The head of a major environmental organization will lead a new initiative to get farmers to comply with water quality standards. But other environmentalists are skeptical the new standards will work as long as they remain voluntary.
A mother black bear and her two cubs were spotted earlier this week, on the border of Fayette and Clayton Counties, in northeast Iowa. The next day, a beekeeper discovered bear scat and paw prints near some damaged hives. Also this week, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources confirmed the state's first mountain lion of 2014. A deer carcass with signs of mountain lion predation was found in Cherokee County, in northeast Iowa.
Officials with the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management agency released to the general public the routes rail lines take to haul crude oil through the state from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota. The rail lines are complying with a new federal mandate to report shipments of more than a million gallons.
Effigy Mounds-Yellow River Forest in northeast Iowa’s Allamakee County is designated as the first globally important bird area for Iowa, and it’s all because of a very small blue and white bird with a lovely song called the Cerulean Warbler. Bird Biologist with Iowa DNR Bruce Ehresman says it’s the largest important bird
conservation area in the state with about 135 thousand acres….
A dedication of the state’s first globally important bird area takes place May 31st at the Yellow River State Forest headquarters.
Each year, the statewide nonprofit organization Iowa Rivers Revival honors a community for its commitment to the river that runs through it. This year the group named Decorah as its River Town of the Year.
On a cool spring day, fish splash at the trout hatchery in Decorah as a few hearty men in waders angle nearby. Alongside the Upper Iowa River is a multi-use, four season trail. The recreation options are among the reasons Iowa Rivers Revival selected Decorah and the Oneota Valley for this year's award.
Although the current weather may not feel like spring is near, many birds are already beginning to migrate. And that includes the Rusty Blackbird. But the species is declining. And that is where the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz comes in. It’s a bird count of sorts. The event’s Iowa coordinator Chelsea Underwood says there are several ways to identify the bird…. For more information go to www.rustyblackbird.org. Or, contact your local bird-watching group.
Researchers at the University of Iowa have received a $125,000 federal grant to study the effects of frack sand mining on air quality.
The rise in hydraulic fracturing in the US and Canada has created demand for silica sand, used in the fracking process. There’s currently just one major frack sand mine in Iowa’s Clayton County. But parts of northeast Iowa are rich in these sand deposits.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) manages almost 1,400 bison spread out amongst seven herds located in Iowa, Colorado, Oklahoma, Montana, Nebraska and North Dakota. About 70 of these bison live at the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge in Prairie City.
FWS aims to preserve the species genetic diversity with as little human intervention as possible by allowing the forces of natural selection determine which bison live and die. However, because herds are isolated from each other the agency conducts genetic testing to prevent inbreeding.
Critics are challenging an investigative report by the Associated Press that says ethanol production is damaging the environment. As Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports, the debate comes as the Environmental Protection Agency is getting closer to finalizing how much ethanol will be blended into gasoline in 2014.
Iowa homeowners and municipalities can use urban wetlands to capture nutrients that pollute state waterways and improve water quality. That’s according to a new report out Wednesday. But researchers say it would only be a small part of improving the state’s water quality.
The amount of pollution municipalities put into the state’s rivers and streams are regulated. This new report from the Iowa Policy Project documents what else cities and homeowners to reduce polluted storm runoff.
Thanks to tight competition, hog farmers are feeling a push to expand or get out of the business. That means indoor confined animal feeding operations – or CAFOs – are growing even in the most environmentally sensitive areas.
As the weather gets colder, bats will soon head into hibernation. But Iowa’s bat population is at an important juncture: Scientists are watching to see whether a devastating fungus that has already been discovered once in the state, will infect cave-dwelling bats.
This summer, officials in Iowa have been asking farmers to voluntarily reduce the amount of fertilizer they use. That’s because the fertilizer contains nitrates that are being washed into state waterways and creating environmental concerns locally and nationally. The runoff has been particularly bad this year, and the outcry over typical crop practices is growing. To find if Iowa farmers are complying with the government’s request, Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters followed the water trail.
