Extension offering beginning forest landowner course in southern Illinois

The University of Illinois is offering a beginning program for forest landowners in southern Illinois.

The year-long course is open to landowners in the 16 southernmost counties of Illinois and focused on new forest landowners or landowners who are not actively managing their forest.

The goal is to help participants develop knowledge and skills needed for basic forest and natural resource management and management planning for forested land. Topics covered will include forest ecology, tree identification, the timber harvesting process, thinning and pruning, managing for wildlife, invasive species control, and prescribed burning.

A $50 fee will include full-day instructional sessions and field-based mentoring opportunities with experts from the U of I Extension forestry staff and program partners. Participants will also be connected with other experienced forest landowners to gain insight and support through a peer-to-peer network.

Space is limited. Visit bit.ly/3rCwpzu for information or to complete a short application. All applicants will be contacted. Direct questions to Chris Evans, Extension forester, at cwevans@illinois.edu.

EPA announces intent to develop WaterSense® Specification for Point-of-Use Reverse Osmosis Systems

In January, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its intent to develop a WaterSense specification for point-of-use Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems. These systems typically supply treated water at the kitchen sink and can also be found in commercial office spaces or kitchens. EPA invites interested parties to provide written comments or materials relevant to the feasibility of WaterSense labeling point-of-use RO systems.

On Wednesday, February 16, 2022, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern time, EPA will host a teleconference and webinar with stakeholders to discuss the NOI. Additional meeting information will be emailed upon registering, and materials will be sent to registered participants via email prior to the meeting date. Register for the stakeholder webinar here

Visit EPA’s website for more information on point-of-use RO systems.

Unblock research bottlenecks with non-profit start-ups

Read the full story in Nature.

‘Focused research organizations’ can take on mid-scale projects that don’t get tackled by academia, venture capitalists or government labs.

Financing 1.5°C: Five trends to watch in climate-aligned finance in 2022

Read the full story from the Rocky Mountain Institute.

When RMI launched the Center for Climate-Aligned Finance in 2020, the concept of climate-aligned finance was in its infancy. In 2021, it matured rapidly as net-zero pledges became the new norm in the financial sector, particularly in the West. As we begin 2022, we look ahead to some of the major themes likely to emerge this year.

American Agriculture’s State, Regional, and National Initiatives to Reduce Nutrient Losses in the Mississippi River Basin

Download the document.

The primary purpose of this report is to draw attention to the work of farmers across the Mississippi River Basin [MRB] in implementing nutrient-reduction strategies field by field and season by season and highlight the sustained efforts of the agricultural trade associations that support them in doing so. American agriculture is deeply committed to the success of the NLRS process in the MRB and very much wants to work with our federal and state partners and stakeholders to sustain this amount of effort.

Microplastic pollution lingers in rivers for years before entering oceans

Read the full story from Northwestern University.

Microplastics can deposit and linger within riverbeds for as long as seven years before washing into the ocean, a new study has found.

Because rivers are in near-constant motion, researchers previously assumed lightweight microplastics quickly flowed through rivers, rarely interacting with riverbed sediments. 

Now, researchers led by Northwestern University and the University of Birmingham in England, have found hyporheic exchange — a process in which surface water mixes with water in the riverbed — can trap lightweight microplastics that otherwise might be expected to float.

The study was published today (Jan. 12) in the journal Science Advances. It marks the first assessment of microplastic accumulation and residence times within freshwater systems, from sources of plastic pollution throughout the entire water stream. The new model describes dynamical processes that influence particles, including hyporheic exchange, and focuses on hard-to-measure but abundant microplastics at 100 micrometers in size and smaller.

Bioenergy sorghum’s roots can replenish carbon in soil

Read the full story from Texas A&M AgriLife Communications.

The world faces an increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and a shortage of carbon in the soil. However, bioenergy sorghum can provide meaningful relief from both problems, according to a new study.

USDA invests $50 million in partnerships to expand access to conservation assistance

Read the full story at Successful Farming.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $50 million in 118 partnerships to expand access to conservation assistance for climate-smart agriculture and forestry.

The Equity Conservation Cooperative Agreements, administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), will fund two-year projects to expand the delivery of conservation assistance to farmers who are new to farming, low income, socially disadvantaged, or military veterans.

We’ve breached Earth’s threshold for chemical pollution, study says

Read the full story at Monga Bay.

A new study has found that the release of novel entities — artificial chemicals and other human-made pollutants — has accelerated to a point that we have crossed a “planetary boundary,” threatening the entire Earth operating system, along with humanity.

The study authors argue that the breach of this critical planetary boundary has occurred because the rate at which novel entities are being developed and produced by industry exceeds governments’ ability to assess risk and monitor impacts.

There are about 350,000 different types of artificial chemicals currently on the international market, with production of existing and new synthetic chemicals set to substantially increase in the coming decades.

While many of these substances have been shown to negatively affect the natural world and human health, the vast majority have yet to be evaluated, with their interactions and impacts poorly understood or completely unknown.

Tackling health and sustainability in the dairy industry — together

Read the full story at Dairy Foods.

As environmental concerns grow, sustainability and health-consciousness now go hand-in-hand.