Environment & Weather
Governor Quinn Proclaims Tuesday, April 22, Earth Day in Illinois PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Katie Hickey   
Monday, 21 April 2014 15:03

Urges People Across the State to Go Green and Continue Environmental Consciousness

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn proclaimed Tuesday, April 22 as “Earth Day” in Illinois and urged residents to get outdoors and involved in keeping Illinois at the forefront of conservation and sustainability. The Governor also discussed the work the state is doing to improve sustainability and protect our environment. Today’s proclamation is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to protect our natural resources and ensure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.

“We want every day to be Earth Day in Illinois and everyone should do their part to help preserve, sustain and beautify our state,” Governor Quinn said. “Study after study is finding that Illinois is leading the way in sustainability – from the most communities using renewable energy to being number one in the nation for sustainable buildings. By working together we can keep the progress going and make Illinois the greenest state in the nation.”

Later this week, Governor Quinn will host The Council of Great Lakes Governors’ (CGLG) 2014 Governors’ and Premiers’ Meeting. The meeting will bring a number of U.S. Governors and Canadian Premiers to Illinois to discuss ways to ensure that the entire Great Lakes region is economically sound and environmentally conscious in addressing today's problems and tomorrow's challenges. Governor Quinn is the Co-Chair of the non-partisan partnership of the Governors of the eight U.S. states that border the Great Lakes, with Canadian provinces of Ontario and Québec.

Since taking office, Governor Quinn has led Illinois on a path to sustainability. Earlier this month, the Governor announced $16.5 million in investments for 46 local park projects across Illinois. Last weekend the Governor announced a $1.6 million investment in environmental and education projects along the Lake Michigan shoreline and in the Millennium Reserve-Calumet region. The projects are funded through the Illinois Coastal Management Program, which was formed in 2012 by Governor Quinn to protect Illinois’ 63-mile Lake Michigan shoreline.

Last month, a new report found that Illinois leads the nation in the number of communities using renewable electricity. The 91 communities that have transitioned to 100 percent renewable electricity represent more than 1.7 million individuals. According to the report, demand for renewable energy from the state is more than six terawatt hours, a reduction in greenhouse gas comparable to taking more than one million cars off the road. The report was released by the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, LEAN Energy US, the Illinois Solar Energy Association and George Washington University Solar Institute.

In February, the U.S. Green Building Council ranked Illinois number one among all 50 states in the sustainable building design movement. Illinois has more than 29 million square feet of certified green buildings, or 2.29 square feet for every resident. Utilizing less energy and water, LEED-certified spaces save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce carbon emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community.

In his State of the State address on Jan. 29, 2014, Governor Quinn announced that the available funding from the Illinois Clean Water Initiative (ICWI) will be doubled to $2 billion and stormwater management infrastructure projects will also be eligible for low-interest loans as well as drinking water and wastewater treatment plants and distribution and collection systems. First announced in Governor Quinn's 2012 State of the State address, ICWI was launched in the fall of 2012 and has created several thousand jobs in communities across Illinois. To learn more visit CleanWater.Illinois.gov.

Illinois is a leader in solar energy. In 2013, Governor Quinn, along with Shedd leadership and Illinois sustainability champions, unveiled a 265-kilowatt project that is the biggest solar panel installation in any cultural institution in the state. The energy-efficient panels are part of Shedd’s Master Energy Roadmap – an ambitious energy initiative aiming to cut energy consumption in half by 2020, transforming the aquarium into the nation’s first clean energy-powered cultural institution.

The Governor set a green example for all Illinois residents by transforming the 159-year old Illinois Executive Mansion, visited by Abraham Lincoln and six other of our nation’s Presidents, into a model of sustainable living. In 2010, Governor Quinn planted his own vegetable garden inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama to help offer a healthy menu for Executive Mansion guests; installed rain barrels to divert rainwater out of the municipal sewer system and into the Mansion’s vegetable garden; created a compost pile to transform food scraps and landscaping debris into rich nutrients which are spread over the Mansion’s vegetable garden, shrubs and trees; and solar panels, donated by three Illinois firms, were installed to make Illinois the second Governor’s Mansion in the U.S. to go solar.

