Environment & Weather
Governor Quinn Announces Completion of Hofmann Dam Removal PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Erin Wilson   
Monday, 29 October 2012 14:09

Dam removal on Des Plaines River, Chicago River and other waterways will improve aquatic habitat and remove dangerous impediments to paddlers

RIVERSIDE, IL – Governor Pat Quinn today moved forward with a major initiative that will significantly improve the health of Illinois waterways by removing or modifying 16 low-head dams throughout the state over the next several years. At an event in Riverside, the governor announced the completion of the Hofmann Dam removal. The dam removal initiative is the latest by Governor Quinn to protect the environment and preserve Illinois’ natural resources.

“Free-flowing rivers benefit all of Illinois,” Governor Quinn said. “Removing these dams will improve waterways across our state, making them safer for kayakers and paddlers who use them for exercise and recreation, and for anglers who enjoy fishing in these rivers. This dam removal initiative will improve conservation, water quality and outdoor recreation in Illinois.”

The Illinois Dam Removal Initiative will invest nearly $10 million to remove 12 dams in Cook County on the Des Plaines and Chicago Rivers, including the three that have already been removed.  Those projects included removing the Hofmann, Fairbank and Armitage dams in Riverside, which is helping to restore the Des Plaines River to a more free-flowing channel.  Removing these dams increases the diversity of fish and aquatic life, as well as eliminating dangers for undercurrents that were a threat to paddlers and fishing enthusiasts.

The removal of the three Des Plaines River dams, combined with the remaining nine removal projects planned in Cook County, are being funded through Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital program. These dams are targeted for removal over the next two years. The dams being removed or renovated have no benefit to plants and animals that inhabit the rivers or to people who use waterways for recreation. In addition, four other dams on the Vermilion River and Fox River will be modified or removed as part of the initiative.

“Removing dams improves water quality, aquatic habitat and recreational safety,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller. “It also addresses the issue of dealing with crumbling and aging infrastructure, which would be much more expensive to repair or replace. These dams no longer serve their original purpose and removal or modification will save the state and local communities’ money in the future.”

Important factors that were considered in removal of the Hofmann Dam included the distribution and type of vegetation that occurs on exposed stream banks, the effects on local infrastructure and community support.  The project was implemented under an agreement between the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Chicago District and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).  The IDNR agreed to acquire all necessary rights of way for the project.

“The Forest Preserve District of Cook County is the property owner of much of the land along the Des Plaines River, and we have been strong supporters of the removal of the Hofmann Dam since day one,” Arnold Randall, Forest Preserve District of Cook County General Superintendent said. “Our mission is to maintain and preserve the natural lands of this County for the pleasure, recreation and education of the public. The Hofmann Dam removal project, and others like it, can help us do just that.”

The areas extending upstream from Hofmann Dam will see the most direct physical benefit from the improvements. The upstream reach and river channel have been converted from a slow-moving, deeper pool habitat to a free-flowing stream habitat. The most important benefits include enhanced drainage system at nearby Swan Pond Park to prevent entrapment of fish, increased fish passage, restoration of the natural flow of the river and improved public safety.  More than 15 miles of the Des Plaines River, upstream of the previously existing dam, has been opened to all fish and other aquatic species and a significant increase in biodiversity will be gained.

“It’s time for these dams to be removed to protect waterway users and aquatic species alike,” said Margaret Frisbie, Friends of the Chicago River Executive Director. “When we eliminate these barriers we open miles and miles of the river system which is critical to restoring its health. ‘Friends’ has been working on dam removal with Governor Quinn from the beginning. I want to thank the Governor for once again being a champion of Rivers in Illinois.”

Governor Quinn’s $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program is the largest in Illinois history, supporting an estimated 439,000 construction jobs. The program, which aims to modernize Illinois’ infrastructure, began in 2009.

