Environment & Weather
EPA Education Grant of $150,000 Awarded to Earth Force PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Denise Morrison   
Monday, 02 July 2012 12:48

Earth Force, a non-profit organization, will use the grant to make 19 small grant awards up to $5,000 each to organizations that apply with a joint application and agree to work together as a team.  Each team applicant will identify partner organizations within their community to meet the specific goals identified in their application.  These awards will be used for the development and implementation of projects, programs and solutions to meet a variety of educational and environmental priorities.  Four of the 19 awards will be made to organizations working directly on the development of environmental literacy plans.


“The variety of organizations and diversity of projects to receive these environmental education sub awards will exhibit the commitment of communities to creating and sustaining a healthy environment,” said Karl Brooks, Region 7 administrator.  “The rewards to be reaped from these sub awards will be visible in a stronger earth, cleaner air, reduced pollution, environmentally astute citizens, and healthier people.”


These projects will bring together diverse organizations working on a number of environmental issues that will meet the needs of their community.  Sub award applicants will have the flexibility to support the strategic initiatives identified through one or more EPA educational priorities such as community projects, human health and the environment.


The Environmental Education Grant Program is a competitive grant program that supports EPA’s efforts to enhance the public’s awareness and knowledge about environmental issues. This grant program supports environmental education projects to increase the skills that help people make informed decisions that affect environmental quality and to take responsible actions toward the environment.

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Learn more about EPA's environmental education grant program:



Learn more about Earth Force:



Connect with EPA Region 7 on Facebook:


Governor Quinn Signs Laws to Strengthen State Recovery Efforts in Harrisburg and Support Economic Growth PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Leslie Wertheimer   
Friday, 29 June 2012 10:29

New Law Creates Natural Disaster Homestead Exemption to Provide Property Tax Relief to Families Hit by Tornado

CHICAGO – June 28, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today signed two new laws to strengthen state recovery efforts in Harrisburg and support economic growth in Southern Illinois. House Bill 4242 creates a new Natural Disaster Homestead Exemption, which will provide much-needed tax relief for families who are rebuilding their homes after a wide-spread natural disaster. The new law is designed to aid families by allowing them to apply for a property tax exemption that is equal to the current value of their homes minus the value of the home when the disaster occurred.

“After a natural disaster, families need all the help we can give them, and we will continue to aid the people of Southern Illinois in their recovery” said Governor Quinn. “While nothing can replace what they lost, a break on their property taxes will relieve the financial burden of rebuilding their homes and their lives.”

House Bill 4242, sponsored by Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg) and Sen. Gary Forby (D-Benton), continues the state’s efforts to aid Southern Illinois’ recovery following a deadly Feb. 29 tornado that devastated the area. Governor Quinn directed state officials to provide aid and assistance to homeowners and businesses in their recovery. Although the Governor’s requests for federal assistance were denied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Small Business Administration approved a request for a disaster declaration. The declaration made low-interest loans available to homeowners, renters and businesses in nine Southern Illinois counties.

Under the new law, each county’s chief assessor will establish the rules, timeframes and application deadlines for applying for the Natural Disaster Homestead Exemption. The new law creates two standards that applicants must meet in order to qualify for the exemption. First, the residential structure must be rebuilt within two years after the date of the natural disaster. Second, the square footage of the rebuilt residential structure may not be more than 110 percent of the square footage of the original residential structure as it existed immediately prior to the natural disaster. The exemption will remain valid for as long as that family lives in the house. If the property is sold or transferred, the exemption becomes invalid. The law goes into effect immediately.

Governor Quinn also signed House Bill 4445, sponsored by Rep. David Reis (R-Ste. Marie) and Sen. Dale Righter (R-Charleston), to continue efforts to grow the economy of downstate Illinois. The new law expands the Southeastern Illinois Economic Development Authority to include 27 members, an increase of the authority’s current 10 member body. The authority promotes industrial, commercial and residential development, as well as transportation and other services in Southeastern Illinois. The new law goes into effect immediately.


Gov. Branstad orders flags at half-staff tomorrow to honor fallen Vietnam War airman PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Iowa Governor's Office   
Thursday, 28 June 2012 14:43

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Branstad is ordering all flags in the state to be flown at half-staff beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 29, 2012, until 8 a.m. on Monday, July 2, 2012 for Lt. Col. Dennis Eilers, originally of Tipton.

Eilers and his crew went missing when his plane was shot down in Laos in 1965. Eilers was listed as missing in action, until his status was changed to killed in action in 1977.

In April of this year, after further investigation, officials positively identified the crash site when a tooth was found from a fellow crew member of Eilers’. A memorial service will be held this Saturday.

The governor’s directive applies to all U.S. and state flags under the control of the state. H.R. 692, signed in 2007, requires federal government agencies in the state to comply with the governor’s executive order that the U.S. flag be flown at half-staff in the event of the death of a member of the Armed Forces.

Flags will be at half-staff on the state Capitol building and on flag displays in the Capitol complex, and upon all public buildings, grounds, and facilities throughout the state. Individuals, businesses, schools, municipalities, counties and other government subdivisions are encouraged to fly the flag at half-staff for the same length of time as a sign of respect.


EPA Region 7 to Announce Expansion of Environmental Partnerships with Iowa City, Iowa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Kris Lancaster   
Wednesday, 27 June 2012 15:20

(Kansas City, Kan., June 27, 2012) – EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks, Iowa City Mayor Matt Hayek, and others will hold a news conference Friday, June 29 to announce a new environmental partnership between EPA and the City of Iowa City, Iowa.

EPA is providing a $60,000 urban waters grant to Iowa City for modifications to the Burlington Street Dam, which will result in water quality improvements, improved fish habitat, flood mitigation and revitalization of the Riverfront Crossings District. The funding is part of EPA’s Urban Waters Program, which supports communities in their efforts to access, improve and benefit from urban waters and surrounding land.

EPA has worked closely with the University of Iowa and Iowa City officials to initiate numerous environmental partnerships. One of the university partnerships is related to increasing awareness about the shared value of Iowa’s water resources and the impact of land use along rivers. As part of the Iowa City partnerships, EPA provided a market analysis, transit development study and plans for the Riverfront Crossings District. The plan provides a vision for redevelopment of underutilized properties with a mixture of housing, commercial and civic uses and restoration of the floodplain as a major riverfront park.

WHAT: Announcement of expansion of environmental partnerships with Iowa City

WHEN:  9 a.m., June 29, 2012 (Tour of the riverfront for news media will begin at 9:30 a.m.)

WHERE: Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory, Room 127, 300 S. Riverside Drive, Iowa City, Iowa 52242 (Parking is available south of the laboratory on Riverside Drive.)

WHO: EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks, Iowa City Mayor Matt Hayek, Iowa Department of Natural Resources Environmental Services Division Administrator Bill Ehm, University of Iowa Director of Hydroscience and Engineering Larry Weber, and Iowa City Chamber of Commerce Vice President Rebecca Neades

VISUALS: Iowa City officials will share project details during a tour of the riverfront highlighting Burlington Street Dam modifications for improved water quality, riverbank stabilization and fish habitat.

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Learn more about EPA’s Urban Waters Program: www.epa.gov/urbanwaters/index.html

Connect with EPA Region 7 on Facebook: www.facebook.com/eparegion7

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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