KJAN Ag/Outdoor

Iowa peacock farmer offers to take all of south Florida’s problem birds

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 23rd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Turkeys aren’t the only birds of interest this Thanksgiving. A farm in western Iowa may be the solution to a peacock problem in southern Florida. Miami area residents are frustrated by the wild birds making noise, leaving droppings, scratching cars and gobbling landscaping. Some resort to killing the birds and raiding nests to break eggs. Dennis Fett, who runs a peacock farm near Minden, says he’d gladly take any and all of the problem peacocks ruffling feathers in Florida.

“We’ve offered our services. If they will take them, then we’ll be off and running,” Fett says. “I will adopt all of the baby peachicks that they have and put them on our farm here. If there’s too many, then we’ll find places that will adopt them off our website, peafowl.com.” The adult peafowl can be adopted, too, and shipped anywhere in the U-S economically, he says. Much like roosters, the colorful peacocks often crow — loudly — at sunrise, which can rub some folks the wrong way.

“Sometimes people had peacocks in the early days and then with urban sprawl, it causes problems and they encroach on humans’ backyards,” Fett says. “They cause problems with their noise and their excrement and that sort of thing. For some reason, some people really hate them and some people really love them.” Peacocks can make excellent pets but Fett says they’re not for most city-dwellers.

“We always recommend against doing that if you don’t have a place like we do in the country or a place where the neighbors are not close,” Fett says. “Number one, the noise will be a problem. Number two, they wander and they like to eat things in your garden and that could be a problem if your neighbor has a prize tomato plant ready to be eaten.” The Fett farm is now home to about 85 mature peacocks but he had more than 200 a few years back, prior to a damaging tornado that cut through the region. He’d like to build his peafowl population back up with the Florida birds.

“Oh my gosh, we have room for many more,” Fett says. “We would take everything they have. If someone wants to endow the project, we would even build new special holding places for these birds until they’re adopted out.” Fett considers himself an expert on peafowl and he’s consulted on populations in New York, Hawaii and even at the late Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. He’s written books on peafowl, composed songs and videos about them, and runs the Peacock Information Center at www.peafowl.com.

(Radio Iowa, w/Thanks to Karla James in Omaha)

EPA rejects oil industry push for change in ethanol blending rules

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 23rd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

The E-P-A will NOT make a major change to federal rules for WHERE most ethanol is to be blended into gasoline. The oil industry had been pushing the Trump Administration to lift the “obligation” that refineries blend ethanol into gasoline. The responsibility would then shift to fuel distributors. Under current rules, U.S. refineries must blend a portion of corn-based ethanol into gasoline. Refineries that do not have that capacity are forced to buy credits from refiners that do blend ethanol into gasoline.

The E-P-A announced Wednesday it will not change those rules. Iowa politicians like Senators Grassley and Ernst as well as Governor Reynolds praised the president for keeping his campaign pledge to protect the ethanol industry. Critics say if the oil industry had gotten its way, markets for corn, ethanol and gasoline would have been disrupted and ethanol production would have decreased.

(Radio Iowa)

21 lake restoration projects underway in Iowa

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 23rd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

State tax dollars have helped finance “restoration” of 22 Iowa lakes, with another 21 lake improvement projects in progress. Iowa Department of Natural Resources director Chuck Gipp is asking lawmakers to set aside more than nine-and-half MILLION dollars so the effort may continue. The state’s “lake restoration program” has moved beyond just simply removing sediment from the lake bottom — a process called dredging. Gipp says that’s just “recycling dirt.” “And so we work with partners in order to improve the watershed approach, make sure the soil stays where it’s supposed to,” Gipp says, “and that’s on the land.”

Gipp says the state’s natural lakes are “intensely used” for fishing and recreation. “I think 55-56 percent of the assessed valuation in Guthrie County is homes and businesses around Lake Panorama,” Gipp says. “You could say the same thing of Clear Lake and some of the others. That’s how important it is that we continue to work now to not only restore these lakes to where they were, but to prevent them from being recontaminated.”

