Environment & Weather
Sign-Up Begins Today for USDA Disaster Assistance Programs Restored by Farm Bill PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Tuesday, 15 April 2014 10:29
More than 2,000 Farm Service Agency Offices Across the Country Stand Ready to Assist

WASHINGTON, April 15, 2014 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that starting today, eligible farmers and ranchers can sign up for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster assistance programs restored by passage of the 2014 Farm Bill.

"We implemented these programs in record time and kept our commitment to begin sign-up today," said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. "To ensure enrollment goes as smoothly as possible, dedicated staff in over 2,000 Farm Service Agency offices across the country are doing everything necessary to help producers that have suffered through two and a half difficult years with no assistance because these programs were awaiting Congressional action."

Depending on the size and type of farm or ranch operation, eligible producers can enroll in one of four programs administered by the Farm Service Agency. The Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, and including calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014. The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish that have suffered losses because of disease, severe weather, blizzards and wildfires.

Enrollment also begins today for the Tree Assistance Program (TAP), which provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters.

Producers signing up for these programs are encouraged to contact their local FSA office for information on the types of records needed and to schedule an appointment. Taking these steps in advance will help producers ensure their application moves through the process as quickly as possible.

Supporting documents may include livestock birth records, purchase and transportation receipts, photos and ownership records showing the number and type of livestock lost, documents listing the gallons of water transported to livestock during drought, and more. Crop records may include purchase receipts for eligible trees, bushes, or vines, seed and fertilizer purchases, planting and production records, and documentation of labor and equipment used to plant or remove eligible trees, bushes, or vines.

Producers have three to nine months to apply depending on the program and year of the loss. Details are available from any local FSA office.

For more information, producers may review the 2014 Farm Bill Fact Sheet, and the LIP, LFP, ELAP and TAP fact sheets online, or visit any local FSA office or USDA Service Center.

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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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Million Trees Project Reaches over 725,000 Trees! PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Natalie Linville-Mass   
Tuesday, 15 April 2014 08:26

Rock Island, IL/April 2014- With the help of the Quad Cities and surrounding communities, Living Lands & Waters (LL&W) is making this spring one for the record books! The MillionTrees Project (MTP) began back in 2007 with the goal of growing and distributing one million trees to help further their mission to protect, preserve and restore the natural environment of the nation’s major rivers and watersheds.  After surpassing the halfway point last year, LL&W is proud to announce that this year the program's cumulative total will tally to a whopping 734,630 trees!

After a busy pre-season of taking tree orders, the 2014 MTP kicked off early this April with a tree wrapping.  Paired with their gracious hosts--the QCCA Expo Center, this year's volunteers truly proved strength really does come in numbers. "We broke several records, wrapping 10,000 more trees than last year, and having 3 times the amount of volunteers as last year. I think its great when the Quad Cities can come together for an amazing cause and do something great for the environment," said MillionTrees Project Coordinator, Ashley Stover.

Three days of hard work resulted in 15,425 Burr Oak, 12,239 Northern Red Oak, 7,200 White Oak and 13,875 Swamp White Oak wrapped for a grand total of 48,739 trees prepped and ready for delivery! LL&W will spend the duration of the project this year not only delivering and planting these trees, but going one step further by branching out with their acorn plantings. They are in route to planting their 871,000th acorn this season!

"There is always such energy in the room and the spirit of cooperation is amazing.  Total strangers working in harmony, from little bitty kids to old ladies, like me!  I'm already looking forward to next year," said volunteer Lee Ann Wille from the Iowa Master Conservationist Program.

Our Complete Volunteer Group List included: the Boys and Girls Club, Rivers Edge Home School Friends and QC Home School Coalition, Christian Care for Homeless Veterans, Christian Care for Homeless Veterans, The ARC of the Quad Cities, John Deere, Rockridge Junior High, Stern Beverage, U.S. Bank, Nahant Marsh, WIU-Quad Cities Campus, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Modern Woodmen Youth Club, Salem Lutheran Church Youth Club-Moline, Faith Assembly Youth Club, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Assumption High School, North Scott High School's Leo Club, William's Junior High School-Davenport, 4H Club, Augustana SAI and Orion Middle School.

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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CATHOLIC SISTERS RELEASE “EARTH AS OUR HOME” BOOKLET PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Laura Anderson   
Monday, 14 April 2014 15:09

Too often when we hear the word 'house' we only think of a physical building and its rooms. But what if we began to think of Earth as our house - with various rooms - what would we need to do to make this 'house' a true 'home?'  The Catholic Sisters for a Healthy Earth have prepared a reflection booklet on the various rooms of a house, placing each room and its activities into the broader context of our Earth-home. The booklet is available as a free download at www.ClintonFranciscans.com/earth.html.

The word ecology has its roots in the Greek words “oikos” meaning house or household and "logos" meaning to gather, count, recount, say, speak. Ecology is understood as the legend or logic of the dwelling place. In its essence it is the story of where we live.  This story of the house instructs us and informs our actions in managing this household we call Earth.

