The Iowa legislature adjourned this year’s session without taking much action on improving the state’s water quality. Now, an Iowa City based research organization has released a report suggesting the state follow changes made in Ohio. David Osterberg, with the Iowa Policy Project, claims there are several problems with Iowa’s current laws dealing with large livestock operations and manure reaching lakes and rivers.
“First of all, the limits. For some reason, we set our limit at 500 animal units, which is very, very large,” Osterberg said. “Ohio has recognized, as most states have, that you need to go down to facilities much smaller than that.” Ohio’s limit is 300 animal units. Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, introduced a bill this year that would have copied Ohio’s regulations here in Iowa, but it was never brought up for consideration. Osterberg is hoping this I-P-P research will reach all Iowa legislators before next year’s session.
“We do a study like this, we find out what the evidence is out there — in this case, from other states — and ask the question ‘why can’t we do that in Iowa?’ Hopefully, we’ll move towards a discussion, so if Senator Bolkcom files his bill again, it will get a hearing,” Osterberg told reporters Wednesday in a conference call. You can check out the full report at iowapolicyproject.org.
The Loess Hills Prairie Seminar, sponsored annually by the Northwest Area Education Agency, Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Monona County Conservation, is June 3-5, beginning at West Monona High School, in Onawa, and then moving to the Loess Hills Wildlife Management Area campground, near Castana.
Now in its 40th year, the popular seminar has programs and activities for every age and all levels of physical abilities. Participants may choose among field sessions covering plants, insects, birds, explore nature photography or writing, prairie management and ecology, and more.
There is no cost to attend and registration is not necessary, unless participants plan to order meals. Educators may register for credit through the Northwest AEA at a reduced fee. There are special programs for children and families, and for adults and older students. More information is available online at http://www.nwaea.k12.ia.us/en/educators/loess_hills_prairie_seminar/
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is reporting that a 25-year-old fish has been found living in West Okoboji Lake. Jonathan Meerbeek, a DNR fisheries research biologist, says the male musky was marked with a freeze brand and stocked in the Iowa Great Lakes in 1993. It was caught during the gill netting season last week.
“I think 21 was the oldest fish we captured in the past,” Meerbeek said. “So, this one beats it by a few years. This is probably one of the oldest fish of known age that has been recaptured, in terms of muskies, so it’s a pretty unique fish.” The last time this particular fish was caught by the DNR was in 2006. According to Meerbeek, after age four, muskies have an annual mortality rate of around 25-percent.
“That’s not from angling mortality, per se…fish die, everything dies at some point. Muskies get old or they get sick. This one just happened to avoid all of those potential harms over time and made it to a fairly substantial age, considering most fish,” Meerbeek said. The 25-year-old musky was documented and released back into the lake. The 17.5 pound fish was 41.6 inches in length.
Wet weather slowed the planting process last week. The U-S-D-A crop report shows 57 percent of the corn crop is now planted, which is just 17 percent ahead of the report from last week. Planting had been six days ahead of last year, but the slowdown last week now has farmers just one day ahead of last year at this time. The overall planting is still eight days ahead of the five-year average.
The report finds farmers in north-central and central Iowa making the most headway, with more than three-quarters of their corn crop in the ground. Soybean planting showed up on the report this week, with seven percent of that crop planted. That’s five days ahead of the five-year average.
Jim Field visits with CAM Middle School teacher Sandy Booker about the CAM Greenhouse project. They have their annual sale this week. They will be open Thursday, May 5th from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm, Friday, May 6th from 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm and Saturday, May 7th from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm. They have hanging baskets and planters, a variety of tomatoes and peppers, some herbs, cabbage and cucumber plants and some flowers along with our silent auction items. The greenhouse is located in Massena in the bus parking lot and all proceeds from the sales of plants goes into the greenhouse account for next year.
Pella residents are preparing to host thousands of people for their annual Tulip Festival which begins Thursday. Pella Convention & Visitors Bureau director, Jill Vandevoort, says warm weather made the 200-thousand or so flowers bloom early, but there will still be plenty of them to see. “We do plant them over the course of four weeks here in Pella. So we have our early blooms as well as our later varieties,” Vandevoort explains. “Right now I would say we have still probably 60 percent of our tulips still in bloom.” The early blooms led to the unusual situation where Pella planners were happy to see things cool off a little bit.
“The dampness and rains last week, and the coolness were able to hold the tulips in place longer for us — and we are kind of grateful for that rain,” Vandevoort says. She says the rain is going out in time for people to attend all the festival events. “Each day our guests can enjoy a number of tours, including our city tour. They can climb aboard our open-air wagons and learn a bit about our community, as well as see a number of other tulip-blooming locations around the community,” Vandevoort says. “We also of course have our Pella Historical Village and Vermeer Windmill. The Vermeer Windmill is the largest working grain windmill in the United States. If you haven’t seen that, it’s a very interesting tour to enjoy.”
There are many other activities, including the street cleaning prior to the parades. This will be the 81st festival and Vandevoort says it’s a great celebration of the community’s heritage. She says many of the residents come out to celebrate in their Dutch costumes and she says it is alright to ask to take pictures. “I think it’s just a great way for us to come together as a community. All of us are volunteers, and obviously if we didn’t have all of that volunteer effort that we have in our community, we couldn’t continue to host this event.”
Vandevoort has a couple of things that are at the top of her list when it comes to the Tulip Festival. “Probably the first thing I like to do is eat all of those many things that are available at our curbside vendors,” she says. “There’s a number of Dutch specialties that we don’t get to enjoy year-round either. So, probably eating my way around town is the thing I enjoy most.” She also looks forward every year to greeting the visitors that come into town on tour buses.
“Some of them have been coming for over 30 years, every single year. So, we know that those guests who have come in the past actually very much look forward to coming back on a yearly basis. And a lot of those are from out-of-state,” Vandevoort says. There can be as many as 150-thousand people who visit the festival. For more information, go to www.visitpella.com.
Iowans may soon be paying less for eggs at the grocery store as egg production operations across the state and elsewhere are recovering from last year’s outbreak of bird flu. That outbreak sent egg prices skyward, but the number of laying hens nationally is now approaching pre-flu levels. As a result, U-S-D-A economist Annemarie Kuhns, says retail egg prices are dropping.
Kuhns says, “Really, what we’ve been seeing is just, we’re expecting a recovery more quickly than we initially anticipated, a recovery from the highly-pathogenic avian influenza last year.” She says the U-S-D-A expects retail egg prices to fall nine-to-ten-percent this year compared to the average 2015 price. Some 34-million birds on 77 Iowa farms had to be destroyed after contracting the virus last year.