Friday, February 22, 2013

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~
Asian Carp Symposium to Be Held During National Invasive Species Awareness Week
Save the March 6 date for a special Capitol Hill symposium during National Invasive Species Awareness Week and Great Lakes Days to learn more about federal, state, local, nonprofit, and private coordinating efforts and response to combat invasive Asian carp in the Ohio River watershed, Upper Mississippi River basin, Mississippi Delta, Missouri River, and Great Lakes.
Presenters will include representatives of the business, government, and environmental organizations and communities, who will speak of best control and management practices, proposed legislation, and management strategies across various river and lake watersheds. Attendees will have the opportunity to pick up additional information on Asian carp both in general and specific to different water basins.

USDA Announces Conservation Innovation Grant Availability for Mississippi River Basin Work
On February 14, the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced the availability of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) for Fiscal Year 2013 to, as put by NRCS, "stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies."
Among several grant categories there is a special "Mississippi River Basin Category" for this CIG grant cycle. Under that category pre-proposals must address "(1) at least one bulleted topic specific to the Mississippi River Basin and (2) the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) objectives to manage and optimize nutrient management, reduce downstream nutrient loads, maintain agricultural productivity, and enhance wildlife and other ecosystem services." To read more about the special Mississippi River Basin grants, follow the links above or see our blog post.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • Fish living in water with trace amounts of human medication exhibit hyper, anti-social and aggressive behaviors
  • Company charged with violating Clean Water Act: dumped 1000s of drilling waste gallons into Ohio River tributary
  • Water contaminated by gas well development and mining plagues West Virginia community
  • Newly published UN report cites need to produce more food and energy with less nutrient pollution
  • United Nations report says fertilizer crisis is damaging the planet
  • Groups call on Administration to finalize policy to "protect America’s streams, wetlands and other critical waters"
  • Illinois River (OK) water quality is focus of 3-year study under agreement announced by Oklahoma and Arkansas officials
  • EPA Inspector General: EPA must bolster response plans for oil and other hazardous pollutant spills (PDF file)
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Sen. Casey (D-PA) plans bill to boost investment in inland waterways infrastructure; reform Army Corps of Engineers
  • Mississippi River bridge project to replace earthen dam has wide environmental implications (Minnesota)
National Drought Mitigation Center
(click to enlarge)
  • National Drought Mitigation Center: Plains dry pattern and Midwest deep soil dryness continued last week
  • NOAA National Drought Early Warning Outlook: half of U.S. will remain in drought or develop drought conditions over 3 months and
  • Heavy winter middle-U.S. snowstorm is welcomed by winter wheat farmers worried about the drought
  • The top 10 hardest-hit states for 2012 U.S. drought crop damage are all Mississippi River Basin states
  • Bipartisan Senate bill would reauthorize and upgrade a national drought monitoring program for the next five years
  • U.S. farmers will plant crops this spring under the shadow of a persistent drought
  • Meteorologists: upcoming precipitation will provide some drought relief for spring crops in U.S. Plains and Midwest
Farm Bill-
  • From George Washington University's Face The Facts USA: the 'farm' may be the least of the Farm Bill funding recipients
  • Washington Post editorial board opinion on government farm subsidies is not at all positive

