Environment & Weather
IOWA CLIMATE EXPERTS DISCUSS NEW EPA CARBON RULES PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Susan Guy   
Monday, 02 June 2014 10:52
Iowa IPL to Announce Statewide Canvass to Gather Signatures in Support of new EPA Rules
DES MOINES, Iowa – Monday, Iowa Interfaith Power & Light (IIPL) and Iowa climate experts will hold a statewide conference call with Iowa reporters to discuss a newly announced proposal to limit carbon pollution from power plants, a major driver of climate change, and to outline the positive impacts of that decision, as well as accompanying energy efficiency and clean energy investments, for Iowans.

Speakers on the call will also unveil plans to launch a statewide canvass to gather signatures from Iowans in support of the new carbon rules.  The canvasses will take place on Sunday, June 8th – the six-year anniversary of the start of the historic 2008 Iowa floods that devastated Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and communities across the state.

Conference call participants include:
  • Rev. Susan Guy: Rev. Susan Guy has served as the Executive Director at Iowa IPL since 2010.  She is ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) with an M. Div. from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, a B.A. from Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia.  Prior to Iowa IPL, Susan served as a pastor in both Disciples of Christ and United Methodist congregations, focusing on social justice ministries.  She also has experience managing non-profit organizations, and served as the first Heartland Field Organizer for the ONE Campaign on global poverty.
  • Dr. Yogesh Shah:  Dr. Yogesh Shah is the Associate Dean for Global Health at Des Moines University, a position created in 2006 to establish global health experiences that DMU students increasingly seek.  Dr. Shah has been instrumental in establishing the City of Des Moines as a member of the World Health Organization’s network of age-friendly cities.  He also led the creation of the Heartland Global Health Consortium, and the creation of Heartland Climate Health Consortium, a collaborative of Iowa educational institutions to promote the effect of climate change on nutrition and human health.
  • Christopher J. Anderson, PhD:  Christopher J. Anderson is a climate risk analyst.  He is Assistant Director of the Iowa State University Climate Science Initiative, a research program that provides authoritative, scientific information for short-term and long-term climate-informed decision-making.  He holds doctoral and master degrees in agricultural meteorology from Iowa State University.  Mr. Anderson’s research examines linkages between climate variability, climate change, and water management.  He has coauthored recent reports for the Western Utility Climate Alliance and US EPA containing recommendations on investments in climate modeling that would yield improvements in infrastructure planning for water utilities in major metropolitan areas (Options for Improving Climate Modeling to Assist Water Utility Planning for Climate Change) and flood mitigation in the Midwest United States (Iowa Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Report).  Currently, he is providing leadership to the Federal Highways Climate Resilience Pilot in Iowa in collaboration with Iowa DOT and University of Iowa IIHR.

 
XSTREAM CLEANUP SETS DATE, SEEKS INPUT ON SITES, SHIRTS PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Brandy Walvaert   
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 14:45

Suggest a cleanup site—and vote for your favorite T-shirt color!

QUAD-CITIES—The date has been set and planning is underway for Xstream Cleanup, the Quad-Cities’ annual, volunteer-based cleanup of area waterways.

The cleanup will be held from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014. Online registration will open by July 1 at www.xstreamcleanup.org.

Again this year, organizers are looking for new cleanup sites and encourage members of the community to make suggestions. If a site is dirty, litter-ridden or host to illegal dumping, organizers want to hear about it. To make a suggestion, send an e-mail to  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call (563) 468-4218.

“Xstream Cleanup gives people an opportunity to get their hands dirty and show their commitment to the community. Each year hundreds of volunteers pick up, drag out, and haul away unwanted trash and debris from our waterways. This event proves that as a community, we’re willing to sweat together to protect and improve water quality where we live,” says Curtis Lundy, event chair.  

Community members also are invited to visit the Xstream Cleanup Facebook page to vote for their favorite color for this year’s volunteer T-shirts. Color options are Chestnut (light brown), Gravel (light gray), or Yellow Haze (light yellow). One vote per person will be counted. The deadline to vote is 5 p.m. Friday, May 30.  

