Environment

Wildlife Day
2:56 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Bald Eagles in Iowa: A Comeback Story

Charity Nebbe

The population of bald eagles in Iowa appears to be plateauing. That’s according to wildlife biologist Jim Pease.

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Environment
2:14 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Grassley Wants Wind Tax Credit to Go Further

Iowa wind farms generate much of the state's electricity.
Brooke Raymond

Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says the Senate will soon vote on the long-delayed tax extenders bill. The legislation groups more than 50 tax breaks, including wind energy incentives.

Because Iowa is a leader in wind energy production, Grassley has been vocal on the need to extend the tax credits. But Grassley says the bill doesn’t go far enough.

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Environment
1:35 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Grassley Says Congressional Republicans Will "Neuter" EPA Proposal

Debate continues over proposed changes to the federal oversight of waterways. The Des Moines River is among those affected by the pollution the rule aims to improve.
John Marvig

A proposal to modify the Clean Water Act, known as the Waters of the U.S. rule, will face stiff opposition come January, says U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley.  That’s when both the House and the Senate will be held by the GOP.

Grassley and other Republicans have spoken harshly against the recommendation from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, which would increase federal oversight of U.S. waterways.

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Wildlife Day
9:50 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Wildlife Day: Wild Creatures of Brazil

Caiman thermoregulating
Jim Pease

Jaguars don’t roam the prairies and Hyacinth Macaws don’t perch in our oak trees, but today on Talk of Iowa we learn about the wild creatures of Brazil with wildlife biologist, Jim Pease.

Big cats, small primates, colorful birds, and rodents of unusual size. We also find out why the biodiversity of the Amazon matters here in Iowa.

"While we still celebrate the wildlife that we have here in Iowa, I think we need to remember how diverse it once was," says Pease. "Visiting places that are these 'mega-diversity' places is important for a number of reasons."

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Environment
1:44 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Zoo Euthanizes Beloved Giraffe

Shani the giraffe eating lettuce. She was a willing participant in the public feeding program, say zoo officials.
courtesy of Blank Park Zoo

The Blank Park Zoo euthanized one of its giraffes last Thursday. Shani, a 21-year-old female, had lived at the Des Moines zoo since 1996. 

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Environment
1:03 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Habitat Loss and Its Impact on Iowa's Biodiversity

An IPR listener photo submission of a Great Blue Heron, titled: "My pond is like stopping at McDonald's"
Kenneth Mertes

Many scientists believe that Earth is in the midst of a sixth great extinction. On this edition of Talk of Iowa, threats to biodiversity in the Midwest.

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Environment
12:05 pm
Fri October 31, 2014

Furbearer Season Looks Promising

Furbearer season starts Saturday in Iowa, and goes through January 2015.
Eric Bégin

Furbearer season starts Saturday in Iowa. Hunters and trappers will likely see greater numbers of raccoons and coyotes from previous years, but fewer red foxes. 

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River to River
5:39 pm
Mon October 27, 2014

Doug Smith of the Yellowstone Gray Wolf Restoration Project: "They're just like us"

Yellowstone wolf in the woods
Jeremy Weber

"Our problems with wolves stem from jealousy and competition...they're just like us," says Doug Smith, Yellowstone National Park wildlife biologist.

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Environment
5:44 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Park Service Construction Damaged Native American Burial Sites

Under the watch of the National Park Service, $3 million worth of illegal construction projects went on for nearly a decade at Effigy Mounds National Monument in northeast Iowa.
Clay Masters IPR

Imagine being able to drive an all-terrain vehicle right up next to a sacred earthen Native American burial mound.

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Environment
12:00 am
Fri October 17, 2014

An Ojibwe Woman Protects Mother Earth

Carol Kramer in the regalia she wears when leading the Pine Point village Pow Wow.
Credit Photo extracted from a Dove Program poster circulated on the White Earth Indian Reservation.

The recipient of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation’s highest honor is being recognized for her environmental work while serving on the Jasper County Conservation Board and elsewhere. The Newton woman credits her Native American heritage for instilling a love of Mother Earth.

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Environment
4:36 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Environmentalist Heads Agriculture Water Initiative

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.    

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Environment
6:35 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Predators Come Back to Iowa

Black bear cubs spotted in Alberta, Canada. A female black bear, or sow, has her first litter between 3-5 years. Her cubs stay with her until they are 16-18 months.
Credit Mark Stevens

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.

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Bakken Crude Shipments
3:57 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Nine Counties See Shipments of Bakken Crude

Photo by Cha gia Jose

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.     

