Environment & Weather
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.

 
Staying safe in the heat- We have an APP for that- workers can monitor heat index PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Rhonda Burke   
Friday, 15 June 2012 09:57

The Midwest forecast for the first week of summer is hot, hot, hot. Weather affects all of us, but workers who job is to be outdoors such as construction workers, first responders, maintenance and festival workers are particularly at risk when the heat index soars. Every year, thousands of workers across the country suffer from serious heat-related illnesses. If not quickly addressed, heat exhaustion can become heat stroke, which has killed on average ‒ more than 30 workers annually since 2003.

OSHA will launch its Summer Safety Campaign for workers- “Water. Rest. Shade,” on the first day of summer, June 20.
  • OSHA has released a free application for mobile devices that enables workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites. The app displays a risk level for workers based on the heat index, as well as reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that risk level. Available for Android-based platforms and the iPhone, the app can be downloaded in both English and Spanish by visiting http://s.dol.gov/RI.
  • In preparation for the summer season, OSHA has developed heat illness educational materials in English and Spanish, as well as a curriculum to be used for workplace training.  

  • Additionally, a Web page provides information and resources on heat illness including how to prevent it and what to do in case of an emergency for workers and employers. The page is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html. This page includes artwork, videos and other resource material such as PSAs.

 

We hope you will keep this message at the forefront of you summer heat coverage throughout the season.

Additionally, The Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and National Weather Service Acting Deputy Director Steven Cooper will host the teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, June 20, exclusively for television and radio meteorologists and weather reporters to provide helpful information to outdoor workers when temperatures soar to summer’s dangerous levels. Please consider having your meteorologist or weather reporters participate in this informational event or to use the material above to develop stories on summer safety for workers.

 

 

We hope you will keep this message at the forefront of you summer heat coverage throughout the season to help protect the health and lives of workers.


 
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