Environment & Weather
Secretaries Vilsack and Jewell Highlight Federal Preparedness for 2013 Western Wildfire Season PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Monday, 13 May 2013 14:03
Officials emphasize interagency partnership, public awareness as keys to protecting communities from wildfire

BOISE, ID – May 13, 2013 – During a visit to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell outlined the Federal Government's efforts to ensure collaboration in protecting Americans from wildfire, and urged homeowners and local communities to take steps to reduce their risks during the 2013 fire season. The outlook for the fire season is severe across much of the Western United States.

"The US Forest Service, Federal fire managers and crews will continue to work closely with states and communities to protect residents, property and our natural resources during what could be a challenging wildfire season," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "We are working together to preposition our firefighting teams and equipment to make the most effective use of available resources during this time of constrained budgets."

"One of our greatest strengths in wildfire management is that Federal, Tribal, State, and local government agencies recognize that the challenge is too great for any one organization to tackle on its own," said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. "As regions across the country face serious risks of wildfires this season, the work ongoing at the National Interagency Fire Center is important to ensure that we're doing everything we can to protect lives, communities and our natural resources. The public also has an important role to play, and I encourage homeowners and communities to take proactive steps when it comes to preparedness, prevention and safety."

"When fires burn uncontrolled in our nation's wildlands, it means the loss of our homes, businesses, personal possessions, and all too often, lives," said U.S. Fire Administrator Ernie Mitchell. "As the men and women of our nation's firefighting forces prepare for this year's wildfire season, they need your help. By taking simple fire prevention steps, you will not only protect yourself and your families, but also the firefighters who put their lives in harm's way to fight wildfires. Remember, fire is everyone's fight."

This year, significant fire potential is predicted to be above normal in much of the West, including almost all of Arizona, New Mexico, California, Oregon and Idaho; and portions of Montana, Colorado, Utah, and Washington. In 2012, 9.3 million acres of private, state, and federal land, and more than 4,400 structures burned in wildfires. That was the third highest number of acres burned since at least 1960, the earliest date with reliable records.

On average, Forest Service and Interior agencies respond to tens of thousands of wildfires per year, suppressing all but a small percentage during the first burning period. However, the few fires that cannot be suppressed during the initial stages run the risk of becoming much larger.

Federal assets include more than 13,000 firefighters, including permanent and seasonal federal employees; more than 1,600 engines; up to 26 multiengine air tankers and two water scooper aircrafts; approximately 27 single engine air tankers; and hundreds of helicopters. At the National Interagency Fire Center, firefighting experts from multiple government agencies continuously monitor fire activity, weather and fuel conditions while strategically positioning Federal firefighters, ground equipment and aircraft to support wildfires across the country as the season shifts.

During their visit, Secretaries Vilsack and Jewell urged the public to do their part to help prevent wildfires while preparing for fire season, noting that most wildfires are human-caused. They urged residents of the more than 70,000 communities at risk from wildfires to take proactive steps and improve safety by developing community wildfire protection plans. Communities and residents can access educational resources available at www.fireadapted.org; and through the " Firewise," and " Ready, Set, Go!" programs.

More than 590 million acres of public lands are in significant need of restoration, including thinning and prescribed burning, due to the cumulative impacts of wildfire, insects and disease, and drought. More than 1,000 post-fire assessments show that these types of restoration efforts are effective in reducing wildfire severity. Forest Service and Interior continue to focus restoration treatments on high-priority areas to lessen the impacts of wildfire when it happens.

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Area Program to be offered on Native Iowa Plants and Trees PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Amanda Heitz   
Thursday, 09 May 2013 15:00

If you have ever wanted to learn more about Iowa’s native trees, grasses and wildflowers, you’ll have a chance to do so in a series of classes being offered in the area this spring and summer. Trees Forever will be offering its popular Stewards of the Beautiful Land program in Scott County this year.

Trees Forever’s Stewards of the Beautiful Land program is designed to educate participants about the role and use of native trees, grasses and wildflowers in community, rural and home landscaping projects. Trees Forever staff will lead four different, monthly class sessions from June through September. Other participating partners include the Scott County Conservation Board, Scott County Extension & Outreach, the Scott County Soil and Water Conservation District, and Nahant Marsh. The first class starts June 11.

The Stewards of the Beautiful Land program will cover topics such as:
• Native plant identification
• Benefits and use of native plant species
• Design principles
• Planting practices
• Establishment and maintenance techniques
• Project Funding

In addition, class members will also help plan and plant a small local project using native plants.

The four-part series of classes begins on Tuesday, June 11, at the Nahant Marsh, 4220 Wapello Avenue. Subsequent classes will be held at other locations around Scott County. Participants should plan to travel to all four classes for the entire educational experience. Classes will be held from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., and include classroom-style instruction as well as outdoor field study.

There is no cost to participate in the Stewards of the Beautiful Land program, but space is limited. No prior experience with or knowledge of native trees and plants is necessary, only a commitment to actively participate in the class series and the planting project.

