Environment & Weather
VOLUNTEERS CLEAN UP 45,534 POUNDS OF MATERIAL PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Brandy Welvaert   
Monday, 12 August 2013 07:05

QUAD CITIES—Volunteers for the tenth annual Xstream Cleanup on Saturday, August 10 removed approximately 45,534 pounds of debris from area waterways and illegal dump sites. Cleanups were held at 48 locations in Bettendorf, Buffalo, Davenport, LeClaire, McCausland and Lost Grove Lake, Iowa; and in Milan, Moline, Rock Island and Silvis, Illinois.

A total of 1,564 volunteers worked a total of 4,398 hours and collectively gathered 1,129 bags of trash, 288 tires, 15 appliances, nine bicycles, 16 pieces of furniture, 16 televisions and 14 mattresses. This was the equivalent of 36,700 pounds of trash, 6,912 pounds of tires, 1,125 pounds of appliances, 207 pounds of bicycles, 240 pounds of televisions and 350 pounds of mattresses for a grand total of 45,534 pounds. In addition, volunteers removed 35,180 pounds of material from Living Lands and Waters’ barge. The material was hand-sorted by volunteers, and 15,000 pounds were recycled.

Additional items found, not reflected in the pounds above, included steel and iron pipes, car parts (including bumpers), water skis, wooden pallets, picnic tables, chairs, tents, sleeping bags, a shopping cart, a bowling ball, a sink and a micro-SD card.

In addition, this year the following locations worked on invasive species removal and storm-drain marking:

  • Bettendorf: 134 storm drains marked to discourage illegal dumping
  • Davenport: 216 storm drains marked to discourage illegal dumping
  • Fairmount Cemetery in Davenport: 243 yards of invasive plants removed
  • Green Valley Nature Preserve in Moline: One ton truck full of brush removed
  • Nahant Marsh in Davenport: Eight trailers of woody invasive plants removed

Photos from the event may be viewed via www.xstreamcleanup.org.

Xstream Cleanup 2013 is sponsored by the following. Presenting Sponsors: Group O and Riverboat Development Authority. Platinum Sponsors: Alcoa, THE National Bank, Living Lands & Waters™ and Waste Commission of Scott County. Gold Sponsors: Iowa American Water, Rock Island County Waste Management Agency and The Moline Foundation. Silver Sponsors: Alter Metal Recycling, DHL Global Forwarding, Independent Insurance Agents of Scott County, McCarthy-Bush Corporation, MidAmerican Energy, Radish magazine, R. A Jones, Quad City Conservation Alliance, Sears Seating and Wallace’s Garden Center. Bronze Sponsors: Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Downtown Davenport Partnership, Eastern Iowa Grain Inspection, Great River Brewery, Lowe’s and Mel Foster Company. Logistics Sponsors: Cities of Bettendorf, Buffalo, Davenport, LeClaire, McCausland, Milan, Moline, Rock Island and Silvis; Bi-State Regional Commission, Keep Rock Island Beautiful, iLivehere™, Partners of Scott County Watersheds, Republic Services and River Roots Live.

 

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Xstream Cleanup is Saturday! PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Brandy Welvaert   
Friday, 09 August 2013 12:48

WHAT: 10th annual Xstream Cleanup—over 1,600 volunteers will team up to clean up over 40 waterways and other areas in need of care in the Quad-Cities.

WHEN: Saturday, August 10, 2013. 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Preliminary results of the cleanup will be available by 3 p.m. Saturday. Call Brandy Welvaert at (309) 292-1020.

WHO: Over 1,600 volunteers of all ages, some working in teams and representing businesses and organizations throughout the Quad-Cities.

WHERE: Over 40 sites are targeted for cleanup. See attached spreadsheet and map for details.

§  Iowa: Bettendorf, Buffalo, Davenport, LeClaire, McCausland and Scott County

§  Illinois: Milan, Moline, Rock Island and Silvis

 
Urgent Battle Against Obama “Blueways” Water and Land Grab Plan PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by American Landrights   
Thursday, 01 August 2013 14:08
The attempt by the Obama Administration to take control of all rivers and watersheds using their “Blueway” program is a huge threat to you.

Two months ago we sent you a letter from the Western Caucus in the Senate and House to the Secretary of Interior (then Ken Salazar, now Sally Jewell). Because of the importance of this issue, *we are sending you the letter again because it lays out the background of the Blueway threat.*

The letter talks about two new Interior Department programs. One, the *Wildlands Secretarial Order (3310)* that the House Natural Resources Committee tried to stop three years ago but it is not stopped. This is where the Interior Secretary is secretly creating Wilderness bypassing Congress.

