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Conservation Clip List is a weekly collection of articles distributed by NACD that provides our members and partners with the latest news in what's driving conservation. If you have a relevant submission, please contact your NACD Communications Team.
Damages Not Allowed in Iowa Runoff Case via DTN Progressive Farmer
Des Moines Water Works will not be allowed to collect damages in a lawsuit aimed at forcing the state to regulate nutrients runoff in Iowa. Iowa officials have maintained the best approach to reducing nutrients runoff in the state is through voluntary conservation measures.
What all those dead trees mean for the Sierra Nevada via Los Angeles Times
The U.S. Forest Service estimates that since 2010, more than 102 million drought-stressed and beetle-ravaged trees have died across 7.7 million acres of California forest. More than half of those died last year alone. Exacerbated by anti-wildfire policies that produced a crowded forest more vulnerable to drought, the massive dieback is unprecedented in the recorded history of the Sierra. The beetle epidemic is transforming the 4,500-foot to 6,000-foot elevation band of the central and southern range for decades to come, if not permanently. The sheer scale of mortality means that outside of developed areas, it’s likely that most of the tree corpses will be left to topple over.
Republicans in Congress may finally have the opportunity to begin dismantling a series of environmental rules finalized by the Obama administration. And they’re likely to initially target two controversial environmental regulations released in the closing months of 2016, which place greater restrictions on both the coal and the oil and gas industries. The first is a regulation finalized in mid-November that seeks to curb fugitive methane emissions from oil and gas drilling operations on public lands. And the second, a last-minute rule adopted in December, prohibits coal-mining companies from engaging in any activities that could permanently pollute streams and other sources of drinking water.
Experts said over the last few years close to 80 percent of hives have died out annually. UW-Stout biology professor Dr. Jim Burritt and his students stumbled across a never before seen illness. That discovery is now being recognized as a new bacterium and could be the reason so many bees keep losing their buzz.
Tax Idea Concerns Seed Trade via DTN Progressive Farmer
The prospect of a border tax has been developed by congressional Republicans and endorsed by President Donald Trump as one way to pay for a border wall. Yet it also is one example of a barrier that could be created in an industry that needs open borders for the movement of seed. Border rules can also affect the movement of seed for research, and the industry needs regulations that work across borders so that improved seeds can be developed to feed the expected 9 billion people in the world by 2050.
Remember this number: $120. It’s the average monthly water bill in America. Researchers predict this figure will rise by $49 over the next five years. And if it does, water may become unaffordable for one-third of American households. While water unaffordability is common overseas, most assume Americans have the resources and the willingness to do whatever it takes to pay for water. Nearly 14 million American households — 11.9 percent — couldn’t afford water in 2014. If water prices continue to rise at the same rate (41 percent over five years), then a third of American households — 40 million — may lose access to affordable water.
As Georgia governor from 2003-2011 (and 2009 Biotech Governor of the Year), he supported factory farm expansion, cracked down on immigration, and opposed air quality regulation. Perdue’s track record suggests he will prioritize policies and programs that aim to intensify production and exports of commodity crops like corn, soy, wheat, cotton, peanuts, and rice for global markets. We can also expect Perdue’s USDA to slash incentives for conservation on farms that safeguard land and keep water viable for future generations and ignore worker demands for better wages and protection.
In America’s Heartland, Discussing Climate Change Without Saying ‘Climate Change’ via The New York Times
Doug Palen, a fourth-generation grain farmer on Kansas’ wind-swept plains, is in the business of understanding the climate. To adapt, he has embraced an environmentally conscious way of farming that guards against soil erosion and conserves precious water. He can talk for hours about carbon sequestration — the trapping of global-warming-causing gases in plant life and in the soil — or the science of the beneficial microbes that enrich his land. In short, he is a climate change realist. Just don’t expect him to utter the words “climate change.”
Rains wash away the worst drought conditions in Deep South via The Washington Post
Widespread rain is gradually relieving the Deep South’s ongoing drought, leaving only a handful of counties in Alabama and Georgia with extremely dry conditions. The drought is approaching the one-year mark. Abnormally dry conditions began showing up in March 2016 in parts of the South, and intensified through the spring, summer, and fall.
The USDA is Trying to Help Save Native Grassland in Oregon via Modern Farmer
The USDA recently gave $225 million in federal funding to 88 environmental projects across the country, including a program in Oregon to help improve the soil health in Wallowa County, home to the Zumwalt Prairie, one of the last intact native grasslands of its kind in the United States. The prairie consists of about 330,000 acres of native grassland that once covered 10 million acres stretching across the Pacific Northwest. The goal of the project is to create opportunities for private landowners to apply integrated crop and livestock production systems to improve soil health while reducing the use of chemical inputs, increase water efficiency, and prevent the further fragmenting of the native grasslands.
Vilsack backs Perdue for Agriculture Secretary via Agri-Pulse
Tom Vilsack is backing Sonny Perdue to run the Department of Agriculture, the job Vilsack held for eight years under President Barack Obama. “I have had the opportunity to work with Gov. Perdue and know how committed he is to all of our farmers, ranchers, and producers regardless of size or production method expand markets here and throughout the world. As a former governor, he knows full well the opportunities and challenges that exist in rural communities. He will, I am sure, work hard to expand opportunity in rural America.”
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