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

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Imagine you’re a farmer and it’s time to decide what to plant. You need information on supply, demand, prices, outlook -- information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, university extension services, even economists at the Federal Reserve.

High Plains Outdoors: Spring turkey hunting

Apr 8, 2017
Luke Clayton

Luke also gives an update on the attempt to use rat poison to kill wild hogs in Texas by Ag Commissioner Sid Miller.

Poisoning the woods and waters of Texas has prompted much opposition, and a bill has been proposed that will ensure measures such as poisoning hogs will first have to be studied by a university.

Luke has also discovered a new catfish bait that is pleasant to use, Catfish Bubblegum.

Michael Pearce / The Wichita Eagle

After record-breaking wildfires late last month, Kansas saw another record broken on Saturday.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, southwest Kansas shattered the rainfall record for April first, according to the National Weather Service.

The original record of 1.2 inches had already been broken by six a.m., and the rain kept on coming. By day’s end, Dodge City reported receiving over double the original record, with a total of almost two-and-a-half inches.

You might have noticed that community gardening has grown in popularity across the High Plains and the nation in recent years. Home gardeners often feel that coming together with others to nurture shared spaces to benefit one's own community gets at the root of why we love to grow, harvest, and share the bounty. 

Luke Clayton

Stubby was a guest on the show a couple weeks ago, talking about catching catfish but the lure of catching a big stringer of shallow water crappie is enough to make even the most devout catfisherman abandon his "baited holes" and catfish bait for a few days and head for the shallows! 

The males are always the first to move into shallow water, followed by the egg-laden females. Depending upon which lake you fish, chances are good you can now catch crappie in the shallows that are in various stages of the spawn. 

Impatient for impatients? Vying for violets? Coveting lovage? Eager for leeks? Looking forward to a forage? Hurtin' for dirt? 

Andy Cross / The Denver Post

The solar capacity of the state of Colorado increased by 70 percent last year, reports The Denver Post.

That may seem like an impressive leap forward—and it is—but Colorado’s solar ranking among states actually fell last year. That’s because other states increased their capacity even more than the Centennial State.

Lt. Seth Frizzell / Holcomb Community Fire Department

Many scientists believe there will be more and more days of weather that puts Kansas at risk of wildfires.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, although scientists can’t attribute any particular weather event to climate change, the extreme weather the past two years in Kansas is consistent with climate change models, says Mike Flannigan, professor of wildland fire at the University of Alberta in Canada.

CC0 Public Domain

Colorado livestock could be eating hemp as early as next year, thanks to a bill directing the Colorado Department of Agriculture to study the use of industrial hemp in animal feed.

As The Greeley Tribune reports, the study would be headed by the commissioner of agriculture and would result in a recommendation by the end of the year.

Courtesy / Seward County

Much-needed rain, along with a community effort by farmers and area fire departments helped control another Kansas wildfire that broke out in Seward County on Thursday.

The 2,500-acre fire is now contained, according to a post by Seward County Fire Chief Andrew Barkley. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Seward County Fire Rescue responded to a grass fire at about 5 p.m. in the area of Road P and Highway 54.

CC0 Public Domain

Over the next couple of weeks, much of the country is expected to see above-average precipitation, a welcome sight for many farmers, particularly those in the fire-ravaged High Plains.

Luke Clayton

Will Herring is on the cutting edge of the procedures that are being put in place in Austin, Texas to stop the nonsense of introducing poison into our woods and waters to kill hogs.

The legislative wheels are turning in Austin and there is a tremendous amount of support against Texas Ag Commissioner Sid Miller's proposed use of rat killer as a means of controlling hogs.

Herring gives us an up to date account of the situation from Austin.  

Nothing dampens winter doldrums like that first purple peeper pushing up through your still-chilly garden or yard. (Or maybe she's white or gold?)

Whatever petals she's pushing, the first crocus remains an annual celebration of the hope and promise of the lush Spring to come.   

Today's installment of Growing on the High Plains takes a long look at these punctual pals. With their knack for tackling the gale-force gusts and dry climate of our region, there's no denying the mighty crocus will ever emerge triumphant -- especially in the hearts of the winter weary.

Lindsey Bauman

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday that more than $6 million in funding is now available for those affected by the wildfires in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

The funding, delivered through USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program, will assist farmers and ranchers as they attempt to restore grazing lands, rehabilitate devastated landscapes, rebuild fencing and protect damaged watersheds, according to a news release.

Update: Fence rebuilding bill clears Legislature

Mar 20, 2017

Burned fencing lines U.S. 160 near Ashland on Thursday, March 9, 2017 following the March 6 wildfires in Clark County.Credit Lindsey Bauman / The Hutchinson NewsEdit | Remove

TOPEKA – A bill offering a state sales tax exemption on supplies and services to rebuild fences damaged by 2016 and 2017 wildfires cleared the Legislature on Friday morning.

Courtesy photo / www.stopfowlplay

Which topic do you think today’s consumer would rather talk about: GMOs or sustainability in agriculture?

Surprisingly, ag leaders are being told that consumers don’t really care about GMOs but are very interested in talking about sustainability. When I hear "sustainability in agriculture," two things happen: First, I get angry because most equate sustainability with environmentalism, which will never feed a growing population, and secondly, my eyes roll into the back of my head because I cannot think of a more boring topic.