Agriculture -
  • Study documents loss of 1.3 million acres of grassland over 5-year period in parts of corn belt (SD, ND, NE, MN, IA)
  • PNAS article: doubling in commodity prices created landowner incentives to convert grassland to corn and soybeans
  • Number of U.S. farms, amount of land in use and average farm size all dropped slightly in 2012
  • USDA announces Conservation Innovation Grant availability with special funds targeted for Mississippi River Basin
  • USDA to provide additional funding for Mississippi River Basin projects
  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announces USDA will have a new enrollment period for Conservation Reserve Program
  • House Agriculture Committee hearing to review state of rural economy; February 26, 10:00 a.m. EST
  • House members introduce bipartisan Protect Our Prairies Act, creating nationwide “Sodsaver” provision
  • National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition endorses Protect Our Prairies Act
  • Senate Democratic leaders' sequester-replacement bill would eliminate $27.5 billion in agricultural subsidies
  • NSAC: Senate Majority Leader Reid's (D-NV) fiscal package would fill farm bill extension program authorization gaps
  • WI Dept of Agriculture assessment of Agricultural Enterprise Area program says it successfully conserves farmland (PDF file)
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Millions of birds have descended on the south-central Kentucky city of Hopkinsville; climate change blamed
  • Minnesotans fighting invasive Asian carp think they may have temporary and permanent ways to slow its advance
  • Study: the presence of Asian carp DNA may not signal the presence of actually live fish
Resource Extraction -
  • Critics of silica sand mining industry will request that lawmakers halt its expansion in Minnesota
  • Small governments in southeastern Minnesota seek state help on studying and regulating frac sand mining
  • Minnesota state lawmakers start silica sand mining hearings and
  • Mountaintop coal mining removal protest in Louisville takes aim at Kentucky political leaders
Federal Budget -
  • As sequestration cuts near, focus is on blame; Obama and the Republicans shift to finger-pointing
  • The sequester and USDA farm bill programs: an overview of the situation from DTN
  • House, Senate recessed for the week; leaving only four days to deal with $85 billion sequester on their return
Events - Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar on this Blog page and here as a stand-alone calendar
  • 2013 Ohio Stormwater Conference registration now open; May 8-10, Sharonville, OH
  • Missouri Coalition for the Environment Annual Meeting, March 3, 1-3 PM, St. Louis MO
  • "Watershed Valuation: A Closer Look" webinar; February 26, 4-6 pm PST. For registrations and details, go to
  • US EPA to host (free) Water Quality Standards Academy; May 6 - 10, Washington DC; details and registration:
  • Environmental visionaries coming to Twin Cities area (MN) for 3 March and April evenings of engaging ideas and entertainment
  • Asian Carp Symposium, March 6, 3:30-5 pm, Capitol Visitor Center, Washington, DC (Invasive Species Awareness Week activity)
  • Association of State Floodplain Managers June 9-14 National Conference web site now "live" for information and registration
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • The Wetlands Initiative's February 2013 e-newsletter on efforts to restore the wetland resources of the Midwest
  • EPA Office of Water's weekly "Water Headlines" including a Mississippi River Basin "success story"
  • Latest issue of University of Wisconsin-Madison Aquatic Sciences Chronicle is now online:
  • American Farmland Trust's February E-News:
Other news- 
  • Congressional caucus criticizes Interior Dept “National Blueways” program recognizing river conservation efforts
  • Department of Labor wants federal judge to order immediate shutdown of potentially dangerous WV coal slurry impoundment
  • Effects of climate change on Midwest detailed in new Indiana University atmospheric science professor's book and report
  • Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN-8) joins with others in U.S. Congress to form bipartisan Mississippi River Caucus
  • Kansas bill asks teachers to question climate change in class; calls climate change 'scientific controversy'
  • Two Ojibwe women walking Mississippi River length to focus attention on "Mother Earth's water plight"
Political Scene -
  • League of Conservation Voters unveils its annual U.S. congressional environmental scorecard and
  • League of Conservation Voters: most Louisiana members of Congress rarely took the "environmental position"
  • Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns (R) announced Monday that he would forgo re-election for the US Senate in 2014
  • Agriculture Secretary and former Gov. Tom Vilsack will not run in 2014 for US Senate in Iowa
  • Matt Bevin is a potential Tea Party challenger to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in 2014
  • Republican primary in Louisiana could spoil party's chances at ousting Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu
  • Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN-8) announces that he has been placed back on House Agriculture Committee
Last Word

"We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers - but never blame yourself. It's never your fault. But it's always your fault, because if you wanted to change you're the one who has got to change." - Katharine Hepburn

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