Environment & Weather
Seven Tips to Help Your Landscape Beat the Heat this Summer PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Diana Hall   
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 13:16

by gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers

Summer has arrived and for many gardeners that means heat, drought and watering bans. This can be hard on gardeners as well as their landscapes.   The good news is that there are ways to help plants thrive despite these seasonal challenges.  Adjusting landscape care accordingly during the summer months can not only provide relief for lawns and gardens, but also for the gardener.  Here are some low maintenance eco-friendly ways gardeners can keep their landscapes looking their best throughout the summer months, while beating the heat:

Water plants thoroughly to promote deep drought- and pest-resistant roots.  Wait until the top few inches of soil are crumbly and moist or footprints remain in the lawn before watering again.

Avoid light, frequent watering that encourages shallow roots.  Shallow roots are less able to tolerate drought and more susceptible to disease and insect problems.

Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of shredded leaves, evergreen needles or shredded bark mulch over the soil in garden beds and around trees and shrubs.  Mulching conserves moisture, keeps roots cool and moist, and suppresses weeds.

Mow lawns high.  Taller grass produces deeper roots that are more drought-tolerant.  A deeply rooted lawn is also more resistant to insects, disease and other environmental stresses.

Always mow lawns often enough, so you remove less than one third the total leaf surface.  Leave the grass clippings on the lawn.  They add nitrogen, organic matter and moisture to the soil.

Use a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer, like Milorganite, to give gardens and lawns a nutrient boost. This organic nitrogen fertilizer remains in the soil until the growing conditions are right for the plant.

Remove weeds from garden beds and borders as soon as they appear.  These “plants out of place” steal water and nutrients from your desirable garden plants.  Plus, they can harbor insects and diseases that are harmful to your garden plants.

And don’t forget to take care of yourself while caring for your landscape during the heat of summer. Drink lots of liquid, use sunscreen, and work during the cooler morning and evening hours.

Then when the gardening tasks are done for the day, grab a glass of lemonade, take a seat in the shade and enjoy the beauty of your handiwork.

Nationally known gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening. She hosts the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment segments which air on over 115 TV and radio stations throughout the U.S. and Canada. She is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and writes the twice monthly “Gardeners’ Questions” newspaper column. Melinda also has a column in Gardening How-to magazine.  Melinda hosted “The Plant Doctor” radio program for over 20 years as well as seven seasons of Great Lakes Gardener on PBS. She has written articles for Better Homes and Gardens and Fine Gardening and was a columnist and contributing editor for Backyard Living magazine.  Melinda has a master’s degree in horticulture, is a certified arborist and was a horticulture instructor with tenure.  Her web site is www.melindamyers.com

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Secretary Vilsack Announces 23 New Water Quality Improvement Projects in Nine Mississippi River Basin States PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by USDA Communications   
Tuesday, 19 June 2012 12:31

WASHINGTON, June 19, 2012—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that $8.4 million in financial assistance is available to support 23 new partnership projects in several Mississippi River Basin states under USDA's Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI). These projects will fund producer activities that will avoid, control and trap sediment and nutrient runoff from agricultural lands, improving water quality throughout their operations.

"We are building on our Mississippi River actions from previous years by continuing to target priority conservation practices in priority watersheds to improve water quality in the basin," Vilsack said. "USDA is committed to working cooperatively with agricultural producers, partner organizations and state and local agencies to improve water quality and the quality of life for the millions of people who live in the Mississippi River Basin."

The MRBI was first announced in September 2009 and provides financial assistance for voluntary projects in priority watersheds in Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin. MRBI is helping producers implement conservation and management practices that prevent, control and trap nutrient runoff from agricultural land. Selections were based on the potential for managing nitrogen and phosphorus -- nutrients associated with water quality problems in the Basin -- while maintaining agricultural productivity and benefiting wildlife. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) manages the initiative.

The 23 selected projects are located in Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Below are examples of selected projects and the financial assistance available for their implementation in fiscal year 2012:

  • Middle Cache River Project (Arkansas) - $222,900 to improve water quality, reduce sediment and enhance wildlife habitat in a watershed near the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge. This project supports the America's Great Outdoors Initiative, a commitment by federal, state, and local entities to preserve and protect the nation's natural and cultural heritage. Sponsor: the Jackson County Conservation District.
  • Upper Minnesota River Project (South Dakota) - $247,287 to improve water quality by helping landowners avoid, control and trap nutrient and sediment runoff from private and Tribal lands. Sponsors: the Roberts Conservation District, the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribe and others.
  • Lindsey-Honey Creek Watershed Project (Iowa) - $329,000 to reduce nitrogen entering the Mississippi River from the Maquoketa River Basin. Sponsor: The Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District.
  • Middle Fork of Salt River Watershed Project (Missouri) - $366,188 to improve and monitor water quality and agricultural productivity. Sponsor: Randolph County Soil and Water Conservation District.

