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

Luke Clayton

Luke tells about a very busy week he enjoyed hunting and fishing with his buddies from Canada. Luke and friends enjoyed a mid-winter outdoor vacation pursuing wild hogs at night with thermal gear, hunting them with rifle and bow during daylight hours, and catching big blue catfish weighing up to 54 pounds with mutual friend guide David Hanson at Lake Tawakoni. Luke's Canadian buddies even had a chance to land their first largemouth bass on the adventure.

Today on Growing on the High Plains, I'll share my experiences with the many living Christmas trees we've had through the years. While they require a little extra care and attention (and demand a much shorter indoor stay), live trees make for a cozy, rustic Christmas display.

Our family has welcomed a variety of trees into our holiday home—and want to know the best part? Unlike cut trees, these fragrant fellows stick around all year long, reminding us of the love and joy shared during the season it sparkled in the spotlight.

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This winter is expected to be unusually warm and dry on the High Plains. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t protect your home from winter weather.

The Edmond Sun has published some tips for making sure your house and family are safe through the long winter months. Unclogging your drains and gutters can ensure that they don’t freeze up when the temperature drops.

Advanced biofuels have been touted as the next step beyond the corn-based ethanol that’s the bulk of the country’s renewable fuel for cars and trucks. These next-generation options were supposed to bring jobs to rural communities and provide farmers with fresh revenue sources, in addition to reducing the carbon footprint of vehicles.

Nearly a decade of federal incentives encouraged companies to invest in cellulosic technology, which produces ethanol from crop waste such as stalks, cobs and leaves left on fields after harvest, and at least three plants were built in the Midwest since 2014.

But cellulosic ethanol is harder to make than grain ethanol because it uses the inedible and irregular parts of the plants, meaning it was tough for machines to chew up the wet, heavy material. And companies faced other challenges, such as a steady supply, fluctuating markets and stalled policy decisions.

Wikimedia Commons

Wind turbines are often installed in areas, like the high plains, where wind tends to be particularly strong. But a new study has found that climate change may affect wind patterns.

As the Washington Post reports, the study, published in Nature Geoscience, found through computer simulations that, in the central United States, the amount of wind energy that can be harvested may decline by 8 to 10 percent by 2050.

This finding lines up with another recent study out of Harvard which found that regions of China have already seen a decline in winds due to climate change.

Luke Clayton

Each week, Luke brings us some fishing or hunting news from the great outdoors. Sometimes, like this week, he passes along little bits of information that makes the time we spend outdoors easier and more productive. This week, Luke gives a recipe for making dehydrated has hbrowns topped with cheddar cheese. 

For many years, Luke and many camp cooks have spent time during the early morning hours slicing and shredding potatoes for hash browns to go with the standard bacon and egg camp breakfast.

Our Turn At This Earth: The Beauty Of Dry Places

Dec 15, 2017
CCO Creative Commons

As Plains farmers, my parents had to stay focused on very practical concerns. Our livelihood depended on carefully preparing the soil, then planting, nurturing and harvesting crops. But the impractical whims of the sky often interfered with my parents’ practical efforts. My ancestors had chosen a marginal and often ruthless climate in which to ply their weather-dependent trade.

Wind Turbines' Ill Effects

Dec 14, 2017
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While wind energy is of benefit to environmental health, it seems to be having some ill effects on human health.

As Gatehouse News reports, a couple in Michigan knows that firsthand.

Cary and Karen Shineldecker of Mason County Michigan began suffering anxiety, headaches, ear pressure, tinnitus, heart palpitations and sleep disturbances believed to be caused by low-frequency pulsations after Lake Winds Energy began operating its 476-foot-tall turbines around their home.   

We've all heard of a ribbon-cutting ceremony to dedicate a new building, but have you ever seen a crew of construction workers hoisting what looks like a Christmas tree to the highest beam of a completed structure? Well, I assure you: it's a thing! Commonly referred to as "topping out," this age-old ceremony has a fascinating history that spans the globe.

For the third straight year, Kansans can expect a higher than average danger for wildland fire. 

Oklahoma Forestry Service

Amid an unusually dry winter, counties in Oklahoma have begun issuing burn bans, reports KOKH.

Most of the burn bans are in counties in the eastern part of the state, but Cimarron, Harper, and Alfalfa counties in western Oklahoma have also issued bans. As of Monday, Oklahoma had issued burn bans for 16 counties. Oklahoma hasn’t seen much rain over the past two months.

Google recently announced it has now purchased 3 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity for the year, thus reaching its 2017 goal to go 100% renewable.

As Vox reports, this involved closing wind-power deals for around 400 megawatts in South Dakota and Iowa, and just under 140 megawatts in Oklahoma.

Illinois Touted As Property Tax Model For Wind Farms

Dec 11, 2017

color:#333333">Illinois’ taxing model for wind energy companies is touted as one of the best in the country, bringing in $30.4 million in property taxes in 2016, according to economic experts.


Luke Clayton

Making venison barbecue the way Luke explains how to make it is a great way to use pre-packaged steaks that are cut into half inch or so thickness. Luke uses his Smokin’ Tex Electric Smoker to supply the wood smoke flavor and he also slow cooks it in the smoker to make it really tender.

But, for those who don't have a smoker, a bit of liquid smoke and an oven should suffice. So, if you have venison steaks in the freezer and have a "hankering" for some tasty barbecue, give this week's show a listen!  

