Friday, May 30, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

USDA Names Three Mississippi River Basin Landscapes as Nationally Critical for Conservation
Critical Conservation Areas (Click to Enlarge)
On Tuesday, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the availability of funding for its Regional Conservation Partnership Program (or "RCPP"); a new 2014 Farm Bill program.  In making the announcement, the agency designated three areas all or partially within the Mississippi River Basin among eight priority conservation areas that will have access to a "Critical Conservation Area" pool of RCPP funding to be made available nationwide.  The designation of a 13-state "Mississippi River Basin" as a Critical Conservation Area, according to USDA, will "accelerate conservation" and "continue to reduce nutrient and sediment loading to local and regional water bodies and to improve efficiency in using water supplies, particularly in the southern states."  USDA also named the "Prairie Grasslands Region" as priority conservation area. That region encompasses much of the western half of the Mississippi River Basin (including the Ogallala Aquifer), as well as the Red River valley - areas that "are facing critical conservation needs on working lands from frequent flooding and ponding (in the north) to prolonged drought and aquifer decline (in the Ogallala)," according to the USDA. In addition, USDA notes that the Prairie Grasslands Region offers "essential habitat" for a number of wild game and threatened species, including the lesser prairie chicken and sage grouse. The agency believes that designating the Prairie Grasslands Region as a Critical Conservation Area, will "accelerate conservation efforts to address these water resource and habitat issues" in the region.  In addition to the above two designations, the USDA named the "Longleaf Pine Range" as a Critical Conservation Area, including parts of its range in Louisiana and Mississippi.  USDA designated that area with the goal of improving "the profitability and sustainability of longleaf pine forest ecosystems" by increasing the longleaf pine acreage from 3.4 to 8 million acres by 2025.  You can follow these USDA links to read more about: the RCPP; the Critical Conservation areas; and the USDA request for project pre-proposals (applications due July 14).

