Friday, February 24, 2012

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

New Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative Launched
This week the Northeast-Midwest Institute launched a new Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative ("MRCI") to help create a strong and influential voice for the Mississippi River by organizing River cities and towns on matters of mutual concern. One of MRCI's primary objectives will be to dramatically increase demand throughout the River Basin and in Washington, DC for effective river protection, restoration and management by articulating and helping to drive multi-stakeholder solutions to nagging federal and state policy problems that currently impede such solutions. You can read more details and view a one-page MRCI fact sheet here.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week 
Agriculture -
  • US farmers expected to "go on a planting binge this year"-Planting of 8 major crops forecast to rise 2.2%
  • Video highlights USDA NRCS drainage water management initiative's potential benefits
  • USDA announces new conservation initiative to protect up to 750,000 acres of nation’s most highly erodible croplands
  • NRCS Chief seeks to leverage funds, promote soil health, while seeing farmland & woodlot conservation challenges ahead
  • USDA's Tennessee River Basin studies show conservation reduced farmland losses of sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus
  • USDA: # of 2011 US farms ~2.2 M; down from 2010; farmland down 1.85 million AC from 2010; Ave. farm size now 420 AC (PDF)
  • New Oregon State University study: Forest buffer zones can help control stream nitrogen pollution
Farm Bill-
  • Stakeholders spar via pages of New York Times, trading perspectives and opinions on farm policy and Farm Bill
  • Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO-8): Obama budget complicates efforts to complete Farm Bill on time this year
  • Former U.S. Department of Agriculture official assesses chances of Farm Bill in 2012
  • Register Guard Editorial: "Plow under farm subsidies; Time for Congress to end wasteful federal program" via @DonEWG
  • Senate Agriculture Committee to convene Feb. 28 Farm Bill hearing on strengthening conservation
  • Senator Franken’s (D-MN) staff to hold "Farm Bill Outreach Tour" in communities across Minnesota
Water Quality -
  • Nitrates in Midwest groundwater an increasing worry and frequent topic of discussion
  • Streams and lakes in St. Croix River watershed placed on Minnesota's latest impaired waters list
  • Iowa State U study of IA lake sediments finds lakes far more polluted now than before farming & development
  • OK Assoc of Conservation Districts: state ranks # 2 state at reducing nutrient loading to streams and rivers
  • Some remain skeptical about recent reports claiming improvements in OK water phosphorus pollution reduction results
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, etc.) -
  • Economist article talks of "perverse incentives" that promote floodplain development and court disaster
  • Forecasters optimistic the Minnesota and Upper Mississippi River basins will escape flooding this spring
  • Army Corps awards $4.7M for Missouri River levee repairs near Nebraska City; work to be done by March 1
  • Army Corps: Repairs of flood-damaged Missouri River levees nearing completion
  • Barge collision results in Mississippi River oil spill; River navigation closure
  • Army Corps reissues 48 nationwide permits; 2 new permits re: permits under Clean Water & Rivers & Harbors acts (PDF)
In the States -
  • Firing of 2 leaders and proposals to cut dozens of positions at TN Dept. of Environment & Conservation worries allies
  • WI legislature approves major changes to wetlands regulations to ease restrictions over development
  • US District Judge agrees with environmental group: MO has violated federal Clean Water Act; but dismisses other claims
  • MN Dept of Agriculture loan program helps farmers diversify operations & implement environmentally sound practices
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • FWS and NPS proposing to work in partnership with landowners and local communities increase Missouri River conservation
  • As Asian carp move toward Great Lakes from Mississippi basin several senators urge Army Corps to finish 5-year study
  • Administration holds Asian Carp control briefing announcing Great Lakes-Mississippi carp control strategy
  • Feds plan to spend $51.5 M in 2012 to protect Great Lakes from Mississippi basin's Asian carp
Gulf Coastal Area-
  • Gulf of Mexico oil spill partial settlement would give Louisiana $13.5 million for environmental projects
Resource extraction -
  • Army Corps of Engineers renewing streamlined permitting for surface coal mines, despite fierce opposition (PDF)
  • Tennessee television ad campaign promotes ban on mountaintop-removal mining; news: video:
Federal Budget -
  • USDA Secretary Vilsack defends Obama administration's 2013 agency budget request before House committee
  • House Agri Committee Chair Lucas: Budget Committee Chair Ryan may have 2013 FY budget resolution done by end of  March
  • 10th Annual Catfish Rodeo, Nashville, TN to benefit the Cumberland River Compact (KY and TN), June 11
  • Feb. 26 through March 3 will be National Invasive Species Awareness Week; event schedule in DC:
  • 2012 AAAS Annual Meeting live, free Webcast, communication plenary panel: Science Is Not Enough; Feb 18, 8 - 9:30 PM ET
  • Conference on Public Participation in Scientific Research, August 4-5; Portland, OR
  • New Detailed Agenda and Updates - Water Protection Network 2012 Membership Meeting; St. Louis, MO; Mar. 18-20
  • Short course: Sustainable Approaches to Water Infrastructure & Climate Change Planning online “anytime” format Apr 9-22
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • Tennesse Clean Water Network e-newsletter is out, with coal-water and events news updates
  • Ducks Unlimited Waterfowl Advocate February edition now available online
Other news-
  • Mississippi River Connections Collaborative promotes "Summer of Paddling"-series of Mississippi River paddling events
  • Cornell University Postdoctoral position: socio-ecology of agricultural landscapes
  • Draft Fiscal Year 2013 National Water Program Guidance Released for Comments by EPA
  • New website designed to allow easier access to federal regulations
  • Iowa scientists urge state lawmakers and candidates to make climate change a top priority (news) and (PDF)
  • National Academy of Sciences Releases Report on Challenges and Opportunities in the Hydrologic Sciences
Political Scene -
  • Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) won't switch districts; stakes claim on MN's newly redrawn 6th Congressional district
  • Marquette Law School poll: Former WI governor Thompson (R) would beat US Rep. Baldwin (D) in head-to-head Senate race
  • WI Secretary of State Doug La Follette (D) is moving towards run for governor against Sen. Scott Walker (R)
  • Democrat Christie Vilsack’s IA US House run said by Incumbent to be clearing way for Tom Vilsack 2014 US Senate try
Last Word
"When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean." - Humpty Dumpty, in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass. 

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