Environment & Weather
The Papercrete Potter PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Amanda Heitz   
Thursday, 27 February 2014 15:11
In any given year about 55 percent of the paper created in the United States is discarded. That amounts to 48 million tons, or the equivalent of 720 million trees that are used once and then buried in a landfill. The ISU Scott County Extension & Outreach Master Gardeners have invited Lee Coates, The Papercrete Potter to teach the “Art of Papercrete.” With the simple technique you will learn in this class you will be able to turn a portion of this waste into a long lasting treasure.

Coates will teach each class how to mix the recipe and the steps to create weatherproof containers for planting, or a variety of sculptures, which could become a beautiful focal point in your garden. This is a simple, easily mastered process.

Each student will receive a mold and enough ready mixed material to build a papercrete bowl suitable for a dish garden. The bowl, mold, and a set of written directions are included in the cost of your class and will be yours to take home.

Beautiful containers, plants and items suitable for use in miniature landscapes and Fairy Gardens will be available to purchase, and there should be ample time to shop.

The event will be held on Saturday, April 5, 2014 at the ISU Scott County Extension and Outreach Office, 875 Tanglefoot Lane, Bettendorf, Iowa 52722, phone number 563-359-7577. Registration ends March 20, 2014.

Four one hour classes will be offered at: 8:30 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 1:45 p.m., and 3:45 p.m. Please indicate your first and a second choice of class times. The cost of each class is $20.00, payable in advance at the Extension Office, or by mail sent to the Extension Office at the above address.


Governor Quinn Calls for Overhaul of Disaster Funding Rules at National Forum PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Dave Blanchette   
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 11:38

Discusses Illinois’ Disaster Response After Year of Extreme Weather

WASHINGTON – Governor Pat Quinn today delivered the keynote address at the National Journal's Natural Disaster Forum in Washington, D.C., where he discussed Illinois’ preparedness and response to several major natural disasters and called for needed changes to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) disaster aid criteria. Under Governor Quinn’s leadership the state of Illinois has managed response to disasters ranging from deadly tornadoes to recent extreme winter storms. The Governor is working with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and the congressional delegation pass legislation to improve the federal formula in the disaster assistance process and help more people rebuild their lives.

“Illinois has faced a record number of historic natural disasters in recent years,” Governor Quinn said. “Disaster assistance shouldn’t be based on an outdated formula that excludes some of our hardest-hit communities. FEMA has been a great partner in helping individuals and businesses recover, and this legislation will allow them to assist even more communities with disaster recovery.”

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 Jan. 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.

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

State assistance was also assembled for severe storms and flooding in June and July 2011, August 2010, and July 2009; tornadoes in June 2010; and severe winter storms in March 2009 and March 2011.

A tornado outbreak on Nov. 17, 2013 killed eight people, damaged or destroyed 2,500 homes and severely impacted the towns of Brookport, Gifford, New Minden, Diamond and Washington, Ill. The state was struck by 25 confirmed tornadoes in three hours, including two EF-4 twisters, the first ever of that strength during November. Governor Quinn successfully secured federal aid to assist people and businesses in 15 counties just nine days after the tornadoes caused widespread destruction across the state. However, FEMA denied the state’s request for federal assistance to help local governments in nine impacted counties, based on the existing federal criteria.

These recent disasters highlight the need to update FEMA’s criteria for awarding federal disaster aid. Legislation introduced in the U.S. House and Senate would bring more fairness to the federal disaster declaration process.

The Fairness in Federal Disaster Declarations Act of 2014 will give FEMA a clearer, more substantive formula when evaluating disaster areas. It will modify a flawed system that places small and rural communities in highly populated states at a disadvantage in the federal disaster declaration process. The bill assigns a specific weight to each of the factors already used by FEMA, and adds other economic factors for the agency to consider when determining whether or not an area should receive federal assistance.