Remaining dam removal projects include:

The North Branch of the Chicago River -- Remove or modify four low head dams and free up 55 miles of waterway from downtown Chicago to the north.  Partners include the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, the Chicago Park District and other non-governmental organizations.  Total cost estimate:  $3,500,000.

·         Tam O’ Shanter Dam - Removal

·         Chick Evans  Golf Course Dam - Removal

·         Winnetka Road Dam - Removal

·         North Branch Dam at River Park - Modification

The Des Plaines River -- Remove or modify eight low head dams and free up 32 miles of waterway for paddlers and fish passage. Partners include the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. Total costs estimate:  $6,000,000.

·         Dam 1 -  Removal

·         Dam 2 - Removal

·         Dam 4 - Removal                       

·         Dempster Street Dam - Removal

·         Touhy Ave Dam - Removal

·         Armitage Dam - Removal (work complete)

·         Fairbank Road Dam - Removal (work complete)

·         Hofmann Dam - Removal (work complete)

Other dams being considered for removal or modification under the initiative include:

·         Blackberry Creek Dam (Yorkville, Fox River) - Removal

·         Vermilion River Dam (Danville, Vermilion River) - Removal

·         Ellsworth Park Dam (Danville, Vermilion River) - Removal

·         Buzzi Unicem Dam (Oglesby, Vermillion River) - Additional modification

###

 
Going ‘Green’ is Good for Your Business, Exec Says PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 23 October 2012 13:16
Tips for Companies Trying to Clean Up Their Act

Despite pressing economic worries, the environment remains a top concern for consumers the world over. And that means environmentally-friendly business practices are as necessary for the bottom line as they are for the planet, says Joe Veilleux, president of Euromed USA (www.euromedusa.com).

“Being a producer of natural ingredients for pharmaceuticals and health supplements, we’ve always held environmentalism as a major company value,” says Veilleux, a registered pharmacist.“We’re glad to see that, even when people face unemployment and other economic hardships, they’re still committed to green practices.”

Recent polls, including BCG’s annual International Global Green Consumer Surveys taken throughout the recession, reveal an unwavering commitment to environmentalism, he says.

“Even at the height of the recession in 2008 and 2009, more than a third of consumers said they were willing to pay a little more for products that are better for the environment,” Veilleux says. “A majority said they consider a company’s environmental credentials when making purchasing decisions.”

Euromed recently earned “green” ISO 14001 certification for its Barcelona factory by meeting stringent criteria established by the world International Standardization Organization, which sets standards for sustainable and environmentally friendly manufacturing processes.

“In the five-year process of re-engineering our factory to meet the ISO 14001 criteria, we learned a lot that can benefit other companies,” Veilleux says. “Some of the steps we took cost little to nothing; others were, frankly, expensive. But all companies today need to be aware that consumers are looking at what they’re doing to – and for – the planet, and they’re making buying decisions based on that.”

These are some of the initiatives undertaken at Euromed Barcelona, which manufactures herbal extracts and natural active substances for customers in the United States and Europe.

• Recycling biomass – the company’s manufacturing waste product. We’ve found different ways to recycle the post-extraction biomass, depending on the product involved, Veilleux says.  “Much of the residue is sent to companies that specialize in creating bio-gas – specifically, methane, which is used to generate power,” he says. “However, the residue left from milk thistle has such a high nutritional value, it’s actually used to feed farm animals. We ship the waste product to a company that dries it out and cleans it before it’s added to feed for pigs, chickens, cows, and the like. The biomass is given away for free, he adds.

• Wood pallets become compost. At Euromed, wooden pallets are reused until they can’t be used any longer. “At that point, they’re sent to recycling facilities, which use them in composting products,” Veilleux says. This step was easily accomplished by working through waste management companies.

• Printer toners get refilled. Empty toner cartridges are shipped to the company’s supplier, where they’re recharged and returned for use. If not for recycling, the toner cartridges would be deposited in landfills.

