but more funding is needed. You may have heard the news that EPA has earmarked $60million for nutrient reduction work in the 12 states of the Mississippi River basin. This is good news, but more is needed. In Iowa, a law was passed in 2010 that established the Iowa Water and Land Legacy fund, which will be funded when the sales tax is increased by 0.38%. This money will go to conservation programs. Those in Iowa need to lobby for inclusion of this amount in the state budget, McGovern urged. It is in the Governor's budget but the legislature must approve it to make it law. Now is the time for action.
Jared was excited to share about past successes in Iowa that prove that change CAN happen. He pointed to Iowa's success in reintroducing river otters to the state, a project begin in 1985 after the animals had been extirpated in (entirely removed from) Iowa. Thanks to efforts to rebuild habitat, reintroduce otters and protect growing populations, river otters are now found in most counties in Iowa. The success of the "There Oughta be Otters in Iowa" project proves that concerted efforts by Iowans can bring about major change.
Many thanks to Nancy Porter for organizing this event! And thanks to Jared McGovern for a great tour, and thanks to the Mississippi River Network for their support and leadership in developing River Days of Action events throughout the watershed! You can read the full report from the Mississippi River Network at this link.
Smack in the middle of the rural and urban landscapes that define Ankeny, Iowa, Griffieon Family Farm exemplifies diversity and ingenuity as keys to sustainability - theirs for 160 years and for so many aspects of the health of their community. They raise multiple species of livestock on pasture, including a herd of Limousins begun in 1960; they raise crops, including corn that goes to a local distillery; there is riparian restoration on the farm; area vegetable growers rent land on the farm; cover crops, portable hen houses, direct markets, farmers markets, and soap have their roles on the farm.
But, says LaVon Griffieon, “With urban growth pressure increasing upon our farm’s boundaries, we hope more people begin to realize the importance of local food security and a community based food system." LaVon will describe some of their niche markets because of all the urban growth as well as address some practical barriers to growing food and soil without chemicals. To learn more about the Griffieon’s farm click here!
This monthly series is a project of the Upper Mississippi River Initiative (umri.org) of the Izaak Walton League of America, with co-hosts Chris Henning of the Panora Conservation Chapter and Des Moines Chapter Communication Director, Bud Hartley. We feature guests for 30-40 minute presentations that shed daylight on good works done in the name of the Mississippi and its uplands. In this way we uplift our shared goals for a cleaner river, a cared for environment, and kinder communities. Recorded programs are available shortly after they air live.
If you missed the May presentation, here is the link: Stream TEAM Science is (slowly) shifting policy! How E. coli & DNA data changed Mower Co. septic system practices… A discussion with leaders Larry Dolphin, Bill Buckley, Mark Owens, lifelong members of the Izaak Walton League (IWLA), and Josh Balk, Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
Our featured presenters are Alicia Vasto from the Iowa Environmental Council speaking on the Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience initiative (MRRRI), Brandt Thorington from the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative on the Safeguarding the Mississippi River Together initiative (SMRT), Lara Bryant from the Natural Resources Defense Council speaking on behalf of the Clean Water For All Coalition on the Farm Bill reauthorization and Kirsten Wallace from the Upper Mississippi River Basin Authority on the notion of an Upper Midwest Compact to protect the waters of the Mississippi from diversion. We have more information on the speakers in this post on the UMRR Blog.
This video was recorded on May 21 at 10:30. This video is presented by the League of Women Voters Upper Mississippi River Region. To learn more about our organization and our work, visit our website at https://www.lwvumrr.org/ .
Chicago's local forest preserves are a treasure. Join LWV Chicago for a series of naturalist-led walks in the woods of Chicago. All are welcome – bring a friend! Click the link for each walk below to learn more and register.
LWV Chicago is a supporter of the Cook County Forest Preserve VOTE YES referendum coming up on the November ballot—voters will have the opportunity to vote YES to protect clean water sources, air quality, and wildlife in Cook County. A property tax increase of 0.025% (less than $1.66/month for the vast majority of homeowners) will protect, restore, and expand the Cook County Forest Preserves.
LWV Chicago has the following walks planned. Please share this and encourage others to register for the walks. The only way people can understand the importance of Voting Yes for the November referendum is to get out into the woods! Anyone can learn more and to register for the walks by clicking on the links:
Dan Ryan Woods
Wednesday, June 8, 10:00 AM–Noon
S Western Ave & W 87th St
Tuesday, July 19, 10:00–11:30 AM
W Doty Ave S, southeast of E 130th St & S Ellis Ave
Wednesday, August 3, 10:00–11:30 AM
W Irving Park Rd, east of Des Plaines River Rd
Catherine Chevalier Woods
Thursday, September 15, 10:00–11:30 AM
N East River Rd, north of W Foster Ave
Search on this website for "LWV Jo Daviess" and you'll see we've covered their work and successes at protecting, restoring and preserving the water resources in the Galena, Illinois area. What's interesting to us as LWV members, is how they did it. They applied League principles of nonpartisanship, study and grassroots consensus to build coalitions in their county that span diverse walks of life.
Agriculture affects our environment in significant ways, but farms are largely exempt from US environmental laws. The Farm Bill guides US farm policy, and it has a major impact on the business choices farmers make. The Farm Bill is the largest source of federal funding for the conservation of private land in the United States. Its benefits span much further than any single program or resource concern. The bill gives farmers, ranchers and forest landowners the tools to protect and conserve their land and their way of life. (source)
The 2023 Farm Bill will set the framework for land conservation for the next five years. It's important for those of us who are working to support laws and programs aimed at pollution reduction to understand the Farm Bill. The excellent video discussion linked here features Peter Lehner, Managing Attorney for EarthJustice and Michael Drysdale, OF Counsel with Dorsey & Whitney LLP, moderated by Susan Schneider, William H Enfield Professor of Law, Director of the LL.M. Program in Agricultural and Food Law/ University of Arkansas. It is part of the Law and Nature series of videos. (Source)
LWV UMRR's annual meeting on May 21, we will look at the Farm Bill and other major federal bills and programs that will affect the Upper Mississippi Basin - read more about it in this post on the UMRR blog.
