Environment & Weather
Branstad, Reynolds, Iowa HSEMD update Iowans on flooding across the state PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Monday, 23 June 2014 09:48

(DES MOINES)  – Gov. Terry E. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today were joined at their weekly press conference by Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department (HSEMD) Director Mark Schouten to brief Iowans regarding the flooding situation occurring across the state.

In the past week, Gov. Branstad has issued disaster declarations for the following counties due to flooding and storm damage: Buena Vista, Cedar, Cherokee, Clay, Dickinson, Franklin, Hancock, Ida, Kossuth, Lyon, Osceola, Palo Alto, Plymouth, Pocahontas, Sac, Sioux, Woodbury and Wright. Last week, Branstad and Schouten visited Lyon and Sioux counties to survey flood damage.

“Director Schouten and I had the opportunity to visit the communities of Rock Rapids and Rock Valley last week, and while the damage was significant, I was moved upon hearing of the outpouring of support the communities are receiving,” said Branstad. “By issuing proclamations of disaster for these counties, state resources are being made available to help in relief efforts, but citizens across Iowa should rest assured that the state stands ready to continue its aid and will work to assess eligibility for assistance from the federal government.”

Some of the resources that have been provided to date through Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management include:

  • Buena Vista County

o   40 road barricades

  • Cedar County

o   Inmate assistance for debris removal

  • Franklin County

o   One 3-inch pump

o   Eighty clean-up kits

  • Hancock County

o   Seventy-five clean-up kits

o   Pumps for the City of Klemme

  • Lyon County

o   Pumps for the communities of Rock Rapids and George

o   Established a shelter in Rock Rapids for displaced residents

o   Traffic control support for Rock Rapids

  • Plymouth County

o   20,000 sandbags

o   Pump for the City of Akron

  • Pocahontas County

o   10,000 sandbags to protect the power utility substation in Rolfe

  • Sioux County

o   250,000 sandbags

o   Five loads of sand from Iowa Department of Transportation to Rock Valley

o   Urban Search and Rescue Team provided lights for use in sandbagging efforts and assisted in the evacuation of 16 people

o   Six pumps for City of Rock Valley

o   Established a shelter in Rock Valley for displaced residents

o   30 road barricades

o   The Department of Inspections and Appeals provided evacuation assistance to the residents of Hope Haven in Rock Valley.

“Governor Branstad and I, in conjunction with the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department and other relevant state agencies, will continue to ensure Iowans in flood-affected communities receive the assistance they need to respond to and recover from the flooding,” said Reynolds. “Flooding and flood recovery tend to last longer than other disaster situations, but Governor Branstad and I are committed to assisting Iowans in every way we can throughout the process.”

Heavy rains caused flooding in parts of northwest Iowa as a band of strong storms passed through the state beginning on Monday, June 16, 2014, and continued through the last week. The Governor’s Office and Iowa HSEMD re-launched Iowa Flood Central to provide Iowans and the press flood-related updates and resources.

“The Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department, along with our partner agencies, will continue to assist and support the many communities impacted by this spring’s flooding and severe weather,” said department director Mark Schouten. “Right now, we are also working with local government officials and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assess the extent of the damage and determine if it warrants a request for federal disaster aid.”

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Western States Land Commissioners Association Applauds Introduction of ACE Act PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Andy Hogue   
Friday, 20 June 2014 08:34

Washington DC -- The Western States Land Commissioners Association (WSLCA) applauds the introduction of the Advancing Conservation and Education Act of 2014 (ACE) by Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The act ― crafted by WSLCA and its members ― will enhance funding of public education and improve management of Federal conservation lands by streamlining the removal of state institutional and school trust lands from within Federal conservation areas. "The ACE Act will allow states to manage trust lands as intended by Congress ― to generate funding for our schoolchildren across the nation,” stated WSLCA President, Kathy Opp.

WSLCA has been working with its 23 member states, the Western Governors’ Association, the Wilderness Society, Congress, and others to craft the ACE Act. It will allow states to remove school trust lands and minerals that are trapped inside congressionally and administratively designated conservation areas such as national parks, wilderness areas, and national monuments.