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • Most states in Mississippi River-Gulf of Mexico federal-state hypoxia task force have either draft or final nutrient plans
  • Republicans Set Phoenix Hearing on EPA ‘Water Grab’ (Re: Waters of the U.S.rulemaking) (see proposed rule here:
  • UC-Berkley economist in industry-sponsored report: "EPA Fails to Calculate Costs of Clean Water Act Rule" (report here:
  • House Small Business Committee Chairman says EPA proposal to regulate small water bodies would ‘drown’ small businesses in new rules
  • USGS: continuous nitrate monitoring across the Nation, including the Mississippi River Basin - Where, How, and Why
  • In states like Wisconsin, opposition to some large dairy farm operations grows after manure spills, improper waste handling
  • Department of Natural Resources investigates cause of 1000s of fish killed in southwestern Missouri's Clear Creek
  • House bill to create National Infrastructure Development Bank Act now has over 100 cosponsors (Blue Green Alliance media release:
  • Sierra Club files suit in U.S. District Court, claiming LG&E pollutes Ohio River from Louisville coal-ash containment pond
Agriculture -
  • Pre-proposal applications due to USDA by July 14 for Regional Conservation Partnership Program projects
  • AP Regional Conservation Partnership Program story: USDA Seeks Partnerships to Protect Soil, Water
  • USDA Secretary Vilsack: House Appropriations Committee aims to reduce funding for conservation programs would have "some small impact"
  • Senate Agriculture Committee Republicans seek meeting with EPA Administrator to discuss "constituent concerns"
  • USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service releases “Farms and Land in Farms 2013 Summary” (PDF file)
  • Study finds world's food supplies are at risk as farmland becomes concentrated in hands of wealthy elites, corporations
  • Sensors that measure a variety of agriculturally essential soil properties on the go are being developed
Climate and Weather -
Seven-day low flow streamflow
trends (click to enlarge)
  • EPA releases third edition of "Climate Change Indicators in the United States" report
  • May 27 US drought update: Dryness expanded through southeastern Iowa, into east-central Illinois; otherwise Midwest was unchanged. Nebraska drought deepened; Plains otherwise improved
  • Yale researchers: Americans care deeply about 'global warming' – but not 'climate change' (see the Yale report here:
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • USGS says its researchers erred in saying Asian carp eggs had been discovered in Mississippi River near Lynxville, Wisconsin
  • Wisconsin, Minnesota study little-known fish whose disappearance may mean smaller inland lake musky, pike and walleye
In the Cities -
  • Louisville, Kentucky sewer rates will rise another 5.5 percent to pay for ongoing $850 million water pollution project
  • New Orleans Dazzling Post-Katrina Parks Boom
  • Minneapolis parks system has received the highest urban green space score in the country for the second year in a row
In the States-
  • Groups deliver signed petitions to Gov. Jay Nixon asking that Missouri’s water be protected from coal ash waste
  • Revised environmental rules for Minnesota livestock feedlots are now in effect
  • Media Release: A major victory for public health, environmental quality and the Mississippi River in Minnesota (also see news coverage:
Louisiana Coastal Region-
  • PBS NewsHour: As Louisiana’s coastline shrinks, a political fight over responsibility grows
Forestry -
  • Nature Conservancy/University of Tennessee "Fading Forests III" report calls for more action against invasive species
Federal Budget -
  • House Appropriations Committee passes USDA 2015 spending measure  (Committee announcement and summary)
  • House Appropriations Committee sends fiscal 2015 spending bill for agriculture programs to full House, 31-18, along party lines (news coverage)
  • House $51.2 billion Commerce and Science spending bill would boost NOAA weather forecast funding; cut climate research
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • Registration open for Mississippi River’s Island Construction and Land Restoration Tour, June 5, 9 am-3 pm, Onalaska, WI
  • Minnesota Green Roof Symposium: Protecting Our Watersheds, Saint Paul, MN, June 19, 9 am - 5 pm
  • St. Croix River Association's "Rockin' on the River" cruise-event, June 19, 6-9:30 PM; Hudson, WI
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch, Vol 10 No 6, Monday, May 26
  • Bi-weekly Green Lands Blue Waters update, highlighting Continuous Living Cover on Mississippi River Basin agricultural land
  • Water Environment Federation May 27 e-newsletter
  • May 27 Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy "TUWaterWays" edition
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Watershed Network News - May 29
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council May 29 Watershed News
Other news-
  • House Ways and Means Committee passes bill along party lines to permanently extend conservation easement tax deduction
  • EPA’s online Catalog of Federal Funding Sources for Watershed Protection was recently updated (April 2014)
  • White House unveils its semiannual regulatory agenda detailing thousands of rules in pipeline in federal agencies
  • MinnPost: "The many personalities of the Mighty Mississippi"
Politics and People-
  • 75 percent of the salient issues on Washington’s agenda are subject to legislative gridlock
  • Louisville environmental attorney Tom FitzGerald has accepted seat on Ohio River commission
  • Seventeen-term Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Tex.-4) loses GOP runoff, becoming first incumbent to lose renomination this cycle
  • Republicans unite to back Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst, hoping to put retiring Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D) Senate seat in play
  • Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality chief Trudy Fisher announces plans to resign
Last Word - "Frequently the more trifling the subject, the more animated and protracted the discussion." - President Franklin Pierce.
1855 Colton Map of Kansas and Nebraska
from Geographicus (click to enlarge)
160 years ago, on May 30, 1854, the U.S. territories of Nebraska and Kansas were established, when Pierce signed the Kansas–Nebraska Act.  The law opened the lands for settlement, and had the effect of repealing the 1820 Missouri Compromise by allowing white, male settlers in those territories to determine through popular sovereignty whether they would allow slavery within each territory  The Kansas–Nebraska Act divided the nation; pointing it toward a devastating civil war that precipitates animated and protracted discussion to this day.  Not a trifling subject.

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