Our Turn At This Earth: Wild Times

Dec 7, 2017
Julene Bair

May, 1968. I’m 18, too young to know what love is. This guy comes to my small western Kansas town driving a classic 1956 T-Bird. I decide to attend college in eastern Kansas rather than in Colorado as I’d planned, because that’s where the guy lives. By October he proposes, and in January we are wed. I drop out of school and off we go to San Francisco, where he has found a job as an audio engineer.

Today on Growing on the High Plains, I invite you to join me as we take a visit to the Wagon Wheel Cafe & Bakery in Ulysses, Kansas to celebrate one of the best things about being alive: PIE!

Tune in today to find out how these dedicated bakers keep the crusts and fillings flowing throughout the year, and especially during the holidays—and see if your favorite pie is one of their best sellers.

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Concerns over wildfires are growing in the Texas Panhandle, as the state moves deeper into an unusually dry winter.

As The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports, meteorologists are warning that conditions are once again unusually ripe for fires across the region. The La Nina weather phenomenon is leading forecasters to predict dry, unusually warm weather in Texas—perfect conditions for grass fires.

Midwestern U.S. senators’ lobbying campaign paid off Thursday for farmers who supply the renewable fuel industry.

Instead of making a small cut to the amount of ethanol and biodiesel to be used in the U.S. in 2018, the EPA approved an increase of less than one percent, bringing the total to 19.29 billion gallons. The federal agency also rolled back most of the proposed decrease for cellulosic ethanol, which can be made from cornstalks and perennial grasses.

Colorado Feedlot Being Sued For Dead Fish

Nov 30, 2017
CCO Creative Commons

An eastern Colorado feedlot is being sued by Colorado that claims cow manure is to blame for killing thousands of fish, but the feedlot takes issue with some of the state’s claims.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, many of the over 100 feedlots in Colorado are located near waterways and environmentalists are concerned with historic rain events becoming more common, that manure will find its way into streams and groundwater.

The holidays are coming, and some of us are scrambling to make our seasonal gift lists. If you happen to have a gardening enthusiast in your life, there's a great book available that you might consider: The Earth Knows My Name by Patricia Klindienst.

To compile the stories in this book, the author traveled across the US, digging deep into different cultures to unearth how they engage with the food they grow. From Native Americans to immigrants from Asia and Europe, you'll learn fascinating tales of bountiful gardens in both rural and urban regions. 

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A new scientific study asks the question: What if everyone in America suddenly went vegan and stopped eating meat, eggs, milk, and fish.

As the Highland Plains Journal reports, the authors say that in that extreme scenario – the nation’s food supply would increase by 23 percent and greenhouse gas emissions would drop by 2.6 percent. However, to ensure people are getting their vitamins and minerals, we would need to grow different crops and take supplements to meet recommended dietary guidelines.

New Tool Available To Help Farmers Understand When Temperature Inversions Occur

Nov 28, 2017
K-State

From Kansas Agland:

Risk of herbicide dicamba drift is heightened during the weather phenomena

Kansas State University is offering a new tool to help farmers assess when temperature inversions occur in their region. The information can be useful in assessing the risk for herbicide drift when applying products such as dicamba, an herbicide used to kill weeds in genetically modified soybean and cotton crops. Accidental drift of dicamba into neighboring fields damaged millions of acres of crops this year.

Joshua Doubek / Wikimedia Commons

Fracking operations in Texas have awakened sleeping fault lines, leading to a spate of unprecedented earthquakes across the northern part of the state, reports Scientific American.

The appearance of the quakes echoes recent history in Oklahoma. As with its neighbor to the north, the frequency of earthquakes in Texas has grown year by year since the introduction of wastewater injection from hydraulic fracturing operations.

Christmas trees are in short supply across the country, but growers in Kansas say they’ve mostly recovered from recent droughts.

Celia Goering, president of the Kansas Christmas Tree Growers Association, says a few years ago Kansas tree growers were struggling.

"This situation is looking wonderful now because we’ve had good rains in the last couple years, and that makes all the difference," she says. "The trees are growing. They’re beautiful."

On today's Growing on the High Plains, I'm serving up some Thanksgiving reflections on this year's gardening season. There has been so much for which we are thankful, including the bounty of High Plains rain since Spring.

Luke Clayton

Join Luke this week on the porch of his hunting cabin as he discusses making a tasty Dutch Kettle full of Chili, made from mule deer steak off of a fine buck he harvested up in Northern Colorado a couple of weeks ago, while hunting with his friends David and Regina Williams and Terry Tate.

Great tasting venison can be made from just about any type game meat, everything from wild hog to elk and just about everything in between! 

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism wants more people to get outdoors on Black Friday.

Vlod007 / Flickr Creative Commons

Earlier this year, Texas Agriculture Secretary Sid Miller unveiled a wide-reaching plan to deal with the feral hog problem in the Lone Star State. He called the scheme the “hog apocalypse,” and the plan involved scattering the state with deadly hog poison.

But the plan was scuttled when nature advocates expressed concerns about the effects the poison would have on the food chain. In the meantime, rural Texas continue to battle the hog hordes.

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Texas has approved the closure of two more major coal-powered energy plants, reports The Houston Chronicle.

The news will mean the layoffs of over 800 workers. Texas’s electric grid operator has determined that the closures will not adversely affect the state’s grid reliability.

Kansas’ energy-regulating agency will investigate nearly a decade’s worth of permits it granted to oil and gas companies after learning recently that some wells received permits without meeting certain state regulations.

The probe, announced Tuesday, will determine the number of wells approved since 2008 without the companies giving nearby residents accurate information about their rights to protest the wells.

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