Environment & Weather
Illinois River wetlands gain world recognition PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Kara Beach   
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 14:53

Hennepin, Lewistown marshes attract endangered species, international praise

LEWISTOWN – August 8, 2012. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon today dedicated two wetlands along the Illinois River that gained international prestige this year for transforming flood-prone land into natural habitats for endangered and native species and plants. Restoration of one wetland, the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge near Hennepin, helped bring back the pied-billed grebe from risk of extinction in Illinois, while the restoration of the Emiquon Complex near Lewistown has attracted thousands of American coots.

During a meeting of the Illinois River Coordinating Council (IRCC), Simon led council members and local conservationists in a joint celebration and dedication recognizing the Dixon refuge and the Emiquon Complex. The marshy ecosystems were officially designated Wetlands of International Importance by the federal government earlier this year in accordance with the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, an international treaty signed by 162 nations committed to the protection of wetlands.

The Ramsar designation is a sought-after accolade for wetland advocates as it calls global attention to local conservation efforts and demonstrates the government’s commitment to maintaining the ecological sites. In the case of Dixon and Emiquon, it highlights restoration efforts that returned the wetlands to their natural state. The sites are also home to several state and federal endangered species, including the Common Moorhen, Piping Plover, Yellow-headed Blackbird, and King Rail.

“The Dixon refuge and Emiquon Complex are international models of environmental restoration,” Simon said. “By returning this land to its natural state, we created a home for plants, fish and birds that were being driven to extinction and an environmental tourism destination that will attract visitors from all around. I want to thank the Ramsar Secretariat for recognizing the work that’s been done to restore these natural resources and helping to boost efforts moving forward.”

Dixon and Emiquon are two of three sites from the United States that received Ramsar designation this year and join the ranks of recognized sites around the world including along the Nile and Danube rivers. Of the over 2,000 designated sites, 34 are in the U.S. including the Cache River-Cypress Creek Wetlands and the Upper Mississippi River Floodplain Wetlands in Illinois.

To be designated as a Wetland of International Importance, a proposed site must meet at least one of nine criteria that validate its global importance. These criteria include supporting 20,000 or more waterbirds, housing vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered species and supporting at least 1 percent of the population of one species or subspecies of waterbird.

The 14,000 acre Emiquon Complex, which includes the Emiquon and Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuges and the Emiquon Preserve, is jointly managed by The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Emiquon met or exceeded eight of the nine criteria including the presence of 4.5 percent of the continental population of American coots and supporting hundreds of thousands of ducks, geese, and other waterbirds including the Pectoral Sandpiper, far surpassing the Ramsar criterion of 20,000.

The Emiquon Preserve is a major source of economic development, pumping $1.1 million into Fulton and Mason counties in 2009, according to a study by the University of Illinois. The study estimated that 17,000 tourists visited the preserve in 2009 to take advantage of the hiking, fishing, boating, wildlife viewing and waterfowl hunting opportunities that are available.

“This designation not only validates our successes to date, but also provides hope for conserving the ecological health of the Illinois River and other great rivers around the world as we share lessons learned at these sites,” said Doug Blodgett, director of river conservation at The Nature Conservancy and an IRCC citizen member.

The 2,700 acre Dixon Waterfowl Refuge is managed by The Wetlands Initiative and met six Ramsar criteria including serving as an important example of the region’s rare native landscape and supporting biodiversity including 148 animal and plant species that are vulnerable to extinction in Illinois. This includes plants such as the yellow monkey-flower, royal catchfly, and decurrent false aster.

The refuge is open to the public daily for hiking, bird-watching, and paddling. A 30-foot-tall observation tower provides an expansive vista of the restored lakes and marsh, while a half-mile boardwalk trail from the boat launch parking lot allows up-close views of unique wetland plants and wildlife. These opportunities attract between 5,000 and 8,000 visitors annually.

“At the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge, 260 bird species and more than 570 native plants are contained in one of the most diverse natural areas in the state,” said Paul Botts, executive director of The Wetlands Initiative. “There is a rich variety of habitat communities, including a rare seep. When standing in the refuge, you almost feel like you are in ancient wilderness. This certainly is one of the most significant sites on our planet to support a diversity of life.”

The celebration, dubbed A Great Day for the Illinois River, was held at the Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown, but attendees were connected to participants at the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge through a live video feed. Speakers at the ceremony included Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller and Ivan Zavadsky of the United Nations Development Programme’s Global Environment Facility.

In addition to the IRCC, Simon also chairs the Mississippi and the Ohio and Wabash river coordinating councils. These councils promote the environmental and economic health of Illinois’ rivers and tributaries. The councils are composed of a diverse group of citizens, not-for-profit organizations, and state and federal agencies, and hold quarterly meetings across the state to gather local input on conservation issues.

 
Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds release statements on additional disaster designations PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Office of Governor Terry Branstad   
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 14:30

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, today, issued statements on the USDA disaster designation of four additional Iowa counties as primary natural disaster areas and six counties listed as contiguous disaster counties due to the drought.