Governor Quinn directed state agencies to assemble an $8.8 million aid package for the Harrisburg, Ill. area when FEMA was unable to provide aid to local governments for a Feb. 29, 2012 tornado that killed seven people. Several state of Illinois agencies provided funding and manpower to clean up, rebuild and improve storm-ravaged areas of southern Illinois as a part of Governor Quinn’s commitment to make all possible assistance available to the area. The Governor also supported and signed a new state law preventing an increase in property taxes when a person rebuilds a home that was destroyed in a disaster.

Governor Quinn has also led the charge for improved state infrastructure so Illinois’ vital transportation routes and water supplies are better equipped for what Mother Nature throws at the state. Shortly after taking office, Governor Quinn proposed, and the Illinois General Assembly passed, a $31 billion infrastructure construction program. In addition, the Illinois Tollway established a $12 billion construction program and the Governor created a $2 billion Clean Water Initiative to improve drinking and wastewater systems. Most recently the Governor announced legislation to expand the program to address flood and stormwater management issues in communities throughout Illinois.

Last year, Governor Quinn was appointed to the President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. The task force will recommend ways to strengthen the way states and the nation respond to natural disasters.


USDA Announces New Grants to Help Communities Meet Water Challenges in Coming Years PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 14:44
$6 Million in Fiscal Year 2014, Up to $30 Million Over Next Five Years Available

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will make $6 million in grants available this year, and up to $30 million total over the next five years as part of a new initiative to provide solutions to agricultural water challenges. The grants will be used to develop management practices, technologies and tools for farmers, ranchers, forest owners and citizens to improve water resource quantity and quality.

"Cutting edge research holds the key to tackling the complex challenges posed by prolonged drought and ensuring the future food security of our nation," said Secretary Vilsack. "These grants will help arm America's farmers and ranchers with the tools and strategies they need to adapt and succeed, and build on ongoing, cross-governmental efforts to provide relief to those impacted by severe drought."

Today's announcement builds on USDA efforts to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners mitigate the impacts of drought, including implementation of the livestock disaster assistance programs provided through the 2014 Farm Bill and $40 million in additional conservation dollars.

NIFA has identified three critical topics that will be funded through this new challenge area: 1) ensuring the water security of surface and ground water needed to produce agricultural goods and services; 2) improving nutrient management in agricultural landscapes focused on nitrogen and phosphorous; and 3) reducing impacts of chemicals and the presence and movement of environmental pathogens in the nation's water supply. NIFA's approach will link social, economic, and behavioral sciences with traditional biophysical sciences and engineering to address regional scale issues with shared hydrological processes, and meteorological and basin characteristics.

NIFA is expected to make $30 million available over the next five years for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) water challenge area, with the expectation that the new projects awarded this fiscal year would receive additional funding in the following four years. All additional funding is contingent on future congressional appropriations and achievement of project objectives and milestones.

Building on its investment in water research, NIFA will also fund projects through the National Integrated Water Quality Program (NIWQP), which addresses critical water resource issues including water quality protection and water conservation. The RFA for this program is expected to be released in the spring of 2014.

The NIWQP supports research, education and Extension projects and programs that address critical water resource issues in agricultural, rural and urbanizing watersheds. These projects reflect the growing need to combine knowledge from biological and physical sciences with social and economic sciences to address complex water issues.

The NIWQP focuses on addressing water issues at the watershed scale. Projects funded by the NIWQP are outcome-oriented, aiming to increase awareness and change behaviors related to water resource management.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. More information is available at: www.nifa.usda.gov.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).


Governor Quinn Announces Coordinated Measures Being Taken for Extreme Weather Across Illinois PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Dave Blanchette   
Friday, 21 February 2014 16:43

Flooding Issues Anticipated from Snow Melt; Motorists Encouraged to Use Extreme Caution

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today announced coordinated measures being taken by Illinois state agencies to prepare for heavy snow and rainfall, along with potential flooding and treacherous driving conditions in areas throughout the state. Today’s announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s commitment to keeping all Illinois residents safe this winter.