Xstream Cleanup began in 2004 as a small-scale cleanup of Duck Creek. Over the years, the event has grown to engage over 1,000 volunteers cleaning up about 40 sites around the Quad-Cities each year. The cleanup is now in its eleventh year. 

 

For more information about Xstream Cleanup, visit www.xstreamcleanup.org. “Like” Xstream Cleanup on Facebook for updates as the event approaches.

 

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USDA seeks partnerships to protect soil, water PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by JOHN FLESHER, AP Environmental Writer   
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 14:42

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is teaming with businesses, nonprofits and others on a five-year, $2.4 billion program that will fund locally designed soil and water conservation projects nationwide, Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

 

Authorized by the new farm law enacted earlier this year, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program is intended to involve the private sector more directly in planning and funding environmental protection initiatives tied to agriculture. Officials provided details of the program to The Associated Press ahead of an announcement scheduled for Tuesday.

 

"It's a new approach to conservation that is really going to encourage people to think in very innovative and creative ways," Vilsack said.

 

He described the projects to be funded as "clean water start-up operations" that will benefit communities and watersheds, a departure from the department's more traditional approach of focusing on individual operators adopting practices such as no-till cultivation or planting buffer strips to prevent runoff into streams.

 

Universities, local and tribal governments, companies and sporting groups are among those eligible to devise plans and seek grants.

 

"This program is a recognition that a coordinated and comprehensive effort is more effective than the USDA operating on its own and Ducks Unlimited operating on its own and the Kellogg Foundation operating on its own," Vilsack said.

 

In addition to protecting the environment, the projects will bolster the rural economy by supporting tourism and outdoor recreation jobs while avoiding pollution that would cost more to clean up, he said.

 

USDA will spend $1.2 billion — including $400 million the first year — and raise an equal amount from participants. Successful applications will include offers of cash, labor or other contributions, as well as plans for achieving measurable solutions and using new approaches, said Jason Weller, chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

 

Vilsack was announcing the program in Michigan, home state of Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, primary writer of the farm bill with Rep. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma. A news conference was scheduled in Bay City near Lake Huron's Saginaw Bay, where nutrient runoff from croplands causes algae blooms that degrade water quality.

 

Stabenow said she expected the area to generate several funding proposals.

 

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, established by the cereal pioneer, is working with The Nature Conservancy on a project designed to reduce runoff in the Saginaw Bay watershed, said Diane Holdorf, the foundation's chief sustainability officer. Kellogg, based in Battle Creek, buys wheat for its cereals from farms in the area.

 

The program establishes three pots of money for grants. Thirty-five percent of total funding will be divided among "critical" areas including the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the Columbia, Colorado and Mississippi river basins, the Longleaf Pine Range, prairie grasslands and the California Bay Delta.

 

Additionally, 40 percent will go to regional or multi-state projects selected on a competitive basis and 25 percent to state-level projects.

 

The California Rice Commission plans to seek funding of initiatives to expand water bird habitat in flooded Central Valley rice fields, said Paul Buttner, manager of environmental affairs. Rice farms are an indispensable waterfowl refuge because most of the original wetlands have been developed, he said.

 

Working with the USDA and other partners, the rice commission has developed practices that can make fields more hospitable for birds such as draining them more gradually ahead of planting season and building nesting islands, Buttner said. The new program could attract more participants, he said.

 

The New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts will develop proposals for combating invasive plants that suck too much water from the ground and ranching practices that could slow the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer, Executive Director Debbie Hughes said.

 
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Announces Action to Combat Insects and Diseases that Weaken Forests, Increase Fire Risk PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 08:36
Vilsack Also Reiterates Need for Fire Funding Solution as Projected Cost of Fighting Wildfire Exceeds This Year's Budget

DENVER, May 20, 2014 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced action to help 94 national forest areas in 35 states to address insect and disease threats that weaken forests and increase the risk of forest fire. These areas are receiving an official designation that will provide the Forest Service, working collaboratively with stakeholders, additional tools and flexibility to more efficiently plan and accomplish restoration treatments in those areas. Vilsack announced the designations in Denver where he discussed additional efforts to help better prepare for and combat the threat of wildfire.

