Environment & Weather
USDA Improves Forest Health by Harvesting Biomass for Energy PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Tuesday, 16 December 2014 14:01

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that more than 200,000 tons of biomass were removed from federal lands through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). BCAP, reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, provided incentives for the removal of dead or diseased trees from National Forests and Bureau of Land Management lands for renewable energy, while reducing the risk of forest fire. This summer, 19 energy facilities in 10 states participated in the program.

"This initiative helps to retrieve forest residues that are a fire risk, but otherwise are costly to remove," said Vilsack. "In just three months, working with private partners across the country, the program helped to reduced fire, disease and insect threats while providing more biomass feedstock for advanced energy facilities."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm Service Agency administered the program earlier this year. Eligible farmers, ranchers or foresters participating in BCAP received a payment to partially offset the cost of harvesting and delivering forest or agricultural residues to a qualified energy facility. Up to $12.5 million is available each year for biomass removal.

Key program accomplishments include:

  • In Colorado's Front Range, 18,000 tons of trees targeted by the USDA Forest Service to reduce forest fire threats were removed to generate energy.
  • In California's Rim Fire area in Tuolumne County, nearly 100 percent of the USDA Forest Service's targeted 40,000 tons of forest residue was approved for removal and transport to energy facilities.
  • In Arizona, 41,000 tons of forest residue in Apache and Navajo counties were approved for removal and transport to energy facilities.
  • In Oscoda County, Mich., home of the Huron Manistee National Forest, 5,000 tons of forest residue were approved for removal and transport to energy facilities.

These accomplishments helped the Forest Service meet or exceed its restoration goals for Fiscal Year 2014, including reducing hazardous fuels on 1.7 million acres in the wildland urban interface and sustaining or restoring watershed conditions on 2.9 million acres, resulting in 2.8 billion board feet of timber volume sold. To further support this program, the Forest Service has entered into a three-year, $1.5 million agreement to provide technical assistance to the Farm Service Agency as they implement BCAP on National Forest System lands. This will enable the development and execution of biomass sales, and help open and support new and existing markets for biomass products.

USDA will issue a final regulation this winter to incorporate BCAP updates established in the 2014 Farm Bill. The next funding opportunity will be announced once updates are incorporated.

BCAP was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

Visit www.fsa.usda.gov/bcap or contact a local FSA county office at offices.usda.gov to learn more about BCAP.


News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Laura Berkley   
Monday, 08 December 2014 12:51
The Rock Island County Waste Management Agency (RICWMA) would like to encourage Rock Island County citizens to “Think Recycling” during the upcoming holiday period.

Due to Christmas holiday gift giving and the numerous celebrations and special events that occur during this time of  the year, a lot of waste materials will be generated. The amount of special holiday waste materials generated can be enormous, and it needs to be disposed of properly. As a result, it is very important for people to remain environmentally responsible and to “Think Recycling,” rather than simply throwing items away as garbage. Special attention needs to be given to recycling efforts to be productive and beneficial.

Examples of acceptable recycling materials:

Flattened and broken down cardboard boxes
Other cardboard packaging materials
Tissue paper
Plastic food and beverage containers.

Examples of unacceptable materials and items that are NOT recyclable:

Gift-wrapping paper
All forms of Styrofoam
Gift bows and ribbons
Hard, brittle types of plastic materials
Clear plastic wrappers from cartons and boxes.
Glass containers

Rock Island County citizens are encouraged to utilize their community’s curbside recycling services or to use one of the four regional drop-off recycling sites at the following locations:

East Moline – 1200 -13th Avenue (Engineering & Maintenance Services Facility)
Milan – 451 West 4th Street
Moline - 3635 4th Avenue, at Public Works Department
Rock Island – 16th Avenue and 24th Street, at Water Treatment Plant

For more information, Rock Island County residents may contact RICMWA at (309) 788-8925 or visit the website at www.ricwma.org.

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Loebsack Leads Call for Action on Wind Energy Prior to Adjournment PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Joe Hand   
Tuesday, 18 November 2014 13:46

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack today led a call to Congressional leaders to take action and extend the job-creating Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) before the 113th Congress adjourns. Loebsack joined with Senator Tom Harkin and Representative Bruce Braley in writing to the leaders of both the House and Senate calling for Congress to provide the wind energy industry the stability it needs to operate. The three have been longtime proponents of the wind energy industry.

“Like all businesses, the wind industry seeks certainty and predictability so that long term project decisions and investments can be made. Without that stability, we once again risk losing many of the jobs, infrastructure and investment that the wind industry has created,” the Members wrote. “Time is running out for us to pass an extension of the PTC and ITC to help to avoid further layoffs and divestment. It is imperative that a vote to extend these important provisions occurs before the 113th Congress adjourns sine die.”