• Cleaner air and water. The company purchased new equipment to accomplish these goals, including on-site wastewater treatment and water purification plants, and equipment to decrease atmospheric emissions.

All totaled, Euromed spent $1 million to $2 million to upgrade its factory. It was money well spent, Veilleux says.

“We’re excited about the certification because it verifies that we’re one of the world’s leaders in environmentally friendly production,” he says. “That’s very important to us -- we rely on plants, the Earth’s natural, renewable resources,not only for our business but for our personal health.

“We have a special interest in making everyone aware of how vital it is that we all take steps to prevent environmental damage.

About Euromed USA

Euromed USA supplies standardized botanical and herbal extracts and natural active substances for use in the pharmaceutical, health food and cosmetics industries. By extracting the necessary chemicals, the company can guarantee its products meet the precise chemical specifications necessary. Euromed was founded 40 years ago. Its parent company is the 100-year-old Rottapharm-Madaus corporation based in Italy.

 
Governor Quinn Launches $1 Billion Clean Water Initiative PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Erin Wilson   
Friday, 19 October 2012 07:22

U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson Joins Governor on 40th Anniversary of Clean Water Act to Announce Major Water Infrastructure Overhaul 

CHICAGO – October 18, 2012.  Governor Pat Quinn was joined by United States Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, labor leaders, environmental activists and local government officials today to launch the governor’s $1 billion Illinois Clean Water Initiative, which will overhaul Illinois’ aging water infrastructure.

Announced today on the shore of Lake Michigan, Governor Quinn’s Clean Water Initiative will create 28,500 jobs, protect public health, and drive community and business growth across Illinois. Today’s announcement delivers on Governor Quinn’s commitment –made during his State of the State address earlier this year- to rebuild and repair Illinois’ aging drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

“On this anniversary of the landmark Clean Water Act, we renew our commitment to ensuring that every resident in Illinois has access to safe, clean water,” Governor Quinn said. “Illinois is defined geographically and historically by waterways. Our Clean Water Initiative will put thousands of Illinoisans back to work, protect and improve our drinking water, and preserve this precious, irreplaceable resource for future generations.”

“Today, as we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act, I’m proud to join Governor Quinn and others to launch the Illinois Clean Water Initiative to repair and rebuild Illinois’ aging water infrastructure,” said Administrator Jackson, who was named in Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” list in 2010 and 2012. “This historic commitment will keep water resources clean and safe, protect the health of Illinois families and create thousands of jobs, showing yet again how an investment in clean water is an investment in both our health and our economy.”

Governor Quinn’s Clean Water Initiative will create 28,500 jobs, including 9,700 construction jobs; 4,600 indirect jobs in supplier industries (mining, manufacturing and services) and 14,300 jobs supported by growth in related businesses, according to Associated General Contractors. Pipefitters, plumbers, operating engineers, carpenters, electricians, ironworkers and others will go to work replacing broken water mains, building treatment plants, upgrading sewers and cleaning up environmental threats. The Administration expects to use the winter months to drive applications into the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency so projects can begin next spring.

The Clean Water Initiative will allow the state to meet the high demand by local governments for safe drinking water and wastewater treatment infrastructure funding. The IEPA reports that more than 350 local governments have already expressed need for the program. Currently, many Illinois residents are receiving water through aging water mains that are nearly a century old and scores of wastewater treatment facilities are in dire need of repair.

“Many of us often take for granted how much infrastructure and government investment goes into providing a reliable water source to millions of homes in Illinois,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). “Upgrading this infrastructure through Governor Quinn’s Clean Water Initiative will not only improve public health, but it will create thousands of good-paying jobs in Illinois. Today’s announcement is a reminder of how successful the Clean Water Act has been over the last 40 years in ensuring that the water we use in our daily lives is safe and clean.”

“Governor Quinn’s Clean Water Initiative adds the muscle of the state of Illinois to the skilled muscles of Illinois working men and women to build a water system that will serve Illinois residents for decades,” said Thomas Villanova, president of the Chicago and Cook County Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents 100,000 union workers. “This will put thousands of our members to work in the coming years and that is good for every worker trying to put food on the table.”