"USDA and the Forest Service are working to improve the health of our national forests and reduce the risk of forest fire," said Vilsack. "The designations announced today, made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill, will support the Forest Service's ability to work with partners to restore areas within the National Forest System that have been impacted by insects and disease."

The new Farm Bill amends the Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003 to allow the Forest Service to more quickly plan projects for insect and disease treatments within designated areas, in an effort to increase the pace and scale of restoration across the National Forest System. Using the new tools in the Farm Bill, restoration projects in these designated areas have to be developed in collaboration with a diverse group of stakeholders and must meet environmental safeguards.

The Forest Service will use the authority to work collaboratively with States, Tribes, partners, stakeholders and the public to develop and implement restoration projects within designated areas that reduce the risk of insect and disease infestations along with drought. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell designated over 45 million acres* of the National Forest System in response to requests from governors whose states are experiencing, or are at risk of, an insect or disease epidemic. Insect and disease damage makes forests more susceptible to wildfire.

"Working with local partners to combat insect and disease infestation has long been one of our top priorities, and this new authority gives us additional tools to implement landscape scale projects," said Chief Tidwell. "We will continue our commitment to involve the public as we develop and implement projects in these areas."

In addition, Vilsack also announced today another Farm Bill initiative to help remove insect infected trees from National Forest Service lands. The Biomass Crop Assistance Program, administered by the Farm Service Agency, supports the harvesting and transporting of forest residue to an energy facility. These payments are designed for energy generation while reducing fire, insect and disease threats on public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. USDA announced that the program has been reauthorized for $25 million annually with funding becoming available on June 9th.

Vilsack also discussed the need for Congress to approve a provision in the Obama Administration's 2015 budget proposal that creates a special disaster relief cap adjustment for use when costs of fighting fires exceed Forest Service and Department of the Interior budgets, as is expected to happen this year. A May report showed that the cost of fighting fires could reach nearly $1.6 billion this year, more than $500 million over the Forest Service's firefighting budget.

When actual firefighting costs exceed firefighting budgets, the Forest Service has to engage in what's known as "fire transfer," where funding for fire suppression is transferred mid-year from non-fire programs, including forest management activities that treat areas impacted by insects and disease and reduce the incidence and severity of future wildfires.

In the most recent two fiscal years, the Forest Service had to transfer $440 million and $505 million respectively from other accounts to pay for fire suppression. Over the last 12 years, a total of $3.2 billion was shifted from other programs that accomplish important forest health objectives. This year the Forest Service projects that it will run out of funds to fight wildfires before the end of the wildfire season, triggering the need for transfers from other accounts.

"The President's budget proposal, and similar bipartisan legislation before Congress, would solve a recurring problem of having to transfer money from forest restoration and other Forest Service accounts to pay the costs of fighting wildfires," said Vilsack. "USDA will spend the necessary resources to protect people, homes and our forests, but it is not in the interest of forest health to transfer funds from forest restoration that can prevent future fires."

The effects of a warming climate and droughts have ripened conditions for insect and disease epidemics to take root. Approximately 81 million acres of the nation's forests are at risk of insects and diseases based on the 2012 National Insect and Disease Risk Map and approximately 58 million acres of National Forest System lands are at risk of intense wildfire. Additionally, Forest Service scientists predict that fire seasons could regularly exceed 12 to 15 million acres burned annually. Not only do these conditions and trends pose risks to surrounding communities, they could impact drinking water, wildlife habitat, recreation opportunities and many other benefits provided by the nation's forests. Landscape scale treatments in the insect and disease designated areas will help adapt forests and watersheds to the effects of a changing climate while lowering the risks of impacts from catastrophic wildfire.

The Farm Bill supports a wide range of agency efforts already underway to increase the pace and scale of restoration, including the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, Cohesive Fire Strategy, Western Bark Beetle Strategy, the Integrated Resource Restoration Program, Watershed Condition Framework, and implementation of the 2012 National Forest System Land Management Planning Rule.