The Second is the *new National Blueways System* created by a new Secretarial Order (3321). You are headed for a train wreck if you fail to contact both your Senators and your Congressman about these Secretarial Orders because they may secretly be added to a coming Omnibus Federal Lands Bill.

Allies of ALRA just won a battle to stop (temporarily) the White River Blueway in Missouri and Arkansas. But the White River Blue way is not necessarily stopped permanently. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has used waffle language to say it is stopped.

It’s very likely the Obama Administration will keep on going with the White River Blueway. They are just trying to “pause” a little until you run out of steam. Don’t let that happen. You need to keep contacting your Congressman and Senators.

The people on the first Blueway, the Connecticut River, are largely unaware of the danger. They musts be informed.

Don’t forget to continue your effort to stop the EPA and Corps Wetlands Guidance Regulations that Obama is using to try to give the EPA and Corps Jurisdiction over all waters of the United States and all activities affecting these waters of the United States. There is more about that below.

Here’s the letter from the House Western Caucus regarding Blueways and Wildlands:

The Honorable Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior (now Sally Jewell) Department of Interior, 1849 C St NW, Washington, DC 20240

Dear Secretary Salazar:

We are contacting you regarding our serious concerns surrounding the disturbing trend by which the Department of the Interior (DOI) continues to bypass Congress, and the public, in establishing new federal designations and policies.

As you know, Congress expressed its serious reservations of the Wildlands designation through a Secretarial Order. The creation of that new federal designation was highly controversial, lacked transparency, and was legally questionable. Congress subsequently blocked funding for the Order. However, you have never rescinded the controversial Order.

*On August 2, 2012 members of the Senate and House Western Caucuses sent you a letter* expressing concerns regarding Bureau of Land Management Manuals 6310 and 6320, which mirrored the same rejected
policies of Wildlands Secretarial Order 3310.

These manuals were crafted without public input or notice. These members asked you to withdraw these manuals, and set up a briefing for them. The manuals were not withdrawn, nor was the briefing request even acknowledged by your department. We would like to request once again, a briefing by DOI for our offices on the status of these BLM manuals.

*Now it has come to our attention that on May 24 of last year, you signed Secretarial Order 3321 establishing the “National Blueways System.” *

This system, according to the Secretarial Order would - *“provide a new national emphasis on the unique value and significance of a ‘headwaters to mouth’ approach to river management and create a mechanism to encourage stakeholders to integrate their land and water stewardship efforts by adopting a watershed  pproach.”*

The Order goes on further to state that it authorizes the establishment of an “intraagency National Blueways Committee to provide leadership, direction, and coordination to the National Blueways System.”

Despite the Order stating that “Nothing in this Order is intended to be the basis for the exercise of any new regulatory authority,” given the lack of transparency by Interior to date, this disclaimer is of little comfort to communities that will be negatively impacted by a Blueways designation.

In fact, the Order specifically injects federal agency policies and programs into the management of the designated watersheds when the Order states that – “Bureaus within Interior, to the extent permitted by law and consistent with their missions, policies, and resources, shall endeavor to align the execution of agency plans and implementation of agency programs to protect, restore, and enhance the natural, cultural, and/or recreational resources associated with designated National Blueways.”

*According to the Order, it appears that any watershed in the United States could be designated without any vote in Congress and without proper public notice. The Order states that – * “Following consideration of recommendations made by the Committee, the Secretary may designate the river and its associated watershed as a National Blueway that will become part of the National Blueways System.”

Water is the lifeblood of our communities, and it should be managed for the benefit of the community in a transparent fashion. While water law varies by region, non-navigable water is managed by the states, not the federal government.

Any designation by a federal agency that directly or indirectly attempts to manage the non-navigable headwaters of many of our nation’s rivers, would be a usurpation of state authority.

*We urge you to immediately withdraw Secretarial Order 3321.* We also encourage you to bring proposals to Congress that are creating new land and water designations so that we may consider them through the
normal committee process and with public transparency.

End of Western Caucus Letter. (Signed by numerous Western Congressmen
and Senators.)
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What could happen is that the Interior Department works with allies in the Senate and House to add the Wildlands Program and the National Blueways System to a likely Omnibus Federal Lands Bill.

That is exactly how Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid slipped the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) into law. Former Interior Sec. Bruce Babbitt set it up during the Clinton Administration.