“As Illinois experiences another round of extreme weather, state of Illinois personnel and emergency crews are working around the clock to help keep people safe in these dangerous conditions,” Governor Quinn said. “I urge everyone to use caution and stay alert while outdoors and to only travel if absolutely necessary.”

National Weather Service forecasters predict the arrival of a strong cold front accompanied by strong winds with gusts over 50 mph, creating potential for whiteout conditions and debris on roadways. Flooding on pavements is also a concern with the combination of warm temperatures, melting snow, added rain, frozen surfaces and the anticipated temperature drop.

Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) crews are working to continually clear storm drains and are on standby to address the removal of snow and ice as needed from state routes to help ensure the safety of the motoring public.

Currently, all state routes are open. The Kampsville and Brussels Ferries remain closed due to ice on the river. IDOT will continue to monitor the weather statewide and respond accordingly. IDOT advises travelers to weigh the conditions carefully before venturing onto roadways during the storm.

“This unprecedented streak of winter weather continues to wreak havoc on Illinois, but travelers can be assured that IDOT crews will continue to work around the clock, as needed, to address flooding issues and to clear snow and ice,” IDOT Secretary Ann L. Schneider said. “We also ask that the public continue to heed our advice to stay off the roads if possible during storms, and to drive sensibly to help avoid crashes, which often are caused by driving too fast for conditions or following too closely. Our goal is to help everyone get to their destinations safely and work towards zero fatalities on Illinois roadways.”

The Illinois Tollway has cleared storm drains and is patrolling its 286-mile system to ensure crews can quickly respond if any flooding issues arise in low-lying areas.

“For their own safety, drivers should avoid traveling through standing water,” Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said. “We urge our customers to travel cautiously and to dial *999 on a cellphone to report any flooding they may see on our roadways.”

The Illinois State Police (ISP) statewide will be monitoring road conditions and are advising motorists to use caution when driving. Depending on the weather conditions, motorists can expect ramp closures and re-routes. ISP will be working closely with IDOT and other agency partners to provide assistance to stranded motorists and updated information on any hazardous driving conditions. Motorists should expect delays and lengthy commutes.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is maintaining close contact with the National Weather Service and local emergency management agencies across the state to stay abreast of any flooding issues. If assistance to communities is needed, IEMA can quickly summon liaisons from more than a dozen state agencies to the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) to coordinate the deployment of state resources and personnel.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is collecting river stage and precipitation information, and reviewing river forecasts and precipitation forecasts issued by the National Weather Service in order to make informed situational reports to the IEMA. IDNR is providing field observations to IEMA to help assess the extent and severity of a flood emergency.

The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) warns residents about the dangers of electrocution, carbon monoxide poison and gas leaks in flooded basements. With the flooding alert caused by the melted snow followed by heavy rain today, residents with basements or living in units below ground level should unplug any electric appliances and bring them above floor level. In addition, furnaces, water heaters and boilers should be inspected and monitored during the flood alert as a precaution to prevent the possibility of carbon monoxide leaks and gas leaks.

Electric shocks and electrocution are a common flood danger caused by contact with energized electrical equipment. The OSFM recommends people avoid entering a flooded area if the power has not been shut off. It also warns the public to stay away from downed power lines or other electrical equipment, especially if they are wet or standing in water.

The Governor also announced the State Incident Report Center (SIRC) is active today to coordinate the state’s response to floods and will be in communication with other state agencies including ISP, IDOT, IDNR, the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS), the Illinois National Guard (ILNG) and the Red Cross.

Drivers are reminded to exercise caution when snow and ice or flooding affect roadways, and IDOT advises travel only when absolutely necessary during storms or when temperatures are extremely low. Due to current weather conditions, IDOT encourages motorists who must travel to check the latest winter road conditions and road closures at gettingaroundillinois.com.