How E. coli & DNA data changed Mower Co. septic system practices: A discussion with leaders Larry Dolphin, Bill Buckley, Mark Owens, lifelong members of the Izaak Walton League (IWLA), and Josh Balk, Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) - May 3 at 7pm via Zoom. Click here to register for this free event.
500 water samples, a specialty lab, and 40 volunteers confirmed in 2017 that untreated human effluent, as well as hog and cattle manure are contributing to E. coli health threats in the headwaters of the Cedar River watershed in south central Minnesota. One outcome is a slow but steady septic system ordinance re-write in Mower County. Three IWLA members who led both the discovery and the push for change will catch us up on their ongoing work with county staff and discuss the power of data wherever you live. They will be joined by an Iowa DNR colleague with his own fecal data points, collected last summer during a cross-state Cedar River Watershed project.
This monthly series is a project of the Upper Mississippi River Initiative (UMRI) of the Izaak Walton League of America, with co-hosts Chris Henning of the Panora Conservation Chapter and Des Moines Chapter Communication Director, Bud Hartley. We feature guests for 30-40 minute presentations that shed daylight on good works done in the name of the Mississippi and its uplands. In this way we uplift our shared goals for a cleaner river, a cared for environment, and kinder communities. Recorded programs are available shortly after they air live.
If you missed the April "Thinking like a Watershed" presentation, here is the link: The 2023 Farm Bill after 100 Years of Conservation! with Duane Hovorka, Agriculture Program Director, Izaak Walton League of America
Christine A. Curry
Iowa Outreach Coordinator
Izaak Walton League’s
Upper Mississippi River Initiative
The answer is that Congress is one piece – an important one – of the solution to the Mississippi’s woes. In the UMRR Annual Meeting, we will have an exciting panel of speakers to talk about bills currently in the US Congress that have the potential to greatly affect our river. We will also explore the idea of a “compact” between river states to protect the river from water diversions. This session will set the stage for the work that LWV UMRR will tackle in the years to come.
Join LWV UMRR for this session on May 21 at 10:30. This meeting will be held in Webinar format on Zoom - pre-registration is required. Click this link to pre-register! You will receive the link to the meeting by return email; we will send reminders in May, including on the 21st. Registration is open until the meeting starts on May 21 at 10:30.
We have a great slate of panelists for this session - representatives from other organizations working for the river and leading work on federal bills and big ideas. We will cover the Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience initiative (MRRRI), the Safeguarding the Mississippi River Together initiative (SMRT), the Farm Bill reauthorization and a big idea - the notion of an Upper Midwest Compact to protect the waters of the Mississippi from diversion. Our speakers represent organizations that are working to protect the Mississippi.
Environmental outcomes of the US Renewable Fuel Standard - the impacts of corn ethanol on carbon levels
On Feb 14, 2022, a group of researchers from the Universities of Wisconsin, Kansas, Kentucky and California published a paper that examines the overall impact of the US Renewable Fuel Standard on carbon in our atmosphere. Here's a link to that article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Based on their analysis, the researchers showed that ethanol from corn and other biofuels actually add to green house gases.
The researchers conclude that when considerations such as land use changes, increased fertilizer use, impacts of ethanol production and more, corn ethanol can actually be increasing green house gases. Corn ethanol is the current cornerstone of renewable fuels.
Corn ethanol was found to be worse for the environment than gasoline in this paper. Researchers from other institutions will add their analyses as they test the hypotheses of this paper. That is how science works, through testing and data, and rigorous discussion based on facts.
Science has become politicized, and it is likely that there will be much bluster and ballyhoo about this research, too. Depending on where you get your news, the interpretation will change. It's good to look at the data that the conclusions are based on and keep an open mind when the research is discussed.
This article, on the Civil Eats website, provides a good summary of the paper for non-scientific audiences from an environmental perspective. Limited reading of the article is allowed before the paywall closes. This article is from one of the authors of the paper, is a statement of findings in his own words on the UC Davis website. It is also a good summary of the findings.
Championing the Upper Mississippi River Region
Mary Ellen Miller, President, League of Women Voters Upper Mississippi River Region
How a life-long conservationist became an advocate for the Mississippi…an LWV president discusses conservation & change
Conservation activist and self-proclaimed tree-hugger, LWV UMRR Chair Mary Ellen Miller shared the League’s connection between advocacy, voting and the state of the river. She discussed the work that members are involved with to improve soil health and water quality and how they are working with others in the Upper Mississippi River network to take action for change. Here's the link see a recording of her talk.
This monthly series is a project of the Upper Mississippi River Initiative (UMRI) of the Izaak Walton League of America/MN Division, with co-hosts Chris Henning of the Panora Conservation Chapter and Des Moines Chapter Communication Director, Bud Hartley. This program feature guests for 30-40 minute presentations that shed daylight on good works done in the name of the Mississippi and its uplands. In this way we uplift our shared goals for a cleaner river, a cared for environment, and kinder communities. Recorded programs are available shortly after they air live.
February's program featured Kelly McGinnis of the Mississippi River Network. You can see the .
“The POWER of 1 Mississippi & 20,000 River Citizens” Thinking Like a Watershed ~ Kelly McGinnis— February 22nd, 2022 How 58 organizations team up to drive policy—“Can the river count on you?” A call to action…
|LWV Upper Mississippi River Region||