In 2011, the Illinois Executive Mansion became the first in the nation to install a charging station for electric vehicles. In 2012, LED lighting was installed throughout the Executive Mansion. The new system consumes 90 percent less energy, lasts for 10 years and poses less of a threat to historic artifacts. Additionally, digital water meters are installed to better monitor usage; aging air conditioners were replaced with an energy efficient system.

The Governor today also encouraged all state employees to participate in “No Print Week,” a program from April 21-25, to help increase awareness about paper usage and reduce unnecessary paper consumption.  “No Print Week” comes after the success of 2013’s “No Print Day.” In fiscal year 2013, Illinois recycled 5,521,906 pounds of paper, 830,714 pounds of OCC (card board), 2,486 pounds of plastic, 4,114 pounds of aluminum, 103,449 pounds of scrap metal from empty food cans and 48,179 pounds of assorted comingled items.

For more information on Earth Month and the Governor’s initiatives for protecting and preserving Illinois’ future visit: illinois.gov/EarthMonth. For more information on volunteer opportunities visit: www.Serve.Illinois.gov and www.dnr.illinois.gov/outreach/volunteeropportunities.

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Governor Quinn Announces Investments to Conserve Lake Michigan Shoreline PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Katie Hickey   
Monday, 21 April 2014 13:37

Visits Volunteer Beach Clean-up to Announce Investments That Will Support Environmental Education and Stewardship Projects 

CHICAGO – In honor of Earth Month, Governor Pat Quinn today visited a volunteer clean-up of Chicago’s Oak Street Beach to announce a $1.6 million investment in environmental and education projects along the Lake Michigan shoreline and in the Millennium Reserve-Calumet region. The projects will be funded through the Illinois Coastal Management Program (ICMP), which was formed in 2012 by Governor Quinn to protect Illinois’ 63-mile Lake Michigan shoreline. Today’s announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to protect our natural resources and ensure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.

“There is no better way to celebrate Earth Month than working to keep Illinois clean and safe for future generations,” Governor Quinn said. “These investments will help protect and preserve the Lake Michigan shoreline - one of Illinois’ most valuable natural resources.”

Governor Quinn today also urged people across Illinois to enjoy Earth Month by getting outdoors and volunteering for beach clean-ups and other activities. Today’s announcement was made at a beach clean-up that involved hundreds of volunteers organized by the Alliance for the Great Lakes, which has been planning Illinois beach clean-ups since 1991. For more information on volunteer opportunities visit: Serve.Illinois.gov and dnr.illinois.gov/outreach/VolunteerOpportunities.

“Not only will these projects help protect and restore critical habitat along Lake Michigan, but they will help educate the next generation of conservationists and naturalists that will continue the mission,” Marc Miller, director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) said.

The Illinois Coastal Management Program, administered by IDNR, is dedicated to protecting, restoring and managing natural resources along our shoreline and contributing to the long-term development of our region. Established in 2012, Illinois’ Coastal Management Program joins 29 coastal states and five island territories that have developed Coastal Management programs to collaborate with communities in protecting our coastal regions. The ICMP Coastal Grants are federally funded through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Last year, in its inaugural round of funding, the program invested more than $700,000 in 12 projects that have already paid dividends for our shoreline. For example, a thousand Chicago Public School students learned why and how to remove invasive buckthorn; Lake County high school students learned ravine conservation techniques; and the voices of 200 students were strengthened at the 17th Annual Chicago River Student Congress where they shared ideas and worked on water quality monitoring experiments.

Descriptions of the 26 Coastal Grant Program projects announced today are below:

 

Education/Outreach Grants

William Tillman Maritime Education Program-Teacher Training – Prologue Inc.; $143,290
The William Tillman Maritime Science Program of Prologue Inc., will increase the number and scope of student-driven, school and community-based coastal environmental projects by providing professional development and technical assistance to teachers and community leaders at six inner city high schools.

SCA Calumet Crew – The Student Conservation Association; $136,426
The Student Conservation Association's Chicago Calumet Program will engage 20 youths from the Calumet Region in hands-on environmental learning and conservation work in the community. Participants will be recruited for this 10-month program from Chicago Public Schools and will focus on individuals traditionally underrepresented in the conservation field.

