environment

USGSBMIL Team

 MANHATTAN, Kansas — Ellen Welti has a Ph.D. in, essentially, grasshoppers.

And yet she was still mystified about why the number of grasshoppers in a long-protected and much-studied patch of Kansas prairie was dropping. Steadily. For 25 years.

After all, the grass that the springy bugs feast on had actually grown more robustly as it absorbed mounting levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

So why were the grasshoppers faring increasingly worse?

Hugo Phan / KMUW

While getting his master’s degree from Wichita State University, Jesse Marks wrote his thesis on food insecurity.

Along the way, he discovered that food waste is a major problem, too.

He learned that a typical American family adds more than 500 pounds of food scraps to landfills each year.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

KINSLEY, Kansas — In the late 1980s, drought left the wells that supply water to the city of Hays and Russell in western Kansas precariously low. The near-catastrophe sent city leaders on the hunt for more water.

“We were just trying to survive from one year to the next,” former Hays mayor and city councilman Eber Phelps said.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

WICHITA — State regulators have expanded their investigation into what’s causing a recent string of earthquakes in eastern Wichita.

Regulators say the earthquakes are most likely naturally occurring, but want to make sure oil and gas operations aren’t contributing.

Lisa Dusseault / Flickr

Sedgwick County is reminding residents that they can still recycle their used Christmas trees.

The county’s Environmental Resources Department has set up 22 recycling sites across Wichita and Sedgwick County. The sites will remain open until Jan. 24.

The trees will be ground into mulch. Residents can take mulch from any of the sites for free.

Recycling the trees also keeps them out of the county landfill.

People should remove ornaments. lights and other decorations from the trees before recycling them.

U.S. Geological Survey

Seven low-intensity earthquakes have rattled parts of the Wichita area since Thanksgiving, but a Kansas expert on seismic activity says residents should not be overly concerned about a larger, more destructive quake occurring there.

Two more quakes occurred Thursday morning in east Wichita, both with an estimated magnitude of 2.7. Five other quakes have been reported in the last two weeks. The strongest was magnitude 3.3 on Tuesday.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

GREAT BEND, Kansas — Emerging infectious diseases like the coronavirus don’t just threaten humans. They’re also a major concern for the livestock industry and the U.S. food supply, with billions, if not trillions, of dollars at stake.

jimmywayne / flickr Creative Commons

More than a century after the arrival of the railroads to the Flint Hills of Kansas, a large-scale track expansion is tearing up a scenic stretch in some of the last remaining tallgrass prairie left in the nation.

Patrick Emerson, flickr Creative Commons

Kansas ranchers eager to prepare their land for cattle grazing have mostly brushed off the plea from state health officials to voluntarily cut back this spring's prairie burning to reduce air pollution during the coronavirus pandemic.

With the potential of the pandemic overwhelming the state's medical facilities, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment on March 26 encouraged land owners and managers to reduce burned acres this spring in an effort to mitigate respiratory concerns connected to breathing the smoke.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — Floods, tornadoes and other natural disasters raked across the plains of Kansas long before this latest pandemic swirled invisibly around the globe.

And no amount of hunkering down in this #AloneTogether period will ward off storm systems or the chaos they rain down.

To deal with that reality in this year of COVID-19, emergency response managers at the federal, state and county levels are retooling how they’ll act when disaster strikes.

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