Environment & Weather
Putting America’s Wind Power on the Grid PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Elisha Smith   
Tuesday, 11 October 2011 13:58

By Johnathan Hladik, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Center for Rural Affairs

Here at the Center for Rural Affairs we talk a lot about clean energy transmission. We’ve long recognized that improved transmission infrastructure is the key to job creation and economic development, in rural and urban communities alike.

Fortunately, others do too. Last week the Obama administration announced a plan to fast-track the approval of much-needed electric transmission lines. This follows the creation of two USDA Rural Development loan programs designed to improve transmission facilities in rural areas.

What does this mean for rural residents? It means that now is the time to become engaged. Each proposed line offers an opportunity for you to become involved almost every step of the way.

Before a project moves forward, the developer will look for input from the community. Each will hold educational meetings and open house events to share information and better understand your needs.  Objectives will be discussed, as will route estimations.

Next, most states require the developer to demonstrate project need, and to prove the project is in the public interest.  This determination is made by a state regulatory agency, most often the public service commission or a variation thereof.

Finally it will be time to determine the route. This offers yet another opportunity to weigh in and submit comments to your state regulatory agency. Your concerns will be taken into account and influence the final determination.

To get you started, we’ve created a transmission map. Visit http://www.cfra.org/clean-energy-transmission-map to find projects in your area and learn more about those affecting you.

News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Kim Betton   
Monday, 03 October 2011 13:27
Ducks Unlimited Campaign for Wetlands and Waterfowl Habitat Conservation
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is supporting Double Up for the Ducks –  a new campaign by Ducks Unlimited encouraging duck hunters and all persons who would like to make a difference for wildlife conservation to purchase two federal Duck Stamps this year to help conserve habitat for wild ducks, geese and other waterfowl.

“The Service certainly appreciates this effort being undertaken by Ducks Unlimited to further waterfowl and wetlands conservation across the country,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “The Duck Stamp program has been one of the most successful conservation programs in history and buying not one but two duck stamps is one of the best ways around to protect wildlife and waterfowl habitat.”

“The Federal Duck Stamp has been an important tool in waterfowl habitat conservation for 77 years, but its ability to purchase and conserve important waterfowl habitat has been greatly diminished by inflation and rising land prices,” Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall said.
Since 1934, sales from the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, commonly known as the Federal Duck Stamp, have helped to acquire more than 5.3 million acres of waterfowl habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System.  Ninety-eight cents out of every dollar is spent to acquire land and protect waterfowl habitat.  Stamp revenues benefit waterfowl and countless other wildlife species as well as people by expanding opportunities and access for wildlife dependent recreation.

The cost of the Duck Stamp has remained the same since 1991. Based on the Consumer Price Index, the stamp would need to cost more than $24 today to have the same buying power that $15 had in 1991. In 1991, revenue from the Duck Stamp enabled the Service to acquire 89,000 acres of habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System at an average cost of $306 an acre. In 2010, the Service was able to acquire only 32,000 acres because land values had tripled to an average of $1,091 an acre.

There are many easy and convenient ways to buy Duck Stamps:

•       Call or order online from the United States Postal Service at 1-800 STAMP-24 (1-800-782-6724) or online at http://shop.usps.com

•       Visit your local post office

•       Call or order online from Amplex Corporation at 1-800-852-4897 or online at www.duckstamp.com

•       Contact the Federal Duck Stamp Office at 703-358-1784 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

•       Duck Stamps can also be purchased at most major sporting goods stores that sell hunting licenses.

Review the Service’s Federal Duck Stamp video: http://www.fws.gov/video/flash/ds_promo.html

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/usfws, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwshq, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq.

President's Environmental Youth Awards Competition Accepting Nominations from Students in Grades K-12 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Kirk Lancaster   
Tuesday, 20 September 2011 11:49

(Kansas City, Kan., Sept. 19, 2011) – Entries are now being sought for the 2011 President's Environmental Youth Awards (PEYA), which recognize individuals, school classes (kindergarten through high school) and youth organizations for protecting our nation's air, water, land and ecology.

The program, which honors a variety of environmental projects developed by students, is open to students in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska through EPA Region 7 in Kansas City, Kan.

The program has two components: the regional certificate program and the regional award winner.  Regional certificates are awarded by each of the regional offices of the EPA. Each regional office also selects one first-place project as its regional award winner.

Projects must be postmarked by December 31, 2011. Program guidelines, eligibility information and applications are available online at http://www.epa.gov/enviroed/peya/index.html or by contacting Denise Morrison, 1-800-223-0425. Regional award winners will be notified in February 2012.

The PEYA program promotes awareness of our nation’s natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. It is one of the most important ways EPA and the Administration demonstrate commitment to environmental stewardship efforts created and conducted by our nation’s young people. Winning projects in the past include environmental science projects, recycling programs in school and communities, construction of nature preserves and major tree planting programs.


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Illinois National Guard Finishes Vermont Relief Efforts PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Katelyn Tye   
Tuesday, 13 September 2011 09:24

Mission Complete, Troops Heading Home

SPRINGFIELD – September 2, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today announced that the Illinois Army National Guard members assisting with Vermont flood relief operations have completed their mission and are heading home. Earlier this week Governor Quinn ordered Illinois National Guard helicopters and troops to active duty in Vermont after receiving a request for assistance from the state.

“The Illinois National Guard has again responded when the state and country has called on them,” Governor Quinn said. “Our servicemembers are some of the greatest this nation has to offer.  Time and again, they show their dedication by answering the call to duty and we are proud of them.”

