Environment & Weather
EPA Launches Competition for College Students to Develop Innovative Approaches to Stormwater Management PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Ernesta Jones   
Friday, 18 May 2012 14:04

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is launching a new design competition called the Campus RainWorks Challenge to encourage student teams on college and university campuses across the country to develop innovative approaches to stormwater management. Stormwater is a major cause of water pollution in urban areas in the U.S., impacting the health of people across the country as well as tens of thousands of miles of rivers, streams, and coastal shorelines, and hundreds of thousands of acres of lakes, reservoirs, and ponds. The competition will help raise awareness of green design and planning approaches at colleges and universities, and train the next generation of landscape architects, planners, and engineers in green infrastructure principles and design.


Student teams, working with a faculty advisor, will submit design plans for a proposed green infrastructure project for their campus. Registration for the Campus RainWorks Challenge opens September 4, and entries must be submitted by December 14, 2012 for consideration. Winning entries will be selected by EPA and announced in April 2013. Winning teams will earn a cash prize of $1,500 - $2,500, as well as $8,000 - $11,000 in funds for their faculty advisor to conduct research on green infrastructure. In 2013, EPA plans to expand Campus RainWorks by inviting students to design and complete a demonstration project assessing innovative green infrastructure approaches on their campus.


“Reducing stormwater pollution requires innovative approaches and America’s college students are incredibly creative and talented,” said Nancy Stoner, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Water. “The Campus RainWorks Challenge will engage students across the country in tackling one of the toughest challenges to clean water and show them the opportunities in environmental careers.”


EPA is encouraging the use of green infrastructure as a solution to help manage stormwater runoff. Green Infrastructure uses vegetation, soils, and natural processes to manage stormwater runoff at its source and provide other community benefits, including economic development.. Green infrastructure is increasingly being used to supplement or substitute for single-purpose “gray” infrastructure investments such as pipes, and ponds. The Campus RainWorks Challenge will help encourage the use of green infrastructure projects on college and university campuses to manage stormwater discharges.


More information on the Campus RainWorks Challenge:


Dancing Polar Bear World Record PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Sierra Club   
Wednesday, 16 May 2012 09:02

One Million for the Arctic

One Million Voices for the Arctic

Right now, Shell Oil drillships are on their way to the Polar Bear Seas in America's Arctic. These seas are home to polar bears, walruses, whales, and seals, and a spill there would be disastrous.

We have one last chance to stop this dangerous drilling. More than a million people have expressed their opposition to Shell's drilling plans, and today we're delivering their messages to President Obama -- and flooding the White House with calls.

Add your voice by calling the White House now.

Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Receives High Marks from Visitors PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Claire Cassel   
Wednesday, 16 May 2012 08:56

Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin ─ An overwhelming percentage of visitors to Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge  2010 and 2011 were favorably impressed with its recreational opportunities, education and services, according to a peer-reviewed government survey released today. Some 90 percent of respondents gave consistent high marks to all facets of their refuge experience.

The survey, commissioned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and designed, conducted, and analyzed by researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey, evaluated responses from more than 200 adult visitors surveyed at the refuge between July 2010 and November 2011. Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge was one of 53 national wildlife refuges surveyed.

The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the Service, is the nation's premier system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve wildlife and wildlife habitat. Refuges protect thousands of species; more than 400 also are open to the public and popular recreation sites, noted for their hunting and fishing, paddling and hiking, environmental education programs and wildlife observation. More than 45 million people visited national wildlife refuges in 2011.

Some surveyed visitors (14%) reported they had only been to the McGregor District stretch of the refuge once in a 12 month period while most (86%) reported they were repeat visitors with multiple visits.  These repeat visitors reported they had visited the refuge an average of 23 times during that same 12-month period.

Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge was established in 1924 as a breeding place for migratory birds, game animals, fur-bearing animals, fish and other aquatic mammals. The 261 miles of marshes, wooded islands and floodplain forest provides homes and resting spots for countless numbers of fish and wildlife

"One of our respondents said that [visiting the refuge] "is a once in a lifetime experience that words cannot do justice." For those of us living along this river refuge we realize what a treasure we have right here in the heartland of America.  A place where conservation efforts allow wildlife to thrive and visitors can appreciate their wildlife heritage, “said Refuge Manager Kevin Foerster.

Of survey participants,

•           92 percent reported satisfaction with recreational activities and opportunities;
•           79 percent reported satisfaction with information and education about the refuge;
•           72 percent reported satisfaction with services provided by refuge employees or volunteers; and
•           84 percent reported satisfaction with the refuge’s job of conserving fish, wildlife and their habitats.

Some survey participants also volunteered enthusiastic comments, such as this one: “Refuges make me aware that I am a part of the American experience and not just an observer. Nowhere else do I feel such a deep sense of connection with the land, the plants, and the wildlife. Visiting a refuge is truly a spiritual experience.”

Among the most popular refuge activities visitors engaged in were wildlife observations, bird watching, photography, hiking and auto-tour-routes.  Most visitors also reported viewing refuge exhibits, asking information of staff or volunteers and visiting a refuge gift shop or bookstore.