As a reminder, the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) put a National Park-like-overlay over all BLM special areas like National Monuments, Wild and Scenic Rivers and areas like the Steens Mountain
in Oregon thereby ignoring all the laws and special requirements and agreements covering those areas when they were created. *The NLCS is doing a lot of damage to ranchers, miners, loggers and others while cutting off access to millions of acres.*

The NLCS sat, largely dormant for years, until the opportunity came to sneak it into law and Harry Reid did it in his 2009 Omnibus Federal Lands Bill. That is exactly what is likely to happen to the National Wildlands Program and the National Blueways System just set up by former Interior Secretary Salazar.

You must defeat any attempt to pass any Omnibus Federal Lands bill proposed in the coming year.

When you call your Congressman and Senators you should ask them to defund (take away the money) for the BLM to manage and use the National Landscape Conservation System.

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* Blueways Under Fire: Members and Witnesses Express Continued Concerns Despite Interior Dept’s New Claims that Program Put on “Pause” (Wednesday, July 17, 2013)*
* *
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power held an oversight hearing on “A Washington, DC- Based Bureaucratic Invention with Potential Water Conservation and
Property Rights Impacts: The National Blueways Order.” This hearing highlighted current and potential problems with the National Blueways Order, which imposes a federal watershed designation process with
questionable legal authorities, little to no community input, and a lack of transparency.

At this morning’s Full Committee hearing, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that she was putting a “pause” on the National Blueways program. However, Members continued to express concerns over the impact of future designations and questioned exactly what the Department means by a “pause.”

Despite an invitation being sent to Rebecca Wodder, senior advisor at the Department of the Interior who has been leading the effort on the Blueways Order, the Department refused to send Ms. Wodder or any other official to testify at today’s hearing.

*“Earlier today in response to rapidly building opposition, the new Secretary of the Interior off-handedly announced she’s calling a pause to the Blueways Order* ‘until we figure out the future of the program.’

The Subcommittee welcomes this announcement but the question occurs: does this mean a pause until the heat dies down or does it mean a genuine intention to step back from a legally suspect, economically
damaging and politically unpopular initiative?

That’s one of the questions I would have liked to have asked Ms. Wodder,” said Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock. “The Congress and the American People are entitled to forthright answers from this administration, not stonewalling. *This is particularly urgent in light of the avowed intention by the programs supporters to turn their sights on all 3.5 million miles of American streams and rivers.” *

During the hearing, witnesses discussed many potential and actual challenges with the order including questions on its legal validity, lack of local and public input, and lack of transparency of nominations.

*Ms. Karen Budd-Falen, Attorney, Budd-Falen Law Offices, Cheyenne, Wyoming, challenged the legal validity of the Blueways Order,* “The question before this Subcommittee should be whether Congress has enacted a statute which would grant to the DOI the authority to create the National Blueways Initiative. A review of the statuses cited in Executive Order 3321 shows that the answer is ‘No’.”

* The Honorable Robert Griffin, Judge, Independence County, Arkansas, testified on the impacts of the White River Blueways Order on the community, economy and agricultural interests, *“Somehow the wording of unintended does not give comfort when the executive branch is expecting results and some of the goals seem to target our way of life Agriculture is identified as the single largest contributor to issues within the watershed, both good and bad. When the top income generator of your economy is targeted as the biggest contributor of bad issues within the watershed, the words not intended are somewhat disconcerting when the goals such as are stated belie the issue.”

*Mr. Eddy Justice, Small Business Owner, Poplar Bluff, Missouri, highlighted the flawed process and lack of public outreach behind the White River Blueways listing, *“To the best of my knowledge, not one single town hall meeting was held to gather local input. Not one request was issued for public input regarding this designation. Not one representative or letter was sent to any county commissioner in the affected area, advising them of the plans by the DOI to implement this designation*. *
* *
*The failure of the Department of the Interior to bother with obtaining local input while claiming to have issued this designation after having collaborated with local governments and organizations is irresponsible at best and at least hints at dishonesty and possible ulterior motives.”*

Because Sally Jewell, the new Secretary of Interior has put a pause on the Blueway Program, it does not mean for a minute that they will stop the planning and ultimate designation Federalizing these watersheds.
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-----Don’t think that because you have called your Congressman or Senators once or twice that you are done. *Blueway advocates are going to keep working to designate new Blueways. You must keep up the pressure to permanently stop the Blueways system.* All out action against Blueways and the EPA and Corps is required.
* *
*Action Items:*

-----1. Please forward this message to at least 10 other people. Your whole list if possible.

