Environment

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

Parts of northwest Iowa saw up to 10 inches of rain over the last couple of days, which caused manure systems at nearly 30 livestock operations to overflow.

Kate Payne / IPR

Federal agencies and local leaders are committing to work together to expand water quality monitoring on the Mississippi River. Representatives from the U.S. Geological Survey, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Transportation signed the agreement Wednesday with a coalition of mayors from up and down the Mississippi.

neverything via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/neverything/

State investigators say heavy rains were in a factor in a manure spill at a dairy farm in eastern Iowa. Some researchers say a changing climate could increase the risk for similar incidents. 

Courtesy of National Park Service / nps.gov

Funding and staffing issues have led Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources to close its only fish habitat monitoring station on the Missouri River, leaving some western Iowa residents unhappy. 

Courtesy of Invenergy

Some western Iowa residents say they’re concerned about wind projects being planned nearby. Energy developer Invenergy is planning almost 170 wind turbines in Sac and Ida counties.

Wikimedia Commons

Conservationists say they’ve made progress in the 10 years since historic floods hit eastern Iowa. Now they're calling for even more investment in flood protection. 

Iowa DNR

Results of an investigation into an August fish kill in northwest Iowa show animal manure is likely the reason dozens to hundreds of fish were found dead in the Floyd River.

Amy Mayer / IPR

An increasing number of farmers is using cover crops to keep water, soil and nutrients from running off fields. But while many studies have shown the agronomic and environmental benefits of the plants that come up after cash crops such as corn or soybeans get harvested, it’s been harder to determine whether a farm business will recover the initial planting cost.

Katie Peikes / IPR

Bison are helping sustain a diverse native prairie in western Iowa through grazing.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Cleanup of a June crude oil spill in northwest Iowa is expected to continue through October. Officials from one county in the region recently met with the state and those involved in the cleanup to learn more about the process.

Kate Payne / IPR

Early results from a survey of the Iowa River show mussel populations are lower than researchers hoped. Scientists are monitoring the animals to better understand water quality in the river. 

Carl Wycoff via flickr creative commons

Some experts say Iowa farmers are largely exempt from a re-instated federal rule on water pollution. But the rule is still facing resistance from some ag groups.

Devlon Duthie via flickr creative commons

Iowa City is once again debating how to rein in a growing urban deer population. As the city has done in the past, local officials are considering hiring sharpshooters to cull the deer. But residents are divided on how to manage the deer, which some say are damaging gardens and spurring car crashes.

Kate Payne / IPR

Farmers began phasing out the use of a particular pesticide long before a federal judge recently banned it. But chlorpyrifos could still have some long-term effects in Iowa.

Katie Peikes / IPR

More than 40 researchers from around the world gathered in northwest Iowa last week to share their studies on single-celled algae organisms called polar marine diatoms. These organisms are the base of the food web in the polar regions and can reveal a lot about the Earth’s changing climate.

Courtesy of Iowa DNR

Flooding in northwest Iowa earlier this summer propelled an invasive species of fish called Asian carp towards the Iowa Great Lakes, but biologists say a barrier seems to be keeping them out.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cwppra/ / Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection And Restoration Act

This year’s so-called "dead zone" off the coast of Louisiana is much smaller than expected. After monitoring farm runoff from the Midwest, that has some researchers surprised. 

Courtesy of Allison Engel

With plenty of fast fashion outlets and cheap clothing available, Americans are purchasing, and discarding, clothing items at a rate never seen before. Allison Engel, co-author of second-hand shopping guide, "Thrift Style," says used clothign stores often provide cheaper, high-qualilty clothing options, while decreasing textile waste.

Kate Payne / IPR

A non-profit organization hoping to restore native habitats in eastern Iowa is getting some help from a herd of goats.  Seventeen goats are currently eating their way through 40 acres of invasive plants on the Muddy Creek Preserve in Johnson County. Staffers at the Bur Oak Land Trust hope to ultimately restore the parcel to pre-settlement conditions, but they say they need the animals' help to get it done.

Iowa DNR

State environmental officials are tracking pheasant numbers across Iowa this month to get a picture of the population trend.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Cleanup is continuing in northwest Iowa after a train derailed last month and leaked crude oil into the Rock River. Dickinson County officials are concerned oil-contaminated soil is being removed from an area in Lyon County and coming to a Dickinson County landfill.

Tom Gustafson / Courtesy of Okoboji Tourism

A group of residents in northwest Iowa has plans to spruce up the area leading into the Iowa Great Lakes.

Claudia McGehee Illustration

Discussions about endangered species in Iowa often focus on the bigger, showier species that make headlines, like the bald eagle; but there are many species at risk that fly under the radar.

For instance, the Topeka Shiner, a small minnow that lives in Midwestern streams.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with ecologists and biologists who are looking out for Iowa’s smallest, most threatened species, including the Topeka Shiner, the Rusty Patched Bumblebee, the Wood Turtle, and many more.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s message to Midwestern farmers this week is a mixed bag, telling them that the agency will be changing an Obama-era rule regarding water regulations but is pausing a plan to expand summer sales of ethanol.

FIRMM

Right now, chances are pretty good that you're surrounded by plastic. A plastic keyboard, plastic water bottle, the plastic fixtures in your car, perhaps even a plastic case on your phone. There's no denying that plastics are an integral part of our society, but they're also a huge factor in a major environmental disaster that's becoming increasingly apparent in our oceans and waterways. 

Nick Brincks

How do you get kids to pay attention to lessons about important but not necessarily attention-grabbing topics like water quality and soil erosion?

Heavy metal rock anthems about cover crops and raps about watersheds are not often linked to science education, but for Jacqueline Comito, program director for Iowa Learning Farms, it's a perfect fit.

"Sense of humor is, I think, one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal," says Comito, who is also a musician.

IPR Images

An effort to repeal Iowa’s nearly 40-year old bottle deposit law this year has apparently come to an end after action in the Iowa Senate.    

A bill backed by the Iowa Grocery Industry Association and the Iowa Beverage Association to replace the bottle law with a statewide recycling program did not clear a three-member panel.

The bill’s manager, Sen. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull), announced an alternative effort to modernize the law instead.  

“We are not repealing the bottle bill,” Feenstra said.     

Wikimedia Commons

A bill to repeal Iowa’s bottle deposit law and replace it with a statewide recycling program failed to clear a Republican-dominated three member panel in the Iowa House today.  

A separate House bill to expand the law by adding more containers is also dead for the year. But the Senate is still considering a total repeal.    

Rep. Guy Vander Linden (R-Oskaloosa) called today’s hearing even though he knew the bill to repeal the bottle deposit law did not have the support to advance.      

Community Environmental Council

In the last three decades, the Earth has lost half of its coral reefs. In 2016, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef lost nearly 30 percent of its coral. In 2017, this number rose to 50 percent.

While there are a number of different factors at play, it's increasingly clear that the warming of the world's oceans are a major contributor to this loss.

Iowa General Assembly

By a vote of 33 to 16, the Iowa Senate Wednesday night approved a bill to crack down on protesters who cause disruption to critical infrastructure in the state.

The bill is backed by Energy Transfer, developer of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which was damaged along its Iowa route by protesters opposing the project.

The pipeline was built to carry crude oil from North Dakota diagonally across 18 Iowa counties.

The bill creates a new offense of sabotage against critical infrastructure. 

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