“We are excited to make this publication available in time for Earth Day on April 22nd,” says the group’s coordinator, Joy Peterson, PBVM.  “Our intention is to take a new look at how everything we do, no matter where we are, is interconnected and tied to the well-being of all living things.”  The booklet includes suggestions of simple actions for families to take in order to live more sustainably and walk more gently on Earth.

Catholic Sisters for a Healthy Earth is made up of representatives from congregations of women religious from the upper Mississippi Valley in eastern Iowa and southwestern Wisconsin including: Congregation of the Humility of Mary, Davenport, IA; School Sisters of Notre Dame, Central Pacific Province, St. Louis, MO; Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters, Sinsinawa, WI; Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque, IA; Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton, IA; Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, IA and the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque, IA.  The mission of the group states: “Respecting the interdependence of creation, we will promote eco-literacy and influence a just relationship with the environment.

 
Little League and WeatherBug Launch iPhone and Android App PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Rachel Hunt   
Monday, 14 April 2014 10:48
Spring means baseball – and the start of severe weather season. That’s why Little League Baseball and Softball and WeatherBug launched Little League WeatherBug, a new smartphone weather app providing real-time weather, severe weather alerts, and personalized Spark lightning detection to help boys and girls stay safer while playing outside this season.

Little League WeatherBug is available for download on both Google Play and the iTunes App Store for free - simply search for Little League WeatherBug.

 
Governor Quinn to Address Annual Tornado and Severe Weather Seminar PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Katie Hickey   
Monday, 07 April 2014 09:46

Will Join WGN’s Tom Skilling and National Weather Service Director to Discuss State Response to Recent Weather Emergencies

BATAVIA – Governor Pat Quinn will be joined by WGN’s Chief Meteorologist Tom Skilling and National Weather Service Director Dr. Louis Uccellini at the Annual Fermilab/WGN Tornado and Severe Storms Seminar this weekend. While there, Governor Quinn will discuss the state’s response to the high number of severe storms that have impacted Illinois over the past several years.

“Illinois has faced a record number of natural disasters in recent years,” Governor Quinn said. “It is critical to ensure our state’s emergency personnel and first responders are always equipped to do what is necessary to keep the public safe when it comes to severe weather. I salute Chicago’s own Tom Skilling for the important work he does to educate the public on the impacts of climate change and importance of preparedness for severe weather.”

The Annual Tornado and Severe Weather Seminar was established to educate Illinois residents of all ages about the dynamics of severe weather. Skilling created the seminar 34 years ago, along with Brian Smith, currently with the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Omaha, Nebraska. Last year, a discussion of climate change with a Nobel Prize winning scientist and other experts was held, and the discussion of the world’s changing climate and its impact on severe weather remains a part of the program.

In the last five years, Illinois has been through 11 natural disasters, including a record drought in 2012; deadly tornadoes in 2012 and 2013; historic winter storms earlier this year; and floods, including the spring 2013 flooding in 49 counties that broke all-time records on four major river systems.

The severe winter weather in January 2014 again saw the mobilization of state resources at Governor Quinn’s direction – stranded motorists were rescued, roads kept open, warming centers provided and assistance offered to keep homes and businesses heated.

On Nov. 17, 2013 a tornado outbreak across Illinois killed eight people, damaged or destroyed 2,500 homes and severely impacted the towns of Brookport, Gifford, New Minden, Diamond and Washington. The state was struck by 25 confirmed tornadoes in three hours, including two EF-4 twisters, the first ever of that strength during November. Just nine days after the tornadoes caused widespread destruction across the state, Governor Quinn successfully secured federal aid to assist people and businesses in 15 affected counties. Following federal denial of additional urgently-needed disaster assistance, Governor Quinn assembled a multi-agency $45 million state relief package to help Illinois local governments recover from the storms.

Following the catastrophic flash floods in April 2013, Governor Quinn also directed state agencies to assist citizens, businesses and local governments to help recover. The Governor mobilized all available state resources to aid in cleanup including debris removal, repairs, sandbagging, evacuations, supply deliveries and a grace period to file tax returns.

Last year, Governor Quinn was appointed to the President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience which will recommend ways to strengthen the way states and the nation respond to natural disasters. The Governor is also currently working with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and the Congressional delegation to pass legislation to improve the federal formula in the disaster assistance process and help more people rebuild their lives.

Fermilab generously donates its facilities for the annual program, which is expecting to draw nearly 3,000 participants this year. Speakers joining Governor Quinn this year include Dr. Louis Uccellini, Director of the National Weather Service; Dr. Russ Schneider, Director of NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma; Dr. Don Wuebbles, climate researcher from the University of Illinois; Ed Fenelon, Meteorologist in Charge of the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Romeoville; and Meteorologist Matt Friedlein, who discussed the horrific Washington tornado and the record severe weather outbreak which impacted the state in November.

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