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Environment
5:21 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Pollutants in Iowa's Watershed

The Des Moines River.
slappytheseal

A report released today by Environment Iowa Research and Policy Center listed Cargill Meat Solutions’s pork processing plant in Ottumwa as the state’s number one disposer of toxic chemicals into waterways.

In 2012 Cargill disposed more than 2,800,000 lbs of chemicals into the Lower Des Moines River.

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Environment
5:45 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Iowa's globally significant bird area

Cerulean Warbler
Credit Wikipedia

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.

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Environment
1:35 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Trumpeter Swans Returning to Southern Iowa

Five trumpeter swans at their release into Lake Icaria on May 08, 2014.
Credit Sandy McCurdy / Sandy McCurdy Photos

Last spring, flooding destroyed 19 percent of trumpeter swan nests in Iowa.  Then in the fall many of the juveniles, or cygnets, died from drought.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources wildlife research technician Dave Hoffman says modification of Iowa’s watershed causes this severe weather.

“Wetlands…act as sponges to clean and hold the water in the spring, but also…hold the water in the fall (to) provide the moisture we need.”

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Environment
5:00 am
Wed May 7, 2014

River Curriculum Helps Decorah Earn Statewide Honor

A trout hatchery and recreation trails make the Upper Iowa River appealing to residents and visitors.
Amy Mayer/IPR

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. 

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Environment
8:00 am
Sun March 2, 2014

Rusty Blackbird Blitz in Iowa

Rusty Blackbrid
Credit G.Hoffman & C. Mettke Hoffman

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.

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Environment
11:30 pm
Thu November 28, 2013

Air Quality Concerns from Frack Sand to be Studied by UI Team

A sand pile at the Pattison Sand Company mine in eastern Iowa's Clayton County. It's the only site in Iowa actively mining for sand to be used in hydraulic fracturing.
Credit Sarah McCammon / Iowa Public Radio

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.

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Environment
10:53 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Bison Roundup at the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge

Three bison at Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge at dawn on the day of the roundup.
Sarah Boden Iowa Public Radio

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.

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Environment
3:20 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Iowa Politicians Critical of Investigative AP Report on Ethanol

Credit Sarah McCammon

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. 

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Environment
4:15 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Urban Wetlands Play a Part in Improving Iowa Water Quality

The Raccoon River in Des Moines.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

 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. 

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Environment
2:59 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Environmentally Sensitive ‘Driftless’ Region Highlights CAFO Concerns

Chris Wasta fly fishes on Bear Creek in Winneshiek County, Iowa. The trout stream is a region of the Midwest known as the 'driftless' region.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

   

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.

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Environment
9:04 am
Tue September 24, 2013

Scientists Fight Bat Fungus in a "Race Against Time"

Dr. Julie Blanchong, an associate professor in ISU's Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management (right), works with a student to set up a recording device used to capture bat calls.
Credit Sarah McCammon / Iowa Public Radio

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.

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Environment
6:02 am
Mon September 2, 2013

Sioux City May End Glass Recycling

The cost of hauling glass to a recycling center often exceeds the value of the material, prompting communities including Sioux City to consider stopping collection.
Credit Dean Borg

Sioux City’s garbage contractor is asking the City Council to discontinue collecting glass for recycling.

The City Council will vote next week on the request to exclude glass from the city’s curbside pickup of recyclable materials.

Glass is easy to recycle, but expensive to haul to a recycling center - and inexpensive to make new.

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Environment
6:00 am
Wed August 28, 2013

Farmers, Policymakers Debate Water Quality Regulation

Farmer Tim Smith stands by a creek that cuts through his property near the north central Iowa town of Eagle Grove. He does several water quality conservation practices on his land including a bio-reactor, strip tilling and cover crops.
Clay Masters IPR

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.

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Environment
9:39 am
Wed June 12, 2013

5 years later, Iowans learning to live with floods

Donnarae MacCann stands by a wall of sandbags surrounding her home on Normandy Drive, in Iowa City.
Durrie Bouscaren Iowa Public Radio

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,”

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Environment
8:13 am
Fri April 19, 2013

Are Iowa Fertilizer Plants at Risk?

Smoke rises as water is sprayed after an explosion at a fertilizer plant in the town of West, Texas.
Credit Mike Stone / Reuters

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.

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Environment
8:40 am
Thu April 11, 2013

As Rustic Camps Struggle, Girl Scouts Look at Modernizing Camping

The Girl Scout logo outside the offices of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois in the Quad Cities.
Sarah McCammon Iowa Public Radio

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.

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Environment
5:30 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

It's not easy being green; University of Iowa Hospitals try composting

Compost piles sit at the Iowa City Landfill in late March.
Durrie Bouscaren Iowa Public Radio News

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.

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