Soil, water conservation on the farm honored

Each week, the Freshwater Society publishes a digest of regional, national and international articles and research on water and the environment. Scan the articles here, then click on the links to read the works in their entirety where they originally were published.

Fillmore Co. farmers honored for conservation
Dan and Sherry Hanson of Fillmore County were named the state’s Outstanding Conservationist at the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts’ annual meeting in Duluth. 

The couple also was named the MASWCD Area 7 winner. They operate a 150-cow cow-calf operation and farm more than 600 acres, raising hay, no-till corn and soybeans. They have implemented numerous conservation practices, including tree plantings, fall chisel plowing, minimum tillage, installing terraces and grassed waterways, and following a nutrient management plan. 

Dan and Sherry also are among 700-plus volunteers in southeastern Minnesota who participating in a nitrate monitoring project. They submit a water sample from their well twice a year to be tested by the SWCD for nitrate. The survey will provide baseline data to detect future trends in nitrate levels in that region of the state.
–The Farmer 

Melting glaciers reduce Bolivian water supply
When the tap across from her mud-walled home dried up in September,  Celia Cruz stopped making soups and scaled back washing for her family of five. She began daily pilgrimages to better-off neighborhoods, hoping to find water there. 

Though she has lived here for a decade and her husband, a construction worker, makes a decent wage, money cannot buy water.

“I’m thinking of moving back to the countryside; what else can I do?” said Ms. Cruz, 33, wearing traditional braids and a long tiered skirt as she surveyed a courtyard dotted with piglets, bags of potatoes and an ancient red Datsun. “Two years ago this was never a problem. But if there’s not water, you can’t live.” 

The glaciers that have long provided water and electricity to this part of Bolivia are melting and disappearing, victims of global warming, most scientists say.
–The New York Times 

Invasive Asian carp not found
Several days of workers netting fish revealed no Asian carp in the Calumet Sag Channel, the task force marshaled against the invasive species said.

The news provided a qualified measure of relief for a spot where evidence of carp genetic material had been found by testing weeks ago. “We’ve just bought some much-needed time on the clock to take the next step toward longer-term, sustainable solutions,” said Cameron Davis, a Great Lakes adviser to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and President Barack Obama’s administration.

The announcement from the group of environmental, fisheries and municipal agencies came amid threats of lawsuits to close access between area rivers and canals and the Great Lakes and public consideration of more drastic steps to halt the species’ northward advance on the lakes. It comes on the heels of other puzzling non-appearances of the often ubiquitous fish. A single Asian carp was found downstream in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal after days of preventive rotenone poisoning killed thousands of other fish in waters where carp are known to exist.
–The Chicago Tribune 

California water plan lacks funding
When lawmakers celebrated the end of California’s water squabbles last month, they left unanswered an issue certain to bedevil their hard-fought compromise: money. 

Permanent funding for the signature policy initiatives in the deal— from a panel created to govern the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to new efforts to crack down on water theft — have yet to be identified. But one likely source is fees levied against water districts, which could lead to higher rates for users. 

There also have been whispers that lawmakers — sensitive to “pork” claims and the state’s dismal debt picture— might try to shrink the $11.14 billion bond approved as part of the deal, a bid to help it win voter support next November.
–The Mercury News

Dakota County to transfer Spring Lake land to DNR
Hunters of waterfowl have long flocked to the islands in the Mississippi River at Spring Lake Park Reserve near Hastings, drawn by mallards, wood ducks, teal and Canada geese. 

And in an unusual arrangement for a Dakota County park — where hunting, trapping and the like are typically prohibited except for a few times a year — that was just fine. It was tradition, after all. 

Now, a plan to pass the county-owned islands, some shoreline and a bundle of tax-forfeited property to the Minnesota DNR to create the 733-acre Spring Lake Islands Wildlife Management Area will guarantee hunters and trappers access in perpetuity.
–The Star Tribune 

Dairy pollution sparks New Mexico ‘manure war’
The picture on many milk cartons shows cows  grazing on a pasture next to a country barn and a silo — but the reality is very different.

More and more milk comes from confined animal feeding operations, where large herds live in feedlots, waiting their thrice daily trip to the milking barn. And a factory farm with 2,000 cows produces as much sewage as a small city, yet there’s no treatment plant. 

Across the country, big dairies are coming under increased criticism for polluting the air and the water. In New Mexico, they’re in the midst of a manure war.
–Southern California Public Radio 

EPA oversight draws flak in Florida
The EPA’s decision to set water pollution limits in Florida is quickly becoming a political issue — and given the potential effect on big business and big agriculture, one that is attracting a litany of special interests.

 Michael Sole, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection secretary, briefed the Cabinet on Tuesday. All members, in particular Attorney General Bill McCollum who called the EPA’s actions “outrageous,” appear ready to go to court to challenge the federal government if they don’t like the number set in January. 

The forces aligned against the EPA — led by Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson, who expressed skepticism in global warming yesterday — are making presentations with heightened rhetoric about a standard that the federal government hasn’t even set yet. Likewise, the environmental groups that settled the lawsuit with the EPA continue to parade the same series of enlarged algae bloom photos to prove their point.

Judge halts Alaskan timber sale
A federal judge has halted a timber sale in a roadless area of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest that had been greenlighted by the Obama administration earlier this year. 

U.S. District Judge John Sedwick ruled that the Forest Service must re-evaluate the sale due to changing economic conditions that have greatly reduced the revenue the proposed sale would bring. 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in July had approved the Orion North sale, the first logging allowed in an area covered by the 2001 roadless rule since the secretary took personal responsibility for such decisions earlier this year. Environmental groups had filed a lawsuit in March challenging the proposed sale, which would allow Pacific Log and Lumber to harvest about 4.4 million board feet of timber.
–The New York Times