The Clean Water Act - enacted in 1972 - fortified federal-state partnerships to tackle polluted lakes and rivers by funding construction of sewage treatment plants, toughened penalties on polluters, and provided new protections to watersheds, waterways and wetlands. Building on that progress, the Clean Water Initiative will fortify state-local partnerships to tackle the state’s crumbling water infrastructure, protect public health and ensure access to clean drinking water in communities across Illinois.

“Safe and plentiful drinking water is an absolute essential for local communities. At a time when local revenues are flat, the availability of low interest loans for critical investments in our local water infrastructure is extremely beneficial to the health and welfare of Illinois communities,” said Larry Frang, executive director of the Illinois Municipal League.

“The Illinois Clean Water Initiative invests in a better Illinois future by advancing clean-up of our lakes and rivers and protecting vulnerable groundwater resources,” said Howard A. Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “These clean water infrastructure investments will help our communities achieve upgraded systems for safer drinking water and recreational enjoyment.”

Governor Quinn has directed the IEPA and Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) to expand the State Revolving Fund (SRF) program to $1 billion in long-term, low-interest loans to local governments for drinking water and wastewater systems. Since the SRF’s inception in 1989, IEPA has lent $4.3 billion to 472 local Illinois communities. There has never been a defaulted loan during the program’s history.

The SRF is funded with annual federal grants, a one-time infusion in ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) funds, a federally required state match, plus the principal and interest from loan repayments. No new state tax dollars will be used for the project. Needed equity will be provided by the existing loan portfolio and future federal capitalization grant dollars.

To learn more about the Illinois Clean Water Initiative, visit CleanWater.Illinois.gov.

 ###

 
WAPSI RIVER CENTER NEWS RELEASE PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Lisa Gerwulf   
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 12:47

Toasty Toes Workshop Planned

On Saturday, October 20, from 1:00 - 3:00 P.M. the Wapsi River Environmental Education Center will be hosting a Toasty Toes Workshop. Converting a pile of outgrown or underutilized t-shirts into colorful, cozy rugs has never been easier; especially with the help of a most unique loom – a hula hoop!  Each participant needs to bring about a dozen T-shirts (boy’s size L or equivalent (men’s/women’s size S or girl’s size L/XL) work well, but other sizes can be adapted) and a pair of sharp, fabric scissors.  If you have access to a quilting tool called a rotary cutter, consider bringing it with the mat and ruler.  Looms will be provided.  This program is ideal for beginning weavers, and would appeal to families, scout groups as well as individuals.  Walk-ins are welcome, but pre-registration is appreciated by calling (563) 328-3286.

The Wapsi River Environmental Education Center can be found 6 miles south of Wheatland or 1 mile northwest of Dixon, Iowa by taking County Road Y4E.  Then turn north at 52nd Avenue and follow the signs for about 1 mile.

 
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Fulfills Commitment to Designate 1 Million Additional Conservation Acres to Support Wildlife Habitat Restoration PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Monday, 08 October 2012 15:31

Failure to Pass Food, Farm and Jobs Bill Puts Enrollments in Jeopardy

USDA.gov logo

LEWIS, Iowa, Oct. 8, 2012—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today underscored the Obama Administration's commitment to partnerships in conservation by announcing the allocation of 400,000 acres to support conservation and restoration of wildlife and their habitats as part of the Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP. Under Vilsack's leadership, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has enrolled more than 12 million acres in CRP, a voluntary program available to agricultural producers to help them use marginal and environmentally sensitive land to bring conservation and economic benefits for their land and communities. Today's announcement of 400,000 state acres for wildlife enhancement (SAFE acres), fulfills Vilsack's commitment made last spring to commit 1 million acres for special initiatives to restore grasslands, wetlands and wildlife habitat.