On July 16, Gov. Branstad sent a letter to Sec. Vilsack requesting a drought disaster declaration for impacted Iowa counties. The letter to Sec. Vilsack can be viewed here. As a result, 42 Iowa counties were designated as disastrous on Aug. 1.

Gov. Branstad released the following statement:

“Today’s disaster designation of 10 additional Iowa counties demonstrates the impact that the drought has made on Iowa’s agricultural industry. The Lt. Governor and I would like to extend our gratitude towards Sec. Vilsack in recognizing the needs of these additional counties. This disaster designation will provide affected Iowans with additional resources during these difficult times.”

Lt. Gov. Reynolds released the following statement:

“The governor and I know that farmers can and will overcome the current drought conditions, and we will continue to work with federal and state partners to provide necessary resources for Iowans.”

 
Xstream Cleanup this Saturday PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Erin Vorac   
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 09:42

WHAT: Xstream Cleanup—over 1,600 volunteers will team up to clean up 43 waterways and other areas in need of care in the Quad Cities.

WHEN: Saturday, August 11, 2012. 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Preliminary results of the cleanup will be available by 3 p.m. Saturday. Call Erin Vorac at 563-349-3345.

WHO: Over 1,600 volunteers of all ages, some working in teams and representing businesses and organizations throughout the Quad Cities.

WHERE: 43 sites are targeted for cleanup.

See https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=gmail&attid=0.2&thid=13906d6e4ecf37c2&mt=application/pdf&url=https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?ui%3D2%26ik%3D7484cc5eec%26view%3Datt%26th%3D13906d6e4ecf37c2%26attid%3D0.2%26disp%3Dsafe%26zw&sig=AHIEtbTEeJRQhdNO4vnenrQhHI6Vmxf1bA.

  • Iowa: Bettendorf, Buffalo, Davenport, LeClaire, McCausland and Scott County; Illinois: Milan, Moline, Rock Island and Silvis

 
Simon: Illinois River sites gain international prestige PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Justin Stofferahn   
Tuesday, 07 August 2012 11:08
LEWISTOWN – Lt. Governor Sheila Simon will dedicate two wetlands along the Illinois River that gained international prestige this year for turning flood-prone farmland into natural habitats for endangered and native species and plants. Restoration of one wetland, the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge near Hennepin, helped bring back the pied-billed grebe from risk of extinction in Illinois.

The dedication ceremony for the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge and the Emiquon Complex near Lewistown comes during a meeting of the Illinois River Coordinating Council, which Simon chairs. The marshy ecosystems were designated Wetlands of International Importance by the federal government in accordance with the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, an international treaty signed by 162 nations committed to the protection of wetlands. The designation recognizes the sites as international models of restoration and expresses the government’s commitment to maintaining the ecological character of the site, Simon said.

The celebration, dubbed A Great Day for the Illinois River, will be held concurrently at the Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown and the Dixon Refuge. Speakers at the two sites will be connected through a live video feed. After the river council meeting, attendees at Emiquon will have an opportunity to canoe and kayak, while visitors at Dixon can take a guided nature walk.

DATE: Wednesday, Aug. 8

TIME: 1:15 p.m. media availability, 1:30 meeting start

LOCATION: Dickson Mounds Museum, 10956 North Dickson Mounds Road, Lewistown

 

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Scott County Burn Ban Remains In Effect PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Ross Bergen   
Tuesday, 07 August 2012 11:05

PROCLAMATÍON OF BURNING PROHIBITED

ON JULY  2012, THE OFFICE OF THE STATE FIRE MARSHAL RECEIVED A REQUEST PURSUANT TO IOWA CODE 'IOO.40('I) (1995) FROM ROSS BERGEN, REPRESENTING EACH FIRE DEPARTMENT HAVING ALL OR PART OF THEIR FIRE DISTRICT `IAIITHIN SCOTT COUNTY, THAT THE STATE FIRE NIARSHAL PROHIBIT OPEN BURNING IN SCOTT COUNTY. UPON INVESTIGATION THE FIRE IVIARSHAL FINDS THAT CONDITIONS IN SCOTT COUNTY ARE SUCH THAT OPEN BURNING CONSTITUTES A DANGER TO LIFE OR PROPERTY.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED THAT NO PERSON SHALL ENGAGE IN OPEN BURNING IN SCOTT COUNTY, EFFECTIVE JULY 11, 2012 AT 6:00 P.IIñ.. EXCEPT AS SPECIFICALLY PERMITTED BY IOWA CODE 100.!-10(3) UNTIL SUCH TIME AS ROSS BERGEN, REPRESENTING EACH FIRE DEPARTMENT HAVING ALL OR PART OF THEIR FIRE DISTRICT VVITHIN SCOTT COUNTY, NOTIFIES THE STATE FIRE MARSHAL THAT SUCH CONDITIONS DANGEROUS TO LIFE OR PROPERTY NO LONGER EXISTS.

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT PURSUANT TO IOWA CODE ‘100.4(2) ANY \/IOLATEON OF THIS PROCLAIVIATÍON ORDER IS A SIMPLE IVIISDEIVIEANOR.

 
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