Environment

Kathleen Masterson / Harvest Public Media

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.

Sarah McCammon / IPR

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.

Deer numbers down

Nov 29, 2012

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.

USGS

  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.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

We’re all too familiar with whitetail deer. But there also have been a few recent sightings in Iowa of rare white-tailed squirrels.

The rodent with the bushy, snow-white tail is snow white. It’s been seen in the Witmer Park area near Drake University. Earlier this year, several were spotted in the town of Osage.

Clay Masters / IPR

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.

A year after flood, Hamburg hopes to keep levee

Aug 7, 2012
Nati Harnik / AP

Last summer, Iowa and Nebraska were in the grips of major flooding along the Missouri River. Now, a small southwest Iowa community hopes to make permanent a levee that protected them from the river. 

To find out more about the levee project, click here.

http://www.cedarrapidsfloodstory.com/statistics/

 

This weeks marks four years since the 2008 flood in Cedar Rapids.

The worst natural disaster in Iowa’s history dislocated tens of thousands of people from their homes and is costing many millions of dollars in public money.

As Iowa Public Radio’s Kate Wells reports, even now the impacts of the flood are everywhere you look.

Joplin, One Year Later

May 21, 2012
Liam Kieffer

One year ago – on May 22, 2011 – one of the deadliest tornados in U.S. history struck the city of Joplin, Missouri. The twister killed 160 people and injured hundreds more.

Recently, IPR’s Ben Kieffer traveled to Joplin to talk with tornado survivors. 

He also spoke with researchers from Iowa State University who went to Joplin in the immediate aftermath. They surveyed structural damage to find out what it reveals about how best to survive a tornado.  

Department of Natural Resources

Something remarkable is happening in the countryside of Iowa this spring; something that hasn’t been seen to this extent, in more than 120 years. Wildlife experts are cheering the rebound of North America’s largest water fowl.

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