschart gives directions to her makeshift home amid the incinerated plains - describing the residence as the one you shouldn't miss.

"It's the white house with the clutter," she said.

It's the only house left on this section of road. The home, with its paint now peeling from the intense heat of a wildfire, lies at the end of a long sandy drive, damp from several days of downpours. Scaffolding is stacked on a trailer - not far from the new picnic tables made by the FFA - waiting to be used to put new siding on the house.

energy.gov

Five states, including Kansas, get at least 20 percent of their electricity needs from wind, but as The New York Times reports, alternative energy investments like wind and solar power have not performed well in recent years.

To make matters worse, the Trump administration has opted for a resurgence of coal and other carbon fuels, not an emphasis on alternative energy.

Kansas Geological Survey

Fossil hunters from across the High Plains region will likely rejoice at the chance to explore a site called Little Jerusalem in Logan County, Kansas, which consists of chalk spires and ravines, the remnants of a large interior sea that split North America in half about 85 million years ago.

Luke Clayton

The dark meat from wild turkeys is very flavorful but requires at least 10 hours of slow cooking with moisture in a crock pot to transform those tough legs into the basis of a great tasting soup. After trying this recipe once, Luke is betting that the drumsticks and thighs will become your favorite part of the birds you harvest! 

CC0 Public Domain

The shooting of a golden eagle in northwest Kearny County is being investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

As The Garden City Telegram reports, a Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism officer found the golden eagle, which had a broken wing, on March 10 on road 270, approximately one half-mile west of Road G in northwest Kearny County. 

For those of us thirsty for tips and reminders about how we can make the most of our gardens on the High Plains, today's show will be of special interest.

Join me as I revisit the importance of planting and prepping to make the most of every drop of water -- whether it comes from our watering can or our big sky above.

50states.com

The cost of hunting and fishing licenses in Colorado could increase by as much as 50 percent under a proposed bill aimed at bolstering Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission’s services and to address backlogged maintenance of park and waterway infrastructure.

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