Environment & Weather
Learn about the Restoration and Preservation of Iowa’s Tallgrass Prairies PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Friday, 22 July 2011 22:11

During July and August, purple coneflowers and prairie blazing star add touches of lavender to Iowa road ditches planted in native prairie plants. Clusters of bright orange butterfly milkweed, compass plants extending large yellow, daisy-like flowers high above yellow seas of gray-headed coneflowers create mid-summer interest along roadways and prairie areas.

Iowans curious about the use of native plants and the state’s work restoring and preserving prairie vegetation should attend the Iowa Master Gardener (MG) summer series webinar July 26. The webinar will be hosted by the ISU Scott County Extension office, 875 Tanglefoot Lane Bettendorf from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The webinar is open to the public and the cost is $5.00. Master Gardeners can earn two hours of update training by attending.

“Tallgrass Prairies of Iowa” is the topic of the webinar, the third in a series of four Garden Natives and Invasives 2011 sessions offered by the Master Gardener program. Daryl Smith, from the Tallgrass Prairie Center and University of Northern Iowa, is the July 26 presenter. He will share the history and reach of the Tallgrass Prairie Center and tell how the mission of the center to ‘develop research, techniques, education and Source Identified seed for restoration and preservation of prairie vegetation’ is carried out in the state.

The webinar series is made possible by the Iowa Master Gardener program, Iowa State University Extension and Department of Horticulture. The final webinar in the series, scheduled for August 23, will highlight the importance of native species, discuss the problems and related issues with invasive species in Iowa.

Contact your county extension office for more information about Iowa Master Gardeners or the webinar series.

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Great Mississippi River Clean-Up 2011 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Natalie Linville-Mass   
Monday, 18 July 2011 13:33

2011 Great Mississippi River Clean-Up

Comes Home to the Quad-Cities

Quad-Cities/ July 10th, 2011 – A massive volunteer effort to clean the mighty   Mississippi   is about to begin its third phase in the place where it all began.  The Great Mississippi River Clean-Up (GMRC) is a volunteer effort coordinated by Living Lands & Waters (LLW), an East Moline, IL-based non-profit environmental group.  Last year, LLW coordinated the first-ever simultaneous clean up of the  Mississippi River .   This year, the initiative has expanded from 22 to 30 cities and has grown into a summer-long campaign.    Living   Lands   & Waters (LL&W) will launch the third phase of the 2011 Great Mississippi River Clean Up on Saturday, August 13th. Volunteers from the Quad-Cities through Keokuk will help pull garbage out of the waters and onto the shores of Muscatine  Burlington  Ft.   Madison  and  Keokuk  Iowa  and Oquawka, New Boston and   Nauvoo  Illinois  .  This year’s Great Mississippi River Clean-Up began on June 11th along the shores of  Wisconsin  Minnesota  and  Northern Iowa , where volunteers pulled truckloads of discarded materials from the waters so that it could be disposed of properly.   Clean-ups previously scheduled in   Saint Paul   and Red Wing, MN and Prairie duChien, WI had to be re-scheduled because high water and fast-moving debris made it too hazardous for volunteers.

The phenomenal growth of the Great Mississippi River Clean-up, with the addition of eight more cities this year, required organizers to broaden their efforts to monthly clean-ups across the summer.  In all, 1200-1500 volunteers are expected to take part in this year’s clean-up of this iconic waterway.  The final phases of the GMRC will begin September 17th and involve volunteers from  Canton  MO  through   St. Louis  MO.   Please note the dates are subject to river flood conditions

LL&W Founder and President Chad Pregracke says flooding is something LLW adapts to almost every year.  “The river is constantly changing, and because of that, we must always be prepared and able to respond.”  Pregracke, who was recently recognized as a ‘Service Hero’ at the Points of Light Foundation’s tribute to former President George H.W. Bush, Sr.  Pregracke adds that doing the clean up in phases will help bring our important message to more people.  Said Pregracke, “That’s part of what Living Lands and Waters is all about:  bringing the health of our rivers to the attention of everyone who depends upon them, and then working to improve it.”

The Great Mississippi River Cleanup will remove debris such as tires, barrels, propane tanks, appliances, plastic bottles and more from the waterway. Volunteers will be needed to assist in debris collection on the day of the cleanup. If possible, LL&W is also looking for people who are willing to haul debris in their boats to the boat launch where roll-off dumpsters or other disposal facilities will be in place.

