HPPR Environment

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

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

Look at How Lawsuits Shape Regulation

Apr 17, 2015

There is still time for the public to comment on an Environmental Protection Agency proposal to reduce smog in Big Bend National Park and Big Bend State Park.

This haze is nothing new, a lot of it comes from coal power plants far away from Big Bend. State and federal officials have been trying to fight it for years, and most recently the EPA stepped in with its own proposal, reports State Impact correspondent Mose Buchele.

PECAN in a Nutshell

Apr 16, 2015
NSF, NOAA, NASA & U.S. Department of Energy

If you’ve spent any time in Southern United States, then one would expect you to be very well acquainted with the Pecan. However this rendition may be something completely new to you. The Plains Elevated Convection at Night, aka PECAN is a study aimed at understanding severe thunderstorms at night over the High Plains.

Looking to the Gulf to fill the Gap

Apr 16, 2015
Ivan Pierre Aguirre / The Texas Tribune

As the population of Texas continues to grow, the water level is dropping fast. Recently state lawmakers discussed the feasibility of utilizing the Gulf of Mexico as a water source for the state.

An alternative that is costly and fraught with controversy, however saltwater desalination could catch on in ways that groundwater desalination never did.

The number of rabies has doubled so far this year, and a K-State rabies expert says vaccinating your pets will help keep your family safe from the virus.

Carol Hillendahl / HPPR

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the grid for 24 million Texans, nearly doubled from 2009 to 2014. Wind power was responsible for over 10% of the electricity for Texas in 2014, that is up from 9.9 in 2013 and 6.2 in 2009 as per the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Vegetable study targets water savings in the High Plains

Apr 13, 2015
Texas A&M AgriLife Research

High Plains vegetable crops are being re-examined in a Texas A&M AgriLIfe Research Study to determine water saving alternatives to some cereal grain production.  "Everybody knows we are generally water short in the Texas High Plains and can no longer meet 100 percent of all crop water needs," said Thomas Marek, AgriLife Research senior research engineer for irrigation water conservation and management in Amarillo.

Texas Parks and Wildlife

Research indicates that a buffer surrounding a playa lake, consisting typically of native grasses and forbs, prevents migration of upland topsoil and farm chemicals into lowland wetlands such as playa lakes and rainwater basins.

Chronic Wasting Disease Found in Western Kansas Deer

Apr 13, 2015

Chronic Wasting Disease is a palpable threat to the wildlife of western Kansas; CWD is a transmissible neurological disease of deer and elk that is 100% fatal to the animal. At this point the disease has not been passed to humans or livestock; however it is related to mad cow disease and scrapie in sheep, as well as other diseases that can be fatal across the board.

Divide in the Debate: Americans on Fracking

Apr 12, 2015

  From recent data collected by a Gallup poll, reporter Art Swift reveals that Americans are split fairly evenly on the issue of fracking for oil and natural gas.

According to Swift, "Fracking has helped contribute to a substantial increase in natural gas and oil production across the U.S., and now in other parts of the world, and is credited with helping lower its price for the average consumer."

A Tornado History Lesson

Apr 10, 2015
David Drummond / David Drummond Photography

Drought Across Nation's Crop Region

Apr 9, 2015
Eric Luberhausen / US Department of Agriculture

 Drought conditions continue to expand across much of the Midwest, data released by the  shows moderate or worse drought conditions cover 36.8 percent of the US which is up nearly 5% from the week prior.

TownHall.com reports that things are looking up in areas like Iowa, Illinois and Kentucky who saw rain last week and can expect more in the near future. 

A Buzz Over Bees

Apr 7, 2015
: Carol Hillendahl

The plight of our pollinators is a hot topic in legislature; political initiatives are in motion to protect the honey bee and monarch populations across the nation.

From the AG Journal, contributing writer Candace Krebs reports that “Pollinator health is one of three key legislative priorities the American Agri-Women organization decided to zoom in on this year, along with immigration reform and proposed clean water rules.”

Oklahoma Conservation Commission

We examine Jan Minton's ranch, the family operation she took over in Floyd Co., Texas. It had been "farmed to death," she said, and two playa lakes were in poor condition. Bill Johnson, a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologist, developed a restoration plan that involved silt removal, playa repair, and a native grass and forbs plant buffer around the playas' margins.

The series continues with a look at the current drought conditions in the High Plains Public Radio listening region. In this installment, the question left dangling over our heads is, "Will the days of the Dust Bowl return?"

Luke Clayton

This week, Luke takes us on a hog hunt in the Pineywoods of East Texas at his friend Mark Balette's ranch. Mark owns B & C Outfitters (www.easttexasexotics.com) in Trinity County and hosts hunters from all over the country on hog and exotic hunts.

On this hunt their good friend Bryan Shrum and Gary travel down from Tennessee to enjoy a couple of carefree days hunting hogs and catching bass and enjoying some great fellowship together. As Luke says, outings like this are "good for the soul".

Water- without it life ceases to exist. In the first of a four-part series, Professor David Guth takes a look at the struggle to find balance between water conservation and an economy based on water and agriculture.

