Wyoming Sage Grouse Conservation and Land Use

In 2010,  the U.S. Fish and Wildlife decided the greater sage grouse would be kept in consideration for placing on the endangered species list. They say the listing is “warranted,” but there are too many other endangered species needing attention at this time. “Based on a  12-month status review pursuant to the Endangered Species Act,…

Wyoming on the Edge of Ogallala Aquifer

The headlines read Aquifer study could lead to water use restrictions in Laramie County  It’s hard to believe we could be draining such a large water resource as the Ogallala Aquifer.

Patches of Native Plants Increase Crop Pollination

Using large mango farms as a case study, a group of researchers representing Britain, South Africa, and the Netherlands, recently reported the results of a study in the Journal of Applied Ecology which “show that the presence of small patches of native flowers within large farms can increase pollinator-dependent crop production if combined with preservation…

The Dust Bowl PBS Series to Air Tonight

The PBS Dust Bowl series will air again tonight in two consecutive shows from 8 to midnight.  Before the days of no-till, cover crops, and contour plowing, agriculturalists coming from the humid eastern states simply did not understand the volatility of weather patterns in the arid west, and so they plowed up millions of acres…

Headway Against Cheatgrass in Our Future?

I sure  hope so. I’ve always wondered about that fungus I’ve seen on cheatgrass. Wonder if it’s the Black Finger of Death? Great Basin scientists unleash new weapons to fight invasive cheatgrass I would like to comment, however on an enlightening chat I had with my great uncle. He lived through the severe drought years…

Early Harvest

My neighbor shared some of her harvest with me. Her little orchard is irrigated, so the high temps and drought conditions didn’t affect her apple and plum trees. If you are interested in the history of small orchards on the high plains, I recommend a book entitled High Plains Horticulture: A History In the early 1900’s…

Wyoming. Land of Extremes

Last year the Wyoming headlines read: “North Platte River reaches record high at Saratoga” “Platte River floods still threaten; half of record snow pack has yet to melt” “North Platte River Flooding 2011” “Planning, weather help Casper avoid flooding” “River keeps rising” “Casper preparing for high water levels” And this year, in the recent headlines…

Doomsday Wyoming Style

Well, there’s been a lot of hoopla in the media the last few days due to a bill introduced in the Wyoming State Legislature. I don’t know why, that at this stage in my life, I should be surprised by the kind of reporting and commenting I came across as I tried to find out…

Climate Challenges and Vegetable Gardening

I moved to Wyoming from the Midwest over 20 years ago. I thought I understood what ‘arid’ meant, but it took two failed vegetable gardens to really get through to me. Sunset’s Western Gardens does a pretty good job of describing our climate: “…this zone sees January temperatures from 0-12 degrees F with extremes between…

Wasn’t Poison Sumac After All

“It turns out the “poison sumac” (Rhus vernix) of my childhood, which I so diligently avoided, wasn’t poison sumac after all, although R. vernix does grow in Indiana.” This is from my reply to a comment from Steve at Portraits of Wildflowers. Steve reports Rhus trilobata grows in Texas, but Rhus lanceolata is more reliable…

UW Hydroponic Greenhouse

University of Wyoming Grad student, Nate Storey, has designed and developed a hydroponic tower system for this greenhouse where fish, herbs, and vegetables are grown.  The water circulates from fish tanks through media filled ‘towers’ made of PVC or poly pipe. The water has not been changed for years. “The biology just works,” says Storey….

Pricklypear Cactus; Look But Don’t Touch

Lewis probably said it best when he referred to Pricklypear as “one of the beauties as well as the greatest pests of the plains.”1  I usually see it with a pale yellow bloom, so this beautiful apricot colored version caught my attention. Opuntia polyacantha, Prickly Pear cactus, or Plains Pricklypear, is a common plant of…