 Living   Lands  and Waters is a 501(c) (3) environmental organization established in 1998 and headquartered in   East Moline  Illinois  .  LL&W has removed more than six million pounds of trash through cleanup efforts along the  Mississippi  Missouri  Ohio  Illinois  and  Potomac  rivers since its launch over 12 years ago. LL&W also coordinated flood relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina and the historic floods in  Cedar Rapids  Iowa  and   Lake Delton  Wisconsin   in 2008. 

For more information or to sign up as a volunteer, please visit www.livinglandsandwaters.org.

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Mosquito Repellents are the Way to Go PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Monday, 18 July 2011 12:12

The mosquitoes this summer have hit all-time highs and have been a real deterrent to being outside. Mosquito population trends for the summer have reached four times the number from last year. Visit the Iowa State University medical entomology lab mosquito surveillance website at http://mosquito.ent.iastate.edu/browse_county.php for more information.

"It is too late in the season for homeowner mosquito management actions to have much effect," said Laura Jesse, Plant and Insect Diagnostic clinician. "Eliminating all possible water sources – buckets, tires, bird baths, and other objects that hold water that the mosquitoes could use for their development may reduce the number produced on your property, but not those blowing in the wind from outside your property lines."

Floodwater mosquitoes (the most common biters) have no respect for property lines and easily can fly several miles from where they developed, according to Jesse. That's why the most effective mosquito management programs are those that involve an entire community or encompass a large area.

Personal protection remains the most practical way of contending with mosquitoes for the remainder of the year. Avoid the areas and times of day when mosquitoes are most active if you can, and wear long, heavy-knitted clothing. Apply mosquito repellents sparingly but thoroughly prior to going outside and wash thoroughly when you return inside.

The CDC suggests that you use any of several EPA-registered products that have been shown to provide reasonably long-lasting protection. For most people, a low-concentration product will be sufficient for short intervals out-of-doors. Those working outside longer can benefit from a higher concentration of active ingredient, or repeated applications as needed. EPA-registered products contain one of the following active ingredients: DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or IR3535.

Consumer Reports magazine, July 2010, reviewed mosquito repellents and found that, "most of the tested products will do the job if you're going to be outside for only a couple of hours."

Also listen to a Consumer Reports podcast about the OFF Clip-On Repellent. Their conclusion was that the clip-on, fan-powered repellent did not work very well at keeping mosquitoes away from test subjects wearing the device in an enclosed cage of mosquitoes. Consumer Reports recommends that you choose a topical repellent for better results.

Giant numbers and giant mosquitoes
In addition to having an incredibly large number of mosquitoes in Iowa this year, extension entomologists also have had more questions and inquiries that start out, "I just saw the biggest mosquito of my life!"

“The very large mosquitoes that bite viciously are one of our 'usual' species found in Iowa,” said Donald Lewis, extension entomologist. “However, this year is different in that the population seems to be larger than normal.” The extra-large mosquitoes are in a genus called Psorophora. There is no customary common name for these mosquitoes, though some references use the term "gallinipper" or "gallinipper mosquito" for Psorophora mosquitoes.

Psorophora mosquitoes are a floodwater species. The females lay eggs on moist soil and the eggs hatch when covered with water from floods or temporary pools and impoundments. The larvae grow very quickly to the adult stage. Some of the Psorophora mosquito larvae are predacious; that is, they eat the larvae of other mosquitoes sharing the temporary pool. There can be several generations of Psorophora each summer depending on rainfall. In the fall of the year, the last eggs laid for the season remain dormant and wait for floods the following year. Some references claim the eggs can lay dormant for a long time and hatch years later.

Of the 14 species of Psorophora in North America, the one common in Iowa is Psorophora ciliata, a large mosquito with noticeably banded legs, pale stripes on the side of the dark thorax, and stiff, erect hairs along the legs. Females of Psorophora ciliata are vicious biters and prefer to feed on mammals. They will bite during both the day and night and are able to bite through heavy clothing.

“There is nothing special for the control of Psorophora mosquitoes,” Lewis said. “The usual homeowner/gardener actions of eliminating breeding sites such as bird baths, plugged rain gutters and old tires may help reduce some kinds of mosquitoes, but not Psrophora that are breeding in flooded fields. Personal repellents remain the best defense against biting.”

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USDA Reassures Farmers and Ranchers in States Affected by Extreme Weather PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Monday, 18 July 2011 10:49

WASHINGTON, July 15, 2011 —The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds farmers and ranchers in states across the country that USDA offers a variety of resources for those affected by recent extreme weather, including floods, drought, fires and tornadoes. USDA also urges producers in need or those with questions to contact their local county or state USDA Service Center or Farm Service Agency office for assistance. In a recent tour of flooding in Iowa and Nebraska, as well as droughts and wildfires in Arizona and New Mexico, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack promised farmers, ranchers and others that USDA would continue to work hard to deliver assistance to those in need.

