Environment & Weather
Backyard Naturalist Brings Life to Your Neighborhood PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Steve Hart   
Monday, 23 January 2012 14:02

Event Date: January 28, 2012


Do the warm temps and the lack of snow have you ready for spring?  Do you want to learn more about the flora and fauna in your neighborhood?  Then the new Davenport Public Library program, Backyard Naturalist, is for you.  Backyard Naturalist meets the 4th Saturday of the month at 1:00 p.m. at the Eastern Avenue Branch (6000 Eastern Avenue), and it is a great way to introduce people to the plants and animals in their backyards and beyond.  Anyone with an interest in nature will enjoy this FREE event.

For more information visit www.davenportlibrary.com or call (563) 326-7832.




Iowa Wetland Management District Seeks Public Input on Future Management at Series of Open Houses PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Tim Miller   
Monday, 23 January 2012 13:54

Iowa Wetland Management District Seeks Public Input on Future Management at Series of Open Houses

Open Houses (3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.):

  • February 13: Clear Lake, Lakeview Community Room, 10 North Lakeview Drive
  • February 14: Algona, Water's Edge Nature Center, 1010 250th Street
  • February 15: Spirit Lake, Dickinson County Nature Center, 2279 170th Street, Okoboji
  • February 16: Jefferson, Milwaukee Railroad Depot, 507 East Lincoln Way

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will be hosting four open houses to request input from the public in developing a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for the Iowa Wetland Management District (District). The District was established in 1979 as part of Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge; however, Iowa Department of Natural Resources shares management responsibilities on many of the District’s public lands. The primary purpose for establishment of the Wetland Management District was waterfowl production and migratory bird conservation.

The CCP will set wildlife, habitat and public use priorities and guide management decisions on the District for the next 15 years. The official public scoping period begins January 30, 2012 and will last 30 days. This scoping period is a time in which the District actively solicits comments from partners, stakeholders, local communities, neighbors, visitors and the public.

Although comments are welcome from anyone at any time during the planning process, they are most useful if received during this 30 day period. The open houses are just one way for you to participate in scoping and have your ideas on management of the District considered during the planning process.

The Service needs public input to questions like these:

  • How would you like to see the habitats and wildlife managed on the District?
  • Should public use and visitation be allowed and encouraged on the District?
  • What do you think are the most important management issues facing the District?

If you have input to share, but cannot attend the open houses, please send comments to:

Tim Miller, Project Leader                 Phone:  515-928-2523
Union Slough NWR                           Fax:      515-928-2230
1710 360th Street                         Email:   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Titonka, IA 50480


For more information on the Midwest Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service visit http://midwest.fws.gov.

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.

Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfwmidwest, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwsmidwest, watch our YouTube Channel at  http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at  http://www.flickr.com/photos/.

EPA Regions 7 and 8 Meet State Agriculture Directors in Kansas City, Kan. PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Kris Lancaster   
Monday, 23 January 2012 13:20

(Kansas City, Kan., Jan. 20, 2012) - Officials from EPA Regions 7 and 8 today hosted a meeting with the directors of state agriculture departments of  Iowa, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.  The meeting, held at EPA’s Region 7 building in Kansas City, Kan., provided a forum for dialogue on EPA programs and regulations as well as specific issues, interests and concerns of the agriculture sector.

EPA staff participants in the meeting included: Karl Brooks, Region 7 Administrator; Jim Martin, Region 8 Administrator; Josh Svaty, Region 7 Senior Adviser; Damon Frizzell, Region 7 Agricultural Adviser; Jennifer Schuller, Region 8 Agriculture Adviser; and Howard Cantor, Region 8 Deputy Administrator.

“Agricultural producers deserve credit for taking significant steps to protect the environment while finding innovative ways to feed millions,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks. “American farmers and ranchers have such broad impacts on everything from daily food prices to widespread environmental impacts to emerging renewable fuel technologies that EPA needs to hear the views of state agriculture directors as part of our decision making process.”

EPA recognizes that agricultural producers are on the frontline of environmental stewardship and are affected by many EPA programs.  Frequent meetings with state agriculture directors are a critical way for EPA to provide outreach and receive feedback on current issues and concerns. Specific topics of today’s meeting included air quality standards for particulate matter, renewable fuels, nutrient management, water quality and concentrated animal feeding operations.

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Learn more about the intersections of agriculture and the environment:  www.epa.gov/region07/priorities/agriculture/index.htm


Connect with EPA Region 7 on Facebook:


Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Disaster Assistance to Producers and Communities in 33 States and Puerto Rico PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by USDA Communications Office   
Wednesday, 18 January 2012 15:42
Funding Will Help Producers, Landowners and Communities Rebuild and Repair Damaged Land after Year of Extreme Weather

WASHINGTON, Jan. 18, 2012—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today an important package of disaster assistance to help farmers, land owners, communities and others recover and rebuild after a year in which a wave of natural disasters swept across all regions of the United States. The funding, totaling $308 million, provides financial and technical assistance to help rebuild and repair land damaged on account of flooding, drought, tornadoes and other natural disasters in 33 states and Puerto Rico. Funding is provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) as well as the Farm Service Agency's Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) and Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP).

"Landowners, individuals and communities have endured incredible hardships because of the intensity and volume of natural disasters that have impacted their livelihoods," said Vilsack. "America's farmers and rural communities are vitally important to our nation's economy, producing the food, feed, fiber and fuel that continue to help us grow. This funding will help to rebuild communities, while states can use the funds to carry out emergency recovery measures. At the same time, this assistance keeps farmers on the farm, ranchers on the ranch, and landowners on their land, helping to keep American agriculture profitable."

The Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) will contribute $215.7 million to provide financial and technical assistance to address public safety and restoration efforts on private, public and tribal lands. When funding is allocated to a project, NRCS contracts the heavy construction work to local contractors, spurring creation of jobs. Typical projects funded under EWP include removing debris from waterways, protecting eroded stream banks, reseeding damaged areas, and in some cases, purchasing floodplain easements on eligible land. A list of states and their fiscal year 2012 EWP Program allocations can be viewed at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/landscape/ewpp.

The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) program will contribute $80 million to producers to help remove debris from farmland, restore livestock fences and conservation structures, provide water for livestock during periods of severe drought, and grade and shape farmland damaged by a natural disaster. FSA county committees determine eligibility based on on-site inspections of damaged land and considering the type and extent of damage. For land to be eligible, the natural disaster must create new conservation problems.

The Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) program will provide $12 million in payments to eligible owners of nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) land in order to carry out emergency measures to restore land damaged by a natural disaster.

A list of states and their fiscal year 2012 ECP and EFRP allocations can be viewed at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/20120108_ecp_efrp_table.pdf.

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 2010, President Obama launched the America's Great Outdoors initiative 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—NRCS, FSA and the U.S. Forest Service—have delivered technical assistance and implemented restoration practices on public and private lands. At the same time, USDA is working to better target conservation investments to embrace locally driven conservation and entering partnerships that focus on large, landscape-scale conservation. 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.

The Obama Administration, with Agriculture Secretary Vilsack's leadership, has worked tirelessly to strengthen rural America, implement the Farm Bill, maintain a strong farm safety net, and create opportunities for America's farmers and ranchers. U.S. agriculture is currently experiencing one of its most productive periods in American history thanks to the productivity, resiliency, and resourcefulness of our producers.

A strong farm safety net is important to sustain the success of American agriculture. To help keep American agriculture profitable, USDA immediately responds to disasters across the country, ranging from record floods, droughts and tropical storms, with direct support, disaster assistance, technical assistance, and access to credit. For example, USDA's crop insurance program insures 264 million acres, 1.14 million policies, and $110 billion worth of liability on about 500,000 farms. Over the past 3 years, USDA has paid out about $17.2 billion in crop insurance indemnities to more than 325,000 farmers who lost crops due to natural disasters. And in response to tighter financial markets, USDA has expanded the availability of farm credit, helping struggling farmers refinance loans. In the past 3 years, USDA provided 103,000 loans to family farmers totaling $14.6 billion. Over 50 percent of the loans went to beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.


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


Deadline Extended for Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Elisha Smith   
Wednesday, 18 January 2012 10:05

Center for Rural Affairs Offers Farm Bill Help Line to Assist Producers

Lyons, NE - USDA's National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently announced  that the deadline for producer applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) has been extended to January 27, 2012.

While CSP is a continuous sign-up program and producers can apply to enroll at any time of the year, NRCS applies a cut-off date for applications to be considered during a particular fiscal year.  Once the cut-off date is past, producers may continue to apply for the program, but they will not be considered for entry until the spring of the following year, in this case spring of 2013. In order to enroll in 2012 applications must filed by January 27.

The Conservation Stewardship Program is a voluntary stewardship incentives program, administered by USDA's NRCS, designed to reward farmers, ranchers, and forestry producers to maintain existing conservation on working lands, as well as for the adoption of additional conservation measures that provide multiple environmental benefits that run beyond the farm or ranch. This program pays producers for clean water, better soil management, improved habitat, energy efficiency, and other natural resource benefits.

"We hope more farmers and ranchers will take advantage of this extension for the CSP application deadline. To meet this deadline, they just need to submit the basic application form to their local NRCS office," said Traci Bruckner, Assistant Director of Rural Policy at the Center for Rural Affairs.

CSP is one of the most popular conservation programs. In 2010 alone, nearly 21,000 applicants enrolled in CSP, putting additional conservation on 25.2 million acres, about the size of the state of Kentucky. Farmers and ranchers interested in applying should contact their local NRCS office as soon as possible to meet the deadline.

To sign up, producers should visit their NRCS local service center (http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?agency=nrcs).

Bruckner is encouraging farmers, ranchers and others to call the Center for Rural Affairs' Farm Bill Helpline with questions about the application process and to share their experiences, both positive and negative. "We know the previous sign-ups have yielded some great success stories for farmers and ranchers, but also some disappointments and frustrations."

"We want this program to work for all farmers and ranchers employing conservation-based farming systems, and firmly believe the CSP is a step in the right direction for policy to financially reward historical commitments to conservation, as well as encourage further adoption," Bruckner continued. "This is a far better approach than paying to clean-up problems.”

Bruckner commented that it would be most useful for producers to have specific information available when they call, including a complete copy of their application materials, and more specifically the Conservation Measurement Tool responses and ranking information for their state or ranking area. The NRCS office will provide only a summary, unless specifically asked for a complete print out that includes their ranking information, the highest scores in their state or area, and how far down the ranking list NRCS was able to provide contracts before the money ran out for the last sign-up period.

"One of the main goals for our Farm Bill Helpline is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of programs such as the CSP," said Bruckner. "It is only with that information that we are able to push for any needed changes and improvements."

Producers can also receive guidance for applying for other conservation programs. "Through our helpline you will speak to someone who is knowledgeable about the program rules to help you understand how to participate in the program," Bruckner added. Producers can call (402) 687-2100 and ask for the Farm Bill Helpline or send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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