*For more information about the insect and disease designations, including specific acres and forests by state, please visit http://www.fs.fed.us/farmbill/.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users)


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Quad Cities Disaster Readiness Conference PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Public Information Officer   
Monday, 19 May 2014 16:04
What happens when disaster occurs in your community?
For the first time ever, Rock Island and Scott Counties have collaborated in an effort to bring national and local speakers in to share their personal experiences dealing with disasters. The Quad Cities Disaster Readiness Conference will be held on May 21, 2014 at the Isle of Capri Conference Center, and will address lessons learned from actual events in Joplin, MO, Washington, IL, and LeClaire, IA. Presentations will provide firsthand information to first responders, support agencies, community partners and elected officials who will be responding to and managing large scale disasters. This conference is a collaboration of the Scott County Healthcare Coalition, Rock Island and Scott County Emergency Management Agencies, Rock Island and Scott County Health Departments, Genesis Health System, Unity Point Health-Trinity, Rock Island Arsenal/Garrison, American Red Cross, and Eastern Iowa Community Colleges.
The agenda for the conference and speaker bios are below.
7:15-8:00 am
Registration
8:00-8:10 am
Welcome
8:10-9:00 am
Ryan Nicholls, MS Fire and Emergency Management, “Responder Logistical Support”
9:10-10:00 am
Rebecca and Genevieve Williams, “Social Media, Joplin, MO”
10:00-10:30 am
Networking and Vendors (Opportunity for media interviews with speakers)
• ServPro, ProPac, Rock Island Medical Reserve Corp, Red Cross/Quad City VOAD, Werner Restoration, Modern Woodman of America and Grainger
10:30-11:20 am
Breakout Session:
• Donna Dubberke and Maren Stoflet, “Severe Weather Response”
• Lt. Kody Stitz, Coast Guard, “LeClaire Tugboat Incident”
• Troy Erbentraut, RHCC Peoria, “Washington, IL Tornado”
11:30-Noon
Closing Remarks and Evaluation
SCOTT COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
Administrative Center
600 W. 4th Street
Davenport, Iowa 52801-1030
Office: (563) 326-8618 Fax: (563)326-8774
www.scottcountyiowa.com/health
Speaker Bios
Ryan Nicholls: Ryan is the Emergency Management Planning Specialist for the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. Prior to that, he served as the Director for the Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management where he worked in all phases of emergency management for the local governing bodies.
Ryan worked for the FEMA Long-Term Recovery Team following Katrina. Since Katrina, he has worked in Springfield, Greene County as the local Emergency Management Director. He also serves on the Southwest Missouri Incident Support Team. Since his time in these positions, he has worked many disaster incidents such as ice storms, floods, and tornadoes, including the Joplin tornado of May 2011 and Hurricane Sandy of 2012.
Ryan has a Masters Degree in Fire and Emergency Management at Oklahoma State University. He has received his Certified Emergency Manager from the International Association of Emergency Managers, the Missouri Certified Emergency Manager, and has completed the Emergency Management Advanced Professional Development Series from FEMA. He received his Bachelors of Nursing from Missouri State University. Prior to Emergency Management, he worked as a Registered Nurse in a Neuro-Trauma Intensive Care Unit. He lives in Greene County with his wife and six children.
Rebecca Williams: Rebecca is the managing administrator at Joplin TornadoInfo a Facebook community with over 46,000 fans She is co - author of "The Use of Social Media for Disaster Recovery" a field guide currently in revision. Rebecca is a seventh generation Ozarkian and community activist. She is a 1986 graduate of Missouri Southern State University with an Associate of Science in Nursing. Rebecca has worked as a crisis intervention specialist, psychiatric nurse, home health and labor & delivery nurse. She has experience in radio, television and cable television broadcasting, sales, copywriting, public relations and voice over work. Rebecca is dedicated to promoting disaster recovery social media infrastructure preparedness.
Genevieve Williams: Genevieve is the co-founder and project manager of Joplin Tornado Info, and is obsessed with Web 2.0 and Disaster Recovery. She has worked in Social Media and Web Marketing for the past 4 years. Genevieve is currently working on her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism at Missouri State University and previously studied Alternative Energy at Crowder College where she participated in three DOE Solar Decathlons.