Calumet is My Back Yard (“CIMBY”) – Chicago Public Schools; $134,736
Teachers and students participate in a series of ecological restoration, stewardship and science learning activities at natural areas in the Calumet Region. Funding will support implementation of the expanded CIMBY program during 2014 and 2015 to support 17 high schools, more than 800 students and 50 Chicago Public Schools teachers.

Wild Indigo Nature Explorations Expansion – Audubon Chicago Region; $94,905
This new, joint program of Audubon Chicago Region, Eden Place Nature Center and the Forest Preserves of Cook County undertakes community engagement and stewardship work in communities on Chicago’s South Side.  Program staff will lead free monthly nature exploration and stewardship field trips to the forest preserves of the Calumet Region that promote healthy bodies, healthy communities and a healthy planet.

Coastal Campus Signage and Lecture Series – Loyola University Chicago; $50,180
Using signage and a public lecture series at its Lake Shore Campus, the project will communicate to students, staff, neighbors and visitors the value of proximity to Lake Michigan, and the steps Loyola University is taking to make sustainable development a keystone to the creation of a 21st century campus.

Chicago Lakefront Parks – Outreach & Public Education – University of Illinois at Chicago; $48,507
A free “Walking Guide to the History & Features of Burnham Park,” and a similar guide for Lincoln Park will be produced. The Burnham Park booklet will be used to facilitate a public field day in the fall of 2014. The grant will also help to install a semi-permanent display in Burnham Park, which will highlight environmental education and conservation.

Pipes and Precipitation: Expanding Water Literacy to the 3rd/6th Grade District Students & Teachers – Evanston/ Skokie CC School District 65; $39,545
The purpose of “Pipes and Precipitation” is to expand a pilot Great Lakes education program in Evanston/Skokie CC School District 65 to include all third and sixth grade teachers and students. The project emphasis is on understanding concepts related to stormwater management.

Lakeside Heritage Walk – Friends of the Forest Preserves; $38,629
The Lakeside Heritage Walk is a series of permanent, public and free educational signs for Park No. 523 and a portion of 87th Street in South Chicago that will feature information on the site’s ecology and biodiversity, as well as its industrial past and ongoing redevelopment.

The Next Generation Mighty Acorns Curriculum – Chicago Wilderness Trust; $38,419
The Next Generation Mighty Acorns Curriculum project is a multi-agency effort to create a new and improved program curriculum that is aligned with current learning standards, reflects current trends in pedagogy and assessment, and brings coastal issues of wetland management to the forefront.

Nature Along the Lake Environmental Education Program – Friends of the Parks; $36,300
The Nature Along the Lake program provides lakefront park experiences that are customized to the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) curriculum. The program currently serves more than 800 CPS students every year, and with this funding will triple the number of students served.

Calumet Community Outreach and Recreation Project – Friends of the Forest Preserves; $34,048
Project partners will conduct an outreach project to engage 250 local residents from communities that suffer from environmental justice challenges in nature based recreational activities. Residents will have the opportunity to get out and enjoy the sites, and learn about local ecology, stewardship and environmental justice issues.

Chicago Conservation Corps – Developing Community Awareness of Stormwater Management – Chicago Academy of Sciences; $31,876
Chicago Conservation Corps (C3) recruits, trains, and supports a network of volunteers (“Leaders”) who work together in neighborhoods on environmental service projects. These C3 Leaders will lead stormwater management projects in their communities to help residents learn about adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Openlands Eco-Exploration Program – Openlands; $30,474
Classrooms participating in Eco-Explorations visit the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve with an Openlands Educator, exploring the complex coastal ecosystem with ravines, tableland and lakeshore. Additionally, teachers are trained to implement classroom lessons on the topics of erosion, biodiversity, adaptation, habitat restoration and stewardship.

Great Lawns, Great Lakes – Preventing Nonpoint Source Pollution in the Illinois Coastal Zone – Midwest Pesticide Action Center; $26,508
This grant will fund education and outreach to residents, retailers, parks and schools in the Illinois Coastal Zone on sustainable lawn and landscape care practices that prevent nonpoint source pollution by reducing use of pesticides and fertilizers.

