Roadside prairie: little strips of sustainability


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Native prairie plants are hardy and beautiful (flickr).

Julia Poska | January 17, 2019

Over the past 200 years, Iowa’s once ubiquitous prairies have been almost totally edged out by farmland and urbanization. Only a fraction of one percent of what used to be remains. It is unlikely that Iowa’s prairies will ever be restored to their full former glory, but some counties are regenerating slivers of native prairie along county roadsides.

The practice, called Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management, cannot reestablish the value of Iowa’s lost prairies, but it does help humans and nature coexist little more sustainably. The strips of prairie:

  • Create habitat for species like pollinators, birds and small mammals
  • Trap pollutants and sediments that would otherwise contaminate water and soil, like motor oil and road salt, while remaining tough enough to withstand harm
  • Promote soil health and reduce flooding by incorporating air and organic matter into the soil structure
  • Give drivers a glimpse at the state’s historic beauty

Counties aim to manage these areas sustainably with minimal use of pesticides, strategically timed mowing and burning. These efforts are funded through the Living Roadway Trust Fund and supported by the University of Northern Iowa Tallgrass Prairie Center. Over 100,000 acres have been planted since the start of the program in 2009.

To learn more about what this program has accomplished and see some pretty flowers, check out this online presentation from the Tallgrass Prairie Center.

 

 

UNI to host meeting on farming antibiotic-free chickens and eggs


Photo by IvanWalsh.com, Flickr
Photo by IvanWalsh.com, Flickr

The University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education is educating farmers in order to encourage the use of local, antibiotic-free chickens and eggs.

Tomorrow at 2pm, farmers will meet on UNI’s campus to hear from Tony Halsted – the owner of Hoover’s Hatchery. Halsted will discuss the opportunity and benefits of buying and raising chickens that are locally bred and antibiotic-free.

This meeting is open to the public.

For more information, click here.

UNI student starts curbside recycling business


Photo by mkhaund, Flickr.

Brian Hoyer, a junior at the University of Northern Iowa, has started his own curbside recycling business in Cedar Falls.

The business is called Recycles Rite, and it’s the only curbside recycling service in Cedar Falls.

More than 450 household use Recycles Rite’s service, diverting eight tons of recycled material from the landfill each month.

Read more here.

Environmental Working Group’s Ken Cook discusses ag-issues at UNI


Ken Cook. Photo by USDAgov, Flickr.

On October 9, the University of Northern Iowa hosted an event entitled “Hunger Games: What is it about agriculture that’s eating consumers?”.

The keynote speaker at the event was Executive Director of the Environmental Working Group Ken Cook. He discussed how the farm industry and governmental farm policies have caused environmental and public health issues.

Specifically, Cook feels that the current trends in the farming industry are harming our soil and water, and causing unhealthy eating habits.

Read more about Cook’s speech here.

UNI hosts environmental forum for students


About 1,000 local high school students were on the University of Northern Iowa campus on Tuesday to attend “Green: What Does it Mean? Exploring Our Sustainable Community.”

There were 40 speakers at the 5-hour event that covered a wide range of environmental topics.

The WCF Courier reports:

More than 1,000 area high school students got a hands-on look at what it means to be green Tuesday.

About 40 presenters, educators and community members from across the state participated in “Green: What Does it Mean? Exploring Our Sustainable Community” Tuesday at the University of Northern Iowa campus.

Students arrived by bus from Peet and Holmes junior highs, and Waverly-Shell Rock Community Schools for the five-hour event, presented by Cedar Valley Sustainability and Environmental Educators.

“It’s important to talk to young ones because they’re going to be responsible for what happens in the future,” said Leon Lindley with the Black Hawk County Conservation Board.

Diverse topics were covered in a learning environment meant to be radically different from traditional classrooms. Students participated in outdoor activities and lectures designed to create a better understanding of their global impact and sustainabilty. Continue reading