Aspen Tree “Heart Attack”

Apr 2, 2015
Colorado Public Radio

Drought is the key contributor to Aspen tree death in Colorado, according Colorado Public Radio reporter Grace Hoodmar. “A Carnegie-led team of scientists looked more closely at the relationship. Key to the study is how the lack of water damages the vascular system in aspens, which transports water throughout the tree.”

OKC Survivor Tree

Apr 1, 2015

Regular listeners to Growing on the High Plains may remember last September's story about the Survivor Tree that resides at the 9/11 World Trade Center site in New York City.  This week we'll visit the middle of the country to talk about another heroic tree that survived the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.  Twenty years ago the tree was thought of as another casualty of that brutal and outrageous act.  But today the American Elm stands tall and graceful, spreading its limbs to provide shade and comfort to all who visit the outdoor memorial.  Join us to learn of the history and to pay tribute to this botanical hero.

Playa lakes are effective vectors for groundwater recharge and water filtration, but that assumes they're in a healthy state.

Water, soil and habitat specialists discuss the causes of sedimentation and talk about playa restoration.

Eddie Sparks

Most readers of this column are within a few hours drive of Lake Texoma and some of the very best striper fishing in the state, probably in the southwest. Stripers are currently the heaviest they will be all year. They are voraciously feeding on shad, putting on weight for their annul spawning runs up the Red and Washita Rivers.


There are lots of reasons, pro and con, for living in California, but perhaps one of the best reasons for putting down roots has to do with a citrus treat called the Meyer lemon.  A cross between a lemon and an orange, they came to the U.S. by way of China in the early 1900s.  They have soft skins and lots of juice, and because of that they were never developed as a commercial lemon, capable of being shipped across the country.  Instead they became a homeowner's favorite, growing in backyards and providing flavorful fruit on nearly a year-round basis.  Rarely seen at inland stores and markets, they are one of many things that make travelling to sunny California so enjoyable.   

Who owns the water? Can you pump as much as you want? Can a private company pump groundwater from one city and pipe it to other communities? The answer could affect the entire Lone Star State.

It's springtime on the High Plains, and in Texas that means it's wildflower season.

Predictions that the drought is coming to an end in much of Kansas are getting skeptical responses from some weather officials reports the Wichita Eagle. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center indicates drought conditions will ease across the state disappearing in central Kansas and easing significantly in most of western Kansas. Janet Salazar is a hydrologist for the Wichita Branch of the National Weather Service. She says she doesn't know what’s driving the prediction. Larry Ruthi is the meteorologist in charge of the Dodge City branch of the weather service. He says he’s reluctant to declare the drought outlook is wrong. Jeff Hutton agrees if the present pattern continues the map is probably pretty close. The warning coordination meteorologist says even with near or above rainfall, the drought in southwest Kansas won’t be eliminated.

The month of March

Mar 20, 2015

If you live on the Southern High Plains and you like to grow things, then you know what a gamble spring planting dates are.  Just when you think you'll have some early goodies to gather in a few weeks, a blizzard can rear its ugly head down in the Southwest and sweep across our part of the world in nothing flat, leaving us with seedbeds under a foot or two of snow.  In our part of the world, March comes in like a lion and often leaves with another mighty roar.  


The declining Ogallala aquifer is front and center in the state of Kansas.  But one south-central farmer wants to make it clear that water woes don’t grip the whole state reports Kansas Agland.

John Janssen is a farmer in Kinsley.  He’s also a board member of Big Bend Groundwater Management District No. 5.  He says not to throw the whole state in with the Ogallala. 

The Kansas Aqua-Not

Mar 17, 2015
Southwest Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 3

The $19 billion aqueduct to pump water uphill from northeastern Kansas to the water-short west has a bunch of negatives reports Tim Unruh for Kansas Agland.

Some of those discouraging issues are:

  • Indian tribes and neighboring states have voiced concern
  • The aqueduct would cost $1 billion a year to operate
  • The transport price tag of water would be over $450 a acre foot.  That’s hard to pencil out with current prices.
  • Pumping water uphill in an open ditch would result in significant loss to evaporation 

Climate patterns from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans have magnified the Texas drought, but that could be changing. A word of caution, the next drought could be worse.

Luke Clayton

Did you know that there are big bore air rifles on the market shooting over 500 foot pounds of energy which is more than ample for harvesting any animal in North America?

I've been shooting and hunting with air rifles for the past couple years and highlights this week what I considers to be the perfect air rifle for hunting hogs, predators and exotics. It's an easy to handle 45 caliber carbine sporting a 20 inch barrel. 

Designer Spuds

Mar 11, 2015


What's new in the latest 'tater talley?  Well, small is hot and colors are definitely in fashion as new, creamy, and even two-toned potatoes take to the runway.  This year the Mancini garden plot will feature some haute cuisine, as well as some tried-and-true old favorites.  And we'll take a quick look at the pros and cons of  the traditional St. Patrick's Day planting of potatoes.