HPPR Environment

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

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

In the hopes of not repeating a problematic year for soybean crops, farmers across the U.S. are deciding how best to protect their crops and their livelihood next year from drift damage caused by the weed killer dicamba.

todbaker / Flickr Creative Commons

The oil boom continues in the Permian Basin region of West Texas, and with the boom comes an increase in natural gas flares. According to The San Antonio Express-News, natural gas flaring in the Permian Basin rose significantly from 2009 to 2014.

Texas Farmer Turning Wine Into Water

Nov 14, 2017
CCO Creative Commons

A Texas farmer is turning wine into water – well sort of.

As The High Plains Journal reports, Steve Newsom of Levelland, Texas recently began growing wine grapes because they are very efficient users of water.

“I get scowled at, but we see ourselves converting irrigated cotton acres to dryland and convert some of that water saved to drip irrigation and still have the same amount of acres in production,” he said.

The World Health Organization released recommendations this week to curb the use of antibiotics in livestock, saying it could help reduce the risk of drug-resistant infections in humans.

But the U.S. Department of Agriculture says some of the guidelines from the United Nations’ public health agency would place “unnecessary and unrealistic constraints” on farmers and veterinarians. It's a disagreement that could have an impact on farm exports.


Sustainable irrigation and better field management practices to reduce the degradation of reservoirs are something Gov. Sam Brownback is foreseeing as the future of Kansas agriculture.

As The Topeka Capital-Journal reports, Brownback predicted greater public support for both practices at the Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Manhattan Wednesday.

Angie Haflich / High Plains Public Radio

Kansas v. Colorado was the first interstate water lawsuit case to come before the U.S. Supreme Court, setting a precedent for all other interstate water suits in the U.S.

Larry Weishuhn

Alan Cain whitetail deer program leader for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). Alan and Ellis Powell, also with TPWD, recently used big bore air rifles to do a bit of research into the effectiveness of big bore air rifles for harvesting game.

Cain recently spoke at the TPWD Commissioners meeting in Lufkin and gave his opinion of the power and effectiveness of big bore air rifles in cleanly and humanely dispatching deer-sized game. 

Saltwater injection. Fracking. Enhanced oil recovery.

News of protests in recent months against oil- and gas-related activity in the Flint Hills has drawn fresh attention to these and other terms — as well as some confusion.

Our Turn At This Earth: An Introduction

Nov 9, 2017
CCO Creative Commons

“I grew up on the mild-green, short-tufted buffalo grass prairies of northwestern Kansas.” That is the first sentence in my first book, One Degree West. Not all people define themselves by their childhood past, but still today, if asked to explain who I am, I would begin there—on that western Kansas farm, under a broad sky on the dry sunlit plains, in a family who never had to question who we were, because we were directly connected to the source of our identity.

The time is ripe for a flash of red and gold over a white rump, flickering through the sky and trees,  as well as digging dinner from the ground. (All you High Plains ornithophiles will know what I’m talking about!)

Today on Growing on the High Plains, I'll discuss Northern flickers (Colaptes auratus)—the medium-to-large, brownish woodpeckers that tend to appear when the colder seasons are near. Spotting their showy, dotted plumage always pairs well with our vibrant, changing leaves in the fall. 

For part two of our winter squash series, we'll get into the guts of a tender, lovely little fellow you might find much easier to handle and prepare for your harvest table. 

High Plains, meet the delicata! Its skin is edible, and the food scientists have perfected the bush variety so it resists the issues many other varieties face.  

We hope you enjoy today's Growing on the High Plains and are inspired to grow delicata squash in YOUR fall garden.

Kansas’ energy-regulating agency is trying to determine why permits were issued for half a dozen wastewater wells whose operators didn’t accurately inform nearby residents of their rights to protest the wells.

The deficiencies were discovered by a resident of Matfield Green in Chase County who objects to the wells, into which companies can pour hundreds or thousands of barrels of oil- and gas-related wastewater per day.

Cindy Hoedel wants the Kansas Corporation Commission to shut down the wells and make the companies in question redo the application process.

CCO Public Domain

Colorado’s booming solar industry could experience cloudier days because of an increase in the cost of solar panels.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, the U.S. International Trade Commission recently upheld a complaint from two manufacturers that has opened the door for the Trump administration to potentially erect trade barriers on solar panel imports, which in turn is driving up the cost of panels in Colorado.

kteague / Wikimedia Commons

Arby’s recently began serving deer meat nationwide, and a hunting conservation group is objecting.

As Colorado Public Radio reports,  the Montana Wildlife Federation, which was founded by hunters, anglers and other conservationists, sent a letter to Arby’s earlier this month asking the company to reconsider serving venison and elk steak sandwiches because of concerns that marketing meat from bison, elk and other wildlife could potentially lead to extinction of those species.