-----2. Send a copy of this message or just a copy of the Western Caucus letter to both your Senators and Congressman and their staff. *Ask them to send a letter to Secretary Sally Jewell opposing Blueways*.

-----3. *Tape a copy of this message to your refrigerator door to remind you about what you need to do.*

-----4. *Call both your Senators at (202) 224-3121. * That’s the Capitol Switchboard. Ask for your Senator by name. When the office answers, ask for the person who handles Federal Lands or Natural Resources.

Ask for a commitment from your Senator to oppose any Wildlands or Blueways or adding them to any Omnibus Federal Lands Bill.

Remind the staff that Senators Wyden, Reid and others may try to pass a new Omnibus Federal Lands Bill *to sneak Wildlands and Blueways into law. * Each bill must be considered individually on its own merits and not combined into a Legislative Stew that no one reads and few have any idea what’s inside.

-----5*. Call your Congressman also.* He or she must vote on the Omnibus Federal Lands Bill so get a commitment from his or her staff to oppose any Omnibus Federal Lands Bill with Wildlands or Blueways included. Call any Congressman at (202) 225-3121. Follow same instructions as above for the Senators.

Ask your Congressman to hold local hearings in your area on the Blueways system. Let us know about the time and place and we’ll help alert your allies.

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* *
*Don’t Stop Working To Keep “Navigable” In The Clean Water Act*

*Stop EPA & Corps Of Engineers From Effectively Removing “Navigable” From Clean Water Act*
* *
*Help pass the Barrasso “Preserve The Waters Of The US Act” (S 1006). Here are the Talking Points (Save “Navigable” Language): *

-----1. The EPA and Army Corps are trying to sneak new “Guidance Regulations” through that would effectively neutralize the  requirement that the EPA and Corps have jurisdiction over “Navigable Waters”.

The EPA and Army Corps are trying to *gain jurisdiction over all waters of the United S*tates *and all activities affecting all waters of the United States. That must not be allowed to happen. *
* *
-----2. The EPA and Army Corp’s Clean Water Act Jurisdictional guidance allows these agencies to regulate waters now considered entirely under state jurisdiction.

-----3. Agriculture, commercial and residential real estate development, electric transmission, transportation, energy development and mining will all be affected and thousands of jobs will be lost.

-----4. Thousands of small communities would be strangled. *Any action taken by you on your water could require a permit from the Corps of Engineers.*

The Barrasso Bill (S 1006) takes away the money from EPA and Corps from to stop their new Guidance Regulations from expanding the Jurisdiction of EPA and the Corps under the Clean Water Act and prevents the EPA and the Corps from issuing similar guidance regulations in the future.

American Land Rights Action Items: (Stop The EPA and Corps Wetlands Jurisdiction Grab)

-----1. *Call, fax and e-mail both your Senators at (202) 224-3121.*
Urge your Senators to co-sponsor the Barrasso (R-WY) Wetlands Jurisdiction Bill (Preserve The Waters Of The US Act). Write any Senator at: Honorable, US Senate, Washington, DC 20510.

-----2. *Call, fax and e-mail your Congressman to urge him to introduce or co-sponsor a bill in the House like the Barrasso bill. *Ask for the staff person who handles EPA Corps Wetlands issues. Call any Congressman at (202) 225-3121. Write any Congressman at: Honorable ___, US House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515. To prevent delay, it is best to use fax when sending your letter.

Call, fax and e-mail your Senators and Congressman today. *Please send a special contribution to American Land Rights *to give us the ability to stop the Blueways Program and pass the Barrasso “Preserve The
Waters Of The US” Act

Your continued support is very much appreciated.

Sincerely,

Chuck Cushman, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it <mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
(360) 687-3087

PS*. Help stop the Obama Blueways Project. Preserve the word “Navigable” waters requirement in the Clean Water Act. You can stop the EPA and Corps of Engineers from sneaking around the back door to remove the “Navigable” limit from the Clean Water Act. As of now, the EPA and Corps are only supposed to regulate “navigable” waters. But they want more and more. They can be stopped. *
* *
*Please act now to help American Land Rights and our allies stop the Obama Blueways program* and pass the Barrasso “Preserve The Waters Of The US” Act. You can provide extra support to American Land
Rights by going to www.landrights.org <http://www.landrights.org/>
.

