The Pottawattamie County Trails Board is preparing the next steps for developing county-wide trails. In a press release, the board says they are engaging an engineering firm to begin surveying, designing and preparing cost estimates for Phase 1. The board continues to talk with private citizens asking for donations of any size including cash donations and gifts of grain or land and applying for various grants as they come available.
The Pottawattamie County Trails Board has been meeting regularly for the past few years to develop trails throughout the county and a small group of regular participants have been working hard to create a county-wide network to benefit all residents. Based on the plan, which was developed by the committee through public participation with assistance from the National Park Service RTCA program, the board has begun working to raise money and finalize the Phase 1 route from Council Bluffs to Neola and a second route from Council Bluffs to Hitchcock Nature Center. Both of the routes total nearly 27 miles and will be 10’ wide poured concrete trails.
The trails board has raised nearly $1 million toward their goal with the help of grants, local funding efforts and the Pottawattamie County Board of Supervisors support. The committee has also partnered with the Pottawattamie County Conservation Foundation as a way to receive donations until the board receives their 501©3 status. The plan going forward is to begin building phase 1 as early as spring 2015.
If you would like to donate to the project or volunteer to assist, contact the Pottawattamie County Trails Board members through their Facebook page by search “Pottawattamie County County-wide Trail Plan.
The last two southwest Iowa Counties with bans in-place for open burning have been rescinded. The State Fire Marshal’s Office Friday, announced bans which had been in-place since March 19th for Mills and Page Counties were removed today (Friday, April 25th).
And, while there are currently no counties in Iowa under a Burn Ban, area fire officials are asking residents to be very careful when making the decision to conduct controlled burns. Area grass lands and fields are still very dry. Low humidity and forecast strong winds this weekend can cause a controlled burn to quickly become uncontrolled. Care should also be used when using fire pits and grills.
Rain in the forecast for later in the weekend should help to minimize the threat of any explosive fire danger.
Persons looking for something to do Saturday in Cass County, have opportunities to get outside and enjoy the forecast mild conditions. The Cass County Conservation Board is holding two event events. The first, is a Wildflower Walk at the Pellett Memorial Woods, beginning at 9-a.m. Join Naturalist Lora Kanning for a walk through the early Spring wild flowers, where you will learn their names, uses and history. Pellett Memorial Gardens is located one-half mile north and three-quarters of a mile east of the KJAN Studios, on North Olive Street.
The second event Saturday, runs from 10-a.m. until Noon, also at the Pellett Memorial Woods. It’s a Wildflower Geocaching Walk, where GPS units and guides will be available to help you locate early Spring wildflowers. Please pre-register by calling 712-249-2372, to obtain a GPS unit.
Above normal rainfall was received over the last two weeks in Iowa, with the statewide average was 2.3 inches, as compared to the normal 1.7 inches. However, in its latest Water Summary Report, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources notes more, slow steady rains are needed to bring us out of the drought. The National Drought Monitor indicates improvement in all categories of drought conditions across the state over the past two weeks. Over 35 percent of the state continues to be rated in moderate drought, and just over 5 percent is rated in severe drought. Nearly 60 percent of the state, however, is now shown without drought or just abnormally dry. Those driest areas continue to be two small locations in west-central and southeast Iowa.
The DNR says that although shallow groundwater levels in southern central, eastern and northeastern Iowa have benefitted from the rainfall, parts of southwest and northwest Iowa received very little rain and shallow groundwater levels are much lower than the previous April. Water supply operators in northwest Iowa are seeing reduced production, dropping water levels and historically low levels.
Stream flow has improved statewide, but remains below average. Northeast Iowa remains the wettest, while northwest Iowa is the driest. Groundwater conditions are still low across much of the state, but normal spring rains should continue to bring improvement.
Compared to a year ago, shallow groundwater levels are one to four feet lower in Johnson, Jefferson, Lucas and Montgomery counties, and the same or slightly higher in Marshall, Fayette, Crawford and O’Brien counties.
Compared to two years ago, shallow groundwater levels are 2 to 12 feet lower in Crawford, O’Brien, Jefferson, Johnson, Lucas and Montgomery counties.
The 2014 Stars Over Iowa Finalists were selected for recognition as part of the 86th Iowa FFA State Leadership Conference at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa, April 27-29, 2014. Twenty three finalists were selected in four different areas: Agricultural Placement, Agriscience, Agribusiness, and Agricultural Production. The finalists were selected from a pool of 686 FFA members that will earn the Iowa FFA Degree—the highest honor the Iowa FFA Association can bestow upon an FFA member.
The star awards recognize students who have developed outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through their career development programs and demonstrated outstanding management skills. These finalists will be interviewed and an overall winner in each area will be announced on stage during the 4th General Session of the Iowa FFA State Leadership Conference Tuesday, April 29th.