The broadly supported ACE Act will allow states to efficiently exchange these trapped assets for federal lands where generation of income for public education is appropriate. Upon statehood, lands were granted to states in trust for the specific purpose of generating income for public education and other state institutions. When federal conservation lands surround state lands, the ability to manage the land for income and provide funding for education suffers. This new authority will also enhance some of our nation's most prized conservation lands by ensuring our national parks, wilderness, and other conservation areas do not contain state holdings within their borders, thus fulfilling the purpose of the conservation lands.

Established in 1949, WSLCA is comprised of 23 Western and some not so Western states that share the common mandate of managing trust lands on behalf of schoolchildren and other designated beneficiaries in our states on a bi-partisan basis. WSLCA's member states manage more than 447 million acres of lands, submerged lands, and minerals with combined trusts amounting to over $271 billion, which generated more than $3.8 billion for public schools in 2012.

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Braley, Joined by Davenport, Bettendorf and Burlington Mayors, Writes Vilsack for Ash Borer Resources PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Kirsten Hartman   
Wednesday, 18 June 2014 15:56

30 mayors from across Iowa sign letter to ensure Iowa has same resources as other states dealing with invasive beetle

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today wrote Secretary Vilsack to ask that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) allow Iowa to receive the same amount of funds that other states have received as they combat the emerald ash borer—an invasive species that could potentially cause billions of dollars in damage in Iowa.

Mayors from 30 Iowa municipalities, representing over 900,000 Iowa residents, have signed on to Braley’s letter including mayors Bill Gluba of Davenport, Shane McCampbell of Burlington, and Bob Gallagher of Bettendorf.

“Communities all over our state are, or soon will be, dealing with costs associated with the ash borer—and these mayors know firsthand that these pests don’t just harm trees, they harm city budgets as well,” Braley said. “Resources were available to communities in other states when they were battling the ash borer infestation and I’m going to do everything possible to ensure that Iowa is treated fairly.”

 

“The city of Davenport has aggressively begun surveying and treating ash trees across our city, but this preparation comes at a significant cost,” Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba said. “Federal resources would ensure we can survey, treat, and remove infected ash trees to protect our city and its residents from the effects of the ash borer.”

States that found cases of the beetle in years past were given resources to aid in the mitigation and removal of infected trees, but federal funding has since been drastically cut, leaving states like Iowa with limited resources to combat the problem.

“We hope that you will work to expand efforts to control and eradicate the emerald ash borer, and restore funding for this effort,” Braley’s letter reads.

Iowa is home to over 3 million ash trees. Each infected ash tree must be removed to maintain safety on public and private land, costing roughly $1000 for the removal and disposal of each tree.

The ash borer has now been confirmed in more than 20 states. Just days ago, Johnson county became the tenth Iowa county to identify the ash borer. The first infestation in Iowa of the emerald ash borer was found in Allamakee County in 2010 and has since spread to Des Moines, Black Hawk, Cedar, Jefferson, Union, Bremer, Wapello, Jasper, and Johnson counties. It is widely expected to spread to other parts of the state in the near future.

In February, Braley introduced legislation restoring funding to a program that helps combat the emerald ash borer. His legislation also funded two grant programs that would be available to communities facing significant costs from tree removal.

In March, Braley wrote a letter to congressional leaders urging that the funding be included in the 2015 appropriations bills.

The letter to Secretary Vilsack signed by Braley and the 30 mayors can be found HERE.

 

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Iowa's 50K-Acre Pheasant Recovery Program Aims to Create Upland Habitat PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Anthony Hauck   
Tuesday, 17 June 2014 12:39

Landowners encouraged to investigate first-come, first-serve CRP practice

Des Moines, Iowa – June 17, 2014 – There is a new upland conservation program to help boost Iowa’s pheasant population. Beginning immediately, landowners can enroll in the Iowa Pheasant Recovery - State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE). Part of the federal Conservation Reserve Program, 50,000 acres have been allocated for enrollment on a first-come, first-serve basis. Pheasants Forever’s eight Farm Bill Biologists in Iowa are helping landowners with enrollment and questions.

A continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) practice, the Iowa Pheasant Recovery SAFE is designed to help increase populations of ring-necked pheasants and other grassland wildlife species. Once the acres are fully enrolled and established, there is the potential for the newly-created upland habitat to produce more than 100,000 additional roosters annually for hunters. And all Iowa citizens will benefit from the water quality improvements and soil erosion reductions that are associated with grassland conservation. There are about 4,100 acres currently enrolled in the program, leaving more than 45,000 available to landowners.

“We’ve heard from landowners who want to return pheasants to their property, and this is the program that’s specifically designed to do it,” says Jared Wiklund, Pheasants Forever’s Regional Representative in southern Iowa, “The Iowa Pheasant Recovery SAFE is open to landowners in most Iowa counties, and our team of Farm Bill Biologists is eager to work with farmers and ranchers to add upland habitat while helping improve their business operations.” Enrollment includes a sign-up bonus payment of $100 per acre. Find a Farm Bill Biologist.

As a continuous CRP practice, the Iowa Pheasant Recovery SAFE sign-up will end once 50,000 acres are under contract. “There will not be a general CRP signup this year so this is an option that landowners with expiring general CRP should consider,” says Todd Bogenschutz, Upland wildlife Biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

If there is not a Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologist in your area, please visit your local USDA Service Center for more information about the Iowa Pheasant Recovery SAFE and other continuous CRP practices.

Partners in the Iowa Pheasant Recovery SAFE practice include Pheasants Forever, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, USDA - Iowa Farm Service Agency, USDA - Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Iowa Department of Agriculture - Division of Land Stewardship, Conservation Districts of Iowa and Iowa County Conservation Boards.

Pheasants Forever’s 8 Farm Bill Biologists in Iowa are the result of a collaborative partnership that includes Pheasants Forever chapters, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, USDA - Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA – Farm Service Agency, Iowa Department of Agriculture - Division of Land Stewardship, Soil and Water Conservation Districts and more. The biologists provide Farm Bill program advice for eligibility, application deadlines and other important details for landowners interested in improving wildlife habitat on their property.

Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 140,000 members and 745 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent, the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure.

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Pheasants Forever is dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs.

 
Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon and Louisiana Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne call for comprehensive strategy to save Mississippi River PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Ken Lowe   
Friday, 13 June 2014 12:27
Washington D.C. – June 11, 2014. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon joined government, industry and environmental leaders in Washington today to call for a comprehensive and cooperative approach to Mississippi River governance and sustainability.
“Everyone has a stake in seeing the Mississippi River remains viable,” said Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon, chair of the state’s Mississippi River Coordinating Council. “We believe the best way to accomplish that is to build on existing public-private partnerships and develop a multi-state governance structure that allows for the integration of the river’s diverse users.”
Simon spoke at the final The Big River Works forum dedicated to the future of the Mississippi River and convened by the America’s WETLAND Foundation. Chaired by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Louisiana Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, The Big River Works Initiative brought together leaders from government, the environment, industry and communities at five regional forums since 2012 to create a cooperative path forward for Mississippi watershed sustainability.
More than 400 participants attended the leadership forums held along the river in cities from Minneapolis to New Orleans. The findings revealed a number of common concerns and beliefs among the river’s many users. Representatives from every level of government, business and industry agreed the Mississippi River system must be managed as a single ecosystem, or it will continue to deteriorate, jeopardizing the benefits it provides nationwide.
The Big River Works forums generated four overarching recommendations released today in the nation’s Capitol:
  • Develop a comprehensive approach to Mississippi River health and sustainability
  • Encourage cooperative action for Mississippi River system health and sustainability
  • Coordinate a national approach to Mississippi Watershed governance
  • Engage the public to build political will
“These aims represent consensus thinking developed through research, focus groups, interviews and months of conversations,” said R. King Milling, chairman of the AWF. “They are ambitious, but so is the scope of action necessary to maintain the long-term health and productivity of the Mississippi River and its delta. We are running out of time.”
For more information visit www.americaswetland.com or www.bigriverworks.org.
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