A decade ago, 127 publicly-owned lakes in Iowa were placed on a list as candidates for restoration efforts. Improving water quality and increasing public use of a lake are the two primary goals of the program. A recent Iowa State University study found at least six out of 10 Iowans visit an Iowa lake more than once a year.

(Radio Iowa)

Deere reports improving markets for farm & construction equipment

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 22nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Iowa’s largest manufacturing employer is reporting a successful year. For the quarter ending October 29th, the Moline, Illinois-based Deere & Company posted earnings of more than $510 million or $1.57 per share. That compares with $285 million or 90 cents per share a year ago. Deere’s net income of more than $2 billion for the quarter bettered $1.5 billion a year ago. Worldwide net sales and revenues increased 23 percent for the fourth quarter and 12 percent for the full year. Deere says improving markets for farm and construction equipment contributed to the higher quarterly and full year results. The company also says its performance shows continued benefits from advanced products and a flexible cost structure.

(Radio Iowa)

DNR director seeks ‘dynamic pricing’ authority for state park accommodations

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 22nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

The head of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the state park system is “heavily used” and D-N-R director Chuck Gipp says it’s time for lawmakers to consider raising fees to boost the D-N-R’s budget for outdoor recreation. “The visitation and use of state parks is growing immensely,” Gipp says. “State park usage has changed. People no just longer want to have a sleeping bag they throw on hte ground. They want to have a cabin or they want updated equipment so they can pull in with their ‘fifth-wheel’ (recreational vehicle). Well, in order to allow that to happen, you have to have electrical upgrades.”

Nearly 340-thousand overnight guests have checked into state park facilities so far this year. Gipp wants new authority to set different prices for camping spaces and cabin rentals based on demand. That means he could raise rental rates during high-demand periods, like holiday weekends, or reduce park camping fees during slow periods to attract more visitors. “We’re not trying to price ourself out because no motel rents rooms if they’re overpriced,” Gipp says. “We want to have heads in beds, but we also have to have the flexibility to get the dollars necessary.”

Under existing law, Gipp’s agency must go through a lengthy process to establish rules that limit rental rates for camp sites, R-V hook-ups and cabin rentals within the state park system. There’s a growing reliance on fees to run the D-N-R, since the agency’s allocation of GENERAL state tax dollars is half of what it was a decade ago. “We know what drives the budget in Iowa,” Gipp says. “It’s education and it’s Medicaid and health care, so the rest of the people, the entities, make the sacrifices we can, do the reorganization that we have, but I think it’s important to note.”

Gipp’s department manages 68 state parks and recreation areas along with four state forests and 600 miles of trails for hiking, biking, snowmobiling and horseback riding. “For the initiative of ‘Let’s have a healthier Iowa,’ that’s incredibly important,” Gipp says. In addition to the fees WITHIN the state parks, state fees for hunting, fishing and trapping licenses haven’t been raised for 14 years. The Iowa House overwhelmingly voted in April to give Gipp’s agency the authority to raise those fees. The proposal is eligible for consideration in the Iowa Senate in 2018. The money raised from THOSE fees is reserved to improve habitat and pay conservation officer salaries.

(Radio Iowa)

Bean harvest done, corn has 8% left

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 21st, 2017 by Ric Hanson

The harvest of soybeans in the state is done, while work remains when it comes to corn. The U-S-D-A crop report released Monday shows most of the beans are in the bin — while 92 percent of the corn has been gleaned from the fields. The report says the northeast, southwest and south-central sections of Iowa continue to lag behind in the corn harvest — with 15 percent of the corn still remaining to be harvested in those areas. The corn harvest that was hampered by weather, remains eight days behind the five-year average. The bean harvest had been very near the end heading into last week — as the report last Monday showed that there were only three-percent of the soybeans remaining in the fields. That was five weeks behind the five-year average.