Luke Clayton

It's nice to have four walls and a roof over one's head when hunting, but getting the materials into some remote area and constructing a hunting blind can be challenging and downright hard work.

These easy to assemble blinds are idea for hunting remote, hard to get to spots. 

www.k-state.edu

Efforts to fund Kansas’ long-term water plan are at a standstill, at least for now, as legislators face massive revenue shortfalls, as well as a Supreme Court order to increase school funding.

As The Lawrence Journal-World reports, a new committee tasked with dealing with water and environmental policy has made little progress and has come to a virtual standstill, at least for now.

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the loss of grassland will mean financial losses for years to come for some ranchers in western and south central Kansas.

Clark County rancher Greg Goodnight is one of only a few ranchers who did not lose any cattle, but he did lose over 14,000 acres of grassland that forced him to round up his 294 cattle on Monday and send them to Dodge City to be sold.

Lindsey Bauman / The Hutchinson News

The last thing Greg Gardiner saw before everything went black was his brother Mark heading to the horse barn.

Fire and smoke was spreading through Clark County from the southwest Monday afternoon. By 3 p.m., the ranch was in the war zone. An orange firewall was heading toward his brother’s home as Greg pulled up with a truck and trailer to help save three horses.

“I knew it was too late,” Greg said.

Lindsey Bauman / The Hutchinson News

You can hear the emotion in Ashland Mayor Kendal Kay's voice as he tells about the worn-out rancher who showed up Tuesday - his home destroyed and almost all his cattle dead. 

But he wanted to know, as wildfires still burned across Clark County, where he could help.

"They lose their home, their ranch burns, and they will still try to figure out a way to help others," said Kay, who also is president of the Stockgrowers State Bank in Ashland. 

That is what living in a close-knit community in rural America is all about, he said.

TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) encourages farmers and ranchers who have lost livestock in the ongoing wildfires to contact the agency as soon as possible for assistance with disposing of dead livestock.

KDHE’s Bureau of Waste Management can help farmers and ranchers determine the safest and most effective means of livestock disposal. The agency works with the Kansas Department of Agriculture to help farmers and ranchers with disposal, including selecting and permitting locations for those who wish to bury dead livestock on-site.

CC0 Public Domain

There’s a method to my madness when it comes to growing potatoes and it has nothing to do with March. While many people plant their potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day, perhaps because Irish cobbler is everyone’s favorite spud, my planting schedule is determined entirely by, well, when I have time.

Then in late summer, after I have unearthed the brown roots as if hunting for buried treasure, I stash them away. Then, with a little luck of the Irish, hope they will last through the holidays to the New Year so they can make their way into some soup.

Kansas House panel passes industrial hemp bill

Mar 15, 2017
Creative Commons

A bill that would allow for industrial hemp research was passed Monday by the Kansas House commerce panel.

As Kansas Agland reports, House Bill 2182, would allow research and business development related to hemp cultivation, processing and distribution. It would encourage public-private partnerships and academic research to that end.

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

The Kansas House passed a bill Tuesday that provides a tax exemption on materials and services needed to rebuild or repair fencing for ranchers and farmers affected by wildfires

As The Wichita Eagle reports, lawmakers on Tuesday afternoon advanced House Bill 2387 with a 122-0 vote, after the Legislature set the bill on a fast track - bypassing its typical procedure - giving the legislation both early and final approval on Tuesday.

Lt. Seth Frizzell / Holcomb Community Fire Department

As fire crews in north central Oklahoma continues efforts to contain fires in Beaver, Harper and Woodward counties Tuesday, Kansas’ governor signed the final State of Disaster Emergency declaration for 20 Kansas counties affected by last week’s wildfires.

As The Oklahoma Forestry Service reports, the Northwest Oklahoma Complex was 63 percent contained Tuesday.

ARAH NISHIMUTA / Woodward News

When confronted with the level of tragedy wrought by last week’s wildfires, it is difficult to find a silver lining, but the generosity of others is providing just that.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, residents of Ashland, which was encircled by a fire that has burned over 60 percent of Clark County, Kansas, have been serving up to 600 meals per day to firefighters battling the blaze.

GARY KRAMER / TEXAS WILDLIFE AND PARKS

Beginning Thursday, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) will begin aerial surveys to document population trends of the lesser prairie-chicken in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado.

As The Prowers Journal reports, The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies conduct the surveys annually in areas that contain lesser prairie-chicken habitat.

Bryan Thompson / Harvest Public Media

Wildfires that have been sweeping across the heart of cattle country since last weekend could decimate some ranchers’ herds. Fires have been reported in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado.

The largest of the fires spread from the Oklahoma Panhandle into southwest Kansas, and has consumed more than 800,000 acres of prime grassland. Todd Domer, of the Kansas Livestock Association, says the losses have been devastating.

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

High Plains wildfires killed countless numbers of pigs, cattle and other livestock last week.

As Reuters reports, a wildfire killed thousands of hogs at Smithfield Foods, Inc.’s hog farm in Laverne, Okla.

Wildfires also killed close to 2,000 hogs at two of Seaboard Foods’ farms south of Perryton, Texas.

About 1.2 million acres burned in the Texas Panhandle, northwestern Oklahoma and adjacent parts of southwestern Kansas within a 24-hour period last week.

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