Recent Stories

Iowa’s Topsoil In Sloped Areas Eroding Far Faster Than Desired


While average soil loss in Iowa falls closely in line with benchmarks set by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, some areas in the state are losing soil at as much as 10 times faster than the soil renewal rate. Continue Reading →

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Severity Of Algae In Iowa Lakes Is On The Rise


That paint-like scum that covers some Iowa lakes every summer isn’t just gross and smelly. People, pets, and livestock coming into contact with or ingesting toxins produced by the algae are at risk to symptoms including skin rashes, gastrointestinal issues and, in high doses, liver failure. Continue Reading →

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Busy Coralville Lake Algae Levels Safe; Battle Continues At Eastern Iowa Recreation Areas


Beach-goers in eastern Iowa's Johnson County looking for a final summer swim before school starts should be aware of two unpleasant dangers — toxic algae and E. coli. [One of two stories in a special IowaWatch-Iowa City Press-Citizen collaboration.] Continue Reading →

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The Science Of Iowa Lake Scum

A photo of an algae bloom this summer on Green Valley Lake in Union County.

Only certain strains of cyanobacteria can produce toxins, although they don’t always do so.

“Scientists generally agree that the cyanobacteria evolved this ability to produce toxin either as a competitive advantage or as some sort of protection,” Mary Skopec, who heads the Iowa Department of Natural Resources beach monitoring program, said. Continue Reading →

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Wind Energy Industry Spun Into Bat Preservation Effort

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Iowa's wind industry must deal with unwanted bat deaths as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tries to stop the slaughter of one species – the northern long-eared bat. This, despite wind turbines not being the bats' main tormentor. Continue Reading →

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Federal Wildlife Service Seeks Public Input on Habitat Plan

Northern long-eared bat.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking the public’s suggestions for writing an environmental impact statement for an eight-state Midwestern plan designed to help conserve the habitats of several species of animals, including three types of bats that are impacted by wind energy facilities. Continue Reading →

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Iowa Counties Stick To Home To Win Fights Over Frac Sand Mining

An entrance on the west end of a Pattison Sand Company mine in rural Clayton County, Iowa, near the small town of Clayton, on June 24, 2014. Pattison, which produces industrial sand for the natural gas and oil industries, has about 35 acres of underground mine and 300 acres of above ground for plant operations, shipping and storage, ponding and drying, maintenance, a fabrication shop, reclamation areas and an open pit mine.

A group of northeast Iowans effectively is keeping large frac sand mine companies from mining silica-rich sand in their county by building a consortium that set aside politics and focused on dealing with the matter locally, instead of with state intervention. Continue Reading →

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