(Radio Iowa)

Atlantic Parks & Recreation Board receive seasonal updates

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 21st, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Members of the Atlantic Parks and Recreation Department Board of Directors, Monday evening, heard various seasonal activities related updates from Parks and Rec Director Seth Staashelm. The Board was expected to vote on a Vice-Chair to succeed Mary Strong, but tabled the motion because newly elected Board member John Krogman was not able to attend the meeting. In other business, Director Staashelm spoke first with regard to the Schildberg Rec Area Development Project. He said the playground equipment has arrived and is being kept in the newly renovated Parks and Rec shed until it’s installed sometime next Spring or Summer.

He mentioned also that designs are underway for the 30×50 west side shelter at the Schildberg park, the installation of which would also take place next Spring, weather permitting. With regard to the Sports Complex (Across the street from the KJAN Studios on N. Olive), a meeting was held to look over various plan options for what’s needed and what’s possible for the future. He says the preliminary plan incorporates space for soccer, flag and possible tackle football. In addition to the other sports the area is currently being used for during the Spring, Summer and Fall.

Staashelm said the Department is currently taking a look at improvements to Cedar Park and Mollett Park, including Public Gardens. That could include, in the case of Mollett Park, having plottable raised garden beds rentable to organizations or individuals, a walking trail with edible landscaping spread through different beds. Preliminary plans also call for a shelter and playground at that park located in the cul-de-sac of East 3rd Street Place. Those and other preliminary plans will be made available for public feedback online and elsewhere, in the coming weeks. He says they have in their 5-year plan budgeted $15,000 each year for community parks and $10,000 for trees.

The Parks and Rec Board’s Jolene Smith reported during the meeting Monday evening, that they had received $50 from the “Bikers for Bikers” group that held an event last month, to benefit local biking and walking paths. After the event was held, the Parks and Rec Board received a check for around $120 from the group. And, as previously mentioned Sunnyside Park remains open for activities. Once the weather turns bad, the roads inside the park will be closed until Spring, for safety reasons.

Conservation Report 11/18/2017

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

November 18th, 2017 by Chris Parks

Bob Bebensee and DNR Conservation Officer Adam Arnold talk about all things outdoors. Topics this week include upland birds, bobcats, and deer hunting.

Play

Trumpeter Swan arrival contest winner announced

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 17th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Cass County Conservation Service have announced the Trumpeter Swans have arrived at the Schildberg Recreation Area, and that the contest which began back in October, has ended. A contest was held with regard to the arrival date of the large winged birds. The winning date was November 9th, when 15 Trumpeter Swans arrived and stayed for more than 24-hours.

Officials say Leola Kanning picked the correct date, and with her good guess and won an 8×10 Trumpeter Swans print from the Cass County Conservation Board. The Board thanks everyone who took the time to enter the contest.

Trump Administration Appoints Annette Sweeney to Serve as StateDirector for USDA Rural Development in Iowa

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 17th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa – November 17, 2017 – The Trump Administration recently appointed Annette Sweeney as the new State Director for USDA Rural Development in Iowa. Sweeney began her new role earlier this week. Sweeney’s experiences as a teacher, parent, family farmer, business owner and church volunteer led her to the Iowa House of Representatives from 2009 to 2013 where she sponsored numerous pieces of legislation that passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support. Her work improved opportunities for rural businesses and enhanced the quality of life for rural Iowans.

Since serving as a state lawmaker, Sweeney participated in trade missions to Brazil, China and South Korea promoting the quality of Iowa agricultural products. She also served on the State Agriculture and Rural Leaders board of directors working with legislators across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Sweeney was appointed to the Governor’s Council on Agriculture Education and has volunteered with such organizations as Southfork Watershed Alliance, Iowa Corn and America Agri-Women, the nation’s largest coalition of farm, ranch and agribusiness women.

As State Director, Sweeney will use her leadership experience to oversee Rural Development programs in a customer-focused manner to restore prosperity in rural Iowa.