Stars Over Iowa finalists receive a plaque and a cash award. The Stars Over Iowa program is possible with support from DuPont Pioneer and SFP through the Iowa FFA Foundation. Wyatt Saeugling is the son of Aaron and Danna Saeugling of Atlantic and is a Finalist for Stars Over Iowa in Ag Placement.
Wyatt has worked at R&B Feeds in Atlantic since he was freshman. Wyatt has a strong love for agriculture. “My dad graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Agronomy and my mom also graduated from Iowa State with a degree in Ag Studies. Whether I was playing with my farm toys or riding in the tractor with my grandpa, I have always been involved in agriculture. One of my favorite memories from growing up was when I would help my grandpa
do chores. He has a dairy farm in Northern Iowa and we would go and visit almost every weekend when I was younger. Now that I have gotten older and have started to take care of my own cattle, I don’t get to travel up there as often but I’m glad that my grandpa set a great example of caring for livestock.” Saeugling said.
I can’t describe how grateful I am to have some of the relationships that I have gained over the years working at R&B Feeds whether it has been employees or customers. I have learned so much about how people work and what is best for their livestock needs. I’ve also learned that there is a lot more to feeding livestock than just opening a bag and dumping it out.
The Iowa FFA Association has 219 local chapters with over 14,200 FFA members. FFA is a national organization of nearly 580,000 members preparing for leadership and careers in science, business and technology of agriculture. Local, state and national programs provide opportunities for students to apply knowledge and skills learned in the classroom. FFA’s mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.
The spring planting season is underway and local U-S-D-A Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices are getting calls from farmers, asking if they need to sign up for the farm program before heading to the fields. The F-S-A County Executive Director for Dickinson and Emmet Counties, Larry Lago, says he thinks he knows why he’s getting the calls. “Probably because this is the first time in many, many years where a product is actually going to head to the field and do spring field work and planting and not have been provided an opportunity to sign up for a farm program. This year is an exception to that as there is not sign up for a farm program as this time,” Lago says.
Even though farmers don’t need to sign up for the farm program now, he says they still need to keep good records. “They’ll want to keep track of their planting dates, obviously the field sizes and what’s planted in that field. That’s not only needed for U-S-D-A farm programs, but if they have crop insurance on that crop, their agent is going to want to know that information as well,” Lago explains. Lago adds that growers on highly-erodible land need to pay special attention to their tillage practices.
He says farmers need to be mindful that they are using residue management as part of the conservation plan to keep soil loss to acceptable levels. Lago says that means using tillage processes that ensure there is enough cover once the crops are planted to keep soil loss at manageable levels. The state crop report released Monday said corn planting was just getting underway, but was expected to pick up steam this week with warmer temperatures.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday for a new back-country trail system for hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders at the Whiterock Conservancy near Coon Rapids. Conrad Kramer, the conservancy’s executive director, says construction of the new trail system should take much of the summer and into the fall, following a five-year effort to raise four-point-eight million dollars. Kramer says, “We’ve got five miles of really nice trail here and about nine miles of old farm lanes and basically what we’re doing is trading in our nine miles of old farm lanes for 35 miles of new trail.”
The five-thousand acre non-profit land trust is Iowa’s fourth largest park. Kramer says he couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day than starting construction for a trail system that will allow many more Iowans to experience the beautiful natural landscape the conservancy was created to protect. “We believe it’ll be the best destination trail system in the state,” Kramer says, “and also the best destination mountain bike trail within 400 miles.” When complete, the 40-mile trail system will give visitors the opportunity to experience being surrounded by nature.
Winding through seven square miles of the Whiterock Conservancy, visitors will see oak savanna and prairie restoration areas, forests, ponds, stunning vistas, pastures and sustainably-farmed land in the Middle Raccoon River Valley. “We will have 16 miles of single track specifically designed for mountain bikers,” Kramer says. “We will also have six miles of single track specifically designed for equestrians to enjoy, and then we’ll have 12 miles which we’re calling our main track, a double track. Everyone can use it, mountain bikers, horseback riders and pedestrians.”
Low-powered “Gator” vehicles will be available to rent for anyone with mobility issues, senior citizens and families with young children, who would still like to see the sights. The groundbreaking was followed by the planting of at least 100 trees at the Bur Oak Visitor Center.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Efforts by the nation’s corn growers to get their crops planted in key grain states continue to sputter. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says just 6 percent of this year’s corn crop is in the ground. That compares to the average of 14 percent over the previous five years and 4 percent a year ago, when one of the wettest springs on record got farmers in many states off to the slowest start in decades.
The sluggish start to corn season is especially pronounced in key farming states. Illinois growers have planted just 5 percent, while Iowa is at just 2 percent and Nebraska is at 4 percent. The USDA says corn planting traditionally is in full swing from this time through May 23.