“We are grateful for the opportunity to help another state in need,” said Maj. Gen. William Enyart, Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. “This shows we are prepared to assist, not just in Illinois, but throughout our country.”

Approximately 95 members of the Illinois National Guard set up an operating base in Rome, N.Y., while their helicopters flew into Burlington, Vt. The Illinois Army National Guard assisted delivering food, water and other supplies to several towns in Vermont that were isolated by flooding.

“The Illinois National Guard has done amazing work here in Vermont. The towns I visited today that have been cut off by road for days were cheering when the helicopters started to arrive on Wednesday,” said Maj. Gen. Michael D. Dubie, Adjutant General of the Vermont National Guard. “We have stocked up the isolated towns and established rough road access to many that will soon support civilian vehicle traffic. A huge thank you to the entire Illinois team that made this happen.”

During operations in Vermont, the Illinois National Guard provided the following air movements of critically needed supplies:

  • 58 pallets of water
  • 63 pallets of food
  • 4 pallets of blankets
  • 3 pallets of cots
  • 3 pallets of tarps
  • 1 generator
  • 16 passengers

The six UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, two CH-47 Chinook helicopters, pilots and crew, ground support vehicles, and command and control staff were prepositioned in New York Aug. 29 to 30.  After completing needed operations today, they will head home and arrive in Illinois over the weekend.

Units that provided hurricane relief in Vermont include: Headquarters and Headquarters Company; 1st Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment in Peoria and elements of Company A, 1st Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment in Decatur; Company B, 1st Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment in Chicago; Company C and Company D, 1st Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment in Peoria; and 2nd Battalion, 238th General Support Aviation Battalion in Peoria.

“These Soldiers put aside their daily lives and commitments in a moment’s notice to come to the aide of residents more than 1,100 miles from them on the East Coast,” Enyart said.  “We also owe their families and employers a thank you for their support.”This is the fifth time this year the Illinois National Guard has responded to assist others in need. More than 500 Soldiers were activated for the February winter storms. Approximately 500 Soldiers responded to the southern Illinois flooding this spring. The Illinois National Guard also sent one CH-47 Chinook helicopter with five crew members from Company B, 2nd Battalion 238th Aviation based in Peoria to help the South Dakota National Guard battle flood waters on June 3.  A UH-60 Blackhawk and four crew members with Company A, 1st Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment in Decatur, deployed to Omaha, Neb., in support of flood relief efforts June 21.

For video: http://www.dvidshub.net/video/124512/106th-avn-vermont-b-roll-and-interviews

Local Union Donates Thousands of Dollars in Man Hours to Barge Building PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Natalie Linville-Mass   
Thursday, 01 September 2011 08:17

Davenport, IA/ August 31st, 2011  – 12 fourth year carpenter apprentices and one instructor have just finished their 5 day stay aboard Living Lands & Waters (LL&W) new floating classroom last Thursday. These skilled workers are volunteers from the Carpenter Training Center of the Quad Cities and are among a group of 40 plus skilled craftsmen affiliated with Local Union 4 who have generously given their time and talent in the building of the newest barge in the LL&W fleet.

This new 150-foot long barge features a handicapped-accessible classroom, which can host up to 60 students at a time, as well as sleeping quarters for an 8 person LL&W crew. The new classroom will bring high school students on board for day long workshops on a number of different topics ranging from History to Biology to the Navigation of our waterways.  Living Lands & Waters has been conducting educational workshops since 2003, but this day long hands on experience could only be attended by teachers and instructors.  “We developed these workshops to give teachers a hands on look at our river environment with lessons they could take back to their students.  The instructors who attended were so engaged, but all said this would have much more of an impact if their kids could be on the barge for something like this,” says Tammy Becker, coordinator of the LL&W’s Educational Workshops.  Over the years, LL&W held 92 teacher workshops for more than 1,700 teachers and educators. There were over a 100 different presenters in these presentations and over 60 different topics covered. 

“We were approached by Living Lands & Waters to assist if we were interested. We never hesitated to volunteer, as a majority of our members enjoy time on the river hunting, fishing, boating, etc. Everyone already knew of   Chad   and what good things Living Lands & Waters are doing on our rivers. I think every person who has had a chance to see and hear about what this group does; be it river clean-ups to the tree planting projects to the educational seminars really got their eyes opened up to the magnitude and scope of what the organization is trying to accomplish, and is all about,” said local union member Steve Flogel.

Over the past month, the local carpenters union has donated up to 750 man hours of free labor to LL&W. They have done the entire vapor barrier on the roof and the walls of the exterior, and helped with the siding, windows, doors, interior walls, exterior upper deck, sleepers and floor insulation. This week the trim and finish class has been doing the trim for the doors and windows, finishing the ceiling board installation, and starting the installation of the bamboo floor.  ”We can’t express how thankful we are for the  Union ’s help.  Without them, this new barge would not be possible,“ expressed Chad Pregracke, founder of Living Lands & Waters.    

Chad Pregracke started Living Lands & Waters in 1998 as a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the beautification and restoration of America’s major rivers and to the education of people about environmental issues. From his single boat beginning, LL&W has grown to an internationally known organization with a fleet of barges and workboats.  LL&W engages thousands of volunteers each year in river cleanups, hands-on environmental education workshops, the Great Mississippi River Cleanup, Adopt-a- River-Mile programs and the Million Trees Project. 


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