USGS social scientist Natalie Sexton was the lead researcher on the report. The survey is available at http://pubs.usgs.gov/ds/643/


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.


Simon applauds Wetland Warriors for boardwalk project PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Justin Stofferahn   
Tuesday, 15 May 2012 08:58

CYPRESS – May 11, 2012. A champion for safe, clean and accessible rivers, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon gave the keynote address today at a dedication ceremony for the Section 8 Boardwalk at the Cache River State Natural Area. The boardwalk was closed following damage from a 2008 flood.

A group of junior high school students, known as the Wetland Warriors, at Creal Springs School used $15,000 of the $20,000 they received last year from the Disney Planet Challenge, a nationwide science competition, to help rebuild the boardwalk. Additional funding for the project came from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), Friends of the Cache River Wetlands and the Southern Illinois Audubon Society.

“I applaud the Creal Springs School students’ commitment to protection and restoration of the Cache River Wetlands and to the many others who assisted in this collaborative project,” said Simon. “This boardwalk makes it possible for Illinois citizens young and old to enjoy some of our state’s wonderful natural resources.”

Simon issued a proclamation last year that declared July 12 to be Creal Springs School Day. Simon presented the proclamation to the Wetland Warriors at a meeting of the Mississippi River Coordinating Council, which she chairs. The council was established in 2010 and promotes the environmental and economic health of the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

The boardwalk is located in the Section 8 Woods Nature Preserve which is a floodplain forest that features large bald cypress and provides a safe haven for a variety of birds, frogs and swamp fish. The boardwalk, located at the junction of IL Rt. 37 and the Cache River, extends from a parking area into the forested swamp.

The Creal Springs students won the Disney Planet Challenge for their projects in the Cache River Basin including transplanting vegetation, performing trail maintenance, determining water quality through sample collection, assembling educational materials for teachers and creating a website about their research.

Since winning the science competition the students have received the 2011 Illinois Audubon Society’s Youth Conservationist Award and their teacher, Fran Wachter, was awarded a 2011 Exxon Mobil Outstanding Illinois Teachers of Science award by the Illinois Science Teachers Association. The students are using the remaining money from the Disney Planet Challenge to build a wildlife viewing blind and purchase radio transmitters for species research.

Simon was joined at the dedication by IDNR Director Marc Miller, Friends of the Cache River Watershed board member Charlie Proctor, and members of the Wetland Warriors. The ceremony was hosted by Friends of the Cache River Watershed.


Black Hawk College is Going Green With Locally Grown Green Roof PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Jake Glimco   
Thursday, 03 May 2012 14:09

New Sustainable Technologies Building Receiving Locally Grown Green Roof


Moline, IL / April 30 2012 – The environmental movement is here to stay and Black Hawk College is jumping onboard the green band wagon with their new Sustainable Technologies Building, which will feature a  LiveRoof® green roof system grown by Roof Top Sedums. The new building is located at the Moline campus and is set to house the Materials Science Technology degree and three related certificates starting this fall. But it’s not enough for Black Hawk to just offer this degree. Complete with wind turbines, geothermal heating and cooling, solar arrays, and a green roof, to be installed Tuesday, May 15th, the new building is a shining example of what students will learn to produce.

As part of the construction, Diamond Level LiveRoof® Certified installer, T&K Roofing, will be installing the 810 sq ft LiveRoof® Hybrid Green Roof System atop the Sustainable Technologies Building’s flat roof May 15th. The LiveRoof® System was grown by Roof Top Sedums of Davenport, Iowa and is the third of its kind to be installed in the Quad City Area.  The vegetation will quickly transform the roof into a lush carpet of beautiful and hardy ground cover plants that will showcase mixes of reds and yellows arranged in a unique design.  The drought-tolerant vegetation can conserve up to 90 percent of storm water annually, protect and extend the life of roofing, and offer habitat for nesting birds.

Black Hawk College’s LiveRoof® Hybrid Green Roof System will feature mixed varieties of the sedum species, a ground cover accustomed to growing in the shallow, well-draining, and specially-engineered soil which is designed to endure the longevity and extremes of a rooftop environment. The LiveRoof® System features a patent-pending hybrid design combining the best features of all green roof systems. The LiveRoof® System is cost-effective to maintain compared to most systems, because the fully-established plants act as their own living mulch.

About Roof Top Sedums: Roof Top Sedums was established in 2007 and is a Regional LiveRoof® Licensed Grower servicing Iowa, Western Illinois, Eastern Nebraska, Eastern Kansas, and most of Missouri.  The business is 100% women-owned and certified nationally as a Women’s Business Enterprise as well as an Iowa Targeted Small Business.  Co-founder Roxanne Nagel explains, “Green roofs have become widely accepted as an integral part of sustainable renovations. We are excited about the future and our role to provide an exceptional product in our region.”  For more information on projects previously grown by Roof Top Sedums or information about the LiveRoof® System, visit www.rooftopsedums.com.



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