"Since 2009, USDA has worked with producers and private landowners to enroll a record number of acres in conservation programs," said Vilsack. "These efforts have not only conserved our natural resources, but bolstered rural economies for current and future generations. That's why it's important for Congress to pass comprehensive, multi-year food, farm and jobs legislation—so that America's rural communities have certainty that millions of acres of conservation lands will be there tomorrow to sustain and create jobs in the small businesses that reinforce our tourism and recreation industry."

With 400,000 SAFE acres available, USDA will work with producers and landowners to target habitat for high-priority species like the lesser prairie chicken and sage grouse, as well as game species like pheasants and quail that providing hunting opportunities and support rural jobs. Existing projects in 20 states will be able to add up to 280,000 combined acres for all projects, including prairie, wetlands, forest and savanna habitat restoration. In addition, more than 100,000 acres were added to target species as diverse as northern scarlet snakes, ferruginous hawks and the American woodcock.

SAFE is a voluntary continuous CRP practice that conserves and restores habitat for wildlife species that are threatened or endangered, have suffered significant population declines or are important environmentally, economically or socially. SAFE is currently capped at 1.25 million acres nationally. Acres are now allocated across 97 SAFE projects located in 36 states and Puerto Rico.

Under SAFE, state fish and wildlife agencies, non-profit organizations and other conservation partners work collaboratively to target CRP delivery to specific conservation practices and geographic areas where enrollment of eligible farm land in continuous CRP will provide significant wildlife value. USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) monitors SAFE and other continuous CRP activity and manages available acres to ensure that CRP goals and objectives are being met.

The Food Security Act of 1985, Section 1231(a), as amended, provides authority to enroll land in CRP through September 30, 2012. However, no legislation has been enacted to reauthorize or extend this authority; therefore, CRP currently is unable to enroll new acres.

In March, Secretary Vilsack announced USDA's intent to enroll up to 1 million acres in a new CRP grasslands and wetlands initiative meant to target environmentally sensitive land through continuous signups. FSA has set aside acres within CRP for specific enrollments that benefit duck nesting habitat, upland birds, wetlands, pollinators and wildlife. In addition, USDA announced a continuous sign-up of highly erodible cropland, which seeks to protect the nation's most environmentally sensitive lands. The Highly Erodible Cropland initiative permits landowners to enroll up to 750,000 acres of land with an Erodibility Index (EI) of 20 or greater.

CRP is one of America's most valuable and vital conservation efforts, ensuring cleaner air and water, preventing soil erosion, and enhancing economic opportunity in rural America by supporting recreation and tourism. The approach to target the most sensitive lands is essential to maintain the substantial benefits of CRP while ensuring that productive farmlands continue to produce America's food, feed, fiber and renewable fuel.

Highlights of CRP include:

  • CRP prevents the erosion of 325 million tons of soil each year, or enough soil to fill 19.5 million dump trucks;
  • CRP has restored more than two million acres of wetlands and two million acres of riparian buffers;
  • Each year, CRP keeps more than 600 million pounds of nitrogen and more than 100 million pounds of phosphorous from flowing into our nation's streams, rivers, and lakes;
  • CRP provides $1.8 billion annually to landowners—dollars that make their way into local economies, supporting small businesses and creating jobs; and
  • CRP is the largest private lands carbon sequestration program in the country. By placing vulnerable cropland into conservation, CRP sequesters carbon in plants and soil, and reduces both fuel and fertilizer usage. In 2010, CRP resulted in carbon sequestration equal to taking almost 10 million cars off the road.

As part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative, the Administration is opening up recreational access to lands and waters, supporting the creation of urban parks and trails, increasing youth employment in conservation jobs and making historic investments in large landscapes such as the Everglades. The initiative is empowering locally-led conservation and outdoor recreation efforts, from supporting the working landscapes of the Dakota Grasslands and longleaf pine in the southern U.S., to designating the Chimney Rock National Monument in Colorado, to countless other success stories across the country.