Republican and Democratic senators from top corn- and ethanol-producing states say their pressure helped prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from changing rules governing renewable fuel production.

But at least one senator, Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, says President Trump was their ace in the hole against an EPA chief who has deep ties to the oil and gas industry.

Luke Clayton

Luke gives an update on the whitetail rut and some tips on rattling bucks during early season. Whitetail bucks have started breaking away from the bachelor herds where they spent the summer months.

You don't need bees and butterflies to grow corn and soybeans, but a majority of farmers do rely on pesticides, which don't discriminate between helpful and harmful insects.

The widespread use of pesticides is considered a major factor in the large-scale decline in bee populations in recent years. But it's unlikely farmers will give up or limit pesticide use, so instead, a team of researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is looking at designing agricultural landscapes with pollinator health in mind.

In other Plains and Midwestern states, researchers are having farmers plant prairie strips between fields to help combat water contamination from pesticides and fertilizer. UNL's five-year project wants to find out whether windbreaks, planted pollinator habitat, cover crops or a combination of those techniques can help limit pesticide drift.

Today's Growing on the High Plains digs DEEP into the hearty meat of the winter squash.

While many are taken aback by their thick skin, heft, and cloistered cluster of slermy seeds, these gourds are sweet, succulent siblings that enrich every seasonal table. So don't be afraid to chop hard and enjoy these winter treasures. 


A new study by the University of Colorado has found more evidence that links earthquakes along the Colorado-New Mexico border to wastewater injection wells, similar to human-caused quakes in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas.

Burkey Farms in southeast Nebraska looked into the future a couple of years ago and didn’t like what it saw — a continuation of depressed prices for conventional corn and soybeans. So, the families who run the farm together started discussing how the operation would make money if they couldn’t earn more from their crops.  

Their conversation took a turn toward organics, a $40 billion industry and growing, especially in Iowa and Colorado.

CCO Creative Commons

Overall corn production is expected to decrease slightly in Kansas but increase in Colorado.

According to Kansas Corn, in its October crop production estimate, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is projecting Kansas corn production at 697 million bushels, down slightly from last year’s record harvest of 699 million bushels. NASS is predicting more harvested acres and a slightly higher yield.

The governments of Douglas County and Lawrence are calling for changes to Kansas regulations amid an energy company’s proposal to pump wastewater into wells in rural Eudora.

Among their concerns, the local officials argue that the public deserves a 60-day protest period — twice as long as the current allowance — when companies seek to operate such wells in or near their communities.

Douglas County Commissioner Nancy Thellman said the goal is “good public process.”

Despite the fact that it’s almost Halloween, the weather in the Texas Panhandle has yet to turn cold for any significant length of time, and mosquitoes continue to plague the region.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, recent rains combined with warm temperatures have resulted in rampant breeding grounds for the bloodsuckers. Since July, Amarillo has received 17 inches of rain—the third highest amount ever.

Luke Clayton

Luke describes the easy way of making smoked jalapeno German summer sausage, from a kit that contains the blended seasoning, casings and cure.

As the days get shorter, you might notice our High Plains foliage taking a long, slow bath in the glow of the October sunset.

That's right: our awesome Autumn is upon us, so today's edition of Growing on the High Plains will take an inventory of what makes a cornucopia of garden color. Will the recent, regular rainfall reign in the reds? Can potatoes predict a wet winter? And what will the wooly worms have to say about it? Whatever shade the shrubbery may fade, we must all revel in the "big reveal" or the coming color show.   


The average American family spends $2,000 per year on energy. But some states are far more energy efficient than others. The personal finance website Wallethub set out to discover which states are doing more with less energy.

Plant breeder Jessica Barb is on a mission to improve how sunflowers self-pollinate, a trait that'll be increasingly important to farmers are wild bee populations diminish. Her research tool of choice: a paper towel. 

A new report suggests the Environmental Protection Agency should consider lowering the legal limit in drinking water for nitrates, a chemical often connected to fertilizer use.

Robert W. Hart / The Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has moved to unwind several Obama-era regulations designed to slash air pollution, protect the quality of major waterways and spur cities to reduce ozone.

There will be new restrictions on the weed killer dicamba for the 2018 growing season, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says.

The broadly defined restrictions, similar to what the state of Missouri imposed over the summer, were announced Friday in a news release. The EPA says it reached an agreement with agriculture giants Monsanto, BASF and DuPont on ways to tamp down on dicamba drift, which has been blamed for destroying or damaging millions of acres of crops in the United States.