To register for Trees Forever’s 2013 Stewards of the Beautiful Land program, or to get more information, visit the events calendar at www.treesforever.org. You can also contact Dustin Hinrichs at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 319-373-0650 ext. 124, or Mark Pingenot at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 319-560-9079, for more information. The deadline for registration is May 31.

Trees Forever is an Iowa-based nonprofit environmental organization focused on community tree planting, water quality initiatives, and roadway and trail enhancements. The Stewards of the Beautiful Land program is funded by the Iowa Living Roadway Trust Fund (www.iowalivingroadway.com).

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Loebsack Welcomes Gov. Branstad’s Disaster Declaration PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Joe Hand   
Thursday, 09 May 2013 14:19

15 additional counties affected by strong storms and flooding now available for state assistance

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today after Governor Branstad issued a disaster declaration for additional counties in Iowa.  People who qualify in Appanoose, Clinton, Davis, Decatur, Des Moines, Jefferson, Keokuk, Lucas, Marion, Monroe, Ringgold, Van Buren, Wapello, Warren and Wayne Counties are now able to apply for state grants to help with home or car repairs, replacement of clothing or food, and for the expense of temporary housing.  Previously, disaster declarations were made for Cedar, Iowa, Johnson, Lee, Mahaska, Muscatine, Scott and Washington Counties.

“I am pleased with the Governor’s actions to make assistance available to those who have seen damage from the recent storms and flooding. I will continue work with local communities and the State to ensure those with significant property damage get the help they need.”

For more information, Iowans should visit www.dhs.iowa.gov and click on the Disaster Assistance link.

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Governor Branstad issues disaster proclamation for 15 counties PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Office of the Governor of Iowa   
Tuesday, 07 May 2013 15:54
(DES MOINES) – Governor Terry E. Branstad today issued a third proclamation of disaster emergency in response to recent storms and flooding in south and southeast Iowa.

Fifteen counties are included in this proclamation:  Appanoose, Clinton, Davis, Decatur, Des Moines, Jefferson, Keokuk, Lucas, Marion, Monroe, Ringgold, Van Buren, Wapello, Warren and Wayne.

Governor Branstad had issued two proclamations in April covering eight other counties as a result of a storm system that came through the state on April 17: Cedar, Iowa, Johnson, Lee, Mahaska, Muscatine, Scott and Washington. Those proclamations activated the Iowa Individual Assistance Program for those counties, which provides grants for households with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

This latest proclamation of disaster emergency also activates the Iowa Individual Assistance Program, and in addition authorizes the use and deployment of state resources to those 15 counties. This proclamation contains provisions to assist the Iowa Department of Transportation in requesting federal emergency relief funding for the repair or reconstruction of federal highways and bridges throughout the impacted counties.

In addition, FEMA will begin conducting damage assessments jointly with the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division and local officials in 19 counties impacted by April 17 storms and flooding. Results of these damage assessments could be used to determine if a request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration is warranted. Damage assessments will be conducted in the following counties: Appanoose, Cedar, Clinton, Davis, Decatur, Des Moines, Iowa, Johnson, Keokuk, Lee, Lucas, Marion, Monroe, Muscatine, Ringgold, Van Buren, Wapello, Warren and Wayne.

The Iowa Individual Assistance Program provides grants of up to $5,000 for home or car repairs, replacement of clothing or food, and for the expense of temporary housing. Original receipts are required for those seeking reimbursement for actual expenses related to storm recovery. The grant application and instructions are available at the “Disaster Assistance” link on the Iowa Department of Human Services website: www.dhs.iowa.gov<http://www.dhs.iowa.gov/>.

The proclamation can be viewed at www.homelandsecurity.iowa.gov<http://www.homelandsecurity.iowa.gov>.

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Iowa receives Presidential Disaster Declaration PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Office of the Governor of Iowa   
Monday, 06 May 2013 15:01

(DES MOINES) – Today, Gov. Terry E. Branstad received word that a Presidential Disaster Declaration has been issued for five Iowa counties. The five counties included in the declaration are Dickinson, Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola and Sioux.

The Governor sent the request for the declaration on Friday, April 26, in response to severe weather which occurred April 9-11, 2013.  The severe weather produced damaging winds, heavy rains, thunderstorms, freezing rain, ice and snow that caused damage to utility lines, poles, trees and vegetation.

The declaration by the President will provide federal funding to the declared counties under the Public Assistance Program. A Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for Public Assistance puts into motion long-term federal recovery programs, some of which are matched by state programs, and designed to help public entities and select non-profits. Public Assistance funds may be used for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities and may include debris removal, emergency protective measures, repair of damaged public property, loans needed by communities for essential government functions and grants for public schools.

The Governor also received notification that the Presidential Disaster Declaration includes funding to conduct hazard mitigation activities for the entire state. With this funding, Iowa will be able to minimize the impact of future natural disasters by taking steps now to strengthen existing infrastructure.

This Presidential Disaster Declaration is the 15th Major Presidential Disaster Declaration Iowa has received since March 2007.

The Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division leads, coordinates and supports homeland security and emergency management functions in order to establish sustainable communities and ensure economic opportunities for Iowa and its citizens.

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