“America’s farmers and rural communities are vitally important to our nation’s economy and our values, and my heart goes out to all who are facing hardships because of severe weather and natural disasters,” said Vilsack. “In the past two months alone, I have visited with hundreds of Americans who have had to put their lives and livelihoods on hold to deal with floods, tornadoes, drought and wildfires. Since the beginning, I have instructed USDA staff in the affected states that our main priority must be to work with farmers, ranchers and others to explain the type of aid that is available. We will continue to listen to your concerns and, whenever possible, offer assistance to help you through these difficult times.”

Heavy rainfall, snowmelt, and flood conditions have caused crop damage and slowed planting in many states. USDA's Risk Management Agency reminds producers faced with questions on prevented planting, replant, or crop losses to contact their crop insurance company for more information. Other types of USDA assistance available to those affected by flooding include the Emergency Loan Program and the Emergency Watershed Protection program.

USDA reminds producers affected by drought and fires that resources are available to cover losses, including losses to livestock, crops, orchard trees, and private forests. Types of USDA assistance to farmers and ranchers may include the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), federal crop insurance, and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.

Through spring and summer, drought and wildfires have affected millions of acres of cropland, forests and grasslands in the United States. Drought conditions stretch from Arizona to the southern Atlantic States.

USDA continues working with state and local officials, as well as our federal partners, to make sure people have the necessary resources to recover from these challenges.

To learn more about USDA’s disaster assistance, please visit http://www.usda.gov/Emergency_Preparedness_and_Response.html.

To find the USDA Service Center nearest you, please visit http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=us&agency=fsa.

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Governor Quinn Urges Illinoisans to Protect Themselves During Heat Surge PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Andrew Mason   
Monday, 18 July 2011 10:13

State Agencies Encourage Preventive Action, Checking on Elderly

CHICAGO – July 17, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today encouraged Illinoisans to take preventive action during this extremely hot weather to stay safe, cool, and avoid heat-related illnesses. As sweltering summer temperatures grip the Midwest, various Illinois state agencies offer services and information to help ensure the health and safety of the public. 

Governor Quinn urged Illinoisans to take advantage of services available from the Department of Public Health, the Department of Human Services and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. Everyone is urged to check on those most vulnerable to the high temperatures, including the elderly and children.

“High heat and humidity can lead to serious health problems, particularly for the elderly and young children,” Governor Quinn said. “It’s extremely important for people to recognize the signs of heat-related illness and take action to prevent becoming sick from the heat. I encourage Illinoisans to take advantage of numerous services statewide to keep them cool and safe.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) offered the following tips to help Illinois residents stay cool during hot weather, which can be found in the “Summer? No Sweat Survival Guide” at http://www.idph.state.il.us/public/books/summtoc.htm

  • Increase fluid intake and avoid liquids containing caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar;
  • Take cool showers, baths or sponge baths;
  • Protect your body with lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.  When outdoors, wear a hat and use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) greater than 15 to protect against sunburn;
  • Never leave anyone, including pets, alone in a closed, parked vehicle; 
  • Stay indoors, if at all possible, in an air-conditioned location or seek out the nearest air-conditioned facility. 

IDPH also encourages people to learn to recognize signs of heat-related illnesses like heatstroke, which can quickly become serious or even deadly if unattended. Heatstroke is caused by prolonged exposure to the heat. The symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • Headache
  • Red, dry face
  • Skin hot to touch
  • Body temperature of 105° F or more
  • Strong pulse
  • Loss of consciousness in extreme cases
  • Seizures, irregular heartbeat
The Illinois Department of Human Services has established more than 120 cooling centers to provide Illinoisans cool and comfortable locations during hot summer days. Cooling centers are open during normal business hours from 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Additionally, Illinois Tollway Oases in the Chicago area serve as cooling centers. For more information about Cooling Centers, call the Illinois Department of Human Services hotline at (800) 843-6154 or check locations at http://www2.illinois.gov/KeepCool/Pages/coolingcenters.aspx.

The Illinois Department on Aging also encourages relatives and friends to make daily visits or calls to senior citizens living alone. When temperatures and humidity are extremely high, seniors and people with chronic respiratory health conditions must be watchful for dehydration and other effects of extreme heat. In addition, seniors should eat lighter meals, take longer and more frequent rests, and drink plenty of fluids.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency coordinates emergency and relief activities statewide. For more information about preparedness, visit the IEMA Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov

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