In 2011, USDA enrolled a record number of acres of private working lands in conservation programs, working with more than 500,000 farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that clean the air we breathe, filter the water we drink, and prevent soil erosion. Moreover, the Obama Administration, with Agriculture Secretary Vilsack's leadership, has worked tirelessly to strengthen rural America, implement the Farm Bill, maintain a strong farm safety net, and create opportunities for America's farmers and ranchers. U.S. agriculture is currently experiencing one of its most productive periods in American history thanks to the productivity, resiliency, and resourcefulness of our producers.

The following tables show the breakdown of SAFE allocations by state and projects:

SAFE ALLOCATIONS

State Project Original Acreage Allocation Change in Allocation Final Allocation

AR Trees 5,000 1,200 6,200

AR Grass 7,700 1,000 8,700

AR Wetlands 3,500 -1,000 2,500

GA Restoring Native Pine Savannah 8,800 3,000 11,800

ID Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse 94,300 11,800 106,100

ID Western ID Upland Game Bird 25,000 25,000

IL Mercer County 800 1,000 1,800

IN American Woodcock 1,000 1,000

IN Indiana Bat 3,100 1,000 4,100

IN Henslow's Sparrow 5,075 1,000 6,075

IN Northern Bobwhite 7,875 1,000 8,875

IN Ring-Necked Pheasant 4,000 4,000

IN Sedge Wren/ Grasshopper Sparrow 3,050 1,000 4,050

IA Gaining Ground 36,250 5,900 42,150

IA Pheasant Recovery 50,000 50,000

KS Upland Game Birds 30,100 14,800 44,900

KS Lesser Prairie Chicken 30,000 22,100 52,100

KY Early Successional / Bottomland 8,600 3,000 11,600

MN Back Forty Pheasant 33,900 14,800 48,700

MS Bobwhite Quail 9,450 1,000 10,450

MO Bobwhite Quail 17,650 7,400 25,050

MO Delta Stewardship 6,000 6,000

MO Sand Grassland 3,250 1,800 5,050

MT Pheasant Winter Cover 15,200 4,400 19,600

MT Prairie Pothole 8,500 5,900 14,400

MT Sagebrush 1,000 1,500 2,500

NE Tallgrass Prairie 21,450 7,400 28,850

NE Upland Bird 30,950 22,100 53,050

NJ Agricultural Heritage 300 150 450

NJ Grassland 400 350 750

NJ Raritan-Piedmont 300 250 550

NV Sage Grouse Habitat Improvement 400 400

ND Coteau-drift Prairie Water 20,000 16,200 36,200

ND Habitat for Pheasants 18,000 11,800 29,800

ND Sagebrush Restoration 1,000 1,000 2,000

ND Tallgrass Prairie 6,090 1,000 7,090

OH Big Island/ Killdeer 925 1,000 1,925

OH Grasslands for Pheasants 6,600 22,100 28,700

OH Kitty Todd 200 500 700

OH LaSuAn Grasslands 1,950 4,400 6,350

OH Paint Creek 675 1,000 1,675

OH Western Lake Erie 400 1,000 1,400

OH Southern Grassland 850 1,000 1,850

SD Pheasants 50,200 14,800 65,000

SD Western SD Grassland Wildlife 18,000 14,800 32,800

TN Grass 10,000 1,500 11,500

TX Mixed Grass 78,400 44,300 122,700

WA Ferruginous Hawk 20,000 20,000

WA Shrub-steppe 7,322 8,900 16,222

Subtotal 607,112 385,550 992,662

Other project with no change in original allocation 232,878 -- 232,878

Reserve 10,010 14,450 24,460

Total 850,000 385,550 1,250,000

For more information on SAFE, contact a local FSA county office or visit the FSA website at www.fsa.usda.gov/crp.

#

 
<< Start < Prev 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 Next > End >>

Page 50 of 90