The projects are funded through NRCS's Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI), which engages local partners to help provide outreach and technical assistance to agricultural producers. CCPI funds both new and existing projects each year. Earlier this year, NRCS provided nearly $64 million in financial assistance through Farm Bill conservation programs to support the 95 existing MRBI projects first funded in 2010 and 2011.

USDA works with state and local governments and private landowners to conserve and protect our nation's natural resources, helping preserve our land, and clean our air and water. 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. President Obama launched the America's Great Outdoors initiative in 2010 to foster a 21st century approach to conservation that is designed by and accomplished in partnership with the American people. During the past two years, USDA's conservation agencies—the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Farm Service Agency—have delivered technical assistance and implemented restoration practices on public and private lands. We are working to better target conservation investments, embracing locally driven conservation and entering partnerships that focus on large, landscape-scale conservation.

Learn more about the CCPI and the MRBI at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).


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US Forest Service celebrates 75 years of national grasslands PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by L. F. Chambers   
Monday, 18 June 2012 14:02

WASHINGTON, June 18, 2012 -- The U.S. Forest Service will celebrate National Grasslands Week from June 17-23, showcasing the beauty, history and economic value of these national treasures on the 75th anniversary of the legislation that established them.

America’s 20 national grasslands, spanning 12 states and 4 million acres, were created through the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act of 1937, authorizing the federal government to acquire damaged lands for rehabilitation. Thirteen of these national grasslands reside in the Great Plains, where the ravages of the Dust Bowl left the soil bare of vegetation for years. Today, the benefits grasslands provide are valued in the billions of dollars.

“Our national grasslands remain beautiful examples of successful restoration programs,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “These lands are once again rich habitats brimming with native wildlife, grasses and wildflowers. They are also economic engines, generating jobs and bolstering rural American communities.”

The national grasslands offer a wealth of recreation and education opportunities for more than 1 million annual visitors. The grasslands feature some of the world’s best bird-watching experiences as well as camping, hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, target shooting, off-highway vehicle riding, picnicking and learning activities. Scenic drives offer unique geological features, wildlife and stellar locations for stargazing.

History buffs can visit old cemeteries and homesteads and take guided tours of  Native American petroglyphs. They can also share in the experience of early settlers and their trek on the Santa Fe Trail.

“It took decades to restore the national grasslands from the barren landscapes of the Dust Bowl, to the rich prairie habitats we see today,” said Tidwell. “Every American should experience these unique grasslands that are so much a part of our rich natural heritage.”

The national grasslands provide tremendous benefits including pollination of native and agricultural plants estimated at $6 billion annually. Livestock grazing and energy ventures including oil, gas, coal and wind also contribute to the economic benefits provided by these lands. They help prevent drought and floods, maintain biodiversity, generate and preserve soils, contribute to climate stability and protect watersheds, streams and river channels.

These lands were managed by the USDA’s Soil and Conservation Service, now the Natural Resources Conservation Service, until 1960 when they were transferred to the U.S. Forest Service and designated as national grasslands.

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. Recreational activities on our lands contribute $14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).

 
Filtering Water Before It Heads Downstream PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by USDA Communications   
Friday, 15 June 2012 13:55

A new TV feature is available on the USDA FTP site. The new TV feature can also be seen on USDA's YouTube channel and seen and downloaded as a video podcast.

FTP Download instructions:

The host: ftp://ocbmtcmedia.download.akamai.com

User name: usdanews

Password:  Newscontent1

Filename for TV Feature: Water Quality

The new file is in QuickTime Movie (H.264 ), MPEG 4, MPEG2 and HDV.

YouTube: water quality

video podcast: water quality video podcast

RSS Page: water quality rss

 
National Weather Service Quad Cities PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Sandra Stevens   
Friday, 15 June 2012 12:25
The National Weather Service office in the Quad Cities publishes the Weather Home Companion, a semiannual newsletter.  Our Spring/Summer 2012 issue is now available on our website at http://www.crh.noaa.gov/dvn/?n=additional-links#newsletter.
This link also contains all past issues of our newsletter.  There is also a temporary link under the Top News of the Day section on our main webpage.

In the past, you may have received a copy of our newsletter in the mail.  We have now switched to electronic distribution. If you do not wish to receive notification when a new issue is posted, then please send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to be removed from our email distribution list.

 
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