A copy of the letter can be found here.


Governor Quinn Visits Washington and Brookport Communities on Anniversary of Deadly Tornadoes PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Dave Blanchette   
Tuesday, 18 November 2014 09:58

Governor Participates in Memorial Dedication Service, Announces Additional State Relief Toward Recovery Process

WASHINGTON – One year after deadly tornadoes devastated several areas of Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn today visited two of Illinois’ hardest-hit communities, Washington and Brookport, to visit with families and participate in the dedication of a new memorial to mark the tragedy. The Governor also announced additional state recovery assistance to aid the two communities who are still in the process of rebuilding and recovery one year later.

“One year ago we saw unimaginable destruction in central Illinois, and today we gather together to reflect on the healing process,” Governor Quinn said. “Tragedy struck Illinois last November, but we refused to give up on these towns no matter how long it took for them to get back on their feet. Rebuilding Washington and Brookport has been an amazing demonstration of what can be done when communities come together in the face of hard times. It’s important that we continue to support the local governments, businesses and families affected by this disaster until the recovery process is completed.”

The Governor’s additional investments announced today are from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and total $1.3 million between Illinois’ two hardest hit communities. The $398,283 for Washington and the $938,100 for Brookport will help local governments rebuild tornado-damaged infrastructure.

Including today’s announced funding, Washington has received $13.4 million and Brookport $2.9 million in state assistance to recover from the November 17, 2013 tornadoes. The investment is the latest in more than $19.5 million in state assistance provided to date for tornado damaged communities from the November disaster.

“Our community thanks Governor Quinn for his commitment to Washington’s recovery,” Washington Mayor Gary Manier said. “He was here immediately following the storms and has been back frequently to see how we are doing and to provide the assistance we need. We can’t say enough about what the Governor has done for our community, and we welcome him here today to help us remember what happened one year ago and to honor those we lost.”

“Governor Quinn literally saved our community from bankruptcy, because without this state assistance to help with tornado-related expenses we wouldn’t have been able to survive,” Brookport Mayor John Klaffer said. “The state relief package has made all the difference in the world. The Governor kept his word, and we welcome him back with open arms today to join us in our day of remembrance.”

The state's multi-agency relief package for local governments included assistance from DCEO, the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Finance Authority, Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Housing Development Authority. The local government entities that have received state assistance to recover from the storms a year ago include:

·         Arcola Township, $380

·         Braceville Township, $219,744

·         City of Brookport, $2,971,202

·         Champaign County, $44,528

·         Champaign County Highway Department, $1,753

·         Claypool Drainage & Levee District, $14,625

·         Village of Coal City, $446,096

·         Compromise Township, $394,546

·         Compromise Township Road District, $17,416

·         City of Danville, $43,258

·         Douglas County, $1,086

·         City of East Peoria, $522,179

·         Village of Diamond, $433,590

·         City of Fairfield, $3,281

·         Village of Garrett, $750

·         Village of Gifford, $750,996

·         Grundy County Sheriff, $7,944

·         Kerr Township, $1,700

·         Massac County, $23,549

·         Metamora Township, $5,581

·         City of Minonk, $12,339

·         Murdock Township, $425

·         Newman Township Road District, $757

·         City of Pekin, $100,688

·         Tazewell County, $33,511

·         Village of Tilton, $1,202

·         Tuscola Township, $1,348

·         Tuscola Township Highway Department, $780

·         Vermilion County, $2,085

·         City of Washington: $13,440,177

·         Washington Community High School, $5,077

·         Washington Park District, $15,658

·         Washington Township Road District, $8,676

·         Woodford County, $26,757

·         Woodford County Highway Department, $6,712

TOTAL:  $19,504,334

Shortly after the deadly storms on November 17, 2013, Governor Quinn surveyed the damaged areas and activated the State Emergency Operations Center to coordinate the deployment of state resources and personnel in support of local response and recovery efforts. He ordered state agencies to step in when federal disaster assistance for local governments was denied. However, the Governor was successful in getting federal disaster assistance for families and businesses in 15 Illinois counties which has topped $23.5 million.


USDA Launches Site to Provide Climate Information to Producers PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Tuesday, 28 October 2014 08:41

The USDA Climate Hubs web site was launched. The new site provides a portal for farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, and others to find useful, practical information to help cope with the challenges and stressors caused by a changing climate. The site provides resources related to drought, fire risks, pests and diseases, climate variability, and heat stress, and links users to the network of USDA conservation programs and resources that provide producers with technical and financial assistance to manage risks.

Each region also has its own site. For more information, see the "USDA Climate Hubs Website: Connecting Stakeholders to the Hubs" blog.

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