Donna Dubberke: Growing up in tornado country, Donna always wanted to be a meteorologist (from the time she was 9 years old!) She graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Meteorology, and then joined the National Weather Service in 1992. Since then she has worked in forecast offices in Texas, Oklahoma, and now the Quad Cities. She is currently the Warning Coordination Meteorologist (WCM) for the Quad Cities Forecast Office. In this role, she is responsible for facilitating community safety and preparedness initiatives throughout eastern Iowa, western Illinois, and northeast Missouri.
Maren Stoflet: Mare is the Service Hydrologist for the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Davenport, IA. She earned a bachelor of science degree in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Maren began her career with the National Weather Service in 2002, and has served as a meteorologist at the weather forecasting offices in Springfield, Missouri and Kansas City, Missouri/Kansas. Her interest in the hydrologic aspects of forecasting brought Maren to her current role as Service Hydrologist, where she oversees the NWS Davenport office’s hydrology program and interacts with federal, state, and local partners.
Lt. Kody Stitz: LT Stitz serves as the Supervisor of Marine Safety Detachment Quad Cities in Rock Island, Illinois. As the Supervisor he is responsible for Coast Guard operations in all or portions of a five state area (Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, and Nebraska) that includes over 700 miles of commercially navigable waters of the Missouri, Des Moines, and Upper Mississippi rivers and their tributaries. He leads eleven active duty, reserve, and civilian personnel in promoting safety, security, and environmental protection in the region.
Major ICS events that LT Stitz has been involved with: Towing vessel Stephen L. Colby sinking in the Mississippi River with 90,000 gal of oil on board (2013); Oil tanker Eagle Otome collision in Beaumont, TX spilling 460,000 gal of crude oil into the Sabine River (2010), Hurricane Ike devastation to the Texas coast (2008), Ferry LeConte grounding in Alaska with 109 passengers and 20,000 gal of oil on board (2004).
LT Stitz is a prior enlisted member who achieved the rank of Marine Science Technician First Class prior to selection to the Coast Guard’s Precommissioning Program for Enlisted Personnel (PPEP) where he was granted a 2-year sabbatical to complete his Bachelors of Business Administration Degree from the University of Alaska Southeast. Upon completion of the degree LT Stitz attended Officer Candidate School in New London, CT, graduating in 2007.
His military decorations include the Coast Guard Achievement Medal, Commandant’s Letter of Commendation, Meritorious Team Commendation, Humanitarian Service Award, as well as other unit and team awards.
A native of Madison, South Dakota, LT Stitz is married to Sofia, his High School sweetheart, and together they have been blessed with four wonderful children.
Troy Erbentraut: Troy has his degree in Criminal Justice and spent six years in Law Enforcement as a police officer before coming to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in 1999.
He has worked in various divisions of the medical center including Emergency Services, Materials Management, Facilities, and Clinical Operations.
Troy is currently the OSF SFMC Disaster Preparedness Manager / Illinois Region 2 MRT Director of Response Operations / Region 2 RHCC/ POD Coordinator.
His responsibilities include improving the emergency preparedness of the medical center, regional medical facilities and EMS systems.
Also in his current position, he coordinates the disaster and emergency response for OSF Saint Francis while also managing the Regional Hospital Coordinating Center (RHCC) for Illinois Department of Public Health, EMS Region 2.
Troy is a National Registered Emergency Technician and holds numerous certificates including a Certified Healthcare Coordinator from Georgia College of Medicine.
He is also a member of the Illinois Type III All-Hazards Incident Management Team. Troy has been involved in disaster responses as part of the Healthcare Incident Management Team, as well as being active in medical response teams within the region, throughout the state of Illinois, and internationally.

 
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