During severely cold weather, the Illinois Department of Human Services advises that Illinois residents limit exposure to cold temperatures, dress in layers, check in on others who may need additional assistance, keep vehicles in good repair and bring pets indoors. For a list of warming centers in Illinois, visit KeepWarm.Illinois.gov.

Flooding-related driving tips:

  • Do not drive through flooded areas.
  • If a road covered by water seems shallow enough to cross, do not attempt to do so.
  • If your car stalls, do not attempt to push it out; seek higher ground.


Safety tips to remember:

  • Allow extra time for travel during the winter months.
  • Don’t crowd the plow – a snow plow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they may not see you.
  • Be aware that black ice can form on roads that appear clear and the unseen ice can be treacherous. Take it slow when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges and shady areas – all are prone to black ice, which is often invisible.
  • Always keep your gas tank at least two-thirds full to help prevent the vehicle’s fuel line from freezing.
  • Do not travel during bad weather unless absolutely necessary – if you do have to make a trip, check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your travel route and schedule.
  • Always carry an emergency car care kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, a small ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food and a first aid kit.
  • Carry a few extra blankets in your car, and perhaps an extra coat to ensure protection in case of a breakdown.
  • Carry a cell phone and dial *999 for roadway assistance in case of emergency (but remember using handheld phones while driving is illegal if it is not an emergency situation).
  • Always wear a seat belt, front seat or back – it’s the law.
  • Check travel and road conditions routinely before any trip. You can get road condition information by calling 1-800-452-IDOT (4368), Illinois Tollway information by calling 1-800-TOLL-FYI or online at gettingaroundillinois.com and click on the “winter road conditions” icon.

ASPCA Urges Pet Owners to Prepare for Winter Storms PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Kelly Krause   
Tuesday, 04 February 2014 14:11

Heeding some cold weather cautions can keep pets safe during storms Maximus and Nika

New York, N.Y.—In anticipation of multiple winter storms hitting the central and eastern U.S. this week, the ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) urges pet owners to take measures to keep their families and pets safe. Winter storm Maximus has already affected 30 states, many of which will also be affected by Nika later this week.

“With such heavy amounts of snow, it’s important to bring your pets inside and know what dangers your pets face in these extreme conditions,” said Dr. Dick Green, senior director of Disaster Response for the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team. “Winter storms create risks for both humans and pets alike.”

The ASPCA urges pet owners to develop an emergency plan that accounts for the safety of their animals, to stay up to date on community storm warnings, and to check with their local Office of Emergency Management for important information.

The following tips will help pet owners prepare for winter storms:

  • If it's too cold for you, it's too cold for your pet. Never leave your pet outside during a snowstorm for longer than you would want to be out there with them.
  • Don’t let your dog off leash after heavy snowfall, as they can easily become lost.
  • Clean off your dog’s paws and belly with a moist washcloth after going outside. Snow-melting salt can be very painful to dogs’ feet and can make them ill if ingested. Clumps of snow can accumulate between toes and cause pain as well. Dog boots and salves can be purchased to protect sensitive dog paws.
  • Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification. The ASPCA recommends micro-chipping your pet as a more permanent form of identification.
  • During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep underneath cars for shelter. Bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give any resting cats a chance to escape.
  • If you lose power, be sure candles aren’t in a location where your pet can knock them over.

To prevent your pet from going stir-crazy during this week’s storms, try these tips:

  • Give your pet a puzzle toy stuffed with food, such as a kong.
  • If pets get all their toys at once, they’ll get bored. Keep toys in rotation throughout the week so they feel new again.
  • Provide a perch where your cat can watch the action outside.
  • Hiding treats around the house can keep pets active and engaged. Keep in mind that any additional treats should be factored into their daily diet.
  • Going up and down stairs is a great way to help your dog exercise indoors, but be careful to avoid injury.

For more information on disaster preparedness and cold weather pet safety tips from the ASPCA, please visit http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/disaster-preparedness.

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