It has been five years since the floods of 2008. Now, a week after another round of flooding in Eastern Iowa, IPR’s Durrie Bouscaren looks at how many Iowans are adapting to changing times.
More than a thousand runners participated in “Run the Flood,” an annual race through Cedar Rapids to commemorate the anniversary of a flood that would change the landscape of many Iowa cities and towns. Carmen Covington says she participates every year.
“It was shocking,” Covington said. “It was sad to see everything I had known my entire life to be destroyed under so much water,”
The deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas is prompting questions about regulatory oversight there. In Iowa, officials say fertilizer is only produced at a handful of sites across the state, but many others store it.
A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spokesman says the agency regulates 700 retail facilities in Iowa that store more than 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer, an ingredient that can be particularly volatile.
Officials with Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois are voting on whether to downsize four of their Girl Scout camps. The proposal is a step back from an earlier plan, to sell all four camps entirely. Girl Scouts officials say today's girls want a more modern camping experience.
There are certain traditions that are essential to being a Girl Scout: reciting the Girl Scout Pledge, selling cookies, and – for many girls over many decades – going to summer camp.
A longtime composting program in Iowa City is about to gain a major participant; the dining halls at the state's largest hospital. Iowa Public Radio's Durrie Bouscaren looks at how landfills are turning food waste into a smelly source of garden soil.
At the Iowa City landfill, there are tall rows of compost; a goulash of food waste and lawn trimmings. Each pile is about the size of a city bus, but it’s the smell that you notice first. When it’s cold, you can see steam coming off of the mounds.
You’ve probably heard about controversies over the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing – the technique known as “fracking.” There’s no oil or gas fracking in Iowa…but the increasing use of the technique is affecting the state. It’s creating a market for finely-grained silica sand from northeast Iowa.
And some residents of the area are in conflict over the future of frac sand mining.
Controversy over so-called “frack” sand mining is heating up in northeast Iowa. A community meeting Wednesday evening in Decorah will focus on concerns about the possibility of mining development in Winneshiek County.
Fine sand can be used in the hydraulic fracturing process known as “fracking.” The technique is used to remove natural gas and oil from deep underground. There’s not any oil or gas fracking in Iowa right now – but there is a sand mine in northeast Iowa’s Clayton County, which is shipping frack sand out of state.
Over the past several months, we’ve been reporting on lots of problems caused by a lack of rain. And for good reason – the historic drought plaguing Iowa and much of the nation has dried up crops, destroyed landscaping, and killed off fish.
But like with most things, there can be a silver lining.
John Larson makes wine at Snus Hill Winery in Madrid, Iowa. This time of year, he’s not growing grapes – but he is mixing wine in giant, silver tanks.
Since 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has picked five cities each year for its Greening America's Capitals project. On this year’s list? Des Moines.
The project will focus on revitalizing the 6th Avenue Corridor in downtown Des Moines. The idea is to make the corridor friendlier to pedestrians, with wider sidewalks, improved lightning and larger bus stop shelters.
Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley was in a car that hit a deer last month and that was the beginning of a series of tweets to see if other Iowans have had similar experiences this fall. Senator Grassley says in addition to the vehicle crash, he began noticing a significant amount of dead deer along the highway.
Department of Natural Resources deer biologist Tom Litchfield admits there are certain pockets in the state where there are high concentrations of deer, but for the most part
The head of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources asked the governor and his budget advisors for more than a million dollars to hire new inspectors for the state’s livestock facilities. But that may not be enough to prevent the federal Environmental Protection agency
from taking over enforcement of clean water standards.
A strategy on how Iowa will cut back farm and sewage treatment pollution released today by Governor Branstad’s office is being criticized for being too friendly to farmers. As Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports, its intent is to shrink a dead zone in the nation’s top commercial fishery in the Gulf of Mexico.
The attention often centers on agriculture when a drought hits. But new Iowa Department of Natural Resources numbers show the state’s stream flows are well below normal and groundwater levels are reaching historic lows. There's a ripple effect in how the drought will affect the state’s fish.