Migration, Monarchs, Birds and Me – Faith in Place; $22,000
Faith in Place will continue this innovative and successful program that helps recruit and retain volunteers for habitat restoration on the South Side of Chicago. The project uses personal stories of human migration in order to connect those stories and experiences to the stories of the migration of local fauna, such as songbirds and Monarch butterflies.

View of Nature from the Freedom Trail – Bronzeville Historical Society; $13,030
The Bronzeville Historical Society will guide visitors through the natural areas of the Stephen A. Douglas Tomb State Historic Site Migratory Bird habitat and adjacent Burnham Wildlife Corridor. Both locations are in a designated “Illinois Important Bird Area”.

Exploring Water Management from Lake Michigan to Little Village – Little Village Environmental Justice Organization; $10,414
The Little Village Environmental Justice Organization will lead an educational project that teaches high school students the root causes of water pollution in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood. Students will study the history and science of water management and sustainable stormwater practices, and develop projects that offer solutions to water pollution.

Planning Grants

Lakefront Master Planning – Winnetka Park District; $119,000
This comprehensive master planning process for five Winnetka Park District (WPD) sites will identify, evaluate and address issues between the WPD and neighboring communities. This collaborative process will also address environmental and coastal enhancements, and bike and waterway linkage along the lakeshore.

Foss Park Master Plan – Foss Park District; $103,035
Foss Park Beach, in the North Chicago community, has been closed to the public for more than 20 years due to unsafe conditions on the steep, rocky shore. Foss Park Beach is among the only sections of unmanaged shoreline in Illinois. The Foss Park Master Plan will establish a long-term vision for the restoration of the park and guide its development.

Sustainable Plan to Improve Beach Water Quality and Public Access at Montrose Beach – Chicago Park District; $100,000
The Chicago Park District will complete a plan for improving beach water quality, mitigating nonpoint source pollution, and improving public access and habitat at Montrose Beach.

South Suburban Community Green Infrastructure Planning – Delta Institute; $88,184
The Delta Institute will facilitate a community-based green infrastructure planning process in South Suburban communities that will utilize vacant, brownfield properties to reduce neighborhood flooding and create more natural areas in the Illinois Coastal Zone.

South and North Wolf Lake Trail System Connection – Openlands; $77,000
This project will provide engineering design of segments of a pedestrian/bike trail and route leading toward a set of loop trails around parts of Wolf Lake . The result will be the most diverse trail riding experience available in one location in all of Northeast Illinois, creating a significant recreational attraction.

CMAP Local Technical Assistance Sustainable Coastal Planning project – Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning; $75,000
CMAP will enhance the environmental and natural resources aspects of the comprehensive plans for Winthrop Harbor, North Chicago and Zion by focusing on coastal sustainability goals, and by helping these coastal communities plan for the priorities identified in the Illinois Lake Michigan Implementation Plan by Lake County residents.

Shoreline Sediment Management Strategy – Alliance for the Great Lakes; $66,504
The Alliance will develop a comprehensive Shoreline Engagement Plan for how Illinois’ North Shore communities and stakeholders can effectively maintain existing coastal infrastructure, preserve the stability and ecological integrity of the overall shoreline, and realize individual benefits through shared management solutions.

Restoring Urban-Industrial Habitats in the Illinois Coastal Zone – Wildlife Habitat Council; $50,004
Wildlife Habitat Council will undertake a collaborative effort to preserve, protect, remediate and enhance the resources of the Illinois coastal area. With a focus on the South Chicago and Calumet Region, WHC will improve hydrologic regimes, provide green infrastructure to industrial sites, and promote the work of habitat restoration and stewardship.

Bull Creek-Lake Michigan Restoration Plan – Lake County Stormwater Management Commission; $25,000
Bull Creek is a major stream channel in the Dead River watershed, a tributary to Lake Michigan in Lake County. The project includes the planning phase elements necessary to restore the stream to desired ecological conditions integral to a sustainable restoration.

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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.

 
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