Be sure to continue to support your local land use group. This message is not intended to have you support American Land Rights and not your local organization or other national organization. This battle needs
to be a team game. 

 
President Obama approves Branstad’s request for Presidential Disaster Declaration PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Office of the Governor of Iowa   
Thursday, 01 August 2013 14:03

DES MOINES—Gov. Terry E. Branstad today received word that President Obama approved his request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration for 10 counties impacted by June severe weather.

The counties included in the declaration are: Allamakee, Benton, Buchanan, Butler, Cedar, Clayton, Delaware, Howard, Jones and Winneshiek.

The Governor sent the request for the declaration on July 18 in response to significant damage that was caused by severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that began June 21 and continued through June 28, 2013. This is the state’s fourth Presidential Disaster Declaration for 2013.

The declaration by the President will provide federal funding to the declared counties under the Public Assistance Program. A Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for Public Assistance puts into motion long-term federal recovery programs, some of which are matched by state programs, and designed to help public entities and select non-profits. Public Assistance funds may be used for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities and may include debris removal, emergency protective measures, repair of damaged public property, loans needed by communities for essential government functions and grants for public schools.

The Governor also received notification that the Presidential Disaster Declaration includes funding to conduct hazard mitigation activities for the entire state. With this funding, Iowa will be able to minimize the impact of future disasters by taking steps now to strengthen existing infrastructure.

This Presidential Disaster Declaration is the 18th Major Presidential Disaster Declaration Iowa has received since March 2007.

 

 

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Living Lands & Waters 2013 Barge Party In A New Location PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Natalie Linville-Mass   
Tuesday, 30 July 2013 10:46
Rock Island, IL /July 29, 2013 – Local residents will have a chance to tour Living Lands & Waters’ Teamwork Barge Thursday, August 8th from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Schwiebert Riverfront Park on 1st Avenue in Rock Island, Illinois. Chad Pregracke and his Living Lands & Waters’ staff and crew will be on hand to celebrate sixteen years of river cleanups, environmental education workshops, the MillionTrees project and engaging communities in river stewardship.

Since 1998, Living Lands & Waters has worked in 18 states along 22 rivers hosting over 700 cleanups and with the help of 70,000 volunteers they have removed 7 million pounds of debris from our nation’s waterways.

Since 2012, Living Lands & Waters has hosted over 60 Student and Teacher Workshops in their educational classroom on the Teamwork Barge. Nearly 2,000 students and over 200 educators have come through and had a hands on look at our river environment. Students and Teachers alike learned about the importance of their rivers as a natural resource and delved into multiple disciplines including technology, language, and the arts.

Chad Pregracke, founder of Living Lands & Waters, was nominated for a CNN Hero Award for “Defending the Planet”. He also was the keynote speaker at the National Environmental Summit, a five day camp to inspire high school students to spark change in their communities. Pregracke also had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. this month to attend an event honoring the winner of the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award. Pregracke was one of about two dozen past honorees invited to the event.

In April, the MillionTrees Project presented its 500,000th tree to Bowlesburg Elementary School in Silvis, Illinois. This tree marked the halfway point of the environmental group’s goal of distributing one million trees. Thousands of volunteers have been involved in packaging and planting trees throughout the Midwest this year.

The Living Lands & Waters Barge Party is held annually in appreciation of volunteers, supporters and fans of LL&W’s efforts.  It is a celebration of the power of committed staff, volunteers and sponsors working together to meet an important need.

“We really loved having the Barge Party at Lake Davenport Sailing Club in the past, we just simply outgrew the location with the growing attendance. We are really excited for the new location, Schwiebert Park is one of the coolest parks along the Mississippi.” says Pregracke.

The menu for this year’s Barge Party will feature a fish fry & shrimp boil dinner.  The party will also feature live music by Justin Morrissey and The Candymakers, as well as a silent art auction, featuring everything from recycled items to handmade sculptures.

The Barge Party will also feature a Best Boater Award. Nominate yourself or a fellow boater for the Best Boater Award. Living Lands & Waters will select five finalists to receive two complimentary tickets to the Barge Party. The winner will be announced at the party and will receive a $100 gas certificate and commemorative plaque. Visit http://www.livinglandsandwaters.org/events/view/barge-party for more details.

Tickets for the event are $40 per person. Reservations can be made online at livinglandsandwaters.org. Spots are limited, so please make your reservation soon to guarantee a seat.

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 into 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 educational workshops, the Great Mississippi River Cleanup, Adopt-a- River-Mile program and the MillionTrees Project.

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