July 25, 2014

Chadron resident kills young cougar that fails to flee

A young female mountain lion has been shot and killed when it failed to flee a home near Chadron.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission says the homeowner reported he shot the 5-month-old female Saturday at his home south of Chadron.

According to the resident, the mountain lion crouched in the grass about 20 yards from his house where two young children were on the patio. The man says he retrieved a rifle from the house, approached the cougar, and then shot it when it stood but did not flee. The mountain lion weighed about 30 pounds.

The man notified authorities of the shooting in accordance with state law.

The Dawes County Sheriff’s Department investigated the incident and took possession of the animal. It was transferred to Nebraska Game and Parks officials Sunday.

Authorities determined the man acted within the law.

Health alert lifted for one southeast lake, imposed on another

Just as a health alert ended for one Nebraska lake, it began for another.

State authorities have issued a health alert for toxic blue-green algae for Rockford Lake in southern Nebraska’s Gage County.

That news comes on the heels of the state lifting a health alert for another southeastern Nebraska lake, Kirkman’s Cove in Richardson County.

The state routinely monitors lakes during the summer vacation season.

Samples taken from Rockford Lake have registered above the state health alert threshold of 20 parts per billion (ppb) of total microcystin (a toxin released by certain strains of blue-green algae.)

Health alerts last for at least two weeks, because lakes must record two consecutive weeks of readings below the threshold before the state lifts the alert.

Swimming beaches have been closed at Kirkman’s Cove. Recreational boating and fishing are permitted. The public is advised to avoid ingestion of water or full immersion in water. Camping, picnics, and other outdoor activities will continue during the health alert.

Sampling results for toxic algae and bacteria will be updated every Friday and posted on NDEQ’s web site, http://deq.ne.gov.

(For more information about potential health effects of toxic blue-green algae, what to look for, and steps to avoid exposure, please refer to the Fact Sheet by clicking here.

Senators see little impact from Supreme Court EPA ruling (AUDIO)

A United States Supreme Court ruling restricting the reach of the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t restrict it all that much, according to Nebraska’s two senators.

A Supreme Court decision declares the EPA went too far in regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, but only a bit too far.

Sen. Deb Fischer sees little practical effect from the decision.

“My understanding is it will not change what’s going on with power plants and the big emitters of emissions. It will only affect smaller businesses,” Fischer says.

The court, in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, upheld the EPA’s authority to regulate major sources of carbon emissions, but stated the agency had gone too far in interpreting its power. Opponents of the EPA latched on to the court’s ruling of over-reach. Yet, even the court itself stated its ruling only pulls back the EPA a little bit.

Earlier, the court upheld the EPA on its move to regulate air pollution that drifts across state lines.

The latest ruling comes on a case filed before the EPA announce further moves to restrict coal-fired power plants.

Sen. Mike Johanns says the Supreme Court merely nibbled around the edges of the EPA’s power.

“I think coal-fired plants are still under attack by the EPA,” according to Johanns. “I think you’re going to see that continue, no doubt about it.”

The EPA has announced it wants to cut carbon emissions from existing plants by up to 30%, a move that would affect the Midwest, including Nebraska, greatly due to its reliance on coal as a power source.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]

Annual river clean-up project to focus on Big Sioux

ProjectAwareVolunteers from Nebraska are welcome to pitch in during the annual week-long river cleanup event starting this coming Saturday.

Lynette Seigley helps organize Project AWARE, which stands for A Watershed Awareness River Expedition.

This year, it will focus on 91 miles of the Big Sioux River from Sioux Falls to just north of Sioux City. Seigley says it’s always unclear what the volunteers will find, but they’ll definitely be busy.

“Staff have been out doing some pre-scouting and we know there’s trash out there,” Seigley says. “Pretty much anything and everything, in terms of household appliances, tires, old scrap metal and old dump sites along the river.”

Project AWARE has tackled these projects for 12 straight years. This year’s expedition runs from July 12th to the 19th on the Big Sioux between Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Westfield, Iowa.

“We’ll probably have about 350 to 400 volunteers throughout the week,” Seigley says. “Part of the flexibility with Project AWARE is you can come for one day, a couple of days or the entire week.”

Volunteers are offered free tent camping and learn about watersheds, water quality and other natural resource topics during nightly programs. Seigley says around 85-percent of the volunteers this year have never spent any time on this particular section of the Big Sioux River.

“So, it brings people to the area. It gives them an opportunity to experience the Big Sioux River, learn about the communities along the way, and the archaeology and geology,” Seigley says.

Last year, Project AWARE volunteers pulled more than 68,000 pounds of trash from the Des Moines River in north-central Iowa. Seigley says 88% of that trash was recycled.



We’ve had rain. Still, be careful with fireworks this 4th

Rain last month has improved conditions in the state’s forests. Still, the Nebraska Forest Service urges Nebraskans to take precautions with fireworks.

Don Westover, Fire Program Leader with the Nebraska Forest Service, says though there has been plenty of rain in many parts of Nebraska, fireworks still pose some dangers.

“We just really have to rely on people’s judgment locally when they’re considering whether or not to burn or whether or not to have fireworks,” Westover tells Nebraska Radio Network. “They just really have to use their own judgment and make a determination of how much rain they’ve gotten locally and how green things are.”

The State Fire Marshal’s office reports fireworks caused 57 fires in Nebraska last year, resulting in more than $285,000 in damages.

Westover says it is all too easy to start a forest fire.

“Really, every forest fire begins as a grass fire,” Westover says. “And so, any kind of fireworks, I don’t care what kind it is, will start grass on fire. That’s why we need to really exercise caution.”

Westover says parents need to supervise their children and that supervision includes making sure conditions are suitable for fireworks. Westover says all fireworks can become dangerous if used improperly.

Recent rains have eased the fire danger in Nebraska forests considerably. That rain, though, hasn’t soaked the whole states. Some forests remain dry, and vulnerable.

Fire safety experts prefer people watch a public fireworks display, but if they insists on shooting off their own fireworks, they provide these tips:

- Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow package instructions.

- Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.

- Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.

- Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”

- Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.

- Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.

- Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.

Other common ways people often unintentionally start a wildfire

- leaving burning leaves or other debris unattended

- sparks from equipment such as lawnmowers, ATVs, power equipment

- smoking

- unattended